Posts Tagged ‘Testing’

Testing My Techniques: Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Ethereal Software

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

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In 2012, over 50 readers helped me test a sigil I’d made. It was amazing, tapping into this community to verify my results. So many of you helped — thank you!

That helped me move forward with confidence in my book, my writing, and my own practice. Participating and feeling the results helped many of you build confidence in your own work, too. But the test wasn’t scientifically rigorous, and as a result it hasn’t given us as much confidence as it could.

This post is about fixing that. I’m repeating the test, this time as a double-blind placebo-controlled version — the gold standard for scientific research. It’ll help me become more confident in this work, and participating will help you be confident that the sensations you’re feeling really are from energy, not from placebo or suggestion.

This post has three sections. First I’ll explain exactly what we’re testing. Then I’ll discuss today’s version, and why it’s better than the 2012 version. Then I’ll show you exactly what to do to participate. Or skip to the participation now.

Update: Results are here.

The Technique — What’s a Sigil?

A sigil is a symbol with ethereal software bound to it. (Ethereal software is the general term for the forces that healers and mages channel. Other systems refer to these forces as Egregores, The Universe, or other names.)

These bound symbols aren’t the same as symbols you see in everyday life. Company logos and family crests don’t usually have forces bound to them. But there are some examples you might know: The symbols used in Reiki, symbols from magickal systems like Golden Dawn and Enochian, along with sigils commonly used in Chaos Magick. Those symbols have power precisely because they are bound, because they cause ethereal software to connect to a person who focuses on them.

The symbol can be basically anything. I just made some lines in Paint. The lines had nothing to do with anything, they were just random squiggles. They were not specially designed in any way.

To bind my ethereal software to my sigil, I contacted another force (another ethereal software) that seems to handle this. I asked it to, “Associate this symbol I’m looking at with this ethereal software I’m connecting you to,” and it said OK. And I thought to myself, “It can’t possibly be that easy. The universe can’t possibly work like this.” That’s why I tested it.

To use a sigil, a person focuses on the symbol, and the ethereal software connects to them. How does that work? Before the 2012 test, I would have said that the person already has a connection to the ethereal software, and the sigil reminds them of that force, activating the connection. But the whole point of the 2012 test was that no one had used the ethereal software before, and it still connected to them.

Even today, I find this whole phenomenon odd. But when our expectations disagree with the results we observe, we trust our observations. That’s really the only rule of science.

That’s why I want to do a better test today.

Why Do Double-Blind Testing

In 2012, I gave readers a sigil, told them what a success would look like, and asked them to try it. The results were great: Most experienced practitioners successfully felt the connection, and some even used it for manifesting.

But… Everyone experienced what they expected to experience. How could I know it was the result of energy and ethereal software, and not placebo and suggestion?

The truth is, I can’t. The testing wasn’t rigorous.

For those of you wondering why I spend so much time on scientific testing, this is the exact reason: A good test lets me be confident of the results. A bad test leaves doubt. Scientific testing is about moving from unconfident belief to confident knowledge.

I knew all this in 2012, but flinched away from that idea. Proper testing has a brutal honesty, it can tell me I’m wrong. That’s the whole point. But that’s also scary, so I punted with a good-but-imperfect test. (That’s also why this post is a few days late.)

Here’s what I’m doing this time:

There are 2 sigils. One bound to my ethereal software, the other (the placebo) not bound. You won’t know which is which. You’ll randomly select one, try it, report what happens. I have over 1,000 readers, so we should get a bunch of data on both sigils, and we can see if they give the same results (meaning the sensations are placebo) or different results (meaning the binding actually does something). I’m excited to find out.

As I write this post (and the twitter and facebook announcements), I don’t know which sigil will be bound. I’ve created the images, but I won’t bind them until this post is entirely finished and ready to post. This ensures I don’t subtly, unconsciously suggest to you which one is bound — I can’t, because I don’t know. That’s what “double-blind” means, that neither of us knows which one is real. After this post is fully written and ready to go up, I’ll randomly pick a sigil (by flipping a coin) and bind it. (By the time you read this, one of the sigils will be bound.)

