Posts Tagged ‘ExplainingMagick’

Direct Biofield Healing

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

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A name is a half-sentence description. It’s a way to get people curious. And I need a better answer to, “What kind of healing do you do?”

I went to the Consciousness Hacking meetup last weekend. It had meditation-related tech talks (ultrasonic brain stimulation and low-cost EEGs, which I may look into at some point), then a chance for anyone to talk about their passion for 2 minutes. I said:

Hi, I’m Mike Sententia, and I’m into healing, energy healing like Reiki or Therapeutic Touch, and building it into a science. Now, some of you may be saying, “Prove to me that those are real,” and I hope to get there someday. But today, I want to talk to those of you who already have personal experience with energy healing, who already believe in it. I’m interested in exploring the underlying mechanisms of energy healing, understanding how and why it works, so we can build better techniques from those mechanisms. Because there’s research suggesting that energy healing can reduce pain, which would mean it can influence nerves, and if we could understand and harness that, maybe we could develop techniques for depression and other neurological disorders, maybe epilepsy, maybe paralysis. If that sounds interesting to you, come meet me after the talks.

That wasn’t improv. I’ve written about the impact of magick, and how admitting you can’t prove magick yet grants credibility. It was gluing together sentences I’ve already said. That’s how I work, how I can speak fluidly and clearly.

(It was also my first time explaining magick in front of a large, mostly-non-believer audience. A bit terrifying. I’m quite pleased, and it’ll be easier next time.)

Four people came up after the talks. Their first question: “What kind of healing do you do?” Because of course that’s the first thing they want to know. And I didn’t have an answer. So I need to plan.

So far, I have words. Biofield, which is how journal articles refer to energy healing. Direct, because rather than channeling energy, we’re working directly with those underlying mechanisms. Cellular, again for the scientific community. System or healing, as the main noun. Direct biofield cellular healing? Too long. Biofield cellular healing? Kind of redundant. Direct biofield healing? Not bad. Maybe biofield healing system? Vague, but sounds kind of fancy.

Thoughts? Other words, or assemblages of those words? Leave a comment.

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Talking to Skeptics

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

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I talked with a skeptic last night. He’s a friend and a reasonable guy, genuinely interested in connecting to me. It was a pleasant discussion, not an argument. Today, I want to share some things I figured out about talking to reasonable skeptics.

“I Don’t Know”

He asked about energy healing, and asked what mechanism I think it operates by.

I thought for a bit. Magickal terms weren’t what he was looking for — a discussion of ethereal software and energy signatures was the wrong entry point. He knows standard science, and he was looking for an explanation that connected energy healing to standard science.

I don’t know how to do that. So I told him, “I don’t know how it operates. This is too immature of a field to have the kinds of answers you’d expect from physics, medicine, or even psychology.”

I felt a bit sheepish admitting that. But it turned out to be just right. It surprised him, got him to pay attention. He didn’t poke holes in ideas about how it might work in the way that someone would attack a false “expert” explaining “the ways of the universe.” It was a really pleasant conversation.

How Many Joules?

With skeptics, call it chi rather than energy. He said that, whenever someone talks about energy, he wants to ask how many joules it has.

Discuss Proprioception

He asked about visualizations and tai chi, and we did an exercise that creates tingly feelings. The tingles were clearly proprioception and suggestion, not magickal energy.

I explained that people use the term chi to refer to a lot of different phenomenon, including proprioception, hypnotic suggestion, and also this other phenomenon that I’m interested in. Point being, just because someone else mistook proprioception for chi doesn’t mean we’re all making that mistake.

Keep in mind, your skeptic has probably run into energy healers making all sorts of inaccurate claims. Accepting this gives you credibility.

Don’t Try to Convince

At one point, my skeptic pressed me about ethereal structures. He pointed out that it’s very unlikely that there’s another form of matter that interacts with cells but not other materials. And he’s correct, it is unlikely. My reply: “These ideas originate with the things I’ve experienced. It’s not that I think it’s super likely that another form of matter exists. It’s just my best attempt to explain how these things might work.”

