Monday, September 19, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Part Four

This is Part Four in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, and Part Three can be found here.

Now that we have taken a look at some of the basics of quantum physics, we can move on to examining the nature of consciousness. Consciousness is a vital component of every magical operation, and because we still do not really understand how it works, the same is true of magick. While we have no current instrument to measure consciousness, I expect that if such a thing were ever developed we would be able to generate an accurate model of magical processes with a few years of dedicated research, if that.

Consciousness studies is a relatively new discipline that brings together experts in the various fields that contribute to cognitive science, along with philosophers and even a few esotericists here and there. The discipline is currently trying to unravel what is called the "hard problem" of consciousness, and has been at it for over a decade. Simply stated, the hard problem has to do with going from the biochemical "machinery" of the brain and nervous system to the subjective experience of self-awareness.

I have some ideas about that, which I will be touching on in this section, but I want to be clear that none of those ideas can currently be objectively validated, because of the lack of a consciousness measuring instrument that would let us examine the phenomenon experimentally. The first piece is what has been dubbed "quantum consciousness," which refers to the idea that consciousness is somehow related to the brain and nervous system interacting with quantum-scale events.

I'll repeat the same caveat as last time. Even if some form of quantum consciousness turns out to be the best model, it does not prove that consciousness works the way esotericists like me think it does. There isn't necessarily anything paranormal about it at all. I believe that there is based on my experiences as a magician, but "quantum" doesn't make it paranormal. Quantum simply refers to scale in this context, without implying anything else.

And just as a point, it's a bit annoying that there's so much nonsense and misinformation out there about quantum physics and the paranormal that I have to keep going over this, but it's really important because so many people don't seem to understand the concepts clearly.


So one of the most advanced models of quantum consciousness is called the Penrose-Hameroff model, or its formal name, Orchestrated Objective Reduction or "Orch-OR" for short. The basic idea was proposed by British physicist and mathematician Roger Penrose in his 1988 book, The Emperor's New Mind. At the time it wasn't clear how a full model would work, because many researchers were convinced that the activity of the brain and nervous system did not rely on structures that would be small enough to exploit quantum effects.

Penrose teamed up with anesthesiologist and psychologist Stuart Hameroff to identify possible neural structures that might interact with the quantum realm, and hit upon structures called microtubules that seemed to fit the bill. According to the Orch-OR model, microtubules essentially perform quantum computing tasks that affect the firing of synapses in a non-computable fashion based on wavefunction collapse. Some of the predictions made in the 1990s by the model have since been disproved, but it was updated in 2013 to address those results.

So is it right? Probably not, at least not one hundred percent. It's an early model of quantum consciousness, and usually early models turn out to be wrong in some significant sense. At the same time, I think Orch-OR is probably the closest anyone has gotten to proposing a physiological mechanism related to solving the "hard problem." We still are left with the mind-body problem that has endured since Descartes' time, but there is some controversial research out there that might help us unravel that as well.

The research in question was conducted by the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Laboratory by Dean Radin, Robert Jahn, and their associates. PEAR essentially looked into parapsychology, under the more respectable term "engineering anomalies." What they found was that the human mind seemed to be able to exert a small effect upon random number generators called quantum diodes. These are devices that produce a value of either one or zero based on the decay of a radioisotope within the diode.

The effect was tiny - 0.2 percent, or two trials per thousand. Nonetheless, the statistical results were extremely robust and held up under subsequent trials. Skeptics argue that the laboratory must have been stopping sampling once they had what they considered a positive result, but if you look over the experiments themselves you can see that just isn't true. The samples used were of a fixed size, because that's the only way you can be sure that you aren't biasing the sample by stopping once the results vary in your favor - which has been a significant problem in a number of previous parapsychology studies.

This, right here, is the point upon which the "quantum paranormal" depends. It is possible that there's a problem with the PEAR data, and if so, most of the rest of this article would need to be reconsidered. Specifically, the result is not "paranormal" by virtue of being "quantum." If you were able to follow the last installment of this series, it should be clear that the two concepts aren't even related. The only real connection is that because these effects happen at the quantum level they are hard to measure, and that makes paranormal effects more difficult to detect.

