Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Could Magick Protect Memory?

Recent brain imaging studies have found that memory and imagination are closely linked. The hippocampus, a small structure in the limbic cortex, has long been recognized as a key area of the brain for forming new memories and it now appears that it is equally instrumental in imagining future events. Another recent study compared the ability of young versus old adults in a simple test that involved either remembering a past episode or imagining a future event based on a cue word. Younger people were able to both imagine and remember more detailed accounts in terms of both the images themselves and related emotional content.


As the Boomer generation ages the popularity of puzzles and brain teasers has increased, based on studies that show using the brain's ability to work through problems can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. If memory and imagination are indeed linked, magick that involves the visualization of lineal figures and detailed godforms might have a similar effect. It is even possible that complex visualizations could do a better job of strengthening memory than Suduko.

While there are too few elderly ritual magicians for us to get much of a sample size, I've never heard of a practitioner who was later struck with Alzheimer's disease, even at advanced age. Another tradition that is much larger and also uses complex visualization is Tibetan Buddhism, and I can also say that in my studies I haven't come across any well-known Tibetan lamas who suffered from dementia in old age. Given how common Alzheimer's is I'm sure there have been some, but it certainly seems as though the incidence is significantly reduced compared to the general population.


This could make for some interesting future research.

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