Monday, November 13, 2017

Considerations for Conjuring

Since it's Magick Monday and I'm not in the middle of an ongoing series, I thought I would sum up some of the ideas from today's discussion in the comments regarding figuring out the best way to work on a particular magical problem. One of the issues with the state of modern magick is that there are all sorts of methods available that were considered secret even a hundred years ago, and as a result the modern magician is faced with a completely different problem than the magician of old. Instead of having to track down a bunch of secret lore in order to do magick at all, the modern magician has just about every possible method to choose from.

The whole obsession with secrecy has held magick back for centuries. In the physical sciences, we have long since had a shared base of knowledge that continually evolves towards a more accurate representation of the universe with every new experiment. Magick, on the other hand, is still at the level of a proto-science at best, with all sorts of competing models and methods and no real agreement on what works the best for accomplishing particular objectives. I remain confident that such a schema will eventually emerge from magical culture as a whole, but so far we're just not there yet.

So here's the question - how do you determine the right approach to solving a problem with magick? I can't say that I have the entire answer, but there are some basic principles that I have been able to work out by experimentation over the years. The first of these is that practical magick works by adjusting probabilities in the physical world. I don't personally believe in "supernatural" forces, but as I see it that belief is a bit of a tautology. Everything that exists is natural, so by definition "supernatural" makes little sense when discussing anything real.

That being said, I do believe that those probability adjustments rise to the level of paranormal, since such probability shifts are unusual and don't follow the "normal" order of things. Some of that is because in the overall scheme of things there are really hardly any magicians or occultists out there. I expect that magical probability shifts would become more "normal" if more people practiced magick, but to be fair that really is just a guess. It may be that most magically talented people already do it, and it's the talent itself that's rare.


In order to accomplish something with magick you have to do two things. First, you need to take every mundane step you possibly can towards your goal, because everything you can do to increase your likelihood of success means that the magick doesn't need to work as hard. If you're looking for work, you need to send out resumes, talk to recruiters, and do whatever you can towards the goal of being hired in the sort of job you want. At the same time, if you use magick, you will increase your likelihood of success above and beyond what you would be able to do with mundane actions alone.

That means a big part of magick has to do with learning how the system works and basically hacking it. At the same time, though, the magick goes where mundane actions can't, and with the way our society is set up it is difficult to really "get ahead" on mundane actions alone. Everybody is doing those - well, maybe no everybody, but enough people for there to be serious competition everywhere. Magick is important because if you have the necessary talent to do it well and develop that talent, you'll have an edge that most people lack.

And yes, talent in magick is a thing. That's because the ability to do practical or operant magick - like any other human skill - is a combination of talent and training. If you have enough talent and do the work, you can get somewhere. Without the talent, it's much harder. People like the idea of Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000 hour rule" because it implies that anybody who puts in the work can get results, but if you read the research Gladwell is citing more closely, the real rule for performing at an elite level is 10,000 hours PLUS a high level of talent. One can't substitute for the other.

I mention that because there's this New Age idea floating around the occult community that "anybody can do magick" if they put in the work. It's true that a lot of people can, and those who decide they want to learn the discipline often surprise themselves when they see it work. But there are also people out there who seem to have a lot of difficulty making the practical stuff work. Mysticism is a little different - it's more subjective, and getting results there depends less on any sort of physical talent. I think everybody should meditate, talent or no. I think if that was something we all did, most people would see results and the world would be a better place.

At any rate, some of the considerations for doing magical work are as follows. First, I invite you to check out this article and then this one. They concern my take on Peter Carroll's magical equations that were first published in Liber Kaos. I'm not going to reiterate those articles, so just read them.

There are some differences in how Carroll and I interpret the various components that make up magical operations, and while there's really nothing "scientific" about his equations or mine, they still are a good starting point for understanding how this whole complex process works from a general perspective. The equations can be applied to any practical operation, since they return a probability shift value. Mysticism is different - what you need to measure is "shift in consciousness" which unfortunately remains a highly subjective measure.

When you're trying to figure out the best way to approach a magical problem and aren't sure, the best tool you have at your disposal is divination. Do a Tarot reading or some kind of divinatory technique to determine how your first guess at approaching the operation will go. You can also try readings for a couple of other approaches and see which matches the best result. Then go with that. I don't think that you necessarily have to do a divination every time you do an operation, but if you aren't sure how to proceed it's a big help.

In my experience it's always better to call on spirits than just rely on your own power. If M is your power as a magician, and S is the power of a spirit, the probability shift P always seems to follow the rule that P(M + S) > P(M). The degree to which this holds across all operations is one reason I am convinced that spirits are external entities. If they were psychological projections and/or manifestations of your personal psychic powers, you should instead expect P(M + S) = P(M). But as far as I can tell, the former is how it works in the real world.