(For readers who have used my book’s ethereal software and wanted confirmation that they were getting actual results, not just placebo, this is a great time to test that. Try both sigils, see what you notice, then come back when I reveal the results.)

I’m going to leave all comments in Pending state for 4 weeks, until August 14. That way no one will be influenced by anyone else’s results.

Nothing about this is technically difficult. 99% of the difficulty is emotional. That’s often the case when scientifically testing healing and magick.

How You Can Participate

Step 1: Focus on the sigil: You’ll find links to the two sigils at the bottom of this post. Flip a coin to pick one randomly. Click the link, focus on the sigil. Look at the whole image, then focus on each symbol. Do this for about half a minute.

Step 2: Request an obvious connection: Continue focusing on the sigil and think the message, “Give me an obvious connection.” It’s OK if you rephrase it, but keep the words / concepts “obvious connection” and specify it goes to you. If English isn’t your primary language, use whatever language is easiest for you — the ethereal software responds to concepts, not the words themselves. Focus on the sigil and repeat this command for another half-minute, or until you notice the connection.

Feeling the connection: The connection should feel like an intense energy: Tingling, possibly pressure or heat. It’s tuned to be obvious to most people, so those more sensitive to energy may find it too intense, but don’t worry, it’ll stop as soon as you ask it to. (And please accept my apologies, along with my gratitude for helping with this project.)

Step 3: Turn off the connection: To turn off the connection, think the message, “Turn off the obvious connection.” This should stop the sensations immediately.

If you want to try manifesting with this ethereal software, just ask it for what you want. “Cause me to [whatever goal].” It also has commands for shielding, awakening your ethereal muscles, and more. See my book-in-progress for some ideas.

Step 4: Disconnect: When you’re done, tell the ethereal software to disconnect by thinking the message, “Disconnect from me.” In total, testing one sigil like this should take 1-2 minutes.

Step 5: Test the other sigil tomorrow: At this point, you’ve tested one of the two sigils. Maybe you felt something, maybe you didn’t. Either way, wait. Don’t go on to the other sigil yet — give the ethereal software time to disconnect. If it’s still connected, you could receive energy from it even if you’re looking at the placebo sigil. So wait. Do the other sigil tomorrow.

Similarly, please do this test as your first act of magick / energy work of the day. If you’ve already been working with other forces (such as my book’s ethereal software, channeling healing energy, doing ritual magick, etc), it’s possible you’re still connected to those forces, and they could influence the results.

After testing a sigil, please fill out the form below and post it as a comment. I’ll leave all comments in “Pending” status until August 14, so they don’t display for other readers and influence their expectations.

Thank you so much for helping me test sigils!

Here are the links. After clicking the link, you can click the sigil to make it full-screen. (Remember, flip a coin to pick the sigil, and only do one per day):

Sigil 1 (heads)

Sigil 2 (tails)

(It doesn’t matter which sigil goes with heads, but it’s important to decide that before flipping the coin. If we flip the coin, get heads, and then decide which sigil goes with heads, we haven’t actually randomized. That’s why I labeled them.)

Here’s the results form, paste it into the comment field below:

Sigil used: Heads / Tails

Did you notice a connection just from focusing on the sigil?

What did you feel when you asked for an obvious connection? (Description, 1-2 sentences)

How strong was the obvious connection? (0-10, 0 = no sensation, 4 = gentle breeze, 7 = light touch, 10 = firm touch)

What’s your experience with energy / magick / healing / etc?

Did you participate in the 2012 testing?

Other notes / comments:

Thank you!

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

Killing Skepticism in Magick: A Plan

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

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Skepticism dies via mature technologies.

Take Hertzian Waves. Invisible messages floating through the air, passing through solid objects. Sounds pretty woo, right?

Today, they’re better known as radio waves, and everything from remote controls to wifi to cell phones depend on them. Mature radio-based technologies are ubiquitous, and only a crazy person would remain skeptical.

Mature technologies produce obvious results, experienced by everyone. That’s what kills skepticism.

