Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ritual Tools and Extension of Self

There is a lot of discussion among magicians about the significance of magical tools. Some magicians have elaborate temples with extensive collections of magical implements while others prefer to use few if any physical objects in their practice. Yesterday I came across an article in which researchers claim to have found evidence that the use of tools alters the brain's perception of body shape and size. You need to register at the site to read the whole article, but registration is free and I have yet to be spammed by this particular website.

"To be accurate in doing an action with a tool, you need to make the tool become a part of your body," the study's first author Lucilla Cardinali of the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Bron and Claude Bernard University in Lyon told The Scientist. "Your brain needs to take into account that the action is performed with something added to your body part."

The study was conducted by having subjects work with a gripping tool that was longer than the normal reach of their arms for a period of time and then conducting a series of tests to gauge whether or not they perceived their arms to be longer.

Cardinali, a graduate student with INSERM's Alessandro Farnè, gave people a mechanical grabber that extended their reach and found that people with the arm-elongating tool took longer to grasp and point to an object after the gizmo was taken away compared to before they held the tool. They then showed that this delayed reaction time is a normal response of people with naturally longer arms, thus indicating that tool users judge their arms to be longer than they truly are. The researchers also asked blindfolded participants to touch specific landmarks on their arm -- the elbow, wrist and middle fingertip -- and showed that people perceived these spots as further along the limb after having played with the gadget arm.

This is one of those things that feels like basic common sense, but until now there has been little research testing the idea that tools can alter body image. Most of us have had the experience of driving a car, for example. While you're on the road the car feels like it's a part of you once your driving skill reaches a certain level. You don't think about each individual action you take as you drive, you just think "I'm going that way" and your brain and body automatically handle the necessary actions that make it so. This is true of many complex tasks in our day-to-day lives involving tools and implements.

Assuming that this research is accurate, it seems to me that the same principle could be applied to magical tools. In fact, it may be that the use of magical tools exploits this same principle in the service of spiritual evolution. As a magician you want to develop the realization that "you" are larger than the boundaries of your skin. Lon Milo Duquette describes this realization as "it's all in your head, you just have no idea how big your head really is." In practice, I have found the realization that my entire field of perception is in a meaningful sense "me" increases the power of practical magical rituals substantially. It's accurate in an objective scientific sense as well, since everything that we experience in the mundane world is mediated by our brains and what we usually experience as "seeing," for example, is actually a set of internal neural firing patterns that arise in response to patterns of light in the environment.

In my temple I have four small altars at the corners corresponding to the four directions. On each directional altar I have a candle of the appropriate color, a corresponding Egyptian deity statue, and the corresponding elemental tool. Using the model from the study, as I use each tool I perceive it to be a part of my body. It seems logical, then, that when I replace it at the corresponding quarter it would help to extend my sense of self in that direction. Using all four tools in sequence, as in a ritual like the Opening by Watchtower, should extend my sense of self to encompass the entire temple. Practices like the visualization of lineal figures at the quarters also help to accomplish the shift in awareness from the body to the entire working space, and at some point this realization "clicks" and becomes permanent.

While a magician can accomplish this realization without the use of tools by visualization alone, it makes sense to me that in our practices we should exploit every brain mechanism we can in order to speed our progress along the path. Tool use appears to be one of those mechanisms, so in the light of this new research perhaps those of us who generally work without tools might want to reconsider their use.

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6 comments:

el oso said...

OFF TOPIC but important?
NASA has launched LCROSS lunar mission, part of which is to supposedly explode a huge bomb in a large crater on Oct. 9. See details and implications and theories abounding including ET lunar base etc.:

http://www.examiner.com/x-2912-Seattle-Exopolitics-Examiner~y2009m6d19-NASA-moon-bombing-violates-space-law--may-cause-conflict-with-lunar-extraterrestrial-civilizations

I propose that all who are of Enochian persuasion begin a cooperative effort to pool info extracted from the Four Seniors of the Moon regarding this ongoing phenomanon.

What say ye?

Ananael Qaa said...

Off topic, yes, but I never miss an opportunity to criticize GD Enochian.

I propose that all who are of Enochian persuasion begin a cooperative effort to pool info extracted from the Four Seniors of the Moon regarding this ongoing phenomanon.

(1) The association of Seniors with planets is highly dubious from the standpoint of the original Dee system. I think you need to go with Dee attributions if you are trying to apply The Book of Science, Art, and Terrestrial Victory as it was originally intended.

(2) Even if that were not the case, you're not trying to influence the government of the Moon. It doesn't have one, and even if it did when doing political magick with Enochian you need to target the government that you want to influence, not the one that will be affected by its policies.

