Posts Tagged ‘Community’

In-Person Meetup in San Francisco

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

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I’m organizing the Science of Magick meetup in San Francisco. It’s not direct-magick-specific, but rather, it’s for anyone interested in building magick into a science. We have 8 RSVP’d already, and hopefully more as it gets closer to the time.

The first meetup is Tuesday, Sept 10, at 7:30 at some coffee shop near BART in San Francisco:

If you’re local, I hope you’ll join us. And even if you’re not local, if you’re on, it would be a big help to me if you’d join the group — bigger groups are listed higher and are more likely to attract more members. Thanks!

And to all my US readers, happy Labor Day. (Happy ordinary Monday to everyone who’s international.) Too many parties and bbq’s have left me exhausted today, but I’ll be back to posting about magick on Wednesday.

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Open Letter to a Curious Non-Mage

Monday, November 12th, 2012

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A new non-mage friend, S, has started reading my blog. She sent me a thoughtful, honest email about her response to magick. This post is my reply.

Let’s start with an excerpt from her email:

To describe my current state of mind, I would say it is both skeptical and open to learning something new about the way the world works that is very different from what I thought before. As a scientist, this is exactly how I would like to approach any new or alternative theory about the way the world is and the way it works – with healthy skepticism and an open mind. … [But] I have not been able to completely erase the social stigma from my opinions and my thoughts.

I have a few thoughts on this.

First: I prefer respectful honesty to false praise any day, and you hit the note well. Thank you for your email, and for trusting me enough to send it.

Second: I would never expect blind acceptance. Among people who have not experienced magick, the rational response is to believe the world works according to standard physics.

Third: Skepticism is highly undervalued, especially in magickal circles.

My people are the skeptics*. The scientists. The people who don’t believe an idea simply because a teacher or a book said so, who won’t believe in magick or energy healing — or physics, for that matter — without evidence, and who can follow an experience to its natural conclusion, even when that’s not the conclusion they were hoping for.

So, in fact, I’m quite glad that you aren’t able to banish your skepticism. That means that (1) you’re honest with me, and trust me enough to not lie out of politeness, and (2) you are my kind of person.

*I’m using “skeptic” in the proper sense: Someone who distrusts unproven ideas and weighs evidence rationally. Different from aggressive skeptics, who are more interested in winning than truth.

One more item: Thank you for being polite enough not to ask me to demonstrate magick, and for taking the time to read my blog and engage my ideas and decide for yourself. I think you understand that this is a very young science that’s not ready for on-demand demonstrations, and that, with a little patience, you’ll soon have plenty of your own experiences to draw from.

For now, have you seen my case studies? I think they might be helpful.

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In the Future, Everything Will Be a Coffee Shop

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

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A few months ago, I read this great article by Stephen Gordon about how all businesses will become coffee shops in the future. The idea is that, with all the core functions of a business going online now — university classes and most retail, for example — the only real function of most businesses will be for meetings, which can happen more cheaply and deliciously at a coffee shop.

I was brought back to Gordon’s article after visiting the occult store in Melbourne this week. The striking thing about this shop is, it truly wants to be a bookstore. The books themselves are wrapped in plastic, so you can’t thumb through them — Amazon gives you more of a preview than you get here. I don’t think there were any chairs, let along a place to sit and chat over coffee. In fact, between the books on every wall and the jewelry cases in the middle, there would barely be space for two people to pass each other. The goal seems to be to stock as many books as possible, and get customers in and out as quickly as possible, with a minimum of interaction.

And I can’t imagine it’s going very well. Amazon will always have a bigger selection, plus reviews and better prices. Blogs like this one make much of the content free, and most online content is fresher and more cutting edge than print books, anyway. When I told him I’m a blogger and asked about local events, he was outright hostile, saying that everyone is just talking online and not meeting, and that the community is falling apart because of … (wait for it) … blogs.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about coffee shops. Some place with meetups, classes, and books to read while you’re there. Roughly 90% of coffee shops succeed* because it’s a relatively high-markup product, and it’s a lot less overhead than a restaurant. Basically, you let Amazon have the product sales, and you focus on the community. The Occult Bookstore in Chicago is pretty close: They have an event most evenings, and a truly lovely community there, but I don’t think they actually sell coffee. You pay $10 for the event, and bring the coffee from next door, which seems like a huge missed opportunity.

