Friday, March 18, 2011

Spirits, Information, and Energy

The week before last I posted my take on the energy versus information debate running through the magical blogosphere at the time. It was a big hit - Jason liked it, Patrick liked it, and thanks to their recommendations it attracted more pageviews than anything I've posted here in a long time.

In that article I mentioned that I would be writing another that would explain my take on how spirits could fit into the combined information/energy model. So here it is.

Before I delve into that, though, I want to address a post that I came across recently but which was put up while the energy/information debate was going on. Frater Acher offered his take on the discussion at the beginning of the month, and put forth the suggestion that all of us engaged in the debate were missing the point.

Considering this long history of researching into the occult one can easily come to the conclusion that this must be the essence of Magick: to delve into the immaterial world and research the true connection of cause and effect. To become a scientist of the netherworld. To analyze, deconstruct and rationalize what seemed occult and arcane and mystic before. To shine a bright light into the darkness. To comprehend what was incomprehensible before.

Let me take a stand against that. Let me argue that nothing is further from the essence of magick as I see it. Nothing twists means and ends more.

Here is why: Magick is a mean to serve life, not the other way around. Magick is a mean to overcome crisis and return to happiness. Magick is not the dissection table of spirits but the table at which we commune. Faust might have been a successful geek, but he certainly wasn't a successful healer. Here are my two cents: The essence of a magick is the ability to lead a happy life.

This hearkens back to another debate that I've engaged in over and over again in the magical blogosphere, my staunch advocacy for the frequent use of practical magick. Because when all is said and done I agree with Frater Acher - the whole point of doing magick is to make you happier and make your life more successful. Why do magick at all if it makes your life miserable? It's a lot less work to just be miserable without bothering.

So the point of this whole discussion is not just for the sake of debate, or so that we all can hear ourselves talk. The point of the discussion is to understand magick better so that we can use it more effectively and make real positive changes in our lives. If the models we discuss don't lead to that sort of practical work, to my way of thinking Frater Acher is right and the debate is indeed pointless. That being said, I'm not ready to draw that conclusion yet.

Indeed, the current round of the debate was spurred by a practical question. Do you or do you not engage in "energy work" practices as part of your magical work? Patrick initially argued no, Jason and AIT argued yes, and my article was an attempt to show how what is called "energy work" could fit into a communication-based model like Patrick's. This article is an attempt to answer another practical question - do you or do you not work with spirits? Folks like Jason and Rufus Opus have argued yes for a long time, while the published version of Patrick's information model argues no, but rather hypothesizes that all objects may be treated as conscious because consciousness permeates the universe.

What I'm going to argue here is on the spirit question is yes with an explanation. First off, my experimental data shows that working with spirits produces stronger probability shifts than I can produce working on my own, pretty reliably. Secondly, my EMF research has shown that when spirits manifest into empty space a measurable electromagnetic shift is generally detected. Finally, while I agree with Patrick's overall conception of consciousness connected with objects, I see no reason why from that perspective a self-sustaining field of consciousness couldn't exist without a connection to any particular material object. And wouldn't just about anybody refer to such a consciousness as a spirit?

For those of you unfamiliar with some of the historical twists and turns of computer science let me briefly acquaint you with the concept of cellular automata, in particular the Game of Life developed by British mathematician John Conway in 1970.

The universe of the Game of Life is an infinite two-dimensional orthogonal grid of square cells, each of which is in one of two possible states, live or dead. Every cell interacts with its eight neighbours, which are the cells that are horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent. At each step in time, the following transitions occur:

1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.
2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

The initial pattern constitutes the seed of the system. The first generation is created by applying the above rules simultaneously to every cell in the seed—births and deaths occur simultaneously, and the discrete moment at which this happens is sometimes called a tick (in other words, each generation is a pure function of the preceding one). The rules continue to be applied repeatedly to create further generations.

What's interesting about this simple simulation is that there are many starting configurations in which stable patterns emerge. A number of these are included in the linked wikipedia article, along with some graphics showing how these patterns look in practice.

One of these stable states is called a glider. When the Game of Life is represented on a grid, a glider is defined as a particular shape that appears in one area of the graph and moves across it while maintaining its overall form. The image at the top of this article is called a glider gun, so-called because it produces a constant stream of gliders that move diagonally across the grid from the top toward the lower right corner. The computer program itself and the state of the entire simulation are solely composed of information, so this example proves an important point - information is capable of sustaining its own form without intervention from a designer or interaction with any particular material object.

So in the context of the information model I'm convinced that this is analogous to the fundamental nature of a spirit - it is a field of consciousness that by virtue of the information it contains is self-sustaining. So a magician should be able to work with such a field of consciousness in same manner as that of a rock or plant or animal - construct an intent and then send a coherent signal that contains it to produce a change in the target field. The names and sigils of the grimoires represent an accumulation of the various symbolic hooks and images that allow a magician to tune his or her "transmitter" to the right frequency to send the intent. The spirit can then do the same, sending a signal from its own sphere of consciousness to that corresponding to the target of the spell.

Rene Guenon's The Spiritist Fallacy was originally written as a critique of spiritualism and is built around the seeming contradiction at the heart of the movement - that spirits are supposed to be non-physical nonetheless were said to be able to manipulate physical objects. This contradiction, though, was rooted in the scientific conception of the time that consciousness could not directly manipulate matter. Modern experiments such as those carried out by the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory seem to show that consciousness can indeed influence physical reality directly, as measured by its apparent effects upon quantum diodes, random number generators that operate on the principle of particle decay. So if these experiments are accurate Guenon's question is answered easily. How do spirits manipulate matter using only consciousness? The same way that we as magicians do.

Here's how energy work figures into this schema. As I proposed in the previous article, a magical signal has three primary characteristics - coherence, content, and intensity. When a highly coherent signal is sent from the magician's field of consciousness to that of the spirit, the content acts as an instruction and the intensity combines with the intensity of the spirit's field of consciousness to boost the effect. Then, when the signal is sent from the spirit to the target the probability shift moves in a manner corresponding to the content with a magnitude corresponding to the intensity. Energy work is therefore important because the total magnitude of the shift will depend upon the summation the magician's signal intensity, which is increased by personal energy work, and the intensity of the spirit's field of consciousness.

Of course, even if we can demonstrate that spirits exist in some form there's no reason that a magician must work with them. I like doing so personally because it increases my spells' effectiveness, but at the same time you do need to be more careful when working with spirits than when producing effects by sending the signals from your own field of consciousness to the target. Spirits are intelligent in their own right and can have their own agendas. Furthermore, they can be rather literal-minded as far the intent goes and if your charge is sloppy you can sometimes wind up with an outcome that is just what you asked for, but not what you want.

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