(3) The Seniors alone won't necessarily get the job done. You also need to open the part of the earth corresponding to the United States in order to directly affect its government. This part is ZAXANIN found in TOR, the 23rd Aethyr - Idunia, described as the land "beyond Greenland." It includes most of the continental United States and Canada. The governor of the region is ZINGGEN.

So what you want to do in a spell is open ZAXANIN by the governor name ZINGGEN, and then summon all of the Seniors together into your Holy Table once ZAXANIN is open. The Seniors as a whole govern "knowledge and judgment in human affairs" and opening the proper part of the earth creates the best possible magical link. Then you state your intent and send the Seniors off to make it happen.

And by the way, if you actually believe that the Moon supports any sort of life more complex than microbes (and even those are dubious) despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, Enochian evocation might not be the smartest thing for you to try. Just saying...

But yes, as I said it's off topic, and I digress.

Susanne Iles said...

Posts like this are one of the reasons I love your blog. Insightful and fascinating..always food for thought.A virtual feast..thank you for taking the time you take to research and write on such interesting topics.

el oso said...

Off topic, yes, but I never miss an opportunity to criticize GD Enochian.

I prefer to find the similarities, the unity factors, setting aside criticism for my ex wife….



I propose that all who are of Enochian persuasion begin a cooperative effort to pool info extracted from the Four Seniors of the Moon regarding this ongoing phenomanon.

(1) The association of Seniors with planets is highly dubious from the standpoint of the original Dee system. I think you need to go with Dee attributions if you are trying to apply The Book of Science, Art, and Terrestrial Victory as it was originally intended.

Intent is not to apply the ‘…Victories’ …simply a proposal in the interest of magickal science to try to form a controlled experiment (as much as possible) in the application of information gathering and sharing from the Moon energies/intelligences/Seniors and see what shakes loose.



(2) Even if that were not the case, you're not trying to influence the government of the Moon. It doesn't have one, and even if it did when doing political magick with Enochian you need to target the government that you want to influence, not the one that will be affected by its policies.

Agreed, am not trying to influence a ‘government’…..this is an information gathering venture.



(3) The Seniors alone won't necessarily get the job done. You also need to open the part of the earth corresponding to the United States in order to directly affect its government. This part is ZAXANIN found in TOR, the 23rd Aethyr - Idunia, described as the land "beyond Greenland." It includes most of the continental United States and Canada. The governor of the region is ZINGGEN.

I agree with this and had been tossing around the very thoughts, regarding the 23 Aethyr…….am not looking for the seniors to get ‘the job done’, merely using them to focus on the questions surrounding the situation…trying to sort the wheat from the chaff…..looking for “knowledge and judgment in human affairs” in regards to the NASA Moon scenario. Further, Ideally, a collaborated effort to evoke and share info would be doneby participants at the same time to help eliminate variable celestial influences…this is where the Nineveh Constant comes in handy, to zero-point reference your working. Then everyone participating came do at different Earth times and still be under the same celestial (sic.) influences. More on that later should you choose.



So what you want to do in a spell is open ZAXANIN by the governor name ZINGGEN, and then summon all of the Seniors together into your Holy Table once ZAXANIN is open. The Seniors as a whole govern "knowledge and judgment in human affairs" and opening the proper part of the earth creates the best possible magical link. Then you state your intent and send the Seniors off to make it happen.

Agree also…I’m just not sure you grok my original intention…what I want “to make happen” is a dialog around the dialog of the Seniors in question. If you have a more direct route to my query and/or intent, I am all ears.



And by the way, if you actually believe that the Moon supports any sort of life more complex than microbes (and even those are dubious) despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, Enochian evocation might not be the smartest thing for you to try. Just saying...

And find me something that is not life my friend and it will be the delusion most live with. Sorry, but we both know intelligent life exists where manifestation occurs….even if it don’t have legs or a pecker. But I digress. Seriously though, do these magick blogs just contain armchair magi ? or is there a willingness to share in our continued experiments in a controlled setting? More later if you choose.



But yes, as I said it's off topic, and I digress.

Sator said...

While I was reading your post, it remembered me about Benjamin Rowe"s Short Course in skcrying. His comment about how difficult is to form a correct idea of our bodies in astral, since major parts of brain are for perceive only our hands and face and not the same amount for the rest. I wonder that if we get a correct perception of it, that will makes new sinapsis in our brain.

Ananael Qaa said...

His comment about how difficult is to form a correct idea of our bodies in astral, since major parts of brain are for perceive only our hands and face and not the same amount for the rest.

That's an interesting point that I hadn't really considered. Astral work is another area in which we develop a sense of body image that doesn't conform to the boundaries of our physical skin, or for that matter even reside in the same location. I would think that it likely works with the same neural mechanisms.