Here’s the rub: Energy healing and magick haven’t produced a mature technology yet.

Can an expert use sigils or beliefs or ethereal software to create luck? It certainly seems so. Can we do it with the precision and reliability to create an obvious, media-friendly demonstration? Do we have something a layman can experience themselves? No and no. So it remains limited to stories at magick conferences, only convincing the already-convinced, and laymen never get the visceral, proving impact of a successful manifesting.

What about energy healing? A decade or more of scientific research suggests that an expert in Reiki or Therapeutic Touch can reduce pain for 24-48 hours. This is a great first version of a technology, and I hope it continues helping more and more people. But a mature version? That would produce fast, obvious numbing, or invert the technique to produce clear sensations. Mature energy healing would affect the long-term outcome of a disease, convincing people by saving their lives. And the healing techniques we have today, which right now is applied by an expert at $60-100 per session? It would be tied to a sigil that anyone could meditate on and experience the energy healing themselves, for free or a low monthly subscription.

Skepticism in magick is rational, and it has many causes: A history of mages and healers making false claims, which continues today. The language we use, and our misuse of science, particularly quantum physics. How even our solid, well-researched claims would require new physics. And more. We’ll have to address all of that eventually.

But when I look for solutions, I look for something that’s both necessary and sufficient. And getting all healers to stop making false claims? That isn’t necessary, it isn’t sufficient, and it probably isn’t possible. Same with getting everyone to use less-woo-sounding terms, or to understand that the “observer” of quantum physics is a photon, not a conscious mind. And developing new physics that explain our results? That happens after we’re taken seriously, not before.

But a mature technology? That’s necessary, sufficient (or nearly so), and can be accomplished by a small group of experienced mages and healers.

If we want to kill skepticism, we need a mature technology.

Moving forward, I’ll be performing studies on this blog, based on healing energies tied to sigils. They’ll be double-blind, placebo-controlled, solid research. I hope you’ll help. (If you live near San Francisco, I’ll also be doing in-person research, publishing the results here.)

And if you want to copy my design and do your own studies, tell me and I’ll help you publicize. Because we all benefit from building a community of researchers.

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

From Belief to Knowledge: Teaching at Pantheacon

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

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Two weeks ago, I taught at Pantheacon. I was scared, not of speaking or teaching, but of testing my magick in front of an audience. And I learned just how subtle resistance can be.

The class was about belief and knowledge. If I believe in something, there’s also a doubt, often deep and unacknowledged. I can push it down, but it’s still there, still impacting me. I’ll avoid true tests, avoid situations where I might discover that my belief isn’t true. It holds me back in ways I’m often unaware of.

Knowledge is different. It’s sure, confident. If I know something, I don’t even realize when I’m testing it, because I just know it’ll work.

My goal was to help students move from belief to knowledge. But even more, it was about moving myself from belief to knowledge.

The technique was simple: There’s a sender and a receiver. The sender builds energy while thinking of a memory, either happy or excited. The receiver moves that energy into their own head, and feels the difference between the two emotions. It uses some fundamentals of Direct Magick, and can be taught in about an hour.

There are two ways to use this: Practice, and Test. To practice, the sender announces the emotion they’re using, and the receiver notices the difference. It’s striking how different the energy feels, which students enjoy. But it’s also safe — you know what you’re supposed to feel, and if you don’t feel exactly that, well, no one ever needs to know.

In the test condition, the receiver closes their eyes and doesn’t touch the sender. They can only feel the energy, there’s no non-energetic communication. Based only on the energy, they figure out which emotion the sender is sending.

I knew I’d want to demonstrate the test condition. You can’t talk about the test then not do it. That’s like a play having a rifle hanging on the wall, but never firing it.

Except I haven’t done this test in years. I hadn’t done it with anyone in the class. What if my partner messed up? I’d look like an idiot in front of the whole class.

It was a fear that came directly from not testing my magick. My lack of testing threatened to hold me back, not in an abstract way at some future point, but by flinching away from teaching the best class I could, right now.

I have a reflex: When I notice something uncomfortable, I look at it more. It’s consciously cultivated over the past decade. And I realized, I’d never really tested the technique at all.

