Archive for the ‘Other Blogs’ Category

Other Bloggers on Teaching

Monday, September 17th, 2012

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I’m still catching up with other magick blogs, flagging my favorite posts as I go. Today: Thoughts on teaching from A Little Death and Magical Experiments.

An Awesome Teacher

Ona retells an experience from a wonderful teacher who helped a troubled woman rather than dismissing her. The way he handled it was great, as is Ona’s honesty about her feelings throughout the situation. I was going to quote her post, but instead, I’m just going to tell you to read it yourself.

Audience and Responsibility

Last month, I thought about how much to share on my blog, particularly with techniques that could hurt someone. I’ve been meaning to do a follow-up post, but today, I just want to flag Taylor’s response on his own blog:

I don’t feel responsible for how my audience uses the knowledge gleaned from my books, as my audience is responsible for their choices and experiences (much as I am responsible for my experiences and choices). How they choose to use and/or abuse what they get from my books is their concern and the consequences are also their concern.

I like this sentiment: Trust everyone to be responsible for their own actions. Simple, democratic, and relatively freeing for my own work. Not sure where I’ll wind up at this point, but I enjoyed reading Taylor’s take on it.

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Ananael’s Science Smackdown

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

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I’ve fallen behind in reading other magick blogs. This week, I’m catching up, linking to particularly interesting articles as I go.

Today: Ananael’s blog, Augoeides.


Following up on his previous acupuncture post, Ananael writes about a new study:

The latest meta-analysis of acupuncture research, published two days ago in the Archives of Internal Medicine, conclusively shows that acupuncture does in fact work for chronic pain. Notably, this latest study also found a clear difference between traditional acupuncture in which needles are inserted at specific, defined points versus so-called “sham acupuncture,” in which needles are inserted at random points in the same general area.

Then he lays into skeptics who misrepresent these sort of studies:

The problem skeptics have with acupuncture seems to be that nobody has figured out exactly how it works. […] Either said skeptics just don’t have their facts straight, or they’re deliberately confusing them to push what I would have to call an anti-science agenda. The whole point of the scientific method is that you don’t get to pick and choose only those studies that confirm your personal biases.

If you were wondering, that’s the smackdown from the title. Well said. (Full article here.)

Manifesting a Hot Tub

You know how I love case studies, and Ananael just posted one about manifesting a hot tub. In particular, note the unlikely path his wife took in finding the yard sale with a well-priced tub, and some lucky breaks he had in deciding where to put the tub.

One question for Ananael: It seems like some of your luck went beyond just “Finding a hot tub,” like placing it in a better location and finding that couch. Do you think the way you phrased your goal helped with this? Was it particularly broad, and do you have a general practice of making it broad? Thanks.

The Just World Hypothesis

Another new study, this one showing that:

People perceive rituals which are more complex or time-consuming as much more effective.

(Full article here.)

I’ve seen that in my own practice: Because most of my work only takes a few minutes, and just involves me sitting and thinking, I sometimes feel like friends are underwhelmed. Maybe I should add some theatrics…

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My Favorite Posts from Other Blogs (August 21)

Monday, August 20th, 2012

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Once again, it’s time to let other bloggers do my job for me. Here are some of my favorite posts from the past few weeks.

Ananael picks apart some of the claims of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). I don’t know that much about NLP, but it’s always sounded like pseudo-science wrapped in flashy language, and it’s nice to see someone subjecting their claims to real scientific inquiry. (And not terribly surprising to see those claims wilt upon inspection.)

Taylor of Magical Experiments writes about the role of proof in magick, and the difference between proving magick to yourself vs proving it to doubters who demand an obvious demonstration in 5 minutes or less. It includes some case studies of his own magick, and you know how I love case studies.

RO has a post on greatness. It’s a bit of a kick in the rear to anyone who focuses on trying hard rather than succeeding, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

New blog for me: Weird Shit Not Bullshit. He has an interesting series about why occultists are particularly prone to believing in conspiracy theories. Summary: Because we spend so much time exploring correspondences and symbolic meanings, it’s easy for us to do that in the mundane world, which leads to psychosis rather than truth.