But assuming the PEAR data is accurate, here's why it matters so much. This research seems to show that consciousness alone can act directly upon the wavefunction of a particle. The effect is small, but in magical terms the conditions of the experiment were terrible. There was no connection of any sort between the subjects and the diodes, so effectively what was being done was magick without a link. So the effects were tiny, but they were there. It is reasonable to think that the connection between the consciousness of an individual and his or her nervous system would be more robust.

Given that, combining the PEAR studies with the Orch-OR model, we can arrive at a simple solution to the mind-body problem. The mind-body problem asks how the mind, which appears to be non-physical, can control the body, which is physical. A lot of modern psychologists and neuroscientists try to get around the issue by stating that the mind is an epiphenomenon or byproduct of physical processes, but this does not take into account a solution to the "hard problem" at all. The argument that "it doesn't really exist" completely fails to hold water in my opinion, given that it entirely contradicts our direct experience of having a distinct mind.

Here's a better solution. If we propose, based on PEAR, that (A) the mostly non-physical mind can shift quantum wavefunctions, and, based on Orch-OR, that (B) quantum computing processes form the link between consciousness and physical actions, we arrive at a model where (C) the brain and nervous system essentially behave like an "amplifier" that turns tiny probability shifts into larger-scale biochemical activity. Much like the Schroedinger's Cat thought-experiment, it translates quantum effects into macro-level biochemical events.

How the brain and nervous system can do this is explained by another idea that gets thrown around the magical community a lot, chaos theory. I find it remarkably disheartening when I see people completely misunderstanding that "chaos magick" actually refers to chaos theory, not "yay anarchy!" but that's a topic for another day. The idea behind chaos theory is that it explains how large-scale order can arise from tiny perturbations with highly variable systems.

Weather is the classic example. A mathematical model of weather systems has proved extremely difficult to develop, simply because there are so many degrees of freedom within the system. A degree of freedom describes an individual point within a larger system that is subject to significant fluctuation, and as degrees of freedom multiply, a deterministic model becomes more and more difficult to develop. The "butterfly effect," another term that gets thrown around a lot, refers to the potential of a tiny fluctuation in the air such as the flapping of a butterfly's wings can eventually produce a storm system on the other side of the world, given enough time.

So a process like deciding to move your arm, and then moving it, could look something like this: consciousness arrives at the decision to move the arm, and acts by affecting quantum scale particles within the microtubules of the motor cortex. These, presumably, would have evolved to interact with neurons at critical points, where small fluctuations can be magnified into increased biochemical firing. This, in turn, sends the signal to move the arm, which then moves. And we're done - the whole process can be thus explained.

In addition to the solution to the mind/body problem, though, here's what you also get - since quantum effects include a degree of non-locality, it means that the ability of consciousness to influence probability does not end with the brain and nervous system. As PEAR showed, it can affect external objects as well. And that, right there, is how we get to magick. People who are particularly good at this sort of probability manipulation can develop it into the ability to affect the physical world using magick.

PEAR had a small sample, but they tagged the range of ability among their subjects at between 0.1 and 0.5 percent, with the average subject working out to 0.2. My hypothesis would be that somebody towards the top of that range is what we would call a talented magician. One thing PEAR never did try to do was study people who practiced magick, to see if there really was a relationship between quantum diode probability shifts and esoteric work. That would be a very useful experiment to conduct at some point.

Another interesting experiment would be to check the activity of microtubules in conjunction with simple decision-making. What I would predict based on the information laid out here is that, in the arm example, we should see heightened microtubule activity in the motor cortex before the motor neurons fire. If we don't, it implies that the model is missing something, at least in terms of the mind-body connection. Maybe the quantum-level structures we are looking for are elsewhere, or maybe the whole model needs to be re-examined.

Under this model, the "hard problem" resolves itself as well. The mind may be represented as a complex field of quantum information. It can modify itself without difficulty, and through the mechanism of wavefunction shift can modify the actions of the material structures - neurons - to which it is most closely bound. In addition, it can affect structures beyond those bounds, though with greater difficulty and producing smaller shifts. Those first two cases are what magicians would term microcosmic magick, whereas the latter qualifies as macrocosmic magick.