I first taught the class in 2009. Demoed the test condition, everything went great. Taught it again a few times, demoed the test condition each time. But I never sat down with a partner, ran a few dozen trials, collected data to really prove the technique. Just never got to it.

Except I didn’t “just never get to it.” I avoided it. I could have done it anytime over the past 5+ years, but I never made the time. I hadn’t noticed, but my fear had made me avoid testing. Which is why I was still scared.

Well, the class went well. I demonstrated the test condition, it worked, everyone was happy. And I’ve resolved to test this, and many other techniques, before the end of 2015. Because I can’t do what I want to do if I flinch away from demonstrating my magick.

What about you? Do you have doubts that leave you flinching from opportunities? How could you turn those doubted beliefs into knowledge?

Other Highlights

I also taught Hypnosis for Deeper Trance. Over 30 attendees, so much fun to teach, and I’m teaching a follow-on class, “Hypno-Shamanism,” in April with Francesca Gentille. Details coming soon.

I had some great conversations with Taylor Elwood of Magical Experiments, and came away with some inspiration for my book. (It’s been in progress for over a year, partially because I haven’t found quite the right focus. I think I have that now.)

And I discussed the overlap between science and magick with Oberon Zell of the Church of All Worlds. He had some interesting ideas, and it was great to connect.

In all, a great conference, and I’ll be there again next year.

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

Inspiring My 2015: Pantheacon, Healing Lab, and Rigorous Testing

Monday, January 19th, 2015

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This year, I’m teaching, founding a research company, and exploring intimidating work.

Presenting at Pantheacon

Pantheacon is a giant pagan conference in San Jose, CA. I’ll be attending for the first time this February. My goal is to connect with people to collaborate with, recruit for Healing Lab (see below), and practice healing techniques.

Readers: Will you be at Pantheacon? Let me know. I’ll arrange a Magick of Thought meetup!

I’m also teaching:

Hypnosis for Deeper Trance is on the official program. I’ve been practicing and teaching hypnosis for several years, just for fun (unrelated to Direct Magick), and I’ll be teaching hypnosis techniques you can use in rituals. Class description:

We use trance every day. From ritual to meditation, from daydreaming to getting into flow, a trance is any non-drug-induced altered state. It’s one way to separate the sacred from the profane, and it can open the doors to creativity. In this exercise-focused class, you’ll learn hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques to create deeper trances during rituals. You’ll learn to use hypnotic suggestion to create visions and sensations during guided meditation. And you’ll get a few fun ideas for using hypnosis in the bedroom, too.

I’ll also be teaching in the Church of All Worlds suite. Maybe a class on manifesting, maybe a class discussing magick in a materialist paradigm, maybe something else. I’ll announce when I know.

I’ll also be performing healing sessions in the Church of All Worlds suite, as part of Healing Lab (below).

Pantheacon is February 13-16. Tickets are still available.

Founding Healing Lab

Healing Lab’s mission is to combine biofield healing with Western medicine to heal all disease.

The company provides a container for my healing work, and a title for introductions. “Mike Sententia, founder of Healing Lab” feels different than “Mike Sententia, blogger on Magick of Thought,” particularly among researchers who aren’t themselves into magick.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a year. I’ve been intimidated. I’ve felt not ready. I still feel not ready, really, but if I wait until I’m ready I’ll never accomplish anything.

Active research projects:

Energy healing for chronic knee pain: I’ve done this dozens of times on several friends. I have the technique down. Now it’s time to work with 100-ish people so I know it works reliably on just about everyone. I’m hoping to practice this a lot at Pantheacon.

Energy healing for auto-immune diseases: I’ve had good results for my friend with chronic hives. Now, I’m working with a woman who has Multiple Sclerosis. Still in the initial development phase, but it’s fascinating, worthwhile work. Will post about it in the coming weeks.

Creating sensations: I’m continuing the work from last year around creating sensations in non-mages, aiming to collaborate with university researchers and publish the results.