Mr. Black writes about mentor-student relationships online, and how different they are than in-person work. Scroll down for a long comment from me.

Ona has a series of posts for experienced meditators. I don’t meditate much, but I particularly enjoyed the one on expectations vs reality, because I think every field has a moment where the reality of being skilled somehow doesn’t match how you imagined it when you were a beginner.

And Jason discusses how to make a niche for your occult store. Short story: Craft a remarkable story. Also, enchanted cockrings. (Now I’m going to show up on all the wrong google searches.)

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Don’t Mock Demons

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

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Great post from Ananael a few weeks back, discussing a paranormal investigator named Buell who claims to have been bothered by a Goetic demon for 4 years. Buell’s solution?

Buell claims to have dealt with the problem by mocking the entity regularly, referring to it as a “bunny”.

When a problem lasts for 4 years, your home remedy didn’t work. And yet, I see lots of people with home remedies based on the idea that, by simply not acknowledging the malicious spirit, it can’t harm you.

There is exactly one thing in this world which cares what you expect to happen, and that thing is the placebo effect. If your symptoms are just hypochondria, then by all means, laugh and mock them.

But we learn energy healing because it’s more than placebo. We learn manifesting because it’s more than positive thinking and hard work. We learn magick because it has a real, external existence separate from our expectations.

And remember: Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away. (Philip K. Dick.) If that real, external existence turns out to be malicious, it won’t stop being malicious just because you mock it or refuse to believe in it.

You have to actually do something to the external world to protect yourself. The methods will differ: Ananael would probably use some sort of protection or banishing ritual, while I would damage the connections between the spirit’s mental muscles and its thinking mind. But neither of us would just wish it away.

I think that’s Ananael’s point at the close of his article:

paranormal investigators don’t need psychics who give vague and impossible to verify information, they need magicians who can command spiritual forces when the need to do so arises. Those of us who study occultism work with these things all the time, and while it may seem unscientific to enlist our help, it still strikes me as wise.


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Blog Post Round-Up (July 18)

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

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You know the comments roundups, where I let my commenters do my work for me? I’m going to expand on that, and let other bloggers do my work for me, too.

Ananael slams that silly movie, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” I hated it too, and really enjoyed seeing him take it apart.

Rune Soup has a great post on how to maximize memory. To me, this is a straight science post, not particularly magick-related, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ona had a great comment on “Politely Leaving the Mysterious, Mysterious,” along with a great post on the subject, with actual answers, rather than just questions.

Mr. Black wondered how much we should help beginners. Should we activate their mental muscles (to use my terms), or let them explore on their own? With the work I’m doing for my book, this is very much on my mind.

Inominandum points out that spirits often don’t understand money, and may give bad advice where human matters are concerned. This has been my experience as well, and I realized that I’ve never really talked about it, and I haven’t seen it discussed in other blogs, either.

And Taylor suggests that if we treat spirits with respect, even normally-dangerous ones like the Goetia may become helpful and pleasant.

Note: I scheduled this post to go up automatically today. I may still be incommunicado on my way to Australia.

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What’s a “Road Opener”?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

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Rune Soup has an interesting post on manifesting. Mostly, he talks about doing the non-magickal work, instead of relying on your magick entirely. (For example, before manifesting for a job, write a good resume.) I agree 100%.

There’s one thing that doesn’t fit for me, though. He talks about “road openers,” meaning magick that creates options which you can then pursue. For example, getting an invitation to the right party is a “road opener”: It doesn’t get you a new job itself, but it creates an opportunity for you to network and solve your own problem more effectively.

For talking about what magick does at a high level, so outsiders can understand manifesting, this sounds like a useful term. But I don’t think it’s a useful model of manifesting for talking to other mages, because I don’t see the inherent distinction between opening a road (getting you invited to the party) vs causing other events. Let me explain.

