Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Why I Choose to Say “Energy,” Not “Magick”

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

Last year, I made a conscious choice to use the term energy instead of magick.

Why? Among magick practitioners, it’s clearer. When I said magick, I always meant, “techniques using energy.” But other people use magick to mean, “Acting on one’s true Will,” “Mystical experiences,” “Anything not currently understood by science,” and more. It was simply to easy to believe we were talking about the same concept, when in fact we were merely using the same words. I’ve found it clearer to just say energy.

Among energy practitioners, the benefit is obvious: They already accept and value energy, and mean roughly what I do by the term.

Even among laypeople who dismiss energy as woo, at least they know some people who have had good results (if only, they believe, from placebo). Magick sounds like it came from Harry Potter.

And in a way, the term did. When I was 11, a friend who loved fantasy novels told me that he felt energy from trees. I tried, and felt a warm tingling. I have no idea if it was energy or just imagination, but that’s where it started. And, drawing from his young adult fiction, he called this experience magic, and I followed him.

I explored energy every day, but (partly because of the stigma associated with the term) I rarely spoke about it. In my late 20s, when I began blogging, I still called my explorations magic. I added the k to help Google understand that I was talking about energy, not slight of hand, and started writing.

For some time now, magick has felt off-brand, even awkward. I’ve dropped the word from my speech, and it’s time to drop it from my website, too. Moving forward, I’ll be writing on mikesententia.com. Check it out and let me know what you think, especially Home and About.

(I’ve migrated all email subscribers over, you’ll still get posts by email. I can’t migrate RSS subscribers, but you can sign up here. Twitter followers, my new account is here.)

Magick of Thought will stay up indefinitely, so you’ll still have access to all the content here. Thank you to all my readers, I’ve enjoyed talking magick with you, and I’m looking forward to talking energy with you too.

See you next week at mikesententia.com

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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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Recipes and Insights

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

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You can view magick as recipes. Do this ritual for energy healing. Use this visualization for money. Do this, produce that.

Or you can view magick as insights. When I engage this part of my mind, my thoughts create luck. When I create energy that feels like healthy tissue, and send it to this part of the ethereal body, it reduces pain.

Both are useful. Recipes are easier to communicate and faster to learn. Insights let you develop new solutions to unsolved problems. As a magick community, we need both.

But it’s important to know which you’re learning, and which you’re teaching.

That’s on my mind as I continue with my book.

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Book Update

Monday, October 6th, 2014

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Last weekend, a dear friend was ordained into the Church of All Worlds. I attended the conclave, had many interesting conversations but little time for writing. But I hope to get back to the book soon.

Explaining Direct Magick this this weekend, I realized that Book 1 needs a bit more content. Here’s the new plan:

  • Introduction – Already Exists
  • Magick Quickstart Guide – Mostly Done
  • Easy Magick – Commands for the ethereal software to do manifesting, energy healing, and protection. This is the currently-planned Part 3. Useful, but not intellectually all that interesting.
  • Exploring Direct Magick – New! The first technique for sensory connections, then using it to find your ethereal muscles. Basically, a tour of all the parts we talk about. The focus is on intellectually interesting exploration, rather than practical techniques, but it lets us get into the essence of Direct Magick, which I think will be valuable.

Chapters will resume next Monday (hopefully).

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Sharing Your Voice

Friday, February 14th, 2014

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

Every February, I remind you that you, yes you, have unique and wonderful things to share about magick. Your experiences can help others learn and find connection to fellow human beings. Even if you’re a novice, start a blog and share your journey.

I do this in February because it’s my blog-aversary. I started Magick of Thought in February 2010. My writing was awful, no one read it, and that was OK. Write. You’ll get better.

Blogging has taught me to explain magick. Four years ago I was tentative and nervous telling friends about my interest. Now, I’ve done it dozens of times by text, with space to ponder and revise, and it’s easy.

Blogging has made me a better teacher. Today, I wrote the chapter on energy meditations, and included a section on non-visual approaches because your emails and comments taught me that not everyone visualizes.

