Monday, October 3, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Interlude

Over the weekend, Frater Barrabbas posted an article discussing "strange phenomena" that he has observed regarding magical operations. He contends that phenomena such as these are what make magick so difficult to model. On that point he's entirely correct; every item that he mentions poses some sort of challenge that must be answered by any viable model, since for a model to work and be relevant, it must fit the data. So here are my answers to those challenges in the context of the model that I am in the process of laying out in this series.

In places, this article will touch on some aspects of the model that I haven't fully laid out yet, so if you see something here that doesn't make sense in the context of what I've posted so far, bear with me. I will get to it, but it takes time and exposition if I want to be able to cover all the bases and make what I am proposing as rigorous as possible.

1. Magical results for a particular working begin to happen before the rite is even performed. I refer to this phenomenon as a causality collapse, and I have experienced other situations where the perception of time has been slowed down or startlingly increased. Time dilation and causality distortion seem to be a part of the typically overlooked attributes of magical phenomenon.

This is probably the most compelling of Barrabbas' challenges, but I believe that it can be explained in the context of a quantum information field model. First of all, it has been established that quantum information fields are non-local in space, so it's not such a big leap to assume that they could be non-local in time as well. So that's the most obvious approach.

However, that sort of supposition may not even be necessary. While it is true that you can often take a magical operation and trace its causes and effects back to some event that was set in motion before you performed your ritual, I think that falls under a modified form of the Schroedinger's Cat thought experiment.

Imagine that in addition to the cat in the box, the box is inside a sealed room. This room has two doors. You are standing in front of one of the doors that can be opened to reveal the box, and if the box is open, the cat. The other door opens on the opposite side from you, so that when that door is opened, you may be able to hear it, but you can't see it.

The experiment starts with both doors closed. A scientist is inside the room, but you can't see anything from where you are standing. The scientist runs the experiment and opens the box, thus collapsing the wavefunction and determining whether the cat is alive or dead. But you're still outside the room. If the room can be treated as a single system, from your perspective no collapse has occurred.

The scientist leaves the room through the door you can't see. You hear the door open, so you know the experiment has been performed. But you still don't know the outcome. The scientist comes around to your side of the room, but does not tell you anything about the result. At the same time, based on your knowledge of this person you may be able to guess the result from his or her subtle body language.

But the wavefunction still hasn't collapsed from your perspective. That only occurs when the door in front of you is finally opened and you can see the box containing either a live cat or dead one. It sounds implausible, just like the whole idea of Schroedinger's Cat, but "weak measurement" is a thing in quantum physics, analogous to trying to suss out the fate of the cat by looking at the scientist's expression rather than disturbing the wavefunction.

So here's how this applies to magick - your spell doesn't "cast" until you open the door. Then the probabilities resolve and the answer is returned. The apparatus displays the time at which the box inside the room was opened, and it was before your spell was cast. But because the target was treated as a single system - that is, a quantum information field - the magical effect could "go back in time" and influence the inner apparatus.

That's not really casting backwards in time, though, at least not as we generally understand it. When I have tried to deliberately "retro-enchant" something it never has worked. It seems like once the function resolves, that's it - but until it does and you see the final outcome, you have a lot of leeway in terms of influencing situations that may have already come to pass, but regarding which you have no information.

2. Magical effects can occur without any ritual being performed, or any intention of a ritual to be performed at a future date. It would seem that just being immersed in magic and its regular practice can cause phenomena to occur unbidden.

I would say that magical effects which occur without any ritual being performed could be (A) the work of spirits or other magicians, or (B) just general weirdness in the world, that has little bearing on particular magical operations. Magical effects that occur when the magician formulates an intent to perform a ritual, but before the ritual is actually done, are a separate case.

It is my experience that magick can be accomplished by fixed thought alone. Ceremonial forms make this fixing more effective, which is why we use them, but there is such a thing as "intuitive magick" that is basically caused by fixing a strong intent. When you are designing or even thinking through a ritual, it should logically follow that you are fixing your thoughts on that ritual. So in cases where the probabilities are not that difficult to overcome, this is an expected result.

This effect may also be a partial explanation for (1), in addition to the points I already have laid out. Events that happen before your ritual is performed may still be influenced by the fixed thought of the design stage. Likewise, if some event evokes a strong emotion from you that makes you think "I'm going to do a ritual to deal with this!", that strong emotion supplies energy to your will.

