Archive for the ‘Other Blogs’ Category

Interview: Ethereal Software, Spirits, and Direct Magick

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

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Greg Carlwood of The Higherside Chats has interviewed Lon Milo Duquette, Jason Miller, and many other interesting magick practitioners. A couple weeks ago, he interviewed me. We explored what manifesting tells us about the nature of time, how spirits form a society, and a bunch of other great topics.

I’m working to finish the Healing Lab website, so no post this week. But enjoy the interview, and leave a comment here with any questions you have or topics you’d like more on.

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Insightful Posts on Augoeides

Friday, December 19th, 2014

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I’m taking care of my dying friend this weekend. I’ll be back with new content next week.

Until then, here are some posts I particularly enjoyed from Augoeides, one of my favorite magick blogs:

A skeptic encounters magickal phenomena, with a good discussion about the difference between skepticism vs aggressive doubt.

A post about electrical brain stimulation research. In particular, the last paragraph: One exciting possibility is that once this area of the brain is identified, it might be possible to evaluate magick in a more controlled fashion by analyzing the correlations between the different levels of stimulation made possible by this method and shifts in probability.

(While I don’t expect magick to be found in a particular brain region, I always get excited when people make testable predictions about magick research.)

failed faith healing, with an intriguing idea in the closing paragraph: I wonder if the ancient idea of “breathing life” into a person comes from a much earlier culture working out the basics of CPR and passing it along as “esoteric wisdom.”

And one that’s not particularly magick-related, but I love the idea of the Church of Latter Day Dude.

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Right and Useless

Monday, August 5th, 2013

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Today, I want to talk about exploring magick scientifically, and how not to get intimidated by how much we already know about the physical world.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned one of my long-term questions:

How does [magick] influence the atoms to bring about that result? How can that impact / advance our understanding of physics?

A difficult goal. Maybe not one I’ll ever attain. But I use it as a compass, moving toward it even if I never get there. And it’s a daydream, something to inspire me when I’d rather play video games.

I get the feeling, though, that some readers are focusing on connecting magick with physics, becoming intimidated, and that it may be hurting their current explorations of magick. For example, from John’s blog:

This means seeing how the Subconscious Mind uses magick to affect quantum particles, atoms and/or molecules, or even larger-scale objects (Newtonian scale). If that were possible, [the mage would] be able to see how those particles and objects move, interact with each other, etc. Really, he’d have Superman-like microscopic vision, pretty much. And if so, he’d be able to understand what’s really going on at such a small level; and with enough time, he’d be able to explain how Quantum particles work, how a DNA molecule splits, etc. He’d have an incredibly in-depth knowledge of how the physical and magickal world work together, possibly even being able to offer rough mathematical formulas for their interaction. Possibly even explaining how gravity interacts with the other forces, offering a Unified Theory of Physics. If so, he’d not only be the greatest mage alive, he’d be the world’s leading physicist and the greatest mind ever known, and the world’s utmost superhero.

This isn’t daydreaming, it’s nightmare-ing, building up your goal for future generations into an impossible-to-achieve mountain. It discourages you before you even start, and makes it that much harder to do useful work. And I’m sorry my daydream puts John into that headspace.

Today, I want to share how I think about these goals, and how I think about science, and what I think we can do right now. But rather than talk abstractly about magick, let’s talk about biology, since it’s concrete and we can all agree on what we’re discussing.

I’d like you to imagine that we know all the physics that we know today, but somehow, we know very little biology. Maybe there was some religious prohibition on dissecting mammals. Whatever the reason, we don’t know abour nerves, cells, DNA, or much of anything else about life.

Someone asks, “Why do muscles move?” Each of us can choose one of two responses:

  • You can say, “We know all this physics, about molecules and atoms and quarks. Just think of all the quarks involved in a muscle. Before we can explain why muscles muscles move, we’ll need to simulate all those quarks, so we’ll need supercomputers a million times more powerful than we have today. Might as well give up.”
  • Or you can roll up your sleeves and start figuring it out.

