Posts Tagged ‘Science’

The Heart of Direct Magick: Love and Engineering

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

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Sonia asks:

Where is the heart in all this? This – like connecting to the software hehe ;-) – is all braintalk to me.

In all you have experimented. Have you noticed a difference between just bringing sort the idea of simple deep emotion of “love and light” to a cell then whatever technical precise command you give… ?

(Read her full comment here.)

You’re right, this is different than focusing on love and light. It’s a different way of doing energy healing and magick. It won’t feel easy or intuitive the first time, and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s OK.

I want to share the heart of Direct Magick for me. Why I do this. Because this intellectual approach ultimately is in service of love.

Four years ago, one of the loves of my life, Lisa, had chronic hives. She’d had them for 9 months, seen doctors, was taking prescription antihistamines, and she was still getting worse. She told me, “If I knew I’d be like this for the rest of my life, I’d kill myself.” I don’t think that was hyperbole.

My first healing technique failed. So did my second. Hives is simply too complex of an illness to get much result by focusing on love. My unconscious didn’t know the right healing technique to use, so focusing on that intent wouldn’t get us anywhere — my unconscious would say, “Yeah, I get that you want to heal her. I want to heal her too, but I don’t know how.”

But we did succeed. She researched the medical science. I developed energies to target the specific tissues involved. After we got the right technique, her hives stopped literally overnight: We did the healing session after dinner, and the next morning she woke without hives for the first time in months.

I practice magick in this intellectual, problem-solving way because I care about solving problems. Not because that’s clever or cool, but because that’s how I help the people I love.

Another example: Today, a friend has relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. She has mild pain, numbness and odd sensations, but she’s mostly in remission and can live a normal life. But no one knows when it’ll relapse.

Like hives, MS is an autoimmune disorder. Like hives, it’s too complex to get much result just by wanting to, by focusing on intent and love and light. But maybe, if we’re smart and diligent and lucky, we can adapt the healing technique for hives to also help her. I’ve been working on that, on and off, for 8 months, and I’m going to keep at it until we get somewhere.

There are healing techniques I want to get out into the world. One for depression I developed for myself in 2013, which I need to adapt for others. Several for people with chronic joint pain, insomnia, and infections. And other healing techniques for people with pain from chemotherapy and advanced cancer.

Focusing on intent and love is great for communicating your intent to your unconscious. And if your unconscious knows how to solve that problem, then awesome, you’ll get good results. But all those things I just listed? My unconscious didn’t know how to do any of them. Solving those problems required intellect and engineering to develop the techniques.

So the heart of Direct Magick is this: Understand your magick. Research the problem you’re solving. Engineer a new technique. Then use it to help the people you love.

The purpose is love. But the path is science and engineering.

Also, a new front page. It’s been on my list, and writing this post finally showed me where to start.

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Advice to a Teenage Energy Worker

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

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Tori, reading An Initiation into Direct Magick, asks:

I’ve been channeling energy since I was about 6 years old. Now, I’m almost 13 and I have never been able to actually make anything happen except stay warm at 0 degrees! What am I doing wrong?

When I was in high school, I had martial arts belts hanging from a pipe in my room, and I’d try sending energy to make them sway. I’d also flip a coin and try to make it come up heads. I very much wanted concrete results, and to know I was working with something real.

I’ll tell you what I’d tell myself: You’re not doing anything wrong. In fact, by looking for demonstrations of your energy, you’re doing something very much right. Testing yourself will take you far in life, wherever you go.

But you are expecting far too much of yourself. Professionals with decades of experience don’t get the kind of results I was looking for. It was an unfairly high bar, and there was no way I could pass it.

What do professional researchers find? Intuitions that are right more often than chance (but far from 100% reliable.) Biofield energy affecting cell cultures, which shows it can’t be placebo. Subtle results like that. (To find more, go to Google Scholar and search for “biofield energy.” Have it sort by date, and search everything, not just abstracts).

If they’re subtle, why do they matter? Because science advances through anomalies. Like epicycles lead to Newtonian physics and space flight, glass lenses lead to bacteria and modern medicine, and photon wave patterns lead to quantum physics, which gave us the transistors that power the modern world. When you find an anomaly, you rarely know where it leads, but it often leads to a miracle.

