Posts Tagged ‘Belief’

Visualizing Curing Cancer Doesn’t Cure Cancer

Friday, February 24th, 2012

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Just beause you visualize it, doesn’t make it so.

If I visualize a friend’s cancer evaporating, that may create some magick that helps them feel better. But it doesn’t mean their cancer evaporates, or otherwise goes away.

If I explain the magick as “It evaporates cancer,” that’s a huge over-promise. And it shuts down discussion about what the magick actually does, because now we’re focused on that over-promise. It shuts down proper research.

But I see this all the time. In books on chaos magick (Phil Hine, I think), he talks about magick that goes back in time. Not “I visualize changing the past as a way to communicate my desire to my unconscious,” but magick that actually goes back in time. No testing, no real evidence, just “This is what I visualized, so this must be what happens.” In his defense, his book is about temporarily adopting beliefs, so maybe he was temporarily adopting an unrealistic belief, but it’s hard to tell. In the end, readers start talking that way, too.

To be taken seriously, we need to speak clearly, and match our promises to our results. Which means keeping clear on what visualization does, and doesn’t do.

Visualization asks for something to happen. Specifically, it asks your unconscious mental muscles, which interpret the request as best they can (perhaps symbolically), and do their best to make it happen. That’s very different than actually making the thing you visualized happen.

Understanding this distinction — between what you visualized and what you actually get — is probably the most important step to exploring how magick actually works.

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For Better Magick, Focus on the Muscles

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

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If you want to become a better runner, you don’t work on believing you run quickly. No, you exercise your leg muscles, learn how to use them more efficiently, and practice.

Same with magick. The key isn’t believing you’re good. The key is exercising the parts of your mind that drive magick, learning to use them efficiently, and practicing. I call them mental muscles because, like your leg muscles, they’re what makes the difference between imagining doing something vs actually doing it.

Belief can communicate your intent to your mental muscles. It can set them to task. But once you’ve told them to run, the thing that matters is how strong they are, and how efficiently they move. Once they’re running, believing harder won’t make them go any faster.

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Why Chaos Magick Disappoints Me

Monday, October 24th, 2011

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Chaos Magick is a solipsistic cul-de-sac.

Renaldo asks:

I always loved the ideas of making magick fun and a way that is truly unique to oneself. … You stated that beliefs do not affect reality. … Would you please answer if Chaos Magick would fall into the category of defined systems as it seems to be against what is stated. … I would really like to perform effective magick and so I was wondering on your thoughts about it as a system, whether it would be fine to work with or a ghastly end to a beginner in magick?

(Read his full question here).

Hi Renaldo, good questions.

I can see the appeal of Chaos Magick: Create your own magick style just by dreaming it up. Instant uniqueness, instant success, zero mechanics.

That’s why I find Chaos Magick so disappointing. It focuses on imagining things to believe, but never investigates how magick works. It’s like “belief” is a semantic stopsign: It lets you feel like you have an answer, so you never ask the next question.

Of course, if you ask a Chaos Mage, they’ll tell you that everything depends on what you believe, and that my style only works for me because I believe it does. But “whatever you believe, happens” just isn’t a compelling model. Really, it isn’t a model at all, because it doesn’t predict much of anything. I’ll refer to Patrick Dunn’s post on this, and get back to your question.

Is Chaos Magick a system? Well, in the normal English term “system,” Chaos Magick is a set of beliefs. In my technical sense, “system” = “a force you can channel,” and no, Chaos Magick doesn’t supply any systems. And that’s the problem. Let me explain.

Most traditional styles (Thelema, Enochian, Reiki etc) have particular systems-in-the-technical-sense associated with them, which turn your symbolic actions into instructions, then implement those instructions as magick. From what I’ve seen, Chaos Magick doesn’t have any channel-able forces backing it up, unless you also practice a standard style and bring those systems with you, channeling the same forces you do in normal rituals (and, at best, getting the same results as those rituals). That’s why a DIY ritual about the Flying Spaghetti Monster won’t get the same kind of results as a standard Thelemic ritual: Because there’s no system to implement all those requests you’re making.

Will Chaos Magick put a “ghastly end” to your magick? No. And frankly, I’ve never heard of anyone meeting a “ghastly end” from practicing magick. The worst that happens is Chaos Magick leads you into a solipsistic cul-de-sac, focusing on belief rather than the actual mechanics of magick. But it sounds like you’re already asking the right questions to get out of that trap.

So what does Chaos Magick do, then? “Belief as a tool” is a way to communicate your intent to your unconscious. It fills the same role as visualizations or rituals. Reality doesn’t care what you believe, but your unconscious definitely does. But without a system, and without actual mechanics to guide your mental muscles through magick that doesn’t need systems, I can’t see it producing very good results.

I love new, unique ideas. But the first step is understanding magick’s inner-workings. Otherwise, you’ll just wind up with a story that sounds cool but doesn’t produce results — a unique method of not quite doing magick. That’s why I focus on the mechanics: So you can make magick not only unique, but effective.

Does that answer your question?

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Overcoming Doubt in Your Magick

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

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3 techniques to overcome doubt, each more useful than “Fake it til you make it,” and how to recognize when doubt is healthy.