Eventually, you might try electricity, as Luigi Galvani did in 1771, making dead frogs dance. He placed electrodes in different spots and discovered that nerves make muscles move. A quark-level explanation? No. Useful? Yes.

Then you can investingate how nerves work. You can look at them under a microscope, and notice they’re long cells, connected in a line through muscles. You can investigate the neurotransmitters they use to signal, and come to understand the Potassium-Sodium reaction involved. You can interview people with brain injuries, and figure out which parts of the brain are involved in different types of movements.

None of that knowledge gets you to quarks. Even today, in the real world, I don’t think we understand most biology in terms of quarks. Indeed, the doubters are right. And when you predict that we won’t achieve the utmost pinnacle of understanding, you’ll usually be right. Right, and useless.

But understanding that nerves make muscles move, that nerves work by Potassium and Sodium and neurotransmitters, that certain parts of the brain are responsible for different aspects of muscle movement, all of that is useful, valuable knowledge. All of that advances medicine and our ability to help people. And if you’d never rolled up your sleeves and helped discover a little bit of that, the world would be less for it.

I’m sure the people who want to throw up their hands and say, “We’ll never understand magick,” will point out that we don’t have a magickal microscope to look at nerve cells, and we don’t have magickal probes to apply magickal electricity, and we don’t have all these other things. And again, they’ll be right.

But I wish they’d put that effort toward trying to invent those tools, or toward figuring out what steps the unconscious mind takes to drive magick, or toward exporing the algorithms used by the forces we channel. Because that work is useful. And I’ll take useful over right any day.

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Improving on the Spirits We Channel

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

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Another interesting post on Strategic Sorcery, We Are Spirits:

So there are a number of posts floating around about Why Evocation is important. Here is Aaron Leitch. Mike C. The commonality among them is an assertion that magic works through the agency of spirits and that any assertion otherwise is modern and incorrect.


You see, we are spirits too.

Yes, we have bodies, but within those bodies we have spirit and soul. People have power.

This begs the question: What would it take to do what spirits do? What would you have to understand in order to drive the magick yourself, with your own mind, rather than relying on a spirit?

And the follow-up question: If you understood all that — if 100 or 1000 or 1,000,000 people understood that — what else could we create that the spirit hasn’t figured out yet?

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The Usefulness of Doubt

Friday, April 19th, 2013

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Excellent post on the Strategic Sorcery blog recently on The Usefulness of Doubt. A few quotes:

I think that occultists could use a little more doubt in their practice. Even notice that you don’t see a lot of blog posts about spells and magical experiments that don’t work out? […] Very often I see occultists taking synchronicity and gematric coincidences as proof of their work and direction. I do not often see occultists question whether they might be buying into a texas sharpshooter fallacy or suffering a confirmation bias.

Doubt has served me well in my practice. In the 90′s I did a series of enochian workings that sparked a fairly intense and detailed spiritual communication. The spirit had apocalyptic information, it insisted that I write it and share it, it insisted that I was a prophet. I was all kinds of excited to have my ego stroked and to join the ranks of people that were channeling Thelemic Libers, but decided to take a step back and take a look at it in a month with a cooler head. I asked myself, is the information useful? NO. Is there any chance that this might be incorrect? YES. I decided not to do what the spirit said, which is good because all the predictions were wrong.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s tempting to see something that might be the result of your magick, and decide that it is the result of your magick. We all like feeling successful. But if we’re ever going to get magick to the level of a modern science, we need to separate luck and placebo from real results, which means doubting ourselves a lot more.

Here’s the good news: The more you practice this, the easier (and less painful) it becomes.

Recently, I tried a healing technique for a friend’s cold. It didn’t work. She started making excuses — maybe she would have been even worse without the healing session, maybe she had both viral and bacterial infections my technique helped with one but not the other, etc. Looking back, I think she was just being polite, feeling awkward appreciating the effort I put in while telling me it didn’t work, (and she confirmed this just now), but at the time, I thought this was her honest reasoning.