Biofield energy is one of today’s anomalies.

A short-term example: Studies suggest biofield energy can influence how nerves fire. Assume that’s accurate: What could we do if we harnessed that mechanism and guided it with modern neurology and other sciences? How could we help people with depression, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy?

Long-term? No idea where this leads. I just know I want to help get us there, and I hope you do too.

So, Tori, you’re not doing anything wrong. It sounds to me like you’re doing a lot right. Keep exploring, keep testing, keep having fun discovering the world.

Good luck!

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Resistance, Rational Doubts, and Fear

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

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What would you do if sure of your magick? Would you leave your job to pursue energy healing? Would you use manifesting to guide your investments? Or would it just change subtle details, like how you explain magick to the people you care about?

Doubt holds us back. Whether it’s doubt that magick as a whole is real, or that it works the way we think it does, or simply doubting we’re any good at it. Doubt certainly holds me back. It makes me flinch from the work I want to do.

I wrote about irrational doubts recently. They come from our past, our fears, our perception of what we ought to be. A deep breath, an introspective meditation, a talk with the fearful parts of yourself — we have tools to dissipate irrational doubts.

But at some point, you’ve dispersed the irrational doubts, and you’re left with the rational doubts. And those are much harder.

Rational doubts come from the world. The only way to handle them is to go out into the world and run the experiment, a fair experiment that will show you if you’re wrong.

That means creating opportunities for failure. That’s hard. That’s the last 10% of developing a solid system of magick, and it’s harder than the first 90%.

As I prepare for those experiments, I breathe through the resistance and doubt every day. That’s the work. That’s what’s next.

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Limiting Beliefs and Missing Questions

Monday, June 8th, 2015

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Your beliefs determine your experience and your results.

That’s a meme among magick writers, anyway. At a psychological level, it’s clearly true: Confidence creates success, despair creates failure, and your beliefs create both confidence and despair.

But I get the impression that many writers mean something larger. That doubting your energy healing is will cause it to fail, or that believing your energy healing is safe will prevent side effects.

I wouldn’t call that entirely wrong. But it’s far from right.

Every new healing technique I try, I expect to fail, simply because energy healing is complex. But they often succeed. (This is a “let’s see what happens” sort of doubt, not a despairing doubt.)

And I used to do energy healing by building energy in my own body. That will create side-effects because, well, that’s what happens when you build energy in yourself. It happens whether I believe it will or not, like gravity.

But here’s what I will say: Believing that energy healing cannot be done without harming yourself will keep you from creating the techniques to do it. The question won’t occur to you, the technique won’t seem worth exploring.

The belief doesn’t create the limitation, but the belief prevents us from solving it.

Can energy healing, combined with Western medicine, cure disease? Extend the human lifespan? Maybe one day end death?

How are your beliefs limiting the questions you explore?

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The Danger of Popular Memes and Ancient Wisdom

Monday, May 25th, 2015

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How well-meaning, non-scientific memes can slow your learning.

A friend asks:

When you do healing technique, how do you keep from messing up your own energy? Particularly when you’re working with someone with a terminal illness?

This a popular meme, but it’s not a real concern. Energy healing is about shifting the energy signature of living tissue (the “biofield”). Shifting someone else’s biofield doesn’t affect your own, just like massaging someone’s neck doesn’t create knots in your neck.

But where does that meme come from? Here’s my best guess: If you imagine energy healing as transferring some finite quantity of “health,” then the healer would have to get sicker to make the person healthier.

When I started this post, I’d intended to refute the “health transfer” idea. But I realized that, while inaccurate, it’s actually an honest attempt to explain some problems healers can face:

First, energy healing takes focus, and it requires engaging ethereal muscles. In new healers, those ethereal muscles aren’t strong yet, which is tiring in a different way than playing a sport or taking an exam. If a healer isn’t consciously aware of their ethereal muscles, they’ll experience an unusual fatigue but not understand why.

Second, just like you can cause side effects in the person you’re working with, you can cause side effects in yourself. It happened to me, too: When I started practicing energy healing, I’d build the healing energy in my own body. Everything I did to the other person, I also did to myself. Combine that with an inexperienced healer using slightly-off energy signatures, and you can get headaches, nausea, fatigue, and similar problems. I mostly avoided those, but I’d already been using energy for a decade.

