Archive for the ‘Going Mainstream’ Category

Why I Choose to Say “Energy,” Not “Magick”

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

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Last year, I made a conscious choice to use the term energy instead of magick.

Why? Among magick practitioners, it’s clearer. When I said magick, I always meant, “techniques using energy.” But other people use magick to mean, “Acting on one’s true Will,” “Mystical experiences,” “Anything not currently understood by science,” and more. It was simply to easy to believe we were talking about the same concept, when in fact we were merely using the same words. I’ve found it clearer to just say energy.

Among energy practitioners, the benefit is obvious: They already accept and value energy, and mean roughly what I do by the term.

Even among laypeople who dismiss energy as woo, at least they know some people who have had good results (if only, they believe, from placebo). Magick sounds like it came from Harry Potter.

And in a way, the term did. When I was 11, a friend who loved fantasy novels told me that he felt energy from trees. I tried, and felt a warm tingling. I have no idea if it was energy or just imagination, but that’s where it started. And, drawing from his young adult fiction, he called this experience magic, and I followed him.

I explored energy every day, but (partly because of the stigma associated with the term) I rarely spoke about it. In my late 20s, when I began blogging, I still called my explorations magic. I added the k to help Google understand that I was talking about energy, not slight of hand, and started writing.

For some time now, magick has felt off-brand, even awkward. I’ve dropped the word from my speech, and it’s time to drop it from my website, too. Moving forward, I’ll be writing on Check it out and let me know what you think, especially Home and About.

(I’ve migrated all email subscribers over, you’ll still get posts by email. I can’t migrate RSS subscribers, but you can sign up here. Twitter followers, my new account is here.)

Magick of Thought will stay up indefinitely, so you’ll still have access to all the content here. Thank you to all my readers, I’ve enjoyed talking magick with you, and I’m looking forward to talking energy with you too.

See you next week at

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Why Explaining Energy is Hard (And What To Do About It)

Monday, October 16th, 2017

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A week ago at Energy Geek, I realized that about half the class wasn’t getting it.

What weren’t they getting? They got the energy exercises and games. They could follow each technique. But they didn’t see why we were doing it. They didn’t get the impact.

Which means I wasn’t explaining it.

For the past year, I’ve been teaching myself to speak: How to explain my work to someone unfamiliar with it. And as I started thinking about how to explain Energy Geek, I recalled a concept that helped it all make sense: Inferential distance.

One inferential step is anything a person can figure out right now, based on what they know, in a single insight. For someone who knows nothing about energy healing, for example, a single inferential step might be, “Living cells seem to emit this biofield energy. Depending on the state of the cells (healthy, inflamed, infected, etc), they seem to emit a different type of biofield energy.”

Anything one inferential step away will be easy to understand. The person might not agree with the statement, but they won’t be confused by it.

A concept that’s two inferential steps away can still be understood. They require the listener to figure out the intermediate step, which takes effort but is usually doable. With a single step, it’s often possible to work backwards and figure out the missing insight. If you’ve ever encountered ideas that were challenging but ultimately graspable, they were probably two inferential steps away for you.

Once a concept is three or more inferential steps away, it becomes inaccessible. The listener can’t work backwards, because there’s more than one insight between what they know and what I said. It just doesn’t work.

The problem is, my concept of energy is several inferential steps away for many energy workers. Here’s why:

When I say “energy,” I mean biofield energy, also called chi or prana, a thing emitted by cells that exists out in the world whether a person is aware of it or not. But most classes teach energy as a combination of attention, emotional intuition, and biofield energy, using all those meanings interchangeably, without even mentioning that they’re different phenomena. It’s all just “energy.”

Exercises where you stare into your partner’s eyes to “feel their energy”? That’s emotional intuition. (I’ve now spent a year exploring how to feel a partner’s biofield energy without seeing their eyes and face, and it’s a thoroughly different, much more difficult exercise.)

Meditations where you visualize distractions, then send them away? That’s attention. (For the past year, I’ve used biofield energy to help friends focus. Again, it’s a thoroughly different, much more difficult technique.)

(All of that seems simple enough, right? But look at the steps: First I explained what “biofield energy” is. Then I explained that the word “energy” often refers to a combination of phenomena. Then I gave examples, and explained my relevant experiences. Skip any of those steps, and people get lost.)

I’m realizing, the word energy means something different to me than it does to many students. From the very start of the conversation, we are too many inferential steps apart to communicate easily.

And understanding that, I feel I’m already halfway to a solution.

(I’m actually partway through listing and organizing all the inferential steps I’ll need to explain. I’m a bit exhausted, but I’m also hopeful at the progress I’m making.)

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One Simple Reason Energy Healing Isn’t Mainstream

Friday, January 13th, 2017

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Colter asks:

Why [aren’t energy and] magick more prominent in our world?

I used to wonder about this myself. So much of what I do is tremendously useful, so why don’t more people work with energy?

I think the answer is simple: Obvious results are hard.

With manifesting, the whole point is to create luck, and a single result will be indistinguishable from luck. It requires multiple trials and statistics to show that something is going on.

With energy healing, a single result is indistinguishable from placebo. Again, we require multiple trials and statistics.

Statistics aren’t obvious. They don’t hit us at an emotional level. They require thought, and they’re easy to ignore.

Why would people want to ignore those results? I sometimes hear conspiracy theories, with a villain (politicians, the wealthy, the Illuminati) intentionally keeping people in the dark. But the answer is simpler: Historically, people claiming magickal abilities were almost universally frauds.

We, as practitioners, have to own this: Historically, people making these claims have turned out to be frauds. You know why? Because energy and magick are hard. It’s much easier to get obvious results with slight of hand or hypnosis or by having a friend bang on the cabinet during the seance.

People like James Randi aren’t trying to keep energy healing all to themselves. They genuinely believe that all of this is just placebo and fraud, and that they’re helping people by pointing that out. They are mistaken, but they aren’t sinister.

(Their reluctance to re-examine their beliefs isn’t sinister either. It’s just how humans are.)

Energy and magick aren’t practiced more widely because obvious results are hard, and a long history of fraud makes people reluctant to examine non-obvious results.

How do we solve this? Either with a mountain of data (researchers are already working on that), or by engineering obvious results, like energy techniques that reliably create sensations in most people. My focus is on that engineering.

And writing this post, I realized something: It’s easy to see skeptics as the enemy. But to change minds, we need to start with where we agree. And there’s actually quite a lot of agreement: We both want people to get meaningful help for health conditions, and not spend time and money on things that don’t work. We both want to understand the world, and separate accurate models from inaccurate ones. We disagree about the particulars, but we share many of the same goals.

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