Another time, I explained that this needs to start as its own field, and mature a good deal before we can connect it to other fields like physics or medicine. This is a perfectly reasonable stance, takes the pressure off you to have all the answers.

At one point, I even said, “If I hadn’t had these personal experiences, I wouldn’t be studying this either.”

If you don’t try to convince them, they won’t feel such a need to convince you, either.

Skeptics Are Often Right

Many things called energy healing really are just suggestion. Many claims made by energy workers really are false. Some of these things really are unlikely. When skeptics say that, they’re correct. So agree with them. You’ll come off as reasonable and intelligent, and they’ll be more open to the ideas you actually do care about.

Got your own experiences and tips? Leave a comment.

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Examples of Magick

Monday, June 9th, 2014

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This is part of An Initiation into Direct Magick – Book 1.

Let’s see how all those pieces work together.

(Each scenario is an example of how that magick might work. Any particular act of magick may operate differently.)

Energy Healing

A man goes to a Reiki healer. She listens, calms him, and channels energy. His pain decreases for a few days.

What happens when she channels that energy?

First, she gets herself into a mindset for energy healing. This engages the parts of her mind that drive magick (her ethereal muscles). Getting into that mindset might involve visualization, meditation, physical gestures, or something else.

Her ethereal muscles contact the force she channels. She first connected to it during her attunement, and now connects to it whenever she does healing sessions. She calls that force The Universe. In Direct Magick, we call it ethereal software.

She connects the software to her client. It figures out the energy signatures to reduce inflammation and increase cellular growth, and sends him that energy.


A woman does a ritual to find a better job, then sends out her resume. A few days later, her interviewer happens to be in a good mood, and she gets hired.

What happened between her ritual and her lucky interview?

As with the energy healing, she starts by getting herself into a mindset for magick, which engages her ethereal muscles. They contact her ethereal software. During the ritual, she focuses on her intent, sending it to the ethereal software.

The ethereal software first connected to her during an initiation into a ritual order. Her mentor didn’t name the force, and she hasn’t either, but she feels its vastness whenever she does magick.

At her interview, the software sends her interviewer energy to shift his brain activity into a happier state. It also guides her, giving her a warm tingle when she’s about to say something good, and a pressure when she’s about to make a mistake. She sometimes misses a warning, but combined with her own common sense, it helps steer her away from trouble.

Psychic Intuitions

A man is about to cross the street, but feels a tingling in his head, like a hundred people staring at him. He pauses as a car runs the red light, almost hitting him.

Where did that warning come from?

The man says that sometimes, the Universe just has something to tell him. We agree with him, but in Direct Magick, we call that force ethereal software.

Sometimes, he asks a question, engaging his ethereal muscles to contact the ethereal software. But warnings are different. If he knew he needed a warning, well, he wouldn’t need it. Instead, the software sends him energy, creating sensations that get his attention.

His mother got these warnings, too. She got the ethereal software from her aunt, and passed it along to him. She never said, “Ethereal software, please protect my son,” but it read her thoughts and knew what she wanted. Some day, he’ll probably pass it along to his children, too.


That’s how most magick works:

  • The mage engages the parts of their mind that drive magick (their ethereal muscles).
  • They contacts the forces they channel (their ethereal software).
  • They send out their intent.
  • The force provides energy, luck, warnings, or other aid.

Does magick sometimes work in other ways? Sure. Some magick involves spirits. Other magick comes entirely from ethereal muscles, with no outside forces. And there are more options, too.

But if you followed these examples, you’ve grasped the terms and concepts of Direct Magick.

Next Chapter

Table of Contents

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4 Unique Features of Direct Magick

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

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How is Direct Magick different than other systems? Here are the four main ways.

Conscious Ethereal Muscles

Everyone agrees that magick comes from the mind. Even ritual magick requires mental focus. Whatever magick you do, you need to engage the right parts of your mind to make the magick work.

Every system has some concept of these magick-driving parts. Some systems don’t name them. Others call them “the unconscious.” Personally, I find it’s useful to name them, to separate them out from the other parts of the unconscious that handle breathing, digestion, and everything else.