So in effect, the whole process of practical occultism is all about turning tiny probability shifts into bigger ones. Fortunately for us, just like the brain and nervous system, the external world is filled with degrees of freedom, and much of nature can be best represented by models derived from chaos theory. That means a tiny push can produce a big result, so long as you push in exactly the right spot. Energy work is the process by which we develop the ability to push harder, and information clarity combined with the right focus directs the push to the best possible point.

The specific quality of consciousness developed by magical practice is what Ervin Laszlo termed "coherence" in The Connectivity Hypothesis, published in 2003. Coherence has two principle properties. The first is consistency - that is, a highly coherent field of information contains no points which are in conflict with each other. The second is self-reference - that is, such a field has the capacity to "look back" on itself and reflect upon its own contents.

Basically, most of the goals of mysticism can be boiled down to the creation of greater and greater levels of coherence within the information structure of our individual fields of consciousness. Some form of meta-awareness is necessary in order to facilitate this, and in fact we find an early reference to this in Christianity. The word in the Gospels translated to "repentance" in English is actually the Greek metanoia, which directly translates as meta-awareness. This is similar to the idea of the awakened mind in Buddhism, as just one example, and shows a continuity between many religious traditions.

And really, that's what a religious tradition should be - a system for cultivating meta-awareness. Everything else is tribal identification, social control, and bunch of other interwoven peripheral aspects. These may be important from a community perspective, depending upon the circumstances, but they are not particularly relevant to what should really be the central goal of spirituality. This is especially important for the practical magician, because coherence is the foundation on which he or she stands to direct the forces of nature.

The more coherent the mind, the better the magician. Or at least, that's what the model predicts. A coherent mind is more capable of directing attention to a single thought by virtue of its consistency, and more capable of connecting with macrocosmic forces by virtue of its self-referential interrelatedness. This may seem a little counter-intuitive, but as we go further we will see how this dynamic plays out.

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11 comments:

Dacia Pacea said...

This might seem looney, but what if the quantum field is consciousness itself? And the multiverse is in the mind. Frater Barrabbas states somewhere (forgot where) that the personal Godhead is the same as the universal-ultimate Godhead (not exactly his words). I think it's true, since all beings come from the same source.

Accepting the fact that we are out personal Godhead that decided to experience material existence, we can easily come to the conclusion that in spirit (mind) we have an infinite amount of possibilities to experience. But when spirit decides to experience matter, those possibilities are limited, even if they still are extraordinarily great, both subjective (internal) and objective (external). As physical beings we are cut off from the greater part of our mind because or conscious mind takes the weel and directs us in our journey here. I've read you don't agree with Jung's model of the mind, but for me it works great. The Yes-No decisions we take with our conscious limit out experiences even more, but all the other outcomes of our actions still exist, not in some other paralel physical univers, but as unexploited potential in the greater part of our mind.

Dacia Pacea said...

So when a person does a spell, he or she accesses some of that unexploited potential and projects energy into it to cause it to manifest. That energy can come in the form of one's personal energy, or in the form of a non-physical entity.

Scott Stenwick said...

Not looney at all - field as consciousness is pretty close to where this is eventually going. I am not really sure what you mean by "multiverse in your mind." Whether or not the many-worlds model of quantum interaction is the best is still a subject of a lot of debate among quantum theorists.

If you mean "multiverse" in the sense that you can imagine an infinite variety of possible universes, well, that's true, but I don't think it's necessarily all that enlightening. I agree that personal godhead equals universal godhead because universal godhead IS the one source - but I'll be getting to that as well. First I have to go through the concept of structured quantum information, which is up for next week.

Yeah, this is turning out to be way longer than I expected. But all this background is necessary to see where the final model comes from.

The problem with saying that "we are cut off from the greater part of our mind" really doesn't jive with what we know from neuroscience and the like. Jung did have some good ideas, but there are a number of problems with his model. Most importantly, there is no "unconscious mind." There's unconscious processing in the brain, sure, but it's not a "mind." The unconscious is mechanical and has no coherent structure or awareness.