Really, this challenge is mostly to models like spirit-only, which reject the idea that the thoughts of the magician can have any effect whatsoever. It highlights that magicians do have their own source of magical power, just like spirits do, and can produce some effects just by willing them to be and having strong enough feelings about them.

3. Performing the same ritual over time can produce wildly differing results for the same person or different persons. Sometimes the experiences are analogous, but other times they are completely and radically different. The opposite can also happen, where a single ritual can produce very similar results when performed by different people at different times. It would seem that the effect of a magical operation cannot be cleanly or clearly predicted with any accuracy.

As far as I can tell this is correct, given our current level of technology. Basically, this is the "consciousness meter" problem that I keep talking about. Since we have no way of measuring consciousness directly, the final and in some ways most important variable - the state of consciousness experienced by the magician during the ritual - remains elusive.

But I don't think that makes the matter impossible to resolve at all. You can rely to a degree on self-report, and I also am working on putting together research that would combine EEG readings during rituals with the magical results of those rituals. It's still not consciousness, but it's much closer than we can get without such measurements.

Basically, giving up on modeling magick because this point is currently difficult to measure is not the right answer. We should be working on ways to quantify it instead. I would propose the following - that two magicians with about the same level of talent and experience, and showing similar EEG patterns, should be able to produce similar probability shifts. I think that's explorable with our current technology, albeit painstaking.

But we choose to model magick not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Magick is a possible window into the "hard problem" of consciousness, where few other phenomena can give us any insight at all. And I refuse to believe such a thing is impossible just because it is difficult. I wouldn't be writing these posts if I didn't think I had any chance of success.

4. Sometimes magical effects operate as if they are somehow “sentient” and able to either subtly interact with the operator or even anticipate his or her objective. I don’t know how many times I have either said or heard someone say that when working magic you don’t always get what you want, but more often, you get what you need (or deserve).

This is trivially demonstrable when working with spirits, since spirits seem to have their own individual personalities, preferences, and so forth. Your spirits will do the best work for you if they like you, and if you have cultivated that relationship with them. Otherwise, you tend to get results that conform to the letter of what you want but not the intent behind it.

This is also a good excuse for partial successes, or even failures. As magick is probabilistic, it doesn't follow strict rules of determinism. If you shift a probability from ten to one against to two to one against, that's a significant shift - but your rite is still more likely to fail than it is to succeed. If you get a partial success, you can say "that's what I need or deserve" and write it off."

Except that you shouldn't. You should calculate the probability, work out the shift, record it, and go from there. More likely than not, your full intent was beyond the shift you could conjure, for whatever reason, and just fell short. If you understand the likelihood of what did happen versus the likelihood of what you wanted to happen, you can calculate the shift you would need.

The concept of "deserve" might come into play when dealing with the interaction of mundane and magical actions. Let's say that you are trying to find employment in a tight jobs market. You do a spell to get a job, and send out ten resumes. If the probability is such that even with the spell you really needed to send out twenty to have a good chance of success, the argument could be made that you didn't "deserve" to succeed because you didn't do enough mundane work.

Except frankly, that's just plain silly. It has nothing to do with "deserve" and everything to do with understanding your odds. You should be able to work out about how "powerful" you are as a magician with enough experimentation, and from there you should be able to calibrate how much mundane action you need to take in order to succeed. Then cast the spell, and do that. If you keep failing, your math isn't calibrated right - so redo it.

5. Performing magical operations often produce far more effects than are intended by the operator. Sometimes these additional effects are more engaging, interesting and desirable than the original objective. Magical effects can appear to permeate one’s conscious perspective of reality itself and can reveal things in dreams, fantasy, and even in mundane occurrences. The impact of synchronicity has often been downplayed or omitted when talking about the effects of a magical operation, but I have found that it often occurs. Magical operations can have residual effects, and these can be experienced days, months or even years later.

Synchronicities go right back to 2. If you are an accomplished magician and up on your practices, you should expect any thoughts you fix throughout the day to produce related effects. That's synchronicity right there, and I think the thought fixing mechanism is sufficient to explain it completely. Also, dreams mostly consist of shuffling through recent memories, so is it any surprise that something as intense as a well-done magical operation would have an effect there?

