Monday, August 30, 2010

EMF and Evocation

A while back I wrote about doing some research on magical fields with an EMF detector, a device that measures electromagnetic fields. So far I've gotten a lot less done on that project than I would have liked over the course of the summer, but I did do some testing with it this last weekend and got some pretty interesting results.

Up until then I had done tests on particular tools and objects and walked through a couple of houses without finding anything all that unusual from a scientific perspective. Magical tools do not seem to produce any sort of EMF unless they incorporate something like a magnet that would normally do so, and the sensation I get when picking up a magically charged object does not seem to be electromagnetic in nature. Checking out houses has likewise produced nothing unexpected - there have been a few high readings from doorbell transformers and ceiling fans, but nothing that would qualify as paranormal.

This last weekend I finally got around to testing the detector in conjunction with an evocation. My magical working group has been going through a series of rituals evoking the archangels associated with the signs of the Zodiac, and as this month is Virgo I figured that some scientific analysis would be very appropriate to the nature of the sign. I also had noticed in previous evocations in this series that it felt as if the area over the center of the altar felt colder once the archangel was present, and I wondered if this effect might have anything in common with cold spots supposedly produced during hauntings. Those cold spots often correspond to a high electromagnetic field.

The overall baseline EMF reading for the temple is about .2, which is fairly typical for a normal room inside a house that has electrical service. For the experiment I placed the probe from the detector in the center of the altar on top of the Virgo flashing color tablet that we would be evoking the archangel into. The reading remained steady, around .2, as the ritual commenced, persisting through the opening of the magical field by LBRP, LIRH, and GIRH - Virgo. It remained at .2 through the preliminary conjuration of Raziel. However, as soon as I finished off the specific conjuration for Hamaliel, the archangel of Virgo, the detector shot up to a little over .4 and started beeping. .4 the point at which it goes off in high sensitivity mode.

Now, so far I only have the one test case so the effect will need to be replicated enough times to produce a reasonable confidence interval, but the result proved quite encouraging. It's always possible that it could have been random environmental interference or some sort of household power surge, but the detector was on through the entire opening of the ritual and went off within a couple seconds of finishing the conjuration - that is, at the moment in which the archangel was expected to appear. As usual, I also was able to feel the cold spot forming in its usual location at the same time, which would suggest that there is indeed a connection between the cold, the EMF, and the manifestation of the spirit.

If this effect can be replicated it could give magicians a great new tool for determining the presence of a spirit during an evocation. We would no longer have to rely on subjective feelings of "energy" or whatnot, and we also would not be stuck expending the power of the spirit on stupid tests like poltergeist phenomena, which I'm convinced only detract from the effectiveness of the overall working. If any other magicians out there are interested in this sort of research I highly encourage you to pick up your own EMF detector and try it out. If you do, I would love to hear about your experimental results and I hope that you will feel free to post them here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The 2011 Apocalypse

With all the nonsense about 2012 being thrown around by folks who didn't even bother to check with any of the real Mayans who still live in Central America and find out what their calendar cycles mean (hint: not the end of the world or anything related to it), the mainstream media has completely ignored the works of Christian visionary Harold Camping. Who is Harold Camping, you ask? Why, he's the man who has predicted the true date of the apocalypse - May 21, 2011!

On the plus side, that's three days after my birthday so at least I'll get presents before everything hits the fan.

Some realize that God knows how and when the end of the world will come, so they wonder if He tells us. Rather than turning to the Bible as the source of all truth for these answers, they turn to the churches and religious leaders. They may be told that the end will not come until Antichrist rises as a political leader who will make them take the "mark of the beast." Many are told that God will rapture His people before a 7 year Great Tribulation after which Christ will set up a 1000 year reign from an earthly throne in Jerusalem. Others are told that Christ will come to rapture believers the same day he destroys the world. While just about every church has a different idea as to what the Bible teaches concerning the end, they all seem to agree on one thing; no man can know the day or the hour of Christ's return because the scriptures say that He is coming as a thief in the night. But are they correct? Can We Know?

This web site serves as an introduction and portal to four faithful ministries which are teaching that WE CAN KNOW from the Bible alone that the date of the rapture of believers will take place on May 21, 2011 and that God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011. Please take your time and browse through the teachings of Harold Camping, President of Family Radio.

To Camping's credit the first paragraph is largely accurate. Many current ideas about the "endtimes" are not biblical but are instead derived from the interpolation of particular passages. Often these interpretations take the quotes in question completely out of context to arrive at predetermined conclusions favored by particular Christian leaders vying for followers and their donations. However, by jumping on the rapture bandwagon Camping is doing pretty much the same thing. The whole "left behind" worldview is itself a modern interpretation that only goes back as far as the dispensationalists of the nineteenth century, and if there were any Millerites left you could ask them how well that 1844 second coming worked out for them.

Let me predict the real future for you. I'll be following the story, which means that on May 22nd of 2011 I'll put up a link back to this article and ask why nobody has disappeared. Then, on October 22nd of 2011 I'll put up another article pointing out that the world is still here. How do I know, you ask? No paranormal powers are required this time. Call it intuition, or maybe just plain common sense.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bored Teens Discover Brain Machine

I've been busy this month promoting and getting ready for last weekend's book signing event at Magus Books, which went pretty well, and I apologize for the recent lack of posts. I'll be setting up more such events soon, so watch the feed from my author web site over on the right hand panel for details.