Imagine two manifestings. In one, I influence a person’s decision to cause them to invite me to a party. In the other, I influence a person’s decision to cause them to hire me. Both manifestings acted in the same way — they influenced a single decision — and so I don’t see the point in calling one a road opener and the other a “problem solver” (or whatever you want to call it).

Now imagine two road openers. The first one still influences a person’s decision to invite me to a party. But imagine this party also has tickets raffled off with powerball machines, and in the second manifesting, I influence tiny air currents in the powerball mixer to make my number come up. The magick is very different — one influenced decisions, the other influenced air currents — and so it feels odd to call them both “road openers.”

In the end, I think it comes down to what part of magick you focus on. If you view magick based on what it does for you — from a human-scale perspective, with the end goal in mind — then terms like “road opener” make sense. But if you view magick based on the steps it takes to cause those changes — the implementation, rather than the result — then those terms just feel odd. And since we need to understand magick’s implementation to grow it into a modern, reliable field of study, I want to move us toward implementation-focused terms, rather than results-focused ones.

Now, the question for me: Since most people will naturally view magick from a human-scale perspective, how do I move them to implementation-focused terms? Thoughts?

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Strategic Atheism

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

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Jason on Strategic Sorcery recently had an atheism kerfuffle. Particularly his first post is fairly interesting and entertaining, you should check it out. The comments are worth a skim.

While I’m not particularly interested in aggressive atheism, I am interested in how communities come to be dominated by their loudest members, and how more sensible members can reclaim the discussion. So, a few somewhat-disconnected thoughts:

I agree with Jason’s core point: If your goal is to change peoples’ minds, you can’t do it by being abrasive. That just raises everyone’s temperature, which makes it even harder to communicate sensibly.

Often, a community’s loudest members are its angriest. For one, they’re most willing to fight for the microphone. For another, they are often the closest to the caricature your enemies want to paint, so they wind up being cited by outsiders more often. And, of course, they’re often the most polarizing and entertaining, which is always good when a news report is looking for ratings.

When a community doesn’t call out its angriest, loudest members, they come to define that community, at least to outsiders. This ultimately kills much of the good a community could do. I think that was the point of Jason’s post. I tried making a similar point about calling BS on fake wisdom, and let me tell you, it’s hard to walk the line of calling out a portion of the community without turning it into a flame war.

As a concrete example of where atheism becomes aggressive: When a religious person tries to turn their beliefs into laws, I fully support you beating them with “Science is right, you are wrong.” But when a religious person says “This is what I believe, it makes me happy, if you are unhappy, maybe I can help you,” just leave them alone. Bothering people with private religious beliefs are where atheism becomes aggressive atheism.

If you read that paragraph and said, “But wait, I don’t bother people living their religious lives privately,” then you’re not an aggressive atheist. You’re not the kind of person Jason is talking about. But realize that, by standing with aggressive atheists and not calling them out, you give outsiders the impression that you also want to attack privately-religious people.

None of these items are particularly focused on atheists. I first encountered most of them in discussions of fundamentalist Islam, but they could just as easily apply to any group who feels they have access to the ultimate truth of the world. And, while I agree that atheists using science come closer to the truth than fundamentalist theists using a holy book, surely we can all agree that no one yet has the ultimate truth of the universe, and probably no one ever will.

I also saw this with gay pride parades: Folks in the gay community are saying, “We are pressing for marriage. We need to showcase how we’re just like everyone else. Showcasing and embracing these stereotypes will damage our cause.” Really, this kind of discussion happens in most communities.

Remember, if your goal is to persuade people and improve public discourse, that’s the metric of success. It doesn’t matter if the facts you’re saying are objectively correct. If you’re presenting them in a way that doesn’t persuade people or improve public discourse, you’re doing it wrong.

In particular, community-members who say that their goal isn’t to be liked need to be called out, unless your community as a whole really doesn’t have a goal of being liked or changing public discourse. And yes, those two goals really are linked.