A decade ago, I would have needed those excuses. Failure would have been painful, and it wouldn’t be just this one technique I doubted, it would have been all of magick. Am I any good at magick? Is magick even real? When the doubt generated by a single failure can flood your world, it becomes too painful to doubt anything.

(Yes, I’ve doubted if magick was real. Everyone has, especially when we’re starting out — it’s totally natural. To my readers who ask about these thoughts, you’re not alone.)

But now, I’ve had enough successes that doubt stays where it should, contained to the one technique that actually failed, not affecting all the other stuff that works, just not quite quickly enough to demonstrate to skeptics.

How do you get there? The only path I know is to succeed in your own magick a few dozen times. I wish there was something faster for beginners, but I don’t have an answer. But once you get there, accepting failure becomes simple.

One other thing I noticed: I now have a visceral response to excuses. They just feel dishonest, like they don’t lead anywhere true or useful. I can’t follow them, and get a bit annoyed hearing them, even. It’s a mental habit I’ve developed, I think, of asking myself is an explanation is my real reason, and turning away from any explanation that’s just an excuse. Again, I don’t know how to get there quickly, but if you practice asking that question, you’ll probably develop that same mental habit.

Back to the conversation, I said, “Nope, my healing technique just didn’t work this time. It needs some debugging.” Which I’ll return to next time one of us gets sick.

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Why the Illness-as-Demon Model Needs to Die

Monday, September 24th, 2012

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Ona asked me to comment on her post, “The Trouble with Demons.” I tried, but I can’t. It’s about what I call the “illness-as-demon” model of mental illness, which absolutely detest. So, instead of talking about her post, let me tell you why the illness-as-demon model needs to die.

Illness-as-Demon: What is it?

“Demons” are psychological afflictions, distractions, unwanted urges, and the like. Strictly speaking, they are undesired thought patterns internal to the person’s mind, and have no existence outside the person’s mind. Talking about the condition as a demon is strictly a metaphor. And, nothing against metaphors, but this is a bad one.

If a friend had these problems, I would use healing techniques like consciousness integration or memory-emotion splitting (for PTSD), or refer them to a therapist. I’d expect a medical or mental health perspective to be effective. Also, I’d expect shielding and other legit fighting techniques to be ineffective (beyond placebo).

The Problem

The illness-as-demon model makes you want to fight the demon, rather than heal the mind. If you imagine an imp perched on your bed, whispering insecurities into your mind, your first thought isn’t, “How do I update my thought patterns so my mind doesn’t generate these insecure thoughts?” No, your first thought is, “How do I punch that imp in the nose?”

So, it’s misleading for mental healing, energy healing or otherwise. But that’s not all. Some problems are actually caused by actual external spirits doing actual magick. And for those problems, you actually do have to punch the imp in the nose, or at least learn shielding. And, if you approach these external spirits as though they were ordinary internal mental illnesses, you’ll be just as ineffective as if you try to shield away ordinary depression.

A further complication: The spirits occasionally produce problems that look like mental illnesses, and everyone has a story of a friend of a friend whose mental illness went away when he learned to shield and ground, which convinces them that every mental illness would go away if the person just learned to shield and ground. (It won’t.)

In other words, the illness-as-demon metaphor confuses two real problems, making it harder to solve both of them. It guides you to ineffective, incorrect solutions. And, as much as I want to be polite and find something good in every idea, I have to take a sharp position here: The illness-as-demon metaphor is harmful, and we should let it die.

Ona’s Post

Now that that’s out of the way, a quick review of Ona’s post. It’s as enjoyable and well-written as we’ve all come to expect, and I think she may agree with me, at least a little. Here’s the quote:

A person with a problem may wish to call that problem a demon, but in doing so he is creating a rather arbitrary separation in his mind. On the one hand he has tolerably pleasant or ordinary experiences, which he decides to own up to and call “mine”; on the other hand he has a trauma, memory, painful situation, or dysfunctional habit, and decides to call that a demon: “not mine.”

I’m sure there will be a lively discussion in the comments. Enjoy.