More info on my website-in-progress

Rigorous Testing

Last post, we discussed how I value accurate beliefs, and how much I want to avoid claims that could be debunked by a fourth-grader.

But I haven’t been living up to those goals.

Sensory connections are one of the foundational techniques of Direct Magick. They’re how I look at ethereal structures. I use them for healing techniques, and I get good results, so I know that sensory connections more-or-less work too.

But… more or less? That’s not what I aspire to.

The poor testing impacts my work. I did a distance healing session for my friend with cancer, but wasn’t sure of what I was sensing, and couldn’t do everything I wanted.

It impacts how I explain magick. If I were fully confident in my sensory connections, I’d explain precisely what they do, how they work, and I’d invite a challenge rather than shying away from one.

Good testing leads to good debugging, leads to better results.

Why haven’t I tested? Well, I’ve said I’m focusing on other techniques, and that my sensory connections work well enough.

But if I’m feeling safe and honest, it’s because I’m afraid of finding my sensory connections don’t work as well as I think they do. I’m afraid of that ego hit. I’d rather believe I’m good, I don’t want to discover what I’m lacking and then work to fix it.

And having seen that, I can’t avoid that work anymore.

This year, I’m going to rigorously test my sensory connections, find out where they work and where they don’t, learn where I see accurately and where I’m influenced by my expectations like a sommelier fooled by cheap wine in an expensive bottle. It’ll be emotionally hard, but it’s the price of getting where I want to go.

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

Can We Feel Auras? (My Work April 12-18)

Friday, April 18th, 2014

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This month, I’m figuring out how to make energy that non-mages can feel. And a good early step is to get a baseline: How effective is the basic obvious technique?

This week, two friends helped me test whether we could feel auras while almost touching. Short story is: Experienced mages can, non-mages can’t. No surprise, but I’m glad to know. Plus I got some helpful data.

Mages Feel Auras

My first helper had been working with energy for a decade. We’ll call her a mage.

Our test was simple: The receiver stands, blindfolded. The sender silently moves their hand close to various parts of the receiver’s body. The receiver says what they feel. Afterward, we compare hand location to sensations.

As the receiver, my sensations mapped closely to her hand position. At one point, I said that I felt her hand in front of my chest, and then heard her cough to my left. I said, “I guess I was wrong there, huh?” She said, “No, I was wondering if you were maybe hearing breathing or footsteps, so I stood to your side but held my hand near your chest.” Which means I was (correctly) feeling the aura of her hand near my chest, and not hearing her and feeling her via proprioception.

Then I became the sender. I had three phases. First, control: I did absolutely nothing with energy or aura, and just moved my hands around. She felt nothing. Success. (I didn’t tell her what I was doing, and lead her to believe I would be testing techniques.)

Second, I engaged my aura. Using the ethereal muscles for working with aura, I thought about making my aura firmer, then moved my hand around. She felt it, and accurately said where my hand was. Success.

Third, I over-engaged my aura. This wasn’t intentional, but after a minute or so, she started to get a headache, and felt sensations coming from wherever I was standing, rather than from my hand.

If we hadn’t had her successful 2nd round, or my successful tests as receiver, I’d say this was just a failed test, that she’s hearing breathing and anticipating sensations. But with those successes, I think this was a matter of me engaging my entire aura, rather than just my hand. I think she felt the aura from my torso, and that my aura built up in some way. I’ll look into that soon, improve my control, then test again.

Summary: Experienced mages feel auras, as long as the sender engages their aura. But there’s a little complexity in engaging your aura correctly.

Non-Mages Don’t Feel Auras

My second helper is open-minded, has an altar to crystals and has felt sensations during energy meditations, but doesn’t practice much herself. We’ll call her a non-mage, though more into this stuff than your average person on the street.

This time, I only acted as sender. Our procedure was roughly the same. And for all the techniques — doing nothing, engaging aura, and actively building energy — she felt nothing.

That’s not surprising — if it really was easy to produce sensations, we would have demonstrated energy to the masses long ago.

But beyond that, this is a very good sign. Why? Because if she was feeling air movements from my hands, or hearing my footfalls, or some other non-magickal cause, she would have reported sensations. She didn’t. Which suggests that we’re not picking up those errors in these tests. Which matters more than any one technique producing sensations.

