Monday, October 31, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Part Nine

This is Part Nine in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, and Part Eight can be found here.

Last time I talked about ways in which the power of a magical operation may be represented, and in the process went over some of the differences between the my operant system and the chaos magick system as proposed by Peter Carroll. Today I'm going to talk about the concept of polarities in the context of information moving between quantum information fields, and address what I think is a significant misunderstanding regarding "Active" and "Passive" magical principles.

The idea of polarity is central to most effective magical operations. Traditionally, we are told that spirit has two qualities, active and passive. These qualities are considered foundational and are mapped across symbol sets. According to the quantum information model, these concepts are still relevant, but they represent an amalgam of ideas that may be broken down into multiple qualities that can describe all magical operations from a technical standpoint.

The first of these is the Material/Spiritual duality. Spirit corresponds to consciousness, and consciousness is represented as a quantum information structure, so Spirit may be thought of as the information component of an object. In quantum terms, the wave nature is represented as information and the particle nature is represented as matter. This is sometimes more technically described as "space-time foam," which is thought to be the fundamental nature of matter with all quantum information stripped from it.

One of the key hypotheses on which the quantum information model is based is the possibility of higher-order quantum information fields, which far exceed in complexity the groupings of particles that can so far be entangled in a laboratory. This is essentially "the big one" - if we can prove it, all sorts of physical effects can be explained alongside magical ones. But the caveat that I keep harping back on is that we don't know for sure if this is something that really exists in nature, and we can't conclude that it does without more data.

Consider for a moment, though, one of the biggest mysteries in physics - the nature of dark matter and dark energy. So far we haven't been able to identify any sort of "weakly interacting" particle producing the effect. But if the effects are simply the result of gigantic quantum information structures that span large regions of space, much of that mysteriousness goes away in favor of a relatively simple explanation. And that's just one example.


At any rate, according to Hermetic Qabalah, matter corresponds to the material world of Assiah and information would correspond to the worlds that are higher on the Tree of Life, from Yetzirah to Atziluth. Yetzirah crosses the Veil of Paroketh, which separates the personal realm from the transpersonal realm. In the personal realm, magick mostly works like a form of psychology that incorporates bio-energetic concepts related to energy work.

Personal magick of this nature could pretty much be said to conform to the psychological model of magick. A handful of psychologists, such as Wilhelm Reich, have even put forth models of psychology that include energetic components similar to those employed in magical energy work. At this level, magick basically consists of working with your own mind and field of awareness. This is where magicians by necessity start out, as some development of this faculty is necessary to reach the next level.

I refer to the region between the Veil of Paroketh and the Abyss as the transpersonal realm, and it is here that magick starts to take on something more akin to how it is described in folklore. At this level, the magician can employ his or her will to influence external targets. According to the microcosmic psychological model, this sort of work should be impossible. However, the macrocosmic psychological model treats such effects as the result of psychic powers and perceptions.

Both of these have some overlap with the energy model. Microcosmic psychological magick can be made more intense by various energy work practices that increase the potential for catharsis and so forth, and thus create more intense conditioning loops. Psychic powers, like other forms of magick, seem to likewise be improved by energy work practices. In fact, with the exception of spirits, it should be pointed out that much of magick can be modeled as macrocosmic psychology.

It should be clear from this description that the region of Yetzirah below the Veil of Paroketh is what we generally refer to in magic as the microcosm, and the region above what we generally refer to as the macrocosm. The microcosm is ruled by the Moon, and the macrocosm is ruled by the Sun. The "above" and "below" that appear in the Emerald Tablet with respect to the "operation of the Sun" refers to bridging this gap and arriving at Solar consciousness. The union of Sun and Moon in alchemy alludes to the same process.

Finally, the region above the Abyss I describe as the Cosmic Realm, which deal with the meta-level beyond the transpersonal. Cosmic-level magick often works slower, like zodiacal work, but its ability to accomplish change is correspondingly greater. This is because at this level, the magician works with the stuff of quantum information itself, the "master field" which unites all the others. In effect, this corresponds to the quantum information nature of the entire space-time continuum.