In Direct Magick, we call these parts ethereal muscles. It’s a metaphor: The difference between imagining walking vs actually moving is engaging your leg muscles, and the difference between imagining change vs actually doing magick is engaging your ethereal muscles. (We’ll get into the details of how they move later.)

(If you use a different system of magick that calls them something different, that’s fine — we’re probably talking about the same thing.)

In Direct Magick, we make our ethereal muscles conscious. Instead of directing our unconscious with visualizations or rituals or temporary beliefs, Direct Magick consciously steps through each motion of our ethereal muscles, so we can see how they respond and adjust our techniques accordingly.

Choose Your Ethereal Software

Most systems of magick use external forces. Chaos Magick has egregores. Reiki healers channel energy from “The Universe.” Other practitioners talk about thoughtforms, and some leave the forces unnamed. Don’t get too caught up in the terms — a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and choosing to call a force “The Universe” doesn’t make it all-encompassing or infinite.

In Direct Magick, we call these forces ethereal software. It’s another metaphor: When you use computer software, you press some buttons, and depending on your software, you get a Google search, or powerpoint slides, or Mario jumping. The software handles the details of making that search / slideshow / game work. Similarly, when you use ethereal software, you send it your intent (using a ritual, visualization, or other technique), and it handles the details of causing that change in the world.

Like computer software, different ethereal software is better for different tasks. Some software does energy healing, other software does psychic intuitions. Some psychic software specializes in medical information, other software is better for warning about physical danger.

In Direct Magick, we make conscious decisions about which ethereal software to use, and routinely learn new software as we solve new problems.

Doing Magick Without Ethereal Software

If you’ve ever gotten a Reiki healing for a serious condition, or tried to make a coin repeatedly landing heads, you know there are some things we can’t do with magick.

Or maybe we can’t do them yet. Maybe the mechanisms of magick could solve those problems, if only we knew how. After all, energy can reduce pain, which means it can affect neural firing — maybe the right energy, in just the right spot, could help depression, or epilepsy, or paralysis. Maybe the same mechanisms that create luck in job searches could also determine coin flips, if only we understood how they work and how to make them more reliable.

Maybe the problem is, the forces we channel — our ethereal software — only knows how to do a tiny fraction of what magick can ultimately accomplish.

That’s why advanced Direct Magick practitioners learn to do magick without ethereal software. We do healing techniques, not by channeling energy from an outside force, but by figuring out the right signature of energy for a particular condition, figuring out where that energy should go, and driving the healing energy ourselves. We test it, debug it, get it working. Then we program our ethereal software to do that technique, so other mages can use it, too.

Most mages will never do that. But that’s what advanced Direct Magick is about, and it’s the origin of the name: Doing magick directly, without channeling external forces.

Sensory Connections

This goes hand in hand with the previous item. To build techniques, we need to see the ethereal structures we’re influencing. In Direct Magick, we do that with sensory connections. Here’s how they work:

Magickal energy follows connections. Most people use connections to send energy. When you do that, you mostly feel the energy you’re sending. But if you instead make a connection without any energy, it absorbs energy from whatever it’s connected to. Not a lot, not enough to bother anyone, but enough that you can sense that structure’s signature.

In practice, I use networks of sensory connections. Each connection goes to a different spot in whatever tissue or structures I’m working with, and together, they give me a picture of how it operates. It’s active, and quite different from receiving images or intuitions.

Sensory connections only work if you can feel the energy they absorb. Channeled forces can send you intuitions and images, but they can’t do sensory connections for you. And, since you’ll need sensory connections to develop other Direct Magick techniques, it’s the first technique most people learn when they start doing magick directly.

As far as I know, other systems of magick don’t have an equivalent technique.

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Ignore Their Goalposts

Monday, March 31st, 2014

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Share your magick, and someone will tell you they’d believe you if only you had the exact proof they want.

“I’ll believe you if this healing technique works on a dozen strangers.”

“No wait, I’ll believe you once you add a randomly-assigned placebo group.”

“Wait, why did you do all the healing sessions? I’ll believe you if other people can use your techniques.”

Never use their goalposts.

Think about it: You already furnished evidence, such as techniques that solve useful problems, techniques your system predicted that others didn’t. And you gave them guidance to learn your techniques. But rather than engage with that evidence, or try your techniques for themselves, they’re pointing out how your work falls short of billion-dollar studies run by pharmaceutical companies. It’s intellectually rude.