*That 90% statistic was from some article comparing coffee shops to restaurants. It’s probably as well-researched as most things on the internet.

Right now, this is just an idea bouncing around my head. I doubt I’ll do anything with it. But I am curious: Does anyone live in an area with an occult coffee shop, or an occult bookstore that primarily lives on events and coffee sales? I’d love a link to the place.


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Sharing Mystical Experiences

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

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A while ago, Ona talked about how, in secular western society, people still have mystical experiences, we just never talk about them:

It’s funny how alone and weird these [mystical] experiences can make us feel. For many people in the world (outside of secular western culture), having a meaningful dream, getting divination, making offerings to the ancestors, or having a communication from a spirit are just accepted parts of human experience. What I’ve found is that many people in our modern secular western culture also have these experiences, but there’s this public agreement that it’s crazy and weird, so no one talks about it or people feel ashamed and alienated by it. But I’ve run into person after person who once they realize I’m not going to call them crazy admits to all kinds of spiritual or mystical experiences… and these are conversations I’ve had with very “normal” or even “square” people – businessmen, college educated professionals, down-home working men, suburban housewives, etc. Often they say they’ve never told anyone before, because they were afraid people would think they were nuts…

This happened to me twice in the past week, with two new friends. Both are “normal” people — one’s a historian, the other is a psychologist, and neither is involved in paganism or mysticism or even particularly involved in mainstream religions. With both of them, I was uncomfortable bringing up my background in energy healing, and downplayed it, simply saying that I “do energy healing.” And both responded by sharing mystical experiences of their own that I never would have heard if I hadn’t opened that door.

One gets psychic intuitions and communication from “ghosts,” which I put in quotes because they could just as easily be non-human spirits, psychic intuitions coming through as visions, or something else. And I feel guilty dissecting the experience as I tell you about it, because I think that’s part of what isolates us: In secular western society, we want to explain these experiences in terms of accepted models, rather than accepting the experience on its own terms.

The other friend had a profound healing experience. She had just gotten out of a traumatic relationship, went to a spa for a few days, and in addition to the massages and baths, got energy healing with great results. She doesn’t normally talk about this, but once she knew I would accept her experience, she was eager to share.

I don’t know that there is a moral to these stories, except that I’ve now seen for myself that Ona is right. (Was there ever any doubt?) Lots of people have these mystical experiences, we just never talk about them publicly. Which is sad and isolating, particularly for people trying to make sense of mystical experiences they’re having right now. And it makes me want to be more open about my own experiences, now that I know that I’m fairly likely to discover the other person has their own to share.

I wish there was some symbol we could wear on a necklace to signal to other mystical-experience-havers that we want to share, but that wouldn’t stand out to non-mystical-experience-havers. Any ideas?

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When Your Expectations Hurt You

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

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Beltane was great. 48 hours in the woods with pagans and mages, doing energy healing and talking about magick.

But it also left me sad. Which I wasn’t expecting.

So I write a (terrible) post to figured out why. Then I wrote this (non-terrible, I hope) post about what to do when your expectations hurt you

Unhealthy expectations — the kind that don’t map to reality, the kind that lead to disappointment — also lead you to express yourself badly. Which make you generally less effective at everything you want to do.

I don’t have a simple recipe. But I can show you how I fixed one unhealthy expectation today, and how it helped me see a better way to build friendships and build a community.

Find Unhealthy Expectations

Unconsciously, I’d expected lots of people to be interested in direct magick. Not for any rational reason, but because I’d unconsciously assumed other people were like me.