Now the Cosmic Realm is, generally speaking, macrocosmic in nature - in that it certainly is not microcosmic. This is why I use hexagrams rather than pentagrams in my ritual forms when working with the signs of the Zodiac. The signs correspond to Chockmah, which is in Atziluth and therefore Cosmic. It makes more sense to me to use a macrocosmic symbol, the hexagram, with the signs rather than a microcosmic one, the pentagram.

Where Active and Passive get conflated with this concept is that the spiritual is mapped to Active and the material is mapped to Passive. But this is not really correct. Since space-time foam and quantum information are locked in a reciprocal relationship, each has the potential to influence the other and therefore both of these polarities include Active and Passive components. It is more meaningful to speak of the material/spiritual axis as a vector component with both a state and a direction.


This diagram breaks down some of the basic Qabalistic concepts in quantum information terms. The state of a particular quality may be thought of as where it falls on the spiritual-material axis, and its direction may be thought of as upwards (Serpent of Wisdom), downwards (Lightning Flash), or stationary. This, then, is first quality of the Active/Passive dynamic, matter-spirit.

Completely independent from this is the duality of Projecting-Receiving. In the traditional schema, Projecting is Active and Receiving is Passive, which is technically correct up to a point. However, it should be pointed out that Receiving can also represent what the Tibetan system describes as "magnetizing," which is not precisely a conventionally passive activity.


As this diagram shows, Projecting/Receiving mostly corresponds to the type of magical operation being performed. Practical spellcasting, in which the magician seeks to transfer information from his or her consciousness to an external target, is a Projecting activity because the information is flowing outward. Divination is Receiving activity because the information is flowing inward.

As discussed in prior installments, these qualities are likewise vector quantities. They consist of the "shape" or content of the information being transferred, combined with the intensity of the transmission. The former is based on precision conceptualization, while the latter is derived from bio-energy that may be increased using energy work practices.

This can get much more complex than the above diagram shows. For example, consider the magician conjuring a spirit to empower a talisman. That would look something like this:


This is still a pretty simple spell, relatively speaking, projecting an influence onto a target. At the same time, the dynamic of the communication with the Spirit is a two-way connection, and therefore has both Projecting and Receiving components. An operation involving some form of divination in addition to the spell itself would involve still more Receiving components.

So it seems reasonable to decouple the idea of Material/Spiritual from Projecting/Receiving. And use these two axes to model what is combined in the tradition into Active/Passive. The traditional dynamic is further complicated by the modern connotations of the two terms, as "passive" is generally seen in a negative light according to modern American values. The two should in fact be treated as complementary rather than one held over the other.

Furthermore, as vector quantities, these have considerable more flexibility and variation than what is found in the tradition. In effect, the traditional associations are a kind of shorthand for the more complex dynamics that are actually going on. There are potentially an enormous number of possible combinations, not all of which are modeled well in the context of existing ritual forms.

What I would propose is this: rename the Pentagram of Active Spirit the Pentagram of Spirit, and the Pentagram of Passive Spirit the Pentagram of Matter. You could also go "full physics" and refer to the Pentagram of Active Spirit as the Pentagram of Energy, though that has some problematic overlaps with energy work terminology. They could be used in the same way in the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram as they are now, but augmented by this deeper understanding.

The vector quantity may be encoded by using the upright and inverse pentagrams with little modification. In the tradition, the upright pentagram denotes spirit having dominion over matter, and the inverse pentagram denotes spirit descending into matter. If we redefine the former as "matter aspiring to spirit," we have a simple way of modeling the up/down direction that corresponds to the Lightning Flash and Serpent of Wisdom.

I do not believe that we need forms corresponding to Projecting and Receiving, as these are determined not by the general quality of the magical field but rather by the type of operation being performed, and can shift as the magician progresses through the ritual structure into many different permutations. So it seems to me that this would not be a particularly useful distinction.

Basically, according to the quantum information model, every magical operation consists of opening a connection between the magician and a target - and it should be noted that in works of mystical illumination, the magician is also the target. Then, information is transmitted, received, or communicated (that is, both) along the connection. This simplifies the plethora of possible operations in a basic set of processes, and allows them to be analyzed as such.

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