This year, blogging helped me find my audience. It’s people who know that magick is more complex than intent, that if energy can help pain it can do amazing things, and who immediately distrust anything labeled a natural law because curiosity-stoppers are inherently bad. It’s people who want to figure out how magick works, not because it lets you do useful things (although it does), but because they can’t tolerate not understanding.

These days, when I write, I picture myself at 17, with a vague concept of ethereal software and poor control of energy and connections. It’s letting me write what I want to write, even more than when I started blogging and had zero readers.

Finding my audience and my voice have been wonderful. And I hope you’ll start writing and blogging too, find your voice, and share it with your audience.

Last years’ post (with good resources).

Got a magick-related blog? Tell us about it and leave a link in the comments of this post.

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How I Organize My Magick Notes

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

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I take a lot of notes. Every time I try a new technique, or get trained by a spirit, or just think of something to try later. Last month I wrote 4,000 words of notes — that’s roughly 16 pages in a book. A very dense, poorly written book…

When you take that many notes, you need some way to organize them. This post is about my method. It’s not the best, but it works for me. Maybe it’ll give you some idea that works for you, too.

Three Files

I use three text files: Notes, tasks, and summary.

Notes is the actual content. That’s the 4,000 words last month. Each session I do, I write up, then separate them with a dashed line:

– –

(Just two dashes. More just seems too slow.)

At first, that was all I did. Just notes, separated by dashes, written in a text file. And it grew and grew, and I could never find my old notes to review. So I organized.

First step: One notes file per month. So, I have one file for Jan 2013, another for Feb 2013, and so on. I have those monthly notes going back to November 2008, then sporadic notes back another five years.

But I’d also have notes on future work, things I wanted to test but hadn’t gotten around to. They’d get buried in old text files I rarely opened. So I created a Tasks file, which has 3 parts:

Tasks starts with overall goals for the year, along with a record of where I am right now with all my skills. “Communication – Level 4, Physical effects – Level 2,” like that. (The levels are how my trainers organize their techniques. I use it to track my goals.)

After that, my tasks each week. It starts as work I plan to do, then I revise it to be what I actually did. I usually plan 1-2 days ahead.

Then, a giant, ever-growing list of things I’d like to research. Right now, it’s about 9,000 words, or roughly 600 notes, based on my word / paragraph counter. So yeah, a lot of those tasks are still buried, but at least they’re buried in a file that’s actually open.

(Sometimes, I do look through there. I always hope that, now that I know more about how magick works, the answers will be obvious. They rarely are.)

What to do with the list of tasks I accomplished each day? Can’t have them clogging up my tasks file. Instead, I store them in the third text file, the summary. Every month, I paste the tasks I accomplished into my summary file, along with a 3-line summary of my big projects that month (so I can find the right month later). When I want to refer back to a particular note, I find right month in my summary file, then and ctrl-f the topic.

Except that if I spend a whole month research communication, ctrl-f is a hassle. So last year, I added dates to my notes file. The first note of every day, in addition to the two dashes, I add the day, like:

– – (wed)

On Sunday, I also add the date. And if I don’t do anything on a day, I note that there were no notes, like:

– – (no notes mon-tues) (wed)

That does two things. First, it lets me see when I’m slacking. Seeing that is painful, which is the point: By making it painful to slack off, I have fewer slacking days. Second, since my weekly review organizes everything by the day, this makes it faster to look up a particular day’s notes.

So that’s how I organize my notes: One notes file each month, separated by dashes and days. One tasks file, with long-term goals, daily tasks, and a giant list of open questions. And one summary file each year, to look up what I did. It’s not perfect, or even elegant, but it works for me. Hopefully that gave you an idea that’ll work for you, too.

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3 Tips for Picking Good Terms

Monday, June 10th, 2013

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If you develop your own system of magick, you’ll need to pick your own terms. Especially if you want to share your system with other people. I’m no expert at picking terms, but I’ve done it a few times, and I have a few tips.

(Just want the tips? Skip to the bullets at the bottom.)

I think in words. My first terms were for myself, so I could take notes and remember my techniques. I’d notice that mages channel forces, and I’d give those forces a name, not for anyone else, but just for myself.