Also, I’ve been needing an open-minded assistant who doesn’t feel energy, and who won’t get annoyed when I can’t produce sensations in my first dozen attempts. And now I have that assistant.

(Also this week, I did some training in how aura connects to the mind and body. Will probably post about that next week.)

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

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!”

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

Ethereal Muscles, Focus, and the Brain

Friday, September 6th, 2013

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I’ve noticed something about how ethereal muscles work. The observation came as I repeatedly did communication for manifesting: Ethereal muscles use the brain for information processing.

I noticed this while packaging and unpackaging messages. That’s the step where I’ve already thought the message, gathered the signatures that correspond to those thoughts, and now I’m packaging those signatures up to send them. The brain really isn’t involved at this point — I’ve already thought the message, the message is already magickal energy, and it’s just the ethereal muscles preparing to send it.

(That’s packaging. Unpackaging is the reverse process, where I’ve received a message and I’m preparing it for my brain.)

In both of those situations, I noticed something unexpected:

  • If I consciously focus on the task, it takes about 10 seconds.
  • If I distract my mind and let my ethereal muscles do it unconsciously, it takes about 30 seconds.

This happened consistently across many messages. It happens whether I’m tired or awake, and whether my environment is distracting or calm. Within one 5-minute session, I can focus on some messages and let other messages process unconsciously, and the trend still holds. In other words, the conscious focus itself seems to be the active ingredient, and not merely my level of fatigue / distractability.

Why isn’t this expected? Well, ethereal muscles take guidance from the brain, but ultimately, they’re not part of the brain. And a lot of magick advises you to send your intent to your unconscious, then let the unconscious handle it. (With A. O. Spare’s sigils, for example, you’re specifically supposed to forget what the sigil means, so your conscious mind won’t get in the way.) And yet, from my data, it seems that conscious focus makes ethereal muscles work faster, (at least for me).

This means that ethereal muscles do not, in fact, just take a conscious intent and run with it. Or, rather, they do that, but they operate slowly. But if I keep my conscious mind engaged, the ethereal muscle does the same task faster, even though the muscle already knows how to do the task (so it doesn’t need conscious guidance to accomplish it properly.)

My first thought was, “Maybe this has to do with sending intent to my ethereal muscles.” But I know the ethereal muscle received my intent properly, because it does, in fact, do the right thing without my conscious focus. It just does it more slowly.

My guess is that the ethereal muscle is using my brain as extra processing power to help figure out all the right signatures and changes and steps to accomplish my goal. So, it can figure that out slowly on its own, or quickly using my brain. The other option I see is that ethereal muscles are naturally slow unless you apply constant conscious pressure to operate quickly. Maybe the conserve energy by default, unless you nudge them?

I’ll have to think more on how to tease those two apart, or if there are other options. Thoughts?

And 2 notes:

To my recent commenters: I have not forgotten you! Hectic couple of days, will respond soon.

This experience also relates to the idea that magick operates however the mage thinks it operates: I didn’t expect this. Just now, magick did not operate how the mage thought it operated. And if you look in your own work, I’m sure you’ll find similar data.

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

Conclusion: Why These Parts?

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

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

Before finishing this tour of the major pieces of direct magick, I want to answer two common questions:

  • How did you pick which concepts to borrow from other systems of magick?
  • Why aren’t other common concepts (like chakras) included as well?

This model didn’t happen all at once. It came from years of exploration, from trying to solve problems, from training with spirits and other human mages, and from finding models that lead to new, useful techniques. Even the components that logically have to be there, like ethereal software (since it works out details that are too complex for the human mind), have proven themselves time and again as I’ve developed new techniques for healing, manifesting, psychic intuitions, shielding / protection, and more.

Better techniques may seem like an odd basis for a model of magick. After all, anyone can try a few dozen approaches, notice which one works the best, and adopt it. That doesn’t mean you should trust their story about why it works, it just means they got lucky.