I realized that, even among people who practice magick regularly, direct magick isn’t right for most folks.

Well, that’s an oversimplification. First I was confused, then I wrote a lot, then I realized that direct magick isn’t right for most people.

Direct magick is for someone who:

  • Wants to be the best in the world at magick, in a technical, “change reality to this” sort of way.
  • Values accuracy above all else in their beliefs.
  • Demands a systemic explanation of why magick works — explaining all the pieces, unifying all styles of magick — and will put in the time to develop the technical skills to grasp it.

Yeah, I know those all make direct magick sound good, and make other mages sound a bit like philistines. Mea culpa. It’s more balanced than the list I had yesterday.

Most people aren’t going to be into direct magick, just as most people aren’t into calculus, medical research or quantum physics (the real science, not the new-age habit of calling everything “quantum energy” so it sounds sciencey).

If I expect other people to be into it, that’s my problem, not theirs. And realizing that let my mind update its expectations.

Focus On Their Interests

That got me halfway to feeling well again. The other half was figuring out how to connect to people anyway.

Short answer: Give them just enough of direct magick to help them solve a problem, without requiring them to learn the rest.

The first night, I met V. She had recently had spirits connecting to her, draining her energy. So I walked her through removing a connection:

  1. Steady your energy, so you can see anything unusual more easily.
  2. Look for changes in your energy, and anything in an unusual signature. Those are connections.
  3. Visualize grabbing and cutting the connection. (Each of those is a simple step that your unconscious should already know how to do).
  4. For any connections that resist that simple cut, visualize making several connections into the spirit’s connection, then use them to cut or break the connection. (You’re telling your unconscious how to do a more intense cut).
  5. Visualize removing the left-over parts of the connections that are still inside you. (Now that the spirit isn’t supporting the connection, they’ll come out easily).
  6. Do an energy meditation to re-balance your energy signature. (Spirits usually drain energy in their signature. Losing a bunch of energy in one signature will shift the signature of the remaining energy, like removing all the green paint from a painting will make it look weird).

On each step, I explained why I do it that way — the parts of direct magick that are relevant to solving her problem. She was interested in a way I doubt she would be if I talked about systems, mental muscles, and the other parts of direct magick that I normally work with.

That’s going to be my model for connecting with people on direct magick: Instead of talking about the theory or skills I’m working on, use it to help them solve some problem, and along the way, explain why each step works the way it does.

I’m hopeful that this will be much more effective. Yeah, that’s an expectation too, but I think it’s a more accurate one.

So, what are you trying to solve that I can write a post about?

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Building a Magick Community (New Monday Posts)

Monday, March 28th, 2011

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This week, while visiting NYC, I’m realizing that even in giant cities, there isn’t a solid community of direct mages. (That is, mages who do my detail-oriented style). It made me sad, but more so, it makes me want to build that community.

So that’s my new project: Building a direct magick community. Really, I started it last year with this blog, but now I’m going to add real-world activities, mostly in Albuquerque, NM. And I’m going to blog about them on Mondays. It will cover meeting people at parties, organizing events, advertising classes, and starting a business.

By the way: I suck at those things. I hope to get better. And I’ll tell you what I learn as I learn it. If you’re sick of me telling you all this magick stuff that I already know how to do, this series will let you laugh at me when I have no clue.

Also, this Thursday is the last advanced magick post for a while. It’s the last post in the Step-By-Step Guide to Learning Direct Magick, and I’m glad to have that series done, at least for now.

After that, Thursday posts will cover practical (read: immediately useful) skills. Stuff for magick novices (like “how to align to a psychic information source“), for ritual mages (I’ll show you how to do ritual magick without rituals), and for the roughly 2 mages who’ve completed the Step-By-Step guide already, I’ll talk about deeper-than-energy healing. I’ll also start flagging posts by who they’re for (novice / experienced with non-direct magick / capable direct mage), so you can spot the right stuff for you.

Thanks for reading. And if there’s anything you’d like me to post about, let me know.

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