However, when talking about effects that take place months or years later, how are we to know that this is not just pareidolia, at work? Magick is generally done to solve some particular life problem, and a fair number of problems just work themselves out. 70% of people going through psychoanlysis recover over the course of a year, which sounds impressive until I tell you that 70% of people who don't go through it recover as well.

If you are casting a love spell, for example, that's supposed to work within two weeks and nothing seems to happen, but you fall in love with someone six or eight or ten months later, can you really attribute it to the spell? Same with windfalls, or better jobs, or curses. Often, even if a curse fails, the target gets into trouble just from doing whatever it was that prompted you to curse them in the first place.

So do you see what I'm getting at here? Magicians have some effect on the world around them just by thinking in an intense fashion. So people argue everybody does, but I don't believe that. Certain people are enough better at these sorts of things that they operate at a whole other level, generally due to a combination of natural talent and diligent practice. So reminiscing about a rite that failed months ago? Sure, if you are in that class, it might have an effect.

6. Magical operations that are performed in a given space (temple) or focused in specific area (shrine or temporary working area) seem to accumulate a kind of residual field that has the capability to produce magical effects without any directive from the operator. (I have found that this is particularly true when working with a vortex in a temple environment. Even after it is sealed, the vortex continues to operate as a latent field because it cannot be banished.)

Objects certainly pick up magical "charge" over time, so it should be no surprise that an entire working space or area could be affected similarly. When a magician performs operations in such a space, he or she can draw upon that charge. And as manifestations of pure consciousness, a magical field that becomes complex enough may develop a simple sort of awareness and act on its own. I've seen this happen, so I know it's not something that's made up.

But at the same time, you always need to approach "effects that happen without a directive from an operator" with skepticism. I don't mean dismissal, but I mean skepticism. You can tell that a magical operation succeeded because (A) you created an intent ahead of time, and (B) the events that transpired following your ritual match it. But a random effect can always be some sort of random weirdness, not necessarily anything related to practices performed in a particular space.

If you attribute everything weird that you experience to your magick or magical space somehow acting without your intervention, you are almost certain wrong some percentage of the time - and I don't have a good way to calculate what that percentage might be. Each event must be reviewed on its own merits, with the same unwavering degree of critical thinking. Only then, I think, will you be able to arrive at the truth of it.

Many magicians find my ideas to be distasteful and troubling because I am proposing that magic is not straightforward nor is it something that will ever be able to be measured or described by science. It is one of the many mysterious elements of the overall phenomena of consciousness itself, and I am doubtful that science will ever successfully define what consciousness is due to the fact that human awareness, from the perspective of science, must be materially determined as a function of neurology. If that were so then spirits (or gods) couldn’t have an objective existence and magical energy would only be the product of a curious neurological phenomenon.

My response to this is that at our current level of technology, magick cannot be formally scientific because we lack a key measuring instrument - the consciousness meter. However, I don't believe that such a device is impossible to build. Not only that, I think it's possible we might get close enough with a combination of EEG and probability shift studies. Even given our current technology, that's more of an engineering problem than anything that requires new scientific laws.

The whole last chunk of that paragraph is full of assumptions, too. I will be proposing as this series goes on that (A) consciousness is a function of wave-based information structures that interact with the brain and nervous system on a quantum level, and (B) that such structures can operate independently of neurological constraints. That means consciousness is mostly non-physical, but not entirely so, and that at the quantum level it should be measurable by exploiting the same form of interaction as found in the brain itself.

I haven't gotten to expounding spirits in this series yet, but as you can probably guess, I will be proposing that disembodied entities form their own individual fields of consciousness within these same wave-based structures. They likewise should be measurable as well, because they are not entirely non-physical. Personally, I have been able to get small EMF effects from spirits, along with other phenomena like temperature fluctuations, from my operations - small effects, but distinctly physical ones.

Basically, I think the bottom line is that we "get" magick when we solve the "hard problem" of consciousness. Consciousness interacts with or within the brain at the very least, so it must be able to interface with the physical realm in some fashion. That is where we must look, and by laying out this model I am hoping that this is exactly the sort of research it will be able to inspire.

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Dacia Pacea said...

Nice follow-up in Frater B's article!

I would like to comment a bit on two of the points.