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Games, Tarot and Research

Friday, September 21st, 2012

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Wrapping up my week catching up on other blogs, we have Rune Soup, Weird Shit Not Bullshit, and Therioshamanism.

Also, I’m heading to Albany, NY next week. If that’s your neck of the woods, drop me a line.

Magic and Games

Gordon of Rune Soup doesn’t educate so much as he prods you into new, interesting ideas. Read the last section of his post (“Magic and the British Museum), then come back.

I’ve often thought that magick needs to be experienced, rather than explained. That no words could substitute for practicing sensory connections and seeing the differences between a healthy knee and an unhealthy knee. That my goal should be to provide exercises so you can produce your own experiences, rather than providing answers.

And that feels somehow related to experiencing magick as a game. I like the idea. (Yes, this is more of a floating idea than a full post, but, well, that’s what Gordon does to me.)

(Full post here.)

The Mechanism of Tarot

I’ve talked about tarot before. Here’s my basic model:

  1. A client asks an open-ended question. Problem is, talking with ethereal software is like talking over a lousy phone line (for most mages), so it’s hard to understand open-ended answers.
  2. So, you create a series of questions. First, randomly deal out some cards. (No magick here.)
  3. But each card has multiple meanings. As you think about each possible meaning, the ethereal software gives you feedback, flagging the best one. This type of multiple-choice communication is much simpler than receiving full sentences.
  4. You turn those multiple-choice answers into a final story for the client.

I’ve had this model for years, but I don’t do tarot personally. So, it was neat to see a tarot reader explain his experience, and see how well it matches that model:

So how to turn a variety of potential interpretations into a single real one? Well, this is what I do all the time when I’m reading the Tarot – every card has a whole set of possible meanings to it, and I have to figure out which of those possible meanings is most accurate and most useful in a particular spread at a particular time. I do this by ‘feel’ – one of the interpretations will ‘feel’ like it fits best with the other cards and with the question I’m considering.

That feel he describes is step 3.

(Full post here.)

The Importance of Quality Research

And a new blog (for me), Therioshamanism, discusses why basic research methodology is important to magick. You already know I agree, so let me just quote his article:

Every shoddily constructed experiment and instrument, every poorly interpreted or deliberately manipulated set of results, every anecdote held up as firm “evidence” across the board–all these things do absolutely nothing to further your cause, and in fact do much to harm it.


If you are going to claim that you have any authority on anything that involves proving something exists objectively, then you need to be literate in the methods used in proving something exists objectively.

Indeed. (Full article here.)

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Pro-Mages and the Goetia (Strategic Sorcery)

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

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Continuing my week of catching up with other blogs, I’m on to Strategic Sorcery today.

The Magic Biz

I always enjoy reading Jason’s take on being a pro-mage. It’s something I’ve thought about on and off for the past year. It’s a hard way to earn a living — much harder than computer consulting, I’ll give him that — but I imagine you would learn a lot by seeing more clients, and by getting the more honest feedback that comes from paying customers, because they don’t feel the need to be polite.

But back to Jason’s post, there are 2 points I found particularly interesting:

In the 90s, mages got status by writing books. For the past decade, mages have gotten status by selling their services. Makes me wonder what the next status-focus will be.

And a fun paragraph:

Some people look at magical orders as the measure of success. The same gent mentioned above bragged to me that the Caliphate OTO has “won”, because they were the biggest group to come out of the Crowley Era. They had the money, and the numbers. He was none to happy when I pointed out that by his standards Scientology would be the obvious winner, not the OTO…**

(Full post here.)

Be Nice to the Goetia

In July, we had a discussion about the Goetia in the comments of my blog. Taylor and Knarrnia recommended just being friendly, and now it seems Jason is in the same camp. I may have to check out the Goetia in the next few months, especially as I start digging into manifesting more.

I also enjoyed Jason’s post for the descriptions of his own path, and for the tips on how to be friendly. And, to avoid post hoc ergo propter hoc, Jason’s article seems to be totally separate from the discussion on my post.

(Full article here.)

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Ethical Love Magick (The Razor’s Edge)

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

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Today, I finish catching up with The Razor’s Edge, before moving on to Strategic Sorcery and a few others.