Never use their goalposts.

It’s not even a question of them moving the goalposts. (Although obviously, they will.)

It’s a matter of how you invest your time. You can either learn magick, or you can gather their evidence. Only one of those leads to better techniques that help more people, and long-term, to techniques that quickly demonstrate magick to potential collaborators / investors. That’s where the value lies — not in documenting a placebo-controlled test on a personal blog.

Instead, pick your own goalposts: A level of evidence that tells you you’re on the right track, steers you true most of the time, and doesn’t slow you down.

Personally, I look for my models to produce useful techniques that solve problems I couldn’t previously solve. Because that’s science in a nutshell: Build an understanding of how a thing works, use that understanding to make a prediction, verify the prediction. Bonus points if that prediction solves a useful problem.

What can you say when someone asks for specific evidence? “Thanks! I’m excited you’re interested in my work. I’m currently not soliciting investors, but I’m always interested in funded research opportunities. Please submit a proposal, including the anticipated effort and the amount of funding you have available. Thanks!”

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Explaining Magick? Slow Down

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

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I get nervous explaining magick. Even to friends, even if they believe too, even after writing this blog for four years. I expect they’ll be bored, or they’ll trivialize my work as just another visualization, another arbitrary way to communicate intent to the unconscious. And so, I rush.

I rush through the model, defining terms rather than explaining the ideas behind them. I talk about one technique, rather than walking them through the overarching model and my reasons for using it. I try to finish quickly, rather than drawing them in so they want to explore the ideas with me.

Of course, rushing creates the exact problems I’m anticipating.

This week, I explained my current work to a friend. I made myself slow down. Explained ethereal muscles before discussing communication. Talked about referred sensations from imagination before discussing the tingles that come from energy. Stepped her through each idea while we had breakfast.

And she got it. She even offered to help me test some techniques.

One more note: Last Friday, I wrote about my work that week. So I’d already organized my thoughts. That helped immensely, and I’m going to do that every week from now on.

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Understanding Magick: Metaphors Come Last

Monday, March 10th, 2014

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I see mages start with metaphors. “Magick is about energy / spirits / software / whatever.” They pick a metaphor, then explain magick with it.

Don’t. It’s a trap.

When I was 16, I drew a diagram about how magick influences events. Events are like a bowling ball rolling toward some wooden blocks — each block represents one possible future, and the block that gets hit is the event that occurs. You can influence events by changing the ball’s trajectory, or by stretching the desired block. I’d visualize blocks shrinking and bowling balls rolling as I did my magick.

The “bowling ball model” was useless, of course. Sure, it let me think about events, and tell my unconscious mind which event I want, but there are dozens of ways to do that. Belief, ritual, self-hypnosis. Communicating intent isn’t enough.

First, a few assumptions: There is an actual external world we interact with. Magick is successful when it changes that actual external world. And magick operates by some actual process in that actual external world.

Those are the basic tenets of direct magick. The basic tenets of science, really. Anyone not on board for that, this probably isn’t the blog for you.

A good model should describe the external world. It should tell you about the moving parts behind magick, so you can figure out new ways to move them to produce better healing techniques, more accurate luck, or whatever else you’re looking for.

The bowling ball model failed because the ball and wood blocks didn’t correspond to anything in the external world. There’s no ball that hits an event, and you can’t expand or contract events. Useful for communicating my intent to my unconscious, but nothing else.

You cannot save a bad model. You can only kill it.

Once you pick a model, it’s either right or wrong. The moving parts either match the external world, or they don’t. No amount of belief or clever argument will change that.

Most models of magick seem to fall into that category. They pick a metaphor, then use that metaphor to think about their intent. The mage might realize that he just picked a model out of thin air, but often, he acts like his components correspond to the external world, so we’ve all learned to be suspicious when anyone tells us they have an accurate model. It’s only sensible. When readers assume that I just picked software as my preferred metaphor, then randomly chose terms and ideas that sounded good, I know the reason. And in general, there’s no reason to think that software is a better metaphor than energy, or spirits, or bowling balls.

