Renaming Signature: Wrap-Up

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

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The renaming is done. Here’s what we have:

  • “Energy” stays “energy.” I’ll still discuss scoping (magick::energy vs physics::energy) in the intro.
  • “Structure” is now “form.” I’ll talk about a “mental form” for a form that interacts with someone’s mind, “physical form” for a form that interacts with someone’s body, and so on. Or, to speak generically about all forms, I’ll say, “solid form.”
  • “Signature” is now “fractal signature,” or just “fractal.” So you can say that, in order for energy to interact with a form, the energy’s fractal has to match the form’s fractal, not at the large-scale shape, but at the small-scale building blocks.

I’m pretty happy with the names. Fractal matches the sciencey theme I have going (which will influence first impressions, hopefully attracting the right people). And you saw how excited Kol got about the term — and he’s one of the folks who thought I was wasting my time with the renaming. (Seeing that excitement made my day, by the way.)

Thanks for all your suggestions, everyone. Once again, I feel blessed to have you as readers. I didn’t explicitly write about most of your suggestions, but each one helped spark ideas that ultimately lead to the final terms.

I’ve also updated my glossary, if you need a refresher on any of my terms.

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Renaming Energy, Signature & Structure with Manifesting

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

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I’m still thinking about good metaphor-terms for energy, signature and structure. (Structure is my general term for stable magickal structures, like connections, mental muscles, ethereal software, etc.)

Last time, we explored the main attributes the metaphor should convey:

  • Energy activates structure.
  • There’s no inherent meaning, it’s just a matter of which signatures correspond to which structures, and which structures influence cells (and other things) in which ways.
  • Signature scale, and using it to work with different domains.

Today, I’m thinking about the metaphor. This will be an edited stream-of-consciousness, which may be interesting or dull, depending on how much you enjoy seeing me think through this problem. Feel free to skip it — I’ll write about the metaphor I wind up with in another post.

First, energy makes structures move, which actually feels pretty good as a metaphor. It feels roughly like what other things called “energy” do. Though I’d prefer something a bit more suggestive of electricity on a circuit board, in that the electricity isn’t where the complexity or intelligence lives, and the energy’s role is just to activate the complex circuits. But that’s not terribly important to bake into the terms.

The way energy activates structure — where the signatures have to match — reminds me of neurotransmitters. Serotonin only activates a nerve if that nerve has serotonin receptors; otherwise, it does nothing. Not sure how signature scale would fit in there, though.

In fact, what really does have scales in normal experience? I keep going back to the photo mosaic, where a picture of Abe Lincoln is made of smaller pictures of Abe Lincoln. But is there anything more… useful? Maybe visual recognition?

But scale really is the key insight I want to capture, because it’s a dramatic way that magick::energy isn’t like heat. (Heat heats everything — there’s no matching involved.) Maybe the wavelength of light and a photoreceptor?

Let’s think about signature some. Really, I want to capture that it feels like a Jackson Pollack painting: Intricate, lots of different bits, and each bit is made of something complex. Pattern, maybe? I like that. It lends itself to the idea of “matching the pattern” between energy and structure. It lends itself to scales, where a pattern is made of smaller patterns (fractals and the like). And it captures some of how the feeling is more complex than a single color.

For structure, I’ll talk about something like “atomic pattern,” to convey that the pattern matching isn’t in the overall shape of the structure (that is, the layout of the circuit board), but is rather in the type of material that makes up the structure: A circuit board requires electricity, a forge requires heat, a turbine requires wind, and so on.

That’s the key, I think: Magick::energy isn’t like electricity, or heat, or any one type of energy. It’s an overarching term that encompasses many signatures / patterns. And the energy that works with structures associated with the body is different than the energy for working with structures associated with the mind, with ethereal software, and with other things. Each needs their own energy, with a different small-scale signature, similar to how different tools need different types of power or energy (electricity, heat, kinetic energy, etc).

But you can start with one domain, then shift the signature to another domain. (Domain is my term for “the type of thing you’re working with,” like body vs mind vs spirits.) Shifting the signature is how you can connect to someone’s mind if you start with a connection to their body, for example. I do it all the time, and I wouldn’t want a metaphor that made that sound awkward.

Let’s explore structure. I want to convey that:

  • It is stable.
  • It ties to the physical world, but is not itself physical.
  • It requires energy with the right type / signature / pattern.

Stable is a nice word. I could explore there. But right now, I think I want some manifesting to guide me, like I did with the tagline.

Manifesting: Keep the term “energy.” It is fairly universal and well-understood, it will be an important hook for new readers.

“Signature” is better than most other options. “Pattern” is nice, but there are options better than the both. Let’s explore there.