Rated [M] for Magick

In response to my post about magick for adults, Mr. Black created a vastly better headline, and said:

I don’t really like to specify magick as for “adults” only…..more so for the mature only.

To me, there are plenty of adults who make mistakes, who do not really think things through, who are immature and have not gained the wisdom they should’ve gotten from the many years of experience they’ve procured.

I like this sentiment. Because that’s really what I’m getting at: Not a concern about 14-year-olds reading my blog, but about immature or malicious adults using these techniques to hurt someone. My mentors restrict certain techniques to people who’ve done enlightenment work, which seems sensible. So, I either want to stay quiet about those techniques, or if I do post them, I want to do it deliberately, with a decision to disclose them to everyone, enlightened or not.

(Full post here.)

Love, Lust and Seduction

Mr. Black on magick to find love (of one form or another). One sentence in particular jumped out at me:

I just don’t feel right using magick to gain love or help with seducing someone you “love”.

I think that we conceptualize magick differently. Sure, if you ask, “Make Sally love me,” that’s just creepy (and unlikely to work). But if you ask:

“Cause me to meet good romantic partners, and cause me to approach them in a good way that leads to a good relationship.”

Or something like that, that seems both smart and ethical. It’s helping me meet people who probably want to meet me, and causing happy coincidences. I don’t see a problem with that.

The rest of his post is an interesting window into Mr. Black’s take on love, sex and relationships, and how magick interacts with them. (Full post here.)

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Mr. Black: There are No Shortcuts

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

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Still catching up on other blogs. A friend is visiting this week, so this is the perfect time to let other bloggers do my work for me. :)

Today: Mr. Black of The Razor’s Edge

Patience is a Virtue

A heavily-anonymized case study of a mage who became mentally unstable. Mr. Black blames that instability on learning magick without pursuing a spiritual practice, though I think that might just be correlation: Anyone who wants to pursue magick strictly for power is probably a bit unstable already, and will be more likely to work with malicious spirits and mages who promise power, to their own detriment.

The mage also tried  to “hack” the system of magick that Mr. Black practices, without first learning the basics. It didn’t work:

Anyone who has ever “hacked” anything knew the basics or fundamentals before even getting started on hacking a system.

Take Bruce Lee and his Jeet Kune Do for example;  Bruce Lee was already a martial artist before he decided to revolutionize the way we look and train in martial arts. Peter Carroll was already a magickian before Chaos Magick was created to counter the antiquity of the state of magick at that time.

I totally agree, even though I’m somewhat of a counter-example. I developed this style of magick (the one I blog about here) without learning a traditional style first, and by the time I was old enough to become initiated, I wasn’t interested. In essence, I’ve been hacking magick from the beginning.

And yet, I wouldn’t recommend it to most people. It’s slow, and difficult, and takes a long time before you get anything useful. I explored magick out of curiosity, and had a lot of luck in winding up with a good model. And even now, 20 years in, there’s still so much I don’t know.

Mr. Black’s point, I think, is that there are no shortcuts. You can’t just skip the initiation, figure magick out for yourself, and expect to save time. Hacking magick is a longcut, and a rewarding one if you want to put in the work, but it’s definitely not a shortcut.

Read Mr. Black’s full post.

Conjuration Case Study

A case study of a conjuration to get a job. Two things of particular interest:

  • Mr. Black got sick shortly after the work, and explains how he dealt with it. A request: I don’t practice your style, so I couldn’t follow all the steps you took to deal with the sickness. What’s a mala, and is there some technique to siphoning off the energy on your altar? And did you siphon energy off yourself, or just your altar?
  • The second half of the post covers a technique Mr. Black uses to check if his magick worked. This was neat to see, and seems like a generally useful technique. I’ve done similar work with energy healing, asking for psychic intuitions before the healing session to make sure I’m taking the right approach, and afterward, to make sure it worked.

Read the full post here.

To Be Continued…

Wow, Mr. Black writes a lot. I’ll finish catching up with him tomorrow.

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