Indeed, that would be an odd basis for a model. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. Here, I’m talking about a model that singles out a complex procedure I never would have considered without the model. A model that said, “This one procedure should work,” and got it right after one or a few tries, when random chance would only get it right one time in 100 or 1000.

Or, put into scientific terms: The model using these components made non-obvious predictions — predictions I would not have made using other common models of magick. It predicted that particular techniques would be more effective than the other methods I had available. And it got it right, again and again, even when I didn’t quite believe in the techniques myself.

(I didn’t discover those techniques in my first year of magick, and we won’t learn them for a while. But if you’re curious, some of them are in case studies on my blog, at )

As for other common concepts, like chakras, they’re not included because the model in this book is a snapshot of my current beliefs as of 2013, not my final thoughts on the matter. I’ve gone looking and haven’t found chakras (and ghosts and other things), so they’re not included. But the world is a big place, and the human body is incredibly intricate, and it’s possible I’ve simply missed them. It’s certainly happened before.

Actually, that’s much of why I’m writing this book: To bring more collaborators into direct magick, drawing new ideas from different backgrounds. That’s how we’ll create an even better model of how magick operates, and how we’ll build even better techniques. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll be part of that.

And now, we’re ready to see direct magick in action.

Next Chapter

Table of Contents

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Advanced Grounding (Technique #4)

Friday, May 10th, 2013

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This series started back in January, and this technique builds on concepts in the first post. You might want to review it now.

The standard (incorrect) model of grounding I grew up with says that the headache that sometimes comes after energy work is caused by too much energy, and that grounding is about releasing the excess energy. My model of grounding — the one I’ve developed as an adult — says the headache comes from getting your energy in the wrong signature, and that grounding is about returning your signature to normal, and has little to do with the quantity of energy.

When I started this series, I hadn’t thought seriously about grounding in years. It was a solved problem, so why bother? But, returning to grounding after doing lots of direct energy healing work, it was immediately obvious that my grounding model made an unexpected prediction: You should be able to return your energy to its normal signature — that is, you ought to be able to ground — by adding more energy, rather than releasing the energy.

The traditional model, of course, would predict that adding more energy would make matters worse, no matter its signature. And whenever two models predict opposite results, there’s only one thing to do: Test it.

I admit, I was a bit nervous. Clear-cut tests — places where you can be wrong, and know you’re wrong — do that to a person. It’s only natural, and I say this in the hopes that you will accept your own nervousness and do the test anyway.

But I tried it, on the subway ride home from seeing the ethereal software-based grounding for the first time. Then I tried it again, with different types of energy, and a few more times. And each time, adding more energy (in the right signature) grounds extremely well.

Here’s the technique. It’s designed for me, using all the building blocks and techniques I know. It’s useful because it doesn’t open your shields or release energy into the area around you, which can attract unwanted attention from spirits and other mages. But just a heads up, it’s not novice-friendly. (If you’re looking for a good beginner technique, use energy flushing.)

The Technique

Simply build the right signature of energy in your body. That’s all. The key, of course, is figuring out the right signature.

To do that, I need to introduce a concept from math and physics, delta. It just means difference, or change. If you have a glass of water at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and you heat it to 45 degrees, the delta is 5 degrees.

Here, we’re interrested in the difference between your normal signature and the weird signature in your body that’s making you need to ground. We’ll call the difference between those two signatures the “delta signature.” If you imagine your normal signature as green, and your current signature as yellow, then the delta signature is blue, because yellow + blue = green — that is, (current signature + delta signature) = target signature — and here, the target signature is our normal, grounded signature.

Of course, imagining green and yellow and blue won’t get you anywhere. Signatures aren’t colors, finding the delta signature is a bit tricky, and you need to guide your mental muscles through the process. That’s why this is an advanced technique. It’s something I learned for energy healing, and we’ll cover it in Book 3, but for now, I just want you to get the concept.

But back to grounding: You build energy in the delta signature, mix it with your current signature, and they add up to your normal, grounded signature. When I do this, returning to my normal signature gets rid of my headache and weird feelings immediately. (Though if you waited a while to ground, maybe 30 minutes or more, the weird signature would already have seeped into your cells, and it’ll take a few minutes before they fully return to normal.)