Keep in mind that the magical link - that is, the link to your target, is crucial. If you don't have a good link, it's hard for a magical effect to get through to its target. One way to get around this is to create an intelligent servitor or call on an intelligent spirit and use a two-phase charge. Phase one of the charge is for the servitor or spirit to locate the target, and phase two is to influence said target. Make sure you are good enough at making servitors that what you create can function intelligently, and/or that you are working with an intelligent spirit when applying this method. Less intelligent entities often have trouble executing this sort of charge.

On the question of anchoring a magical operation on yourself versus anchoring it on a talisman, a talisman has its own source of spiritual power and will not drain yours over time. The trade-off is that a talisman can produce about 80% of the probability shift of a spell anchored on yourself. This number is again from my own probability testing, and I invite you to do your own experiments and try to refute my findings if you think it's off. So the shift is less overall, but talismans have other advantages.

The disadvantage of anchoring everything to yourself is that your power, M, gets divided up among all the operation you have running that aren't anchored on external targets or talismans. So if you already have four operations running, the best shift you're likely to be able to do with a non-anchored operation is P(M)/5. A talisman is still 80% of that, but it doesn't "count" against your total going forward because it has an independent anchor. You can get around that a little by using spirits, such that if you use a new spirit on that fifth operation, you wind up with P(M)/5 + P(S). A portion of your power combines with that of each spirit, but each spirit still is only working on a single charge.

Servitors are kind of a special case. They start out at the 80% mark like talismans, but if you design them correctly they can accumulate power from the environment and become stronger. You can call on a spirit to help you make a servitor (Virgo - power of parthenogenesis) and that will make it start out stronger than it otherwise would and grow from that point. Once the servitor is created it should have its own source of energy that is not anchored on you so it can grow independently. You can also mix and match - like, say, bind a servitor to a talisman. Creativity in magick can go a long way.

As far as multiple servitors and entities working on a single problem go, that is a completely valid approach too - much like Gordon White's idea of "shoaling" published on Rune Soup and in The Chaos Protocols. Each servitor is independent with its own source of power, and each external spirit is a being in its own right. You can charge a whole bunch of servitors and entities to work on a particular problem, but make sure that the portion of the charge given to each external spirit falls within its sphere of influence or your spell might not work.

I think I'm going to wrap this up here for now, but feel free to ask addition questions in the comments. There's a lot more I could go into here, and there are only so many hours in the day.

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2 comments:

Blogos said...

Hi Scott, I applaud your scientific efforts in this regard but my main issue is that it completely skirts the problem of free will vs determinism and just assumes free will and the other important issue is the evidence from many magicians that the magical result had to be set into motion BEFORE you did the magic. This is often the case.

As the work on my own site details the only way to get close to a better interpretations is exploring and then factoring in the true nature of time via looking at concepts like retrocausality and block time. This kind of magician centred approach where the magician is the cause seems to be completely overturned by just looking at these kind of magickal results. As someone interested in physics you may want to have a look at an explanation for QED based in this kind of thinking i.e. that anti-particles are actually particles going backwards in time.

http://hermeticlessons.blogspot.cz/2017/06/the-wmt-terms-and-conditions_21.html

Scott Stenwick said...

My whole model of magick is based on quantum information, so I have studied QED and so forth in relation to these ideas. One of the properties that quantum physics exhibits is nonlocality, and if time is treated as its own dimension it doesn't seem to be too much of a leap to put forth the idea that a "cause" can originate with the magician and have effects both backwards and forwards in time so long as the final "wavefunction collapse" (which I put in quotes because it happens in the Copenhagen model but not in the DeBroglie-Bohm model) is at some point in the future from the perspective of the magician.

As far as free will versus determinism, I fall somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, the probabilitistic nature of the universe as a whole does not lend itself to mechanical determinism. Everything tends towards particular statistical states, though, which I suppose can be thought of as a sort of overall mathematical determinism. And I do think given genetics, conditioning, the situation of our births, and so forth mean that most people do not exhibit free will to the extent that they believe they do. So maybe something like "circumscribed free will" would be a good description of my opinion on the issue - free will within a series of constraints based upon our life circumstances.

As a Thelemite, I believe that cultivating the will through practice and making it "more free" in the process is important. I think that as you get better at doing magical operations you become more free. Maybe that's "determined" in some manner too, but as I see it magick is a technology that involves consciousness. The point for practical work is not worrying about whether something was the result of your actions, previous conditions, or both (and I personally think it usually is both), but rather that it behaves as if the magician is at cause. You have to do the work to get the results, full stop.