Manifesting pushes ideas into my thoughts. I get the concept of a sculpture’s shape, and whether it’s angular or smooth. Manifesting says, “Look into art terms. You’ll find something useful there.” It seems to know that it will work better by telling me yes / no on my own ideas, rather than trying to send me exact words. I wish I understood the algorithm better so I could see why that is.

Anyway, back to the word search. Google turns up an art glossary. Manifesting flags some terms as I scroll down:

  • Analogous colors. (Could be useful for describing signatures that match up.)
  • Assemblage, where you build a sculpture from multiple parts. (Like how structures connect up.)
  • Binder, a substance in paint that makes the pigment particles stick together.
  • Etch.
  • Form — explore here for terms for structure.

At this point, I stop, and explore the concept of “form.”

Manifesting: Form is a better concept than structure, because it suggests a shape. You’ll be able to talk about physical forms and mental forms and spirit forms and it will sound natural, while replacing “form” with “structure” in those terms sounds weird.

You can keep the term “structure” as the stand-alone noun, when you’re just talking about “anything solid,” though “solid form” will be better.

Me: What about “stable form”?

Manifesting: That’s good too, though “solid form” is a better image.

I think about it some. It is. Solid form suggests a sculpture. Stable form suggests a building for a horse. So, we have “solid form” for an overarching “anything stable,” then “physical form” and so on for the particulars.

Manifesting: OK, now we need the thing that animates the form. That will be X energy, where X is the same term that goes before “form.” (So, physical form is animated by physical energy, and so on.)

(I take a break here, for anyone comparing my sessions to their own.)

Manifesting: Now for signature. Start with pattern, but explore a bit more. It will be the [something] pattern.

It pushes thoughts into my mind again. It’s an image, like you’re zooming in on a building and as you zoom in, you see all the steel girders and such. The idea of zooming in and seeing the component parts. I ask for the domain of the idea.

Manifesting: With electronics or large-scale objects. Not atoms, that’s the wrong metaphor, you’ll want to talk about atoms elsewhere. Don’t bake it into the pattern.

I go through a few words. Building block, recursive, etc. I get a nod on “constructive pattern.”

Manifesting: Yes. The idea that these small units build up to the larger unit. There’s a word for that.

I try scaling, repeating, recursive, fractal. Scaling is good, but fractal is the best. Manifesting gets excited*.

*Yes, I know this doesn’t match my model where ethereal software is like a computer and doesn’t have emotions. That’s why I wrote it down: Unexpected data is the most important kind of data.

Manifesting: Yes. Fractal pattern. Or just “fractal.” As in “the energy’s fractal.” It will totally capture the concept of a recursive shape, plus it has the right sciencey-sound to go with ethereal software. You’d talk about the form’s fractal, too.

(I end the manifesting session.)

So, in summary, we have:

  • Solid form, or for specific types, physical form, mental form, etc.
  • Energy, again with types, like physical energy, mental energy, etc.
  • Fractal for the type of energy / form, as in “you need to match the energy’s fractal to the form’s fractal,” or “the difference between physical form and mental form is a small-scale difference in the fractal.”

What do you think? (Remember, it’s entirely possible that I made errors in the question I asked, or in receiving the information. Manifesting is complex, and while the ideas are good, I wouldn’t want the manifesting to shut down the conversation.)

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Renaming Energy & Signatures: How Energy Behaves

Monday, May 14th, 2012

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If you came for a technical guide to energy, skip down to “how energy behaves.”

On my post about renaming the term “energy,” Simon left an excellent question:

Who are these terms for? Is it to gain some respectability so that ‘non magicans’ might look into this stuff and take it seriously? Or is it to orientate people who are already interested and just need a consensus term to use as shorthand.

My overall goal – with the blog and the book — is to develop a group of mages to work with. That includes knowing my terms and concepts, but even more, it’s about being able to use sensory connections and mental muscles and ethereal software and all the other parts that make my techniques work. So that I can post a technique for nergy healing, or personal growth, or observations about connecting to trees, and everyone can try it for themselves and see what happens. Because I really do want independent verification of what I’m seeing, I just need to get you the skills to do it. Also, ideally, other mages in the group would develop their own techniques, post them, and we can all learn from each other.

There are other goals. I want to help people be happier with their own magick, even if we don’t wind up collaborating like that. And long-term, I want to develop magick into a mature, respected discipline. But in the context of the book and the terms I use on the blog, that’s my overall goal.

My goal with these terms is to make my model more intuitive for people who want to go fairly far with the style — work through the whole book, and then push the limits themselves. Which means that I’m looking for a simple metaphor that suggests the actual behavior of each component. Kind of like how it feels natural to say “I reprogrammed the ethereal software,” but if you adopt the energy healer term and “Channel energy from The Universe,” you’d probably never even think to reprogram it. (“I reprogrammed The Universe” sounds more than a bit weird.)