If you mean that somebody who identifies completely with mundane consciousness does not experience his or her connection to source, I would agree with that - but it sounds like you're trying to take the idea further than is warranted. Consciousness, if it is indeed a property of quantum information fields, pervades the entire universe. While in one sense it exists on a continuum, in another it is still meaningful and reasonable to speak of microcosmic and macrocosmic consciousness.

If you go far enough down the spiritual path they perfectly align and essentially become the same thing, but I also think that trying to operate from that perspective when you're not there yet is a recipe for problems. And remember the first principle - magick should make your life better. If it doesn't, you're doing it wrong.

I don't think looking at "unexploited potential" as some sort of power source for magick is very useful. I mean, you use your imagination to create a thoughtform, fix attention so that it fills your consciousness, and raise energy to impart intensity to it. Then you send it via a link. I don't really see how unexploited potential figures in, unless all you're talking about is that, generally speaking, in the first step you imagine something that doesn't currently exist - because if it existed, you wouldn't need to imagine it.

As for the "energy" coming from you or from a non-physical entity, for the best magical results it should come from both. It's not an either/or proposition, and one of the most common ways magical models to go wrong is to assume that it is.

I feel like I'm rambling a bit now. Hopefully that all makes sense. It should become clearer as this series continues.

Scott Stenwick said...

And by the way, I was a Jungian for a very long time. If you have not come across it already, check this out. I wrote it all the way back in 1991 and published it here in the early days of this blog.

http://ananael.blogspot.com/2007/03/chaos-and-personality-hypothetical.html

A few of the chaos theory ideas in there will come up later in this series, so I have not abandoned the idea entirely.

But I am now of the opinion now that Jung's model does not properly separate declarative thoughts, emotions, and conditioning loops, all of which can be better modeled as distinct systems than as Jung's thought - feeling-tone - affect amalgam (the complex). Furthermore, like the other psychoanalytic models, it does not work well with what we now know about memories - that they are not stored and recalled, but rather recreated from a few critical data points.

No full memory storage means that cognitive repression is not why we forget, which means we don't have hidden parts of our mind that shield us from some of our memories. Take away that, and big chunks of the model start to crumble. Jung comes out of it better than Freud, but not that much better.

Dacia Pacea said...

I will read your article a bit later. I don't accept Jung's model as the best there is. I only used it as guidelines to construct my personal view of the world. Coincidence or not, i later found that what i came up with is very similar to ideas proposed on several magick blogs, such as yours, Frater B's, Aaron Leitch's, RO's Jason Miller's and more. I'm not that much interested in psychology that deals with interpersonal relationship, so I only took Jung's view of the inner planes to work with. It has helped me alot in understanding myself as a whole, especially what he calls the shadow self. I've worked with what I identified as being my shadow self and the results turned out awesome for me.

I'm only going to address your first post for now.

By unconscious mind I mean what you suspected - the part of the mind that ultimately leads us back to the source. By being cut out from it I mean that most people's egos prevent them from becoming aware of their microcosmos.

By a multiverse in the mind in which unesploited potentials are stored I mean this:

Since we are born we begin to act our will upon the world around. Each of our actions are likely to be a choice between different possibilities. It's like going through forks in the road on and on. Each choice leads us on a different path. Even if many paths are similar in many ways, they have distinct features that make them unique. So let's say you like music and sports equally and you're equally talented in both. You choose music and go down that road. You might end up a superstar or not, it doesn't matter. The fact that you chose music leaves you as an athlete as unesploited potential. That doesn't get erased. It gets stored in your mind and the vast field of possibilities that would have sprung from it is added to the rest of the possibilities that date since birth. I don't wanna go into discussing how fate affects our choices, because it's a total different topic, even if it can be integrated.

So along the many paths a human can take, he winds up in different situations. In some of them he/she is happy, healthy, rich and all the things we as physical humans consider good in our lives. In others he/she is the opposite of those. In some of them he/she is in between. All this is stored in the mind even if it manifested physically or not. When we cast a spell we tap into one of those possibilities and bring it into manifestation.