(New healers: Remember, none of these side effects are serious, and most go away if you return your energy to normal afterwards.)

The healer, perhaps new, perhaps experienced and teaching new healers, sees these problems. When they work with a tired person, they also become deeply fatigued. When they work with someone with a headache, they too sometimes develop headaches. An explanation is needed, and it sounds so simple to say that the health and illness are transferred.

A trained scientist will do two things. First, they’ll ask, “How might that work? What mechanism?” And they’ll notice how really, incredibly complicated this would be to implement. Second, they’ll try as hard as we can to refute an idea, knowing that an idea they cannot refute is probably true. They’ll ask, “Are there times when I work with an injury, but do not get the symptoms myself afterwards? Does the level of headache I get afterward correlate with the level of headache my client had? Do I ever get headaches when the client had none?”

But that takes training, and experience, and a desire to be accurate rather than think you’re right. That’s hard. I don’t always live up to that goal, and I don’t know anyone who does.

But most people don’t do that. The default for humans not trained in science is to look for confirmation, thinking of times when they worked with a particularly bad headache and got a nasty headache themselves, or times when they worked with an aching knee and then (coincidentally) had their own knee ache. It’s called confirmation bias.

Of course, they don’t consciously say, “I’d rather feel right than be accurate, so I’ll ignore evidence.” The human brain just does it automatically and unconsciously.

They repeat their stories, and their warnings, intending to help other healers avoid these problems. And the story, “I worked with this person, then got the condition they had” is so compelling. Much more fun than, “I worked with this person, then nothing else happened.” And it gets retold, each retelling adding to the perceived evidence, until “health transfer” becomes a meme, implicit in our beliefs without ever being explicitly taught.

There is no villain to this story. Just common, very human errors.

This is the danger in trusting popular memes. I suspect it’s also a danger of trusting ancient wisdom.

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Side Effects from Biofield Healing? Yes, It Happens

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

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Conventional wisdom says biofield healing has no side effects. Peer-reviewed scientific articles often state that in the introduction, and I’ve said it myself.

Turns out, we were all wrong.

A little background: I’ve been working to create more effective healing techniques for Lisa, my friend with cancer. First, we’re delivering the energy closer to her cells, further down the pathways from her aura to her living tissue. Second, we’re using energy signatures designed for her particular condition, instead of using a general “healing” energy.

Two results stand out to me:

We did a healing session intended to reduce all the cellular processes of her cancer cells. (I’d need to work with cancer researchers to say whether it actually did or not, but that was the goal. It was based on a healing technique for colds, intended to reduce the cellular processes of the bacteria.)

For the next couple of days, Lisa had bilateral pain in her abdomen. That’s where her main cancer growths are, so we figured it was normal pain. On the second day, Lisa got a psychic intuition saying to turn off the cancer healing energy. It had an urgent feel, so we did. Her pain dramatically reduced within minutes.

Yes, it seems like the healing technique caused that pain. Or, rather, the healing energy, in combination with her other conditions, caused the pain.

On the good side, this suggests the healing technique was affecting her cancer cells in some way.

Second result: Lisa received some IV Dilaudid. It’s an opioid painkiller, similar to morphine. As she received the drug, we watched how her biofield changed, particularly around her nerves. The next day, we replicated those changes to her biofield, around the nerves in her stomach and spine.

Her pain did decrease. This is a big deal — we already had the standard healing techniques going, and after the Dilaudid-inspired healing technique, her pain reduced even further.

But she also experienced mild dizziness, a common side-effect of Dilaudid. She was already weak, so we worried even mild dizziness might lead to a fall, so we undid the Dilaudid-inspired healing. Within minutes, her dizziness went back to her baseline state. (She’s also on a Fentanyl patch, which gives her a bit of dizziness.)

These were my first noticeable side effects from healing. What’s going on?

The human body is complicated. Affecting the body, whether that’s through drugs or the biofield, can have multiple effects, some good and some bad. We call the good ones “results” and the bad ones “side effects,” but fundamentally, they’re all simply how the body responds to those changes.