At first, the names won’t matter. Sure, you can hinder yourself with a bad name, like calling the force you channel, “The Universe,” then feeling awed and never thinking to ask how it operates or if you can reprogram it. Or you might pick a metaphor, like “talking to cells,” that glosses over much of the complexity involved in magick, and never think to ask how your intent turns into the chemicals that cells understand.

But as long as you choose empty, non-curiosity-squelching names and metaphors, you can’t go too wrong if you’re just writing for yourself.

When I started writing for other people, though, terms became important. Bad terms mislead readers with a connotation, or confused readers by being too empty, by not evoking the metaphor enough. A reader might think a term corresponds to a concept they already know, not realizing you intended an entirely different metaphor

A few examples:

What I now call “ethereal software,” I used to call “systems.” Everyone confused “systems you channel” with “systems of magick.” It was bad.

What I now call “ethereal muscles” (yes, I’m making that renaming official), I originally called “mental areas.” It was too empty, readers had to simply memorize the meaning, and I constantly had to re-define it each post for fear that no one remembered the term.

I briefly called them “magick muscles,” which makes sense if you know the metaphor, but sounds gimmicky if you don’t.

Then I went to “mental muscles,” which evoked other mental functions like reasoning and willpower. Readers thought they knew what I meant, but really, the words conjured up the wrong concepts in listeners. (Also, every time I’d talk about non-mages having atrophied mental muscles, I’d have to make clear I was just talking about magick, not about those other mental abilities.)

I’m no expert at picking names, but I’ve done it several times now. So, a few tips for anyone building their own system:

  • Metaphors are good. “Mental muscles” is better than “mental areas,” “ethereal software” is better than “systems.” I start with the metaphor (muscles, software), and let the terms come from there.
  • If you have to clarify your metaphor in beginner material, you have a bad metaphor. When I say that “Non-mages have atrophied mental muscles,” then need to clarify that I don’t mean reasoning and willpower, that’s a sign that my metaphor doesn’t quite align to the term.
  • Repeated words are good. They make sentences seem natural. “Engage your ethereal muscles to talk to ethereal software” just sounds obvious. “Engage your mental muscles to talk to ethereal software” isn’t bad, but it isn’t obvious either. And obvious is good — it means your terms shape the listener’s thoughts to naturally realize what you want to teach them.
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Ethereal Muscles

Friday, June 7th, 2013

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Does the term “mental muscles” make you think of a part of the brain?

I was explaining my research into erotic energy last night, and a friend told me she thought “mental muscles” were part of the brain. The word “mental” suggested it: Mental = mind, and mind = brain, at least for her. But when I say “mental muscles,” I mean magickal structures that connect to the brain, but are not themselves part of the brain. They don’t take up space, and you can’t point to them on an MRI. So, something quite different than the concept that my term, “mental muscles,” conjured up in her mind.

I can see where she’s coming from, and I’d like my terms to conjure up the right concept for as many people as possible. She suggested “astral muscles” or “spirit muscles,” and I’m thinking of the term “ethereal muscles.” First, “ethereal” isn’t tied to one particular school of thought, and second, it sounds natural to say, “You engage your ethereal muscles to send a message to ethereal software.” And, since I’m still working on my book, now is a good time to get my terms straight.

But I want to hear from you, dear readers. Does the term “mental muscles” make you think of a part of the brain? And how do you react to “ethereal muscles” and the other terms?

Thanks!

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Why I’m Surprised that Different Systems Produce Similar Results

Friday, May 24th, 2013

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I’m writing a chapter for my book, exploring the first big question that lead me to direct magick:

“Different systems of magick have different, conflicting explanations of how magick works and how to do it, but most systems produce similar results. Why?”

I want to explain why this is surprising, and why it matters. And yet, it’s obvious to me why this is surprising, and it’s probably obvious to some of you, so I want to explain it quickly. But it’s just not coming out right.

So, I’m going to explore this for a post, and at the end of it, hopefully I’ll have my one-paragraph explanation.

First, why this is surprising.