The renaming is also for myself. The terms we use really do matter, and adopting metaphors that feel more natural to me will probably help me explore better.

So, let’s start with the behavior I’m trying to imply with my metaphor.

How Energy Behaves

Energy activates structure. That’s really about it.

“But wait,” you say. “Energy promotes healing, and causes tingly feelings, and does all these other things we’re always talking about.”

Indeed, it does. But it does those things by activating structures. And that is the key to the metaphor I want to convey.

When energy promotes healing, that’s because it activates the magical structures connected to physical cells which causes those cells to grow more quickly, suppress inflammation responses, or some other similar changes. When energy feels tingly, that’s because it activates the structures that connect to nerves and cause a particular type of neural signal.

How does the energy “know” which structures to activate? Signature. Each structure has a signature, and that structures activated by energy with the same signature.

This may seem like splitting hairs, but it’s fairly important. Healing energy doesn’t know that it heals, just like serotonin doesn’t know that it makes people happy. The effect of the energy (or the serotonin) is a consequence of the structures it interacts with. I want a term that focuses us on matching signatures and interacting with individual structures, rather than on the overall goal of what we want the energy to do.

Photo mosaic from wikipedia.


On signature, scale is probably the most important thing. You can break the signature down into smaller, simpler signatures. You know those pictures of a person, made of other pictures of that same person? (Photo to right.) It’s likely that, except that each of the smaller pictures are, in turn, made of even smaller pictures. This is what I mean by “the scale of the signature”: How many steps down you’ve gone from the large-scale picture.

Broad-scale signature is the feel of the energy. Smaller-scale signature determines if the energy interacts with ethereal software or a person, with the body or the mind, and so on. (The “domain” of the energy.) This doesn’t come up until you’re fairly far along in learning direct magick, but once it does, it’s quite important.

In general, structures are activated not only by energies that match the large-scale signature, but also energies that match some small-scale signatures. In that case, the activation is less efficient, and only activates part of the structure, getting it into a weird state. You usually want to avoid this.

So, those are the main concepts:

  • Energy activates structure.
  • There’s no inherent meaning, it’s just a matter of which signatures correspond to which structures, and which structures influence which cells.
  • Signature scale, and using it to work with different domains.

I’m going to think about metaphors today, and write about that tomorrow. Any thoughts? Leave a comment.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

Renaming Energy & Signature

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

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My original terms were universally bad. Before I had “ethereal software,” I called them “systems,” conflating a style of magick with the intelligent force that drives it. Before I had “mental muscles,” I called them “mental areas,” which is about as non-descriptive as you can get.

Now, I’m wondering about energy and signature.

Energy isn’t great, and continuously implies a correspondence between magick::energy and other types of energy, like “the ability to do work” (physics::energy) or “glucose in cells” (bio::energy)*. And “signature” is about as meaningless and non-sequitur-ish as you can get. Surely, I can do better.

*Actual experts in the fields will probably tell me that my definitions of energy are wrong. Mea culpa. You know what I mean.

I’ve been thinking about “signature,” so I’ll start there.

First, the other common term is “vibration,” which I associate with non-serious practitioners (sometimes called “fluffy”) wanting to “raise the vibration of the planet.” Not that no one serious is allowed to use the term, but I’d just feel awkward. Is it worth getting over that feeling? Maybe, because if you just look at the metaphor, it’s actually pretty good. If you imagine a radio wave, it correctly suggests that:

  • The vibration is the information content of the wave / energy.
  • There are scales of vibrations, such as the carrier signal vs the radio program.
  • That the energy will transfer its vibration to the structure, which it does.

And yet… it still doesn’t feel right. I keep hearing “raise the vibration,” which is a seriously misleading way to describe “aligning the injured tissue’s energy signature / vibration to a normal, healthy signature / vibration for your body.” Also, it makes me expect energy to feel like a tuning fork or an overly-loud stereo, but it actually reminds me much more of a Jackson Pollack painting. None of this is fatal, but it all makes me feel like I should search a little harder.

Perhaps “signal,” as in “radio signal”? Because no one talks about “radio vibrations.”

Then we have “energy.” I’m tempted to keep it because it’s a fairly standard term for “the thing that makes you feel tingly.” But then again, egregore is a fairly standard term for “external force you channel,” and I tossed it aside for my own metaphor, so I should at least explore my options on “energy.”

I’ll do that tomorrow. Today, I want to ask you for any other standard terms you know of for energy and signature, or any metaphors you’ve found particularly helpful in thinking about these parts of magick. Feel free to discuss “connection,” too, as the term feels decent but not great. Thanks!

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