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 on 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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