Now, I’m not bashing models. Sure, no model is perfect, and models only approximate the external world. But pointing that out and walking away is to shirk the hard work of improving our understanding. Which is the whole point: A better understanding leads to better magick.

But how do we get a better understanding? My answer: Explore magick using empty terms. Before I strengthened “ethereal muscles,” I activated “mental areas,” simply meaning areas of my mind that are involved in magick. Before I programmed “ethereal software,” I channeled “systems,” simply meaning a set of components that performs a function. I explored magick with as few metaphors as I could, focusing on how each component actually behaved, rather than how I thought it should behave.

Years later, when I started writing, I asked, “What metaphors suggest how we use this component?” The metaphors flowed from my understanding of the external world.

That’s the only way to come up with an accurate model: Start with observation. Model each part. Then make a cohesive model with metaphors.

The metaphor comes last.

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My Take on the 4 Standard Models of Magick

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

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This post is about the “Four Standard Models of Magick,” and how they relate to direct magick. I used to think of those models as attempts to describe an underlying mechanism of magick, and found them rather incomplete. But lately, I’ve come to think of them as methods of communicating with your unconscious, which seems useful. We’ll get into all that soon.

You’ve probably heard of the four standard models before: Spirit, energy, psychological and information. You can use any of those models and get decent results, and the idea is to categorize the range of ways people explain magick. They’re popular with the chaos magick crowd — temporarily believe this or that model to make your magick work.

When I think of them as attempts to explain the underlying mechanism of magick, they felt rather incomplete. Sure, I use spirits and energy and my mind and information, but (1) you need all of them to really describe the inner-workings of magick, and (2) none of the models seem to really grapple with magick’s complexity. (Details below.) So I familiarized myself with them to be literate, then ignored them.

But recently, readers have been asking me which model I subscribe to, and if my energy matches the standard model’s energy, and if ethereal muscles map to the psychological model, and so on. (Short answers: “None of them, no, and no.”)

Developing longer answers to those questions made me realize there’s a fundamental difference between my model of direct magick and the four standard models of magick. They’re trying to do different things, and even the word “model” seems to mean something different. But I’m not sure how to explain that. So, that’s what this post is about.

(Not familiar with the 4 models? This post (from chaos matrix) explains them. Or scroll down this page for my explanation.)

What Makes Models Good?

Here’s what I mean by “model”:

  • There is some actual mechanism occurring in the external world. (Probably just one, but it could be several.)
  • A model should describe that mechanism. The more of that mechanism it describes, the better. And it has to offer enough detail that you can imagine how each part works and predict what will happen if you try something new — simply saying “my magick goes out and does it” is correct, but not useful.
  • We determine how closely a model matches the actual mechanism by seeing if it accurately predicts new, non-obvious results. That’s key: Any story can “predict” things we already knew, but if a model really matches the underlying mechanism, it should give you new insights to predict new results you haven’t seen before. For me, those predictions are usually new, effective techniques I wouldn’t have found without the model.

That’s more or less the scientific worldview. It’s what I strive for in my models. But I’m realizing, it’s not really the goal of the standard models of magick.

I can’t just say that, though. It wasn’t obvious to me until I thought through the shortcomings of the four standard models as scientific models, and thought about them in relation to direct magick, which is my best attempt at building a scientific model of magick’s underlying mechanisms. So, let’s start there: Taking the four standard models literally, as attempted explanations of the underlying mechanism of magick, before we discuss what they really are.

The 4 Models Explained with Direct Magick

I’m going to explain each of the four standard models — spirit, energy, psychological, and information — in terms of Direct Magick. Yes, I’m assuming my model is accurate because, well, my blog, my rules. This will help everyone get on the same page, whether you know the four standard models (but not direct magick), or you know direct magick (but not the four models).

Again, I don’t actually use these four models, so I’m mostly drawing from this post. Sorry if I get something wrong.

The Spirit Model

Quick summary: Spirits are awesome. They can do powerful magick. So ask them for what you want, and let them handle the details.

In Direct Magick: Yes, I often ask spirits for assistance. I’d count ethereal software as a spirit in this discussion, too. So that’s a large portion of what I do.