Below a certain threshold, we don’t notice a change. If dizziness is extremely mild, we ignore it. If pain is sufficiently mild, we can’t tell a side effect apart from a normal twinge. It’s only when you get above a certain threshold where you notice the unintended effects of a change.

Both healing techniques used a new method I developed to deliver energy more effectively, and both healing techniques were using new energy signatures to cause bigger shifts in her biofield. They were designed to produce bigger changes. It looks like they did.

I think we finally reached the threshold of noticeable side effects.

I have a fear, writing this, that it will turn people off from biofield healing. So, to potential clients, I say this: If your practitioner is good enough to produce side effects, they are probably good enough to help you. Someone skilled will manage the side effects, like I did by deactivating those two healing techniques. (We had plenty of other healing sessions that worked as intended, without noticeable side effects, by the way.)

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Semantic Circles

Monday, April 20th, 2015

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From 1667 until the late 1700s, the smartest humans believed that fire was caused by phlogiston. Wood (and other flammable materials) contained phlogiston, and fire was phlogiston being released.

You may already know the error. Phlogiston only caused fire. It wasn’t visible, didn’t have a scent, wasn’t something you could measure. If you observe a material burning, that told you it contained phlogiston. Knowing a material contained phlogiston told you that it would burn.

Fire –> Contains Phlogiston –> Fire

“Phlogiston” is a semantic circle. It sounds like an answer, but just loops back to what you already know.

To any particular person, any term can be a semantic circle. A childhood friend explained that the sky was blue because of “refraction.” What’s refraction? “It’s the reason the sky is blue.”

To creationists, “evolution” seems to be a semantic circle. It’s a word in the mental map, but it’s only linked to “scientific answer for how humans came to be.” It’s not connected to virology, cancer, DNA, etc — the real reasons for embracing evolution.

I fear that “ethereal software” may be a semantic circle to some readers. Merely the Direct Magick name for “the thing that drives magick.” Nothing more than a clever term. And explaining, “Reiki healers call their ethereal software ‘The Universe'” just sounds like rebranding their art with Direct Magick terms.

The key, I think, is to first discuss techniques for working with ethereal software. How do you get ethereal software to listen to your commands? How do you get it to tell you how it’s used? What can you do with a thing once you know it’s ethereal software?

After you know that, it becomes useful to learn that Reiki healers call their ethereal software “The Universe.” It tells you how to use that tool. Once the concept “ethereal software” is connected to other concepts and techniques, it becomes knowledge and a model, not just a words to argue over.

On my mind as I contemplate my book.

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Healing Techniques for Sleep, & Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Studies

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

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Exciting results with the healing technique I developed to help Lisa sleep. A client has had insomnia for 4 years, typically getting 3-4 hours of sleep per night. In January, I used that same healing technique, and a few weeks ago she sent me this:

OMG. Update on the healing front. Get ready for some all caps joy:

I AM SLEEPING GREAT LATELY. It is so awesome. <3 <3 <3
I sleep nearly 7 1/2 hours almost every night and I freaking LOVE IT.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This sparks a few thoughts:

  • This could help a lot of people. So many people sleep poorly these days.
  • This could be a great first offering for Healing Lab. More people suffer from poor sleep than from chronic joint pain or other conditions, and this is also different than what other healers offer, which is nice.
  • Could I publish a study on this technique?

That last question isn’t, “Could someone publish a study about this technique?” It’s, “Could I publish it?” Run a small study, publish online, then collaborate with researchers to reproduce the results for journal publication.

If I do, I’d want it to be a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. That’s the gold standard. It’s also, sadly, rare in biofield healing studies.

Let’s review those terms:

Placebo-controlled: What if the active ingredient isn’t your healing technique, but your discussion with the client? To rule that out, you have the same discussion and pretend to do a healing session for everyone in the control group. The only difference should be whether you actually move energy or not.

Double-blind: What if I say the same words to both groups, but I’m excited for the real-healing subjects and monotone for the pretend-healing ones? No good. To rule that out, even the practitioner shouldn’t know whether the subject will be receiving the real healing technique or not.