Kol asks:

Most teach “fake it ’til you make it” — for success as well as many magick practices. As you stated, doubt can kill any ‘magickal’ progress… where does belief (in self) come into play as to connecting with and/or somehow manipulating energy — energy within and without?

I think “fake it ’til you make it” is an easy answer that doesn’t require much understanding of how magick works, and it doesn’t work for a lot of people. It’s a cop out.

If you are so paralyzed by doubt that you don’t do anything, then absolutely, start faking it. To succeed, you must do the work. And if your magick starts working once you start faking it, then keep doing it.

But what if you’re faking it, but the “making it” isn’t happening? That’s when you need a technical understanding of how magick works.

Belief Communicates Intent

Let’s start by understanding how doubt prevents magick. I mean, doubt doesn’t prevent you from kicking a ball, writing a letter, watching a movie, etc. (It can make you procrastinate, or not put your full effort in, but it doesn’t flat out prevent you from doing it). So why is magick so impacted?

Magick is all about communicating your intent to your mental muscles, which then drive the magick. That intent can be an overall goal (heal this injury) or a specific procedure (connect to this tissue, fill it with this signature of energy). But at some point, your conscious mind has to tell your (unconscious) mental muscles what to do.

If you imagine energy flowing to the other person and healing the cut, but you’re also thinking “this is all bunk, nothing will happen,” then your mental muscles won’t get the right instruction. They’ll respond to your expectation (that nothing will happen), and not do anything.

That’s why doubt impacts magick so much: It interferes with even making your (mental) muscles move.

Mental Posture Beats Doubt

Now that we know the inner-workings of the problem, we can see the solution: Mental posture.

Your mental posture is how you hold your mind — which parts of your mind are engaged and paying attention. Once you can consciously engage your mental muscles, you can make sure they notice your visualization, and tell them to pay attention to the visualization, not the doubt in the back of your mind.

Click here for details on consciously controlling your mental posture. (Takes a couple hours to learn).

Rituals Beat Doubt

Learning mental posture requires that you can already work with energy. What if you can’t?

In that case, you’ll need outside help. And the most readily available sources of help are the forces that ritual mages channel. (I call them “systems”). Systems respond to specific ritual actions, so doing the LBRP will make a system connect to you, even if you don’t believe in magick. (Whether you’ll notice it without any magick training is another thing entirely).

Once connected, most ritual systems will start preparing your mind to notice and perform magick. So it’s a good way to bootstrap your magick if energy meditation isn’t working.

Click here for more on bootstrapping with rituals.

Testing Beats Doubt

Once you’re doing some magick, you’ll probably still doubt yourself sometimes. Good testing can help. Here are some posts on testing:

When Doubt is Healthy

Someone who never doubts anything is just as crazy as someone who thinks everything is a dream. If you’re trying a new technique or striving to do more advanced magick, it’s only rational to doubt the outcome.

If you tell your mental muscles the overall goal (“heal this person”), and let them fill in the details, that doubt will probably impact your results.

But if you step your mental muscles through the process (“connect to this tissue, make energy in this signature, etc”), then you can still be confident in each step, even as you doubt the overall goal. Remember, doubt impacts your ability to instruct your mental muscles, but doesn’t affect how the external world behaves. So doubting the end result won’t matter as long as you can accurately and confidently guide your mental muscles through each step.

When Belief Doesn’t Help

Your mental muscles inherently know some aspects of magick, but not others. Like how babies know how to walk (even before they’re strong enough), but you need training to do gymnastics. If you’re trying to get your mental muscles to do something simple, like building energy in your body, then belief can help. But if you’re trying to get them to do something complex, like make good sensory connections, then you also have to train your mental muscles.

Click here for details on training your mental muscles.

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How Beliefs Affect Reality: Not At All

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

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Youtube shows us how well “your beliefs create reality” works in practice:

(Once you get the gist of his speech, skip to 1 minute in).

If you have a martial arts background, you know what went wrong: You’re supposed to break wood along the grain. This guy used plywood, which is several layers of wood glued together, with the grains going in different directions. You can’t break plywood like that.

The problem isn’t belief. It’s that he didn’t understand the mechanics of what he was trying to do.

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Chaos Magick and Rabbit Holes

Friday, February 12th, 2010

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Chaos Magick starts with a good premise: That magick lives in the unconscious of the mage, not in the ritual that mage is doing.

“Your unconscious will change the world according to your beliefs and expectations.” This is the beginning and the end of chaos magick. Mages learn to adopt temporary beliefs about how the world works and invent sigils to signal their intent to the unconscious. It’s a rabbit hole.

They never ask “What is that unconscious process, and how does it alter reality?”

“Reality is what you believe” is to magick what “It is that way because God wills it so” is to science. It keeps you forever in a cul-de-sac, fumbling with a view of reality that was never useful in the first place.

Reality does have rules. They aren’t the correspondances used by ritual mages. They aren’t the denial of magick used by scientists. But they aren’t the simplified “Believe it and they will come” used by chaos magick, either.

Direct magick is about understanding those rules. Understanding how the body generates energy lets us heal injuries. Understanding how thoughts in the mind alter signatures lets us communicate telepathically. Understanding how our unconscious minds do magick lets us improve our abilities by magickally altering our minds.

Human capability advances by questioning the world. It starts with rejecting simple explanations like “Belief makes it so.”

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