But… Imagine this conversation:

Jane: I’m a great cook.

Bob: Awesome. I love pizza. Can you cook pizza?

Jane: Sure, I make a great pizza.

Bob: Tell me about your recipe.

Jane: My recipe is simple: I pick up the phone, call Luigi’s, and ask for whatever I want. Like I said, I’m a great cook.

Every time someone says they use the spirit model, I want to ask, “Aren’t you curious about how it actually works?” Also, what if the spirit’s technique isn’t optimal? What if it isn’t even effective? And what if those building blocks could also build a new solution to some unsolved problem? Unless you dig into how the spirit implements your request, you’ll never know.

The Energy Model

Quick summary: Everything has magickal energy in it. Change that energy to change the world. Often, you’ll build energy, tell it your intent, and hope the ball of energy can make that intent happen (I think).

In Direct Magick: I use energy, too. It’s part of energy healing, and with part of communication — I collect the signatures that my mind enters as I think my message, and while those signatures aren’t exactly energy, the concept is reasonably close.

But energy — the thing that makes you feel tingles — is simple. Dumb, even. You can build energy in a particular signature, and use it to shift the signature of other magickal stuff, but that’s about it. You can’t tell it, “Cause me to find a good job.” You send messages like that to ethereal software, which you could think of as a spirit, but most definitely isn’t energy.

And for energy healing, you have to know the right signature to use — just knowing your goal won’t work, unless your ethereal software already knows how to implement that goal. And, again, we’re now involving ethereal software, which the energy model doesn’t have.

It seems to me that the energy model is describing what the mage should think about to send their intent to their ethereal muscles / software, rather than describing how the ethereal muscles / software actually do the magick. We’ll come back to that idea later.

The Psychological Model

Quick summary: Your unconscious knows how to do magick. So ask for what you want, and let it handle the details.

In Direct Magick: When most people start magick, their ethereal muscles are unconscious. Since your main goal as a beginning mage is to get your intent to your ethereal muscles, it makes sense to work on getting your intent to your unconscious mind.

But why stop there? Like the spirit model, you’re ordering your magick from something you don’t understand. Don’t you want to know what your unconscious does so you can debug your magick and build on it?

That’s why, fairly early in direct magick training, we make your ethereal muscles conscious. Then you can see how they work and start understanding what happens after you send them your intent.

Also, I make a distinction between ethereal muscles and my ordinary unconscious mind. It’s useful for distinguishing ordinary intuitions from psychic intuitions, for example, and also for learning techniques to awaken ethereal muscles. Calling everything “unconscious” seems to make that distinction harder.

The Information model

Quick summary: To change X — an infection, lottery balls, your job search — send your goals (the information) to that thing, or simply out into the universe.

(The article I linked to wasn’t great on this model. I found this post helpful.)

In Direct Magick: I send requests to ethereal software all the time. Information matters.

But like the spirit model, this reduces magick to asking for what you want. Aren’t we interested in the thing that receives those requests? How does it act on them? What algorithms does it use, and how can they be improved?

Also, there are better ways to transmit information to ethereal software, but that requires working with the energy of your brain — getting down into how ethereal muscles / software store and transmit information, in the same way that a computer engineer digs into how computers store and transmit information to build a new, better internet protocol. I can’t see how to do this if your fundamental unit of magick is “information.”

(I’ve also heard some folks suggest that you’re telling the infected cells themselves to get better. I don’t buy that — cells communicate using chemical messengers, not words and ideas. That’s why I send instructions to ethereal software, which does communicate in ideas, and is programmed to turn those ideas into specific changes in the world.)

What the 4 Models Really Do

For years, that’s where my thinking began and ended on these models: They’re incomplete over-simplifications. They give the feel that you’ve answered, “How does magick work?” without actually addressing the underlying mechanics — that is, they’re curiosity-stoppers, stories that let you calm your curiosity without really answering the question. And I like my curiosity, so I didn’t spend much time on those models.

But preparing for this post, I realized: These four models aren’t trying to explain the underlying mechanism. They aren’t trying to be scientific models. That’s not their goal.