________

And yes, you're right, when you say that it's best of the energy would come from both the caster and and entity, but i specifically wrote OR not AND because I was thinking of simple spells such as honey jars, sigils and so on - although I suspect even a simple sigil spell is given at least an extra push into manifestation by a benevolent entity (elemental, ancestor, if not celestial or chtonic); I just found a similar opinion by chance today, in one of RO's earlier articles on his blog :)

Scott Stenwick said...

Okay, I think I see what you are trying to say there about potentials. But I also think that I disagree. Ability in whatever subject is a combination of aptitude and training. In your example, if you choose to spend your time practicing music, you may still have aptitude as an athlete, but you are not going to have outstanding athletic ability because you never practiced, exercised, and so forth with that in mind.

I don't think it's reasonable to assume that a magical operation can manifest an outcome that you chose not to pursue in the past. If that were the case, you could instantly get yourself in the same peak athletic shape of someone who had been exercising for years just by casting a spell. I'll believe that when I see it. In fact, taking that further, if you follow the many worlds model, there is some "world" out there where I am in the best possible physical shape, even though I have no athletic ability to speak of. It probably would make me healthier if I could cast a spell and manifest that in my current reality, but again, that doesn't sound like something that would work.

Now if you're talking about casting a spell to help you develop your athletic ability going forward, there might be some kind of resonance that you could call upon from another version of yourself in some other world or something like that. I could see that being workable, in the sense that it could guide your motivations and circumstances for future actions. So I don't necessarily disagree with that version. I just think the other doesn't make much sense.

Remember, though, both of those depend on many worlds being true. Right now we just don't know. If many worlds is not true, then choices you don't make ARE in fact entirely erased. Your aptitudes are still your aptitudes, so you can choose to start developing them at any point, but under the one world model, roads not chosen are not roads at all.

Dacia Pacea said...

This is all hypothetical of course. Keep in mind that you're exchanging ideas with a Gemini, with Mercury in Gemini in the 8th house. My mind is prone to come up with all sorts of wacky thoughts about deep things and throw them around :))

I still needed to be more specific. By casting a spell to manifest an uneploited potential, I didn't mean you could (instantly) manifest yourself as a top athlete, but you could manifest having the health, walth, women (et cetera) of one.

I'm looking forward to the next part of the article.

I have also been thinking that a spell would act by also influencing other people's microcosmos in your favour. Let's say you cast a Mercury spell to be successful in your exams. I think the the mercurial energy would help you study, but it could also determine the profesor to ask you on the subject you are best at. So let's say you have a history test and you know the Civil War better than the American Revolution. You cast a learning spell and the test is on the Civil War. This is pure speculation though.

Dacia Pacea said...

Thanks for the head's up Dr. Unity, but i prefer Dr. Greenthumb ;)
_________

So this is something that fought me off guard and I really need to tell someone. Either I achieved something great, or my mind is playing tricks on me. Or some spirit.

I started including the HGA invocation in Greek from Jason Miller's blog into my daily practice about a month ago. I already used the short prayer you posted here and the prayer to Kether. I finished with Psalm 150. The HGA prayer in Greek was added before the one you posted. Some 2 weeks ago I started using the Bornless One invocation, right after your HGA prayer and the prayer to Kether. A few days ago I experienced something strange while I was in the middle of the Bornless One invocation. It seemed like someone turned on the light in the room. I came out of the slight trance produced by the invocation and looked around for a few seconds. The bright light disappeared and room was lit only by candle light. I resumed the invocation.

Yesterday I found one of RO's articles in which he explained how he achieved K&C with his HGA. He said he entered his astral temple and opened his eyes just to read the BO text,at the same time focusing on his astral temple. He said than within 2 weeks or so, he saw his HGA in his astral temple. So I thought I should experiment and see what happens. Last night I did my practice as usual. I read the HGA prayer in Greek and I closed my eyes and entered my astral temple. The atmosphere there was different, so was the lighting. I looked around and I saw the candles lit on all 5 altars. Then I turned around and right behind me I saw this big angel. It was like 10 feet tall and it looked almost the same as the one I visualized at the beginning of this year in a HGA exercise proposed by Regardie. I was like WTF!!! I followed RO's steps and since I'm a christian I asked it to say Jesus is savior. He replied Jesus is The Savior, underlining his importance. I was still amazed by this has dropping possibility and I called in my familiar. He appeared and I was pointing to the angel asking "do you see it? what is it???". My familiar laughed and told me "I got you this far, now speak with him" - I had asked my familiar to help me find new stuff for me to practice, both practical and mystical. But this all came too quick for me to have noticed. I had noticed strange new sensations since I began reciting those prayers and they intensified as I added an extra one.