There are two ways to approach a discussion like Jason had. One is to absorb the writer’s experiences and try to become better at connecting to people. The other is to argue that everything you’ve been doing is right and doesn’t need any improvement. There are times for each approach, but in any one conversation, you can only do one. In each conversation, each of us has to decide whether we’d rather become better, or argue that we were always right.

When I read Jason’s comment about his friends who are “tired they are of having to qualify their atheist stance by saying ‘but we are not those rabid obnoxious pricks,'” I got what he was going for much better than I did from just reading his post. I think grounding these discussions in personal experience is important, and I’ll try to do it myself more, too.

Comments are open but moderated. My blog, my rules. I try to let people have their say, but need to keep the comments readable and interesting for others. Respectful disagreement is always welcome, flames and off-topic comments probably won’t get posted.

For anyone following the manifesting series: I’m writing the rest of that series today, and will resume it Monday or Tuesday.

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Strategic Sorcery on Enlightenment

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

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Jason and I have been discussing magick for enlightenment. You should read those links, and particularly the latest post, before continuing.

First, let me say I really enjoyed Jason’s post. This isn’t my field, but I love exploring new things. I’m going to mostly discuss ideas and ask questions rather than giving answers. (Or I’ll try to, at least.)

What Enlightenment Is (For Jason)

Jason wrote:

It is about waking up from the fragmented and mechanical awareness that we all have so that we can see what reality is. Once it is found it is about allowing that non-dual awareness to regain its natural stability. In this way we understand the ground of being.

I had to look up “non-dual awareness,” which means being aware of the universe as a whole entity, rather than seeing yourself as separate from it, more or less. (Feel free to leave comments and tell me how wrong I am about that.)

Like some of you, I’m fairly new to Jason’s writing. I think this is one of the keys to understanding him, though: He views enlightenment through a meditative, non-dualist approach. (Buddhist, perhaps?)

My approach focuses more on understanding emotions and bringing your responses in line with what they are when you’re at your best. But non-dual awareness sounds interesting, so let’s explore.

Magick for Enlightenment

My second question was, “What magick practices focus on enlightenment?”

Jason’s answer seems to be “a lot of them.” Which is fair, since there are lots of approaches. But it’s not that useful for someone new to this enlightenment-based magick. So let me ask a slightly different question: What are some identifying features of practices that lead to enlightenment? Perhaps an example of a ceremonial practice focused on enlightenment, and one that isn’t, would make it clearer.

Also, my real reason for asking is so I can try it. If you have a good practice for someone with very little ritual experience, but a good deal of other magick experience, that would be awesome.

How Do You Know It’s Working

This part I really enjoyed. Three items to note:

First, Jason makes a great distinction between reaching the state occasionally vs reaching the stage of development where you can sustain the state. I find the same thing in a lot of magick: There’s a difference between being able to do something on a good day vs being able to do it on most days vs being able to do it whenever you want, even if you’re distracted.

Second, I like the way he explains that the proof is in the putting*, and calls BS on some “Crazy Wisdom.”

*That’s the original phrase: Putting, meaning “the doing of the thing.” Not “pudding.”

Third, and this is may be something I have to experience: I don’t see the connection between a non-dual view of the world and acting in an enlightened manner. I believe that you can be both, and there is probably a correlation between the two. But I don’t understand the causal connection, and ultimately, focusing on non-duality seems like a round-about way to change your reactions to situations and behave in a kinder, more thoughtful way.

Given that I’m new to this type of work, that’s probably a matter of me not seeing something, rather than a statement that there is no connection. But if I’m confused about this, other people probably are, too. And finding the way that A causes B usually helps design a more efficient version of A that causes B better.

Other Projects

A quick note: I owe a bunch of you posts and emails, all the way back from February when Mike asked what I see when I connect to my knee. Those are all coming. I just finished the article for the anthology book today, and I’ll start responding to your questions tomorrow. Thanks for your patience. I haven’t forgotten you.

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