These models give you common, reliable ways to communicate your intent to your unconscious, things you can imagine and focus on to achieve magick. Spirits, energy, just going into trance and assigning meaning to a symbol, or just focusing on the information — they’re not trying to explain how magick works, they’re just trying to give you a procedure for doing magick. They’re an operator’s manual, not an engineer’s handbook.

I don’t know if that’s how practitioners who use those models view them, but I suspect it may be, because of the “meta-model,” which basically says, “Feel free to use any of these models any time. You don’t have to commit to one.” That sentiment seems odd if you believe the model actually describes how magick works, but it makes a lot of sense if you know you’re just describing standard procedures for doing magick — of course you should feel free to pick any standard procedure you like, then pick a different one tomorrow.

Which makes me think, I should build a standard procedure for direct magick. Something simplified, focused on ease of use rather than accuracy, to give beginners something to focus on to get their magick working. It would quickly explain how to do direct magick, without going into details, and be accurate enough that it won’t confuse you when we go into the underlying mechanisms later.

And this is where you come in, dear readers. Those of you who use the standard models, is this roughly your understanding? Does my explanation resonate? And for everyone, would a simplified direct magick procedure be useful?

Thanks for the feedback!

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Demons and Germs

Friday, January 25th, 2013

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Imagine you’re transported back to 1600s Europe. You know that bacteria can be killed with mold from a certain type of bread, and that taking fluids from a milkmaid infected with cowpox can immunize people against smallpox.

But everyone else thinks disease is caused by demons.

You talk to doctors, saying, “Diseases are caused by germs, tiny living cells we can’t see, that attack the body.” You explain bacteria and viruses in layman’s terms as well as you can.

The medieval doctors think, “Demons are things we can’t see. Like angels dancing on the head of a pin, they can be tiny. And we know they attack the body. So this chap is just inventing new words, and germs = demons.”

Mapping their model onto yours lets you talk, at least a bit. You can discuss infection rates, how diseases spread, and so on. But every time you say “germs,” they hear “demons.” When you start talking about penicillin and vaccines, the discussion falls apart. And then you try to collaborate on research: You’re want to create an inactive virus to vaccinate people, and they start researching which prayers to which saints will knock a demon unconscious.

Then you realize that you weren’t ever thinking the same concepts, and you have to revisit every conversation you’ve had to see if you ever agreed about anything. And in the end, you’d be further along if you’d just done the work up front to create a new model in your listener’s minds, rather than letting them map their model onto yours.

I run into this a lot with magick. Not that I’m modern medicine and everyone else is demons — it’s just hard to find an analogy that readers from all backgrounds will recognize. But when I’m talking about ethereal software, and it’s similar to egregores, or I’m talking about seeing a connection, and it’s similar to visualizing a connection, it’s easy to give listeners the impression that I’m just using different words, rather than different concepts.

The challenge as the listener is to suppress your reflex to map new terms to old concepts. And the challenge as the speaker is to present new concepts as new, to explain them from first principles, instead of saying, “it’s like X except…”

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Explaining Accupuncture to Non-Mages

Friday, December 21st, 2012

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I feel awkward talking about magick with non-mages. Talk about influencing probabilities, and they think you’re getting tricked by placebo and positive thinking. Talk about specific case studies, and you’re threatening their worldview. Neither is a great conversation.

But I was impressed by with acupuncturist I met at a party recently. Without mentioning magick, I asked about his practice. His explanation (poorly paraphrased by me):

Before modern biology, people examined the body, saw problems and figured out cures, and had to come up with terms so they could talk about it. Different cultures picked different names: The four elements, the four humors, and so on. They didn’t have modern science available, so they used whatever metaphors seemed most natural to them to describe what they saw.

It had an overall tone of, “Sure, they used names that sound kind of silly now, but that’s just a terminology problem. We’re all describing basically the same things, so let’s see what the ancient people uncovered.”

When I asked directly, he said that, yes, his work involves energy. But then he went back to talking about the history, about how modern pharmacology is drawing from ancient herbal remedies, and so on. He just skipped the non-mainstream parts.

Seems like an excellent strategy.

(Expect more posts on this later.)

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