Placebo-controlled is simple enough, and according to a 2009 meta-study, around half of all biofield studies use placebo control. An acupuncturist punctures inaccurately, a Reiki healer waves their hands but doesn’t channel energy. These studies usually provide evidence that real healing is more effective than placebo.

But notice the problem: That acupuncturist knows whether they’re giving real acupuncture. The Reiki healer knows she’s just waving her hands. What if they had an unconscious confidence in the healing conditions that they lacked in the placebo conditions?

I’d like to rule that out. So here’s my plan:

  1. Meet with the subject, discuss the healing technique.
  2. After answering their questions, touch their head to create the connections.
  3. Go into the other room, and only then flip a coin to determine if they’re in the healing or placebo group.
  4. Using those connections, while remaining in the other room, either do the healing technique or don’t. Either way, don’t talk with or see the subject. An assistant (who doesn’t know the result of that coin flip) thanks them and shows them out.
  5. To follow up, send a single email to everyone, all at the same time (bcc’ed), asking them to complete a survey. No difference in communication between subject and control.

How do I get subjects? I know lots of free thinkers who love science, who would probably be excited to give 20 minutes of their time for a double-blind placebo-controlled study, and receive a free healing session on top of it. And after the study, I’d do the healing technique for everyone in the control group, too.

My consulting contract is up this fall. I’ll aim for late 2015 or early 2016 for this study.

Comments: Do you see a way to make this study more robust without dramatically increasing the work? Or a way to simplify the procedure while keeping the same robustness? Please share in the comments.

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Learning From Ancient Magick

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

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Can we learn ancient, powerful magick?

That depends: Was ancient magick powerful? More powerful than what we have today?

I doubt it. But that doesn’t mean we should entirely discard ancient magickal practices. Talking with a friend, she convinced me there’s something worth looking into.

Today, I’m revising my answer to last week’s question:

Can direct magick help me learn those ancient magick that was not pass down or lost in time??

Note: I added this answer to that post a few days ago, too.

My question is, why do you want to learn about ancient magick?

I see 3 possible answers. First, love of history. If you’re a historian looking for ancient Egyptian fertility rites, that sounds awesome, but sorry, Direct Magick doesn’t have that.

Second, you might hope to glean some clues from systems of healing developed over hundreds of years. After all, Western medicine has developed drugs by looking at traditional herbal medicine. (I think aspirin came from investigating herbal medicine, and it’s pretty great.) I see some potential here, and Direct Magick has some useful tools for separating the wheat from the chaff in these investigations.

Third, there’s a notion that ancient magick was more powerful, calling down plagues and reviving the dead, creating objects out of thing air, smiting your enemies. Most people who ask for ancient magick are after power.

Here’s the thing: In ancient times, they didn’t distinguish between biofield healing vs (herbal) drugs and placebo, or even slight of hand, and they didn’t understand confirmation bias — heck, much of ancient history was oral traditions, shifting and embellishing with each retelling. So those powerful lost ancient magicks? They were probably illusionists, herbs, and other non-magickal phenomena.

But if you’re after powerful magick, I do have a path for you: Understand the underlying mechanisms behind magick. Harness them to create better techniques that solve new problems. Build magick into a respected science, one with thousands of researchers worldwide, connected to medicine and physics and the rest of human knowledge. That’s the path to more powerful magick.

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Chewy Ideas on Magick for Engineers

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

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This post summarizes my science-focused thinking about magick, written for non-mages.

It comes from a friend who’s a professor of religion, who asks:

I have some science and religion double majors and I wanted them to see the work of an engineer on this question of “magic.” Do you have something that I can give to them to chew on?

Magic vs Magick

Magic and magick aren’t the same thing.

Historically, “magic” means a thing operates without any (known) mechanism:

  • Harry Potter magic just does what it does, no underlying mechanism.
  • When pre-scientific people saw placebo and hypnosis, they wouldn’t understand the mechanism, and called it magic.
  • Same with any sufficiently advanced technology — the mechanism is known to the advanced society (who sees it as technology), but is unknown and unknowable to the less advanced society (who see it as magic).

So that’s magic-with-a-c: Stuff we don’t understand, stuff outside science. Magic takes “X just happens, no cause-and-effect needed” as an acceptable explanation. And if we ever do scientifically explore a phenomenon, it is no longer part of magic-with-a-c.

