Monday, November 20, 2006

They Should Try This for Ritual Magick

Scientists have performed a brain imaging study on Christians who speak in tongues. It's behind the New York Times "select" subscription wall, but this article from Slate discusses the findings. The article also includes a link to the actual study.

Thinking in Tongues

Essentially, it appears as though glossalia correllates to a reduction in the firing of an area in the prefrontal lobe of the brain that normally is active during deliberate activity. From the scans, it appears as though the subjects really were not in complete control of the experience. Christians who practice glossalia believe that God takes possession of their minds and speaks through them, and this sense of losing control is backed up by the scans. Does this mean that speaking in tongues is actually some deep spiritual experience in which the practitioners are connecting to some deeper reality? Or is it a sign of something more sinister akin to brainwashing or mind control?

It would be really interesting to compare these scans to scans of ritual magicians performing spells. I'm thinking that perhaps the opposite would be observed - that magick, as willed action, is especially purposeful, and therefore the prefrontal lobe would show heightened rather than reduced activity. The study of brain function during spiritual experiences is an area that I believe has a great deal of promise for the development of more effective magical techniques, and hopefully neurological research in this area will continue.

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