If the world actually were how people say the world is — if people who say they’re asking a God for help actually were getting help from a God, and people who said they were channeling a universal energy actually were, and people who say you need a gold ring to do this ritual and a silver ring to do that ritual were actually right — we’d expect all those styles to produce radically different results. We’d expect that healing from a God would work differently than healing techniques from a person, and that the person building energy and sending out their intent (but not wearing the right type of ring) would produce different results than someone doing the ritual.

And yet, that’s the wrong approach to take for my book. First, because some of those styles actually do produce different results — in the 90s, everyone tried rituals to Superman and other culturally-popular archetypes, found they didn’t work as well as traditional rituals, and realized that magick isn’t actually about channeling popular memes. So, different styles do produce different results, just not in the way we’d expect them to if the explanations provided by any particular style were the way the world actually works. But that’s a much longer chain of logic to follow.

But second, and more importantly, because the real point is that there must be some singular, underlying set of mechanics that all these styles draw on. At a fundamental level, all this magick must be doing the same thing. That’s the step that’s obvious to me, but that I feel I should walk readers through.

If magick worked by many mechanisms — if Gods did fundamentally different magick than people, and if doing a ritual with the proper implements invoked fundamentally different forces than simply building energy and focusing on your intent — we’d expect those fundamentally different mechanisms to produce fundamentally different results.

And if any of the existing explanations for magick were accurate, we’d expect the other approaches to either fail, or turn out to be doing the same thing with different terms. But neither of those is the case.

When many different inputs produce the same output, that tells me that they’re all doing the same thing under the hood. And that mechanism is probably not what any of the inputs say it is, otherwise that one true approach would produce significantly better results, and before long, everyone would be using it.

Back to writing the book, I think those last three paragraphs serve as a good first draft for this idea. Thoughts?

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4 Techniques for Grounding: Conclusion

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

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Looking back on this series, three ideas stand out. First, there is no simple magick. Second, writing helps me learn magick. And third, developing techniques is the main way to test models.

There is No Simple Magick

I thought grounding was simple. It’s one of the first things we teach beginners, and we explain it simply: You just built energy, excess energy gives you a headache,  so release it into the ground.

Now I’m realizing, no magick is simple when you get into how it really works. Grounding is less complex than energy healing, or manifesting, or shielding, or most of the other things we do with magick. But understanding grounding still requires understanding energy signatures, how they mix, how to subtract one signature from another, and how to build energy that, when added to other energy, produces your normal energy signature.

None of that is simple, because at its heart, magick is complex. That’s the price we pay for accuracy.

Writing Helps Me Learn Magick

I developed two techniques in the course of writing this series.

Technique #4 (grounding by building more energy) came to me on the train. It was the morning after seeing my friend use technique #3 (grounding via ethereal software), and the only reason I was thinking deeply about grounding was to prepare for this series. If it weren’t for this blog, I wouldn’t have thought hard enough to see the technique.

And the good version of technique #1, energy flushing? I thought of it as I wrote that post. I was testing the basic, release-your-energy version of grounding, and realized that building energy as I released it would probably flush the unhealthy signature out. That technique, which is now my preferred grounding method for beginners, came from writing that post.

To anyone considering starting a blog: Writing forces you to revisit old problems, and re-solve them with the tools and skills you have today. It helps me learn magick, and it will probably help yours, too.

Test Models by Developing Techniques

The testing in this series is how I generally test new models of magick: I find a technique that the new model says should work, and the old model says should fail, (like building more energy to ground), and I try it. When it works, I figure the new model is on to something, and I start using it.

I also look for techniques the new model says should work particularly well, that the old model wouldn’t single out as anything special, like building more energy as you ground. The standard model doesn’t necessarily suggest it would fail, but it definitely doesn’t predict the technique will work better than just releasing your energy. And when the new model is right again, I become more confident in it.

I build confidence in the new model by using it, by seeing it accurately predict more non-obvious techniques. (“Non-obvious” meaning that the old model either said it would fail, or didn’t consider it particularly special.) There’s never one single test that makes me say the new model is correct, but the more I use it, and the more it’s right, the more confident I become. Until eventually, it’s just easier to speak as though the new model is correct, at least, until a better model comes along.

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