Magick-with-a-k is simply a set of phenomena: Energy healing, creating luck, and a few others. We could choose to view them as things that just happen, outside cause-and-effect. Or we can view them as part of the natural world, and explore them, understand them, harness them the same way we harness any other natural phenomenon.

Thus, while magic-with-a-c is the opposite of science, magick-with-a-k can (and should) be explored scientifically.

Magick Isn’t Religion

Many religions include magickal practices, just as many religions include specific things you must wear, eat, or say. But that doesn’t make clothing, food, or speaking fundamentally religious. Personally, I’m an atheist, and my practice of magick isn’t connected to any religion.

The history of human knowledge is a steady shift from supernatural explanations to natural / scientific ones. We used to explain the rising of the sun as Ra in a chariot, but now we know it’s planetary rotation. Lightening used to be Zeus, now it’s Maxwell’s equations. Today, neuroscience is tackling consciousness, and we’re seeing that shift from free-floating (supernatural) thoughts to a phenomena that emerges from (natural) nerves. How long until we add psychic phenomena and energy healing to that list?

(Hat tip to Greta Christina for this observation. Also see Richard Carrier on natural vs supernatural.)

Spirits as Artificial Intelligence

I work with spirits. How do those fit into a materialist universe?

(Materialism = Thoughts, ideas, and consciousness aren’t things themselves, but emerge from the interaction of non-mental things like nerves.)

I think of magick as driven by ethereal matter. Like dark matter, ethereal matter interacts in limited ways with ordinary matter. It can be studied. With luck, it will some day be part of standard physics.

Spirits, then, are constructed from the ethereal equivalent of nerves. Or transistors. They’re artificial intelligences, built from ethereal matter instead of silicone.

Random Testing vs Science

Lots of mages experiment. They try a new ritual, a new rune, see what happens.

That’s excellent. The world needs more people testing their ideas, gathering data, ensuring they only believe in things that actually work.

But science is bigger than testing. Science starts with a model — not a story about the world, not a single idea like “belief” or “information” or “spirits,” but a model with moving parts that makes predictions. In magick, those predictions are often new techniques or rituals that you’d only think of because you have that model. Then the testing serves to confirm, refute, or refine the model.

Of course, 90% of the work is coming up with a model worth testing. And, just like drawing an accurate map of a city requires walking its streets, building a worthwhile model of magick requires doing a lot of magick. That’s where to start.

The Start of a Model

If you want to see my full model, read my book-in-progress, An Initiation into Direct Magick.

But I’m hoping you’ll start exploring and pondering your own model. So I want to give you a few ideas to start:

Many systems of magick produce similar results. Mostly that’s energy healing and luck. This suggests a common underlying mechanism that all systems of magick tap into. (If they operated by different mechanisms, it’s unlikely they’d produce the same result.)

That’s the starting point of Chaos Magick, too. It was the fashionable system when I started, and its answer is belief — “belief is the tool.” But “belief” doesn’t explain why everything is similar. In fact, if magick was “whatever you believe, that happens,” I’d expect everyone to produce wildly different results. (Belief can be a tool for driving your mind to perform magick, but it can’t be the underlying mechanism.)

Magick is complex, and complexity isn’t free. Whatever that mechanism is, it has to understand details of altering the world. It has to be able to predict which events will lead to your desired outcome, and make those events happen, in real time. Einstein said, “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler” — I see many models that make things much too simple.

Scientific Miracles — My Faith

I want to leave you with the source of my faith.

Every time we’ve understood a new part of science, it’s lead to amazing things. Miracles, if you will.

Newton plus 300 years lead to human flight.

Chemistry plus thermodynamics let us land on the moon.

Relativity plus lenses let us gaze into space, seeing light from the first seconds of the formation of the universe.

Quantum physics lead to transistors, and the computer you’re reading this on right now.

Evolution plus germ theory lead to vaccines and antibiotics.

DNA lead to stem cells and new medical treatments, and may one day lead to human immortality.

Science is the source of tangible miracles you and I experience every day.

I don’t know where the study of ethereal matter leads, but I have faith it leads somewhere miraculous.

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