I've written in the past about the brain machine, which is a device that uses flashing lights and binaural sounds to stimulate particular brain wave frequencies. The machine that I have is a Nova Pro 100, which is one of the nicer models available, and I've found it to be particularly helpful for getting me into the right frame of mind for scrying. Without the brain machine I'm not very good at it, but if I run the alpha/theta brainwave program for about ten minutes before giving it a try I get much better results.

The Nova Pro comes with software that you can use to put together your own light and sound programs. You select the brainwave frequency you want to target and how long you want that portion of the program to target and the machine does the rest. I haven't gotten as much of a chance to play around with this as I might like, but it seems to me that it has a lot of potential for magical work. My basic hypothesis is that in a magical ritual brainwave frequencies start low, around the alpha/theta range, increase as the ritual approaches its climax, and then drops back down to the alpha/theta range as the generated thoughtform is released, and at some point I plan on putting together a custom program that follows this pattern and testing to see if it increases the probability shift that I can generate.

Some enterprising individual on the Internet has gotten a completely different idea and is using various custom programs to make money by marketing them as "JUST LIKE TAKING DRUGS!!!" You do a little research to see what brainwave frequencies are generally present when taking a particular drug, whip up a program on the Nova Pro or similar machine, and then record the audio output from the machine as an MP3. Teens can then download the MP3's, play them with their eyes closed or covered, and convince themselves that they're getting high. The phenomenon has been dubbed "i-dosing," and it's really not a lot different than what I did at that age, which was sit in the dark with headphones and blast Pink Floyd albums.

I-dosing hit the mainstream media a couple of weeks back with the predictable moral panic nonsense that these MP3 clips could become addictive, or by some mysterious "gateway drug" mechanism could get teens hooked on real drugs.

But there has been such alarm in the U.S. that the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs has issued a warning to children not to do it.

‘Kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about and it can lead them to other places, spokesman Mark Woodward said.

He added that parental awareness is key to preventing future problems, since I-dosing could indicate a willingness to experiment with drugs.

‘So that's why we want parents to be aware of what sites their kids are visiting and not just dismiss this as something harmless on the computer.

‘If you want to reach these kids, save these kids and keep these kids safe, parents have to be aware. They've got to take action.’

The "gateway drug" hypothesis was debunked by the La Guardia Committee all the way back in 1944 based on research involving real drugs, but nonetheless prohibitionists still throw it around like it was actual science. Here are a few facts about binaural sounds - first off, they're nothing like dumping outside chemicals into your brain because there are no outside chemicals involved. Second of all, my understanding is that most of the research that went into the development of the brain machine showed that it was primarily the flashing lights that produced specific brainwave frequencies and the binaural tones produced a secondary effect at best. Since you need special glasses with diodes in them to experience the light effects you can't just sell the light tracks - but most teens these days have MP3 players.

To tell the truth, this is a brilliant snake oil marketing scheme and I wish I had thought of it. I've had my machine and the programming software for years, and I could have spent those years cranking out the tracks and pulling in big money. It's a well-known fact that the placebo effect means a lot of people will get results if they believe they are going to get them, so even if my MP3's weren't made on a brain machine and just sounded weird I would most likely have tons of testimonials about how awesome they were in no time. A "for entertainment only" clause would free me from any lawsuits and nobody would get hurt because all I was selling them would be a bunch of strange droning sounds that do little besides waste peoples' time and get reporters all worked up.

The fact is that even if binaural beats produce specific brainwave patterns in some people there is no way that anyone could become addicted to them like real psychoactives. The main mechanism by which drug addiction works is that extra psychoactive chemicals mess with the homeostats in the brain that regulate neurotransmitters and/or other chemicals such as endorphins. The brain's regulatory system thinks too much of the chemical is floating around and down-regulates it, so in order to keep feeling good you need to keep taking more of the drug. This results in drug tolerance and produces withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug. That's pharmacology 101.

Proponents of "behavioral addictions" or "psychological addictions" (food, sex, or just about anything else that people really enjoy) at worst confuse addiction with having a good time and at best confuse it with compulsion, which is a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD can manifest as any particular behavior or set of behaviors pretty much at random. Some individuals wash their hands over and over, some flip a light switch a certain number of times when leaving a room, and some overeat or act out sexually. What the "behavioral addiction" folks fail to understand is that the presence of food, sexually explict material, sinks, or light switches have nothing to do with the behavior in conjunction with which OCD will manifest.

OCD results from a chemical imbalance in the sections of the brain that control conditioning loops and is best treated with drug therapy. "12-Step" methods adapted from chemical dependency treatment do nothing for OCD, and in fact some neuropsychologists contend that they do a lot less for real drug addictions than their proponents claim. Without pharmacological intervention even if you can manage to stop one compulsive behavior completely another is going to take its place. It's not impossible that somewhere you could find a kid with OCD that manifests as a compulsion to play lots of binaural MP3's. But even that wouldn't mean the clips are addictive, it would just mean that there's a kid out there with untreated OCD.

In fact, thinking about it I wonder if a "reverse-gateway drug" mechanism could be at work here. If teens believe that a binaural MP3 is just like taking a drug and then find the experience boring or unpleasant it seems to me that they might decide taking real drugs is a bad idea, or at least not nearly as interesting as the prohibitionists make it sound. That sounds like a win all around, even if the clips themselves do absolutely nothing but line the pockets of some clever brain machine programmer who knows how to market.

My advice to anyone who tries out these clips and finds them interesting is to get your own brain machine and see how much better it works. The Nova Pro is kind of expensive but there are many models available that are quite a bit cheaper. The sound programs are much more effective with the lights and with the machine you can run your own programs instead of having to buy someone else's.