I turned to the angel and asked him what to do next. He told me to read the BO. I asked if opening my eyes would affect the current state I was in and he said no, go ahead. So I opened my eyes and read the BO. Mid way through it my I started crying as I felt an intense bliss and joy. After finishing it I returned to the astral temple. The angel was still there and I asked it if it was my HGA. He said yes. I couldn't believe it and I started babbling. I asked it again to say Jesus is savior which he did (I asked him this several times). I don't have my notes right now and perhaps I'll add another comment later.

Dacia Pacea said...

Anyway, he told me he's been by my side since before I was born, by the command of the Most High. He's always been watching over me, teaching me, testing me and watching out for me. He told me that with his power granted to him by the Most High he's gonna help me become great in the magical art - by this I understood mystical - and I will come to know what I've only acknowledged so far and much, much more. He also told me from now on I'll start seeing and hearing things better - this refers to my astral senses - as I felt a veil was lifted off my mind's eye. The strange watery-vapoury sensation I have on the right side of my head when I mentally scry extended to the left part also. I cant remember much now. I'll have to check my notes.

I asked it's name though. Do you ask an HGA its name? Does it suppose to contain an X in it? I was still mind blown by this after the practice and i kept talking to it. I told it i still don't believe i succeeded achieving K&C with my HGA and i said i was gonna ask an experienced magician. He told me "go ahead, ask anyone: Frater B, RO, Jason M, Ananael, Aaron Leitch..." and i was like "I'm definitely gonna do that".

Sorry for the retard way of writing, but I'm still groggy from the experience.

What was that?

Scott Stenwick said...

It might very well be. You should ask the HGA its name as soon as you can. It can be any combination of letters, and it might or might not be the true name, but rather a name that you can use in a ritual context to contact it.

If your astral senses are indeed improved, that is a good sign. Here's the other way to test it - ask it some question about the current state of the physical world that you do not know, but which you can easily find out. Then, once you have the answer, check it. An HGA should be accurate nearly all the time.

Remember, though, that this should be something about the current state of the world. Even spirits don't see the future very clearly, so that tends to be more hit or miss.

Dacia Pacea said...

Like... wow! I'm still having doubt though. I've followed your advice and asked it several questions, from the current weather conditions in Tokyo to the political situation in Angola. The results were a bit mixed. It's probably because I wasn't able to concentrate enough to hear clearly. I did understand that I don't have to rush into it, for this is a step by step process for me and that it's gonna guide me through it. I do feel different though when I call it's name - which I've asked in between the Jesus is savior barrage :)) - and try to meditate with its presence beside me or something. It feels close to some awesome ketamine highs I've had 10 years ago.

It wasn't even my goal to begin with. I dropped the HGA thing early because I was sick of all those snobs on forums ranting left and right with the auto proclaimed authority of one achieving K&C with the HGA. Just reading their comments beginning with "my HGA says" made me feel like puking. I didn't do anything special for this, besides constant practice and contemplation mostly. Not even that much meditation. It seems odd to me to have achieved such a thing with so little work. I did do some special rituals to mark various christian and pagan holidays and gave thanks to the specific gods, whether they were Jesus, Mary, the Sun and so on, but that's all.

I did perform a geomantic casting a few months ago to see how my magick work is gonna develop until the end of the year - the geomes indicated something extraordinary is going to happen, but i didn't take it too seriously at the time, and almost forgot about it.

I did ask it if it resides in Tiphareth and it said yes. It seemed logical to me when I first heard about the HGA that it should be from the solar sphere.

Anyway, I'll see how this unfolds further. Thank you for your time and counsel. Blessings!