Monday, May 7, 2018

Regarding Macrocosmic Resonance

So I admit it, I'm cheating a little here and backdating this post to Monday. With this new consulting assignment and trying to be more proactive posting on my author blog, I still have not been as timely about this as I could be. Still, this is a good point that I haven't seen covered much lately. It was all the rage on magick forums back in the 1990's when chaos magick was the hip new thing.

This post is in response to a question that comes up every so often in the occult world. People who don't know much about magick often ask why we work with the spirits that we do, rather than more accessible figures like pop culture icons. Back in the day, chaos magicians proposed that you might be able to get better results by conjuring characters like superheroes instead of names from old grimoires. The logic was this - chaos magick proposed that since belief was the source of all magical power, millions of children around the world believing in superheroes was a whole lot of power.

Various experiments conducted on Internet magick forums back in the late 1990's showed that this idea was probably wrong. Rituals involving pop culture entities like superheroes failed to produce anything resembling what can be done with entities like grimoire spirits. The reason for this is so simple that for a long time, a lot of modern magicians missed it. Spirits are entities with their own independent macrocosmic existence, which fictional characters entirely lack.

The first problem with this idea is that belief is not the source of magical power. Peter Carroll's observations along those lines can be better explained by treating doubt as a force that inhibits magick. It is true that if you have no confidence in what you are doing and doubt that it will work your magick generally won't be effective, but that has more to do with doubt undermining the coherence of your thoughts. Because magick generally requires single-pointed concentration, if your mind is divided it is very difficult to induce the right state of consciousness to connect with paranormal forces.

The second problem is the idea that people do magick all the time, they just aren't aware of it. Maybe this is true using Aleiser Crowley's broadest definition of the term - the science and art of causing change in conformity with will - but even then, the term "will" still implies deliberate intent. And if you extend this to mean that people are setting in motion paranormal forces all the time without realizing it, you're just wrong. A child watching a superhero cartoon is not working magick, and is not sending any sort of paranormal energy to the characters depicted on screen.

I've mentioned the idea previously of "active frame" and "passive frame" cognition. Magick requires the first. Intent is not all there is to magick, but without it your mind isn't going to do much of anything. Consumption of media is one of the purest "passive frame" experiences available, and it doesn't imbue anything with magical power. So those millions of children watching cartoons aren't doing anything but watching cartoons. The characters aren't going to take on a life of their own just from that.

The third problem is the New Age supposition that everyone in the world is a highly gifted magician if only they would "wake up" and realize it. This isn't true either. As is the case with most human skills, magical aptitude falls along a curve that is influenced by both heredity and environment. Influencing the physical world by psychic means is hard, and really only works well for those at the very top of the curve. It's like the spiritual and/or mental equivalent of running a forty-yard dash in four and a half seconds or so.

Just about anyone can benefit from engaging in mystical practices, as studies of "mindfulness meditation" have shown, and it does seem like the capacity for some degree of enlightenment or realization or metanoia - or whatever your spiritual tradition calls it - exists within us all. But mysticism and magick are not the same thing, and practical magick in particular is a technology. It has hard limits just like the physical world does.

Understanding those limits and how they work is the biggest challenge of all in paranormal research. It is likely dependent on a working model of consciousness, which is referred to as the "hard problem" in consciousness research. That, in turn, requires a means of measuring states of consciousness that is more accurate than anything we currently have available. The stepping-stone technology might be something like an improved EEG that includes a positioning sensor to identify where in the brain firing of particular rates is happening.

I am convinced that research in magick is going to be part of that effort. If we can show that a particular EEG profile corresponds to a magical operation that successfully produces a probability shift, and that this profile is predictive of practical magical success, that will tell us a lot. In theory, then, we could work backwards from magical success to the "hard problem," but at the moment this is only speculation on my part.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I do think that the observation that fictional entities don't add anything to magical operations is one of the key pieces of evidence for the independent macrocosmic existence of spirits. After all, it shouldn't be any more difficult to create a mental projection of Mickey Mouse than it is to create a mental projection of an Enochian King. The thing is, the King is going to make things happen for you. Mickey Mouse? Not so much.

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IlluZioN said...

After what feels like years of lurking (and purchasing one of your books eventually), I was drawn to come back and read more of what always proves to be a refreshing and nuanced understanding of the technology and forces we deal with here in yonder universe. Your ideas have quite positively contributed to my craft, as has your lucid take on I might say everything. I deeply admire your work and your contributions, and I can't imagine the butterfly effect it might have had.

I was drawn to the wild anarchy of chaos magick coming from the years of the philosophical drought of atheism, the defiance of not settling on any belief almost as a test of gullibility. I remember one of the long term goals I applied myself to was to understand what esoteric forces contributed to the phenomenon of mirth and meaning-destroying laughter. My moodiness meant that I could go from really funny to quite somber. This I sought because being funnier at will meant I figured social life would be easier to navigate, besides wanting validation and everything (that really should have been nipped at the bud, was my discontent not so blinding.)

In any case, here we are much later, humbler and hopefully wiser, with some observations. An early experiment comes to mind. I spent months thinking about the Trickster archetype, about Gemini and Mercury, about wit and spontaneity vs intelligence. I often noticed that watching a focused hour of Dr. House would out me in a much more verbally dexterous mood. This was also the case with Russell Brand, arguably me resonating with both these rather strongly. There is some minor invocation occurring when the subject is actively observed, a verbal fluidity that would last 2-3 days. I tried it with Bugs Bunny with not entirely satisfactory results. I was curious what it all meant, pop culture mythology being a fascinating place to work with, and eventually mysticism, thelemic, hindu philosophy and deities with profound wisdom replaced the bugs bunny altar.

In any case, this was more a thanks in general for your brilliance than a real comment on this article. I am inclined to agree with you for the most part on this. Just want to know your two cents on living or dead artists, who may be a little similar to sufi and christian saints among other historic figures who became deities. (just added you on facebook)

Scott Stenwick said...

Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.

The difference between a person and a fictional character is that any sapient entity already possesses the sort of "macrocosmic resonance" that I am talking about. A fictional character would have to acquire it - this isn't necessarily impossible if a magician or group of magicians exerted a determined effort to make it so, but it won't happen accidentally no matter how many people like a book or movie or television program or whatever.

Basically what I am talking about is making a "servitor" or "telesma" or whatever you want to call it - an artificial, sapient spirit - and then linking it to the fictional entity or image. This has a high level of difficulty, especially if you want it to last more than a couple of years, but it's not strictly impossible.

Regarding artists who are "worshipped" in a sense as pop culture icons - It is going to be far easier for such an individual to become a real live powerful spirit than it ever is going to be for a fictional character. A base level of resonance or coherence is already present, simply by virtue of the individual as a self-conscious being. At the same time, I would say that for this to endure, said individual probably will also have to be a spiritual practitioner of some sort.

I'm convinced that it is the "metanoia" experience that confers survival after death, at least as an enduring point of awareness. To become eligible to become a "saint," though, that's really all that's required. Once that threshold is crossed, the now-immortal consciousness should have some ability to direct all of the attention-energy sent its way by fans and the like. If it can be done at all, my guess is that it can also be done on a large scale.