There was an interesting side effect, too: Adding all this energy to my body, while remaining in my normal signature, made me feel slightly more alert. Not as alert as the technique designed to increase alertness, but enough to be noticeable, and to show me that alertness is the actual result of having extra energy in your body’s normal signature, not a headache or any other problem as predicted by the standard model of grounding.

Two notes:

  • The delta signature will be different depending on the signature you’re in at the moment. It’s not a single universal signature; it’s something you calculate each time you ground.
  • If you build too much energy in the delta signature, you’ll push yourself past your normal signature, and into another weird signature that causes headaches and other problems. If this happens, calculate a new delta signature based on your body’s current energy signature, build some of that new delta signature, and go more slowly, so you can stop once you return your energy to normal. (Or use the energy flushing technique, then try this advanced grounding again later.) (Note: This didn’t happen to me, but it’s clearly predicted by the model, so figured I’d mention it.)
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The Usefulness of Doubt

Friday, April 19th, 2013

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Excellent post on the Strategic Sorcery blog recently on The Usefulness of Doubt. A few quotes:

I think that occultists could use a little more doubt in their practice. Even notice that you don’t see a lot of blog posts about spells and magical experiments that don’t work out? […] Very often I see occultists taking synchronicity and gematric coincidences as proof of their work and direction. I do not often see occultists question whether they might be buying into a texas sharpshooter fallacy or suffering a confirmation bias.

Doubt has served me well in my practice. In the 90′s I did a series of enochian workings that sparked a fairly intense and detailed spiritual communication. The spirit had apocalyptic information, it insisted that I write it and share it, it insisted that I was a prophet. I was all kinds of excited to have my ego stroked and to join the ranks of people that were channeling Thelemic Libers, but decided to take a step back and take a look at it in a month with a cooler head. I asked myself, is the information useful? NO. Is there any chance that this might be incorrect? YES. I decided not to do what the spirit said, which is good because all the predictions were wrong.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s tempting to see something that might be the result of your magick, and decide that it is the result of your magick. We all like feeling successful. But if we’re ever going to get magick to the level of a modern science, we need to separate luck and placebo from real results, which means doubting ourselves a lot more.

Here’s the good news: The more you practice this, the easier (and less painful) it becomes.

Recently, I tried a healing technique for a friend’s cold. It didn’t work. She started making excuses — maybe she would have been even worse without the healing session, maybe she had both viral and bacterial infections my technique helped with one but not the other, etc. Looking back, I think she was just being polite, feeling awkward appreciating the effort I put in while telling me it didn’t work, (and she confirmed this just now), but at the time, I thought this was her honest reasoning.

A decade ago, I would have needed those excuses. Failure would have been painful, and it wouldn’t be just this one technique I doubted, it would have been all of magick. Am I any good at magick? Is magick even real? When the doubt generated by a single failure can flood your world, it becomes too painful to doubt anything.

(Yes, I’ve doubted if magick was real. Everyone has, especially when we’re starting out — it’s totally natural. To my readers who ask about these thoughts, you’re not alone.)

But now, I’ve had enough successes that doubt stays where it should, contained to the one technique that actually failed, not affecting all the other stuff that works, just not quite quickly enough to demonstrate to skeptics.

How do you get there? The only path I know is to succeed in your own magick a few dozen times. I wish there was something faster for beginners, but I don’t have an answer. But once you get there, accepting failure becomes simple.

One other thing I noticed: I now have a visceral response to excuses. They just feel dishonest, like they don’t lead anywhere true or useful. I can’t follow them, and get a bit annoyed hearing them, even. It’s a mental habit I’ve developed, I think, of asking myself is an explanation is my real reason, and turning away from any explanation that’s just an excuse. Again, I don’t know how to get there quickly, but if you practice asking that question, you’ll probably develop that same mental habit.

Back to the conversation, I said, “Nope, my healing technique just didn’t work this time. It needs some debugging.” Which I’ll return to next time one of us gets sick.

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