For #1 - I have encountered a belief in witchcraft that the spell actually begins at the moment you start planning it. Every step taken towards actually casting a spell adds energy to the spell. So the energy you spend buying things like candles, oils and incense is added to the energy of the spell you're going to perform, and add to its punch. This energy even also extends to the money you spend to aquire those things, although it could also be considered as sacrifice towards achieving success. So perhaps by starting to spend energy into achieving a magical goal, you already put things in motion in the ether.

For #3 - besides what I already wrote as a comment on Frater B's article (different election timings), I guess there's another possibility, also astrological. I'm thinking the synastry aspects between the birth chart of the target and the chart of the time the spell was cast, also have to do with different outcomes of a same ritual being performed over and over. It's one thing to curse someone when their Sun is badly affected by a transiting Saturn/Mars, and another when it's in a good aspect with a transiting Jupiter.

Scott Stenwick said...

The moment you start planning a spell you do start fixing a thought in the direction of your intent. That principle alone addresses more than one of B's points. It covers some apparent retro-enchantments and the observation that magical effects can happen without a ritual actually being cast. I think it can also explain synchronicity and other general weirdness as well.

I'm a little more skeptical of the "sacrifice" angle, since the idea that the more effort you put into a spell, the better it works, is not generally born out by my experience. What I've found is that you have to meet certain requirements to get a spell to work properly, but once those requirements are met, additional effort seems to make no difference.

Likewise, a lot of people fail to understand that the point of making an offering to a spirit is that you need to offer what the SPIRIT likes, not something you necessarily value or something that cost you a lot to obtain. The value you place on a particular offering is only incidental. It's just like giving a gift - no matter how much money you spend, the recipient needs to like it.

Electional timing and astrological conditions do have an effect in my experience, but that's a whole other discussion. So I think you're right, but going into that in depth would have made this article much longer than it already is. The best thing to do there is to record the astrological conditions to the best of your ability whenever you perform a ritual, and then apply that logic to the resulting probability shift. Then see if you can extract a pattern from there.

Dacia Pacea said...

I wondered away from the point of your article, which is you answering according to your quantum field theory.

PS: the link to Frater B's article doesn't oppen.

Scott Stenwick said...

The link is now fixed.

Feel free to wander a bit with these articles. One of the complicated things about developing a general working hypothesis is that it has to be generally applicable to the entire range of phenomena that it purports to explain.

Dacia Pacea said...

Come to think of it, astrological related events can also be triggered through a quantum field. Or else I couldn't see how electronics would go haywire more often during Mercury retrogrades, and also all the events that are backed up by a probable outcome shown in the chart.

Scott Stenwick said...

That might be one way to explain it, though trying to account for all the astrological influences and how they might work is challenging on a good day.

If you start with assumption that there are various spirits related to the planets, you can work out in a (fairly) straightforward manner that those spirits are connected to the actual planets and their positions in some sort of quantum field association.

With people it gets more complicated - some research on astrology has shown weak effects based on natal charts, but that's the best we've been able to do so far. For every study showing positive correlations, there are several others that show nothing.

Researchers were able to show a relationship between birth season and personality traits a while back, which might be related to how personality traits get ascribed to the signs. But that doesn't help us at all with things like electional timing or the effectiveness of magical operations.

Dacia Pacea said...

I see what you're saying.

I don't know who those studies on astrology were handled. I mean if they want to get to a conclusion and use the wrong methods, of course it won't work.

I've been studying my birth chart for some time now and most of it applies to me. Even the placements of the outer planets and their aspects with others have an impact on my personality. And it's not just me. I've been also studying the charts of three people close to me, and I've also found many "coincidences" between the meanings of the various aspects found there and the way they act. Some of the aspects are felt weaker of course, but some of them really pack a punch.

For instance I have both Mars and Neptune in Capricorn in my 2nd house. I have a strong drive towards making money, but Neptune doesn't allow me to put value on my work. So I and up working like an ox, but i don't know what to charge my services. I often found myself working for next to nothing. I'm not stupid of course, and I know that my work has value, but i can't reduce its value to money...

You can easily find that out for yourself by looking up the placements of the lunar nodes, and observe if the meanings of their placements in the signs and houses reflects the way that person behaves. There's also the so called midlife crisis, which occurs when Uranus opposes natal Uranus and Saturn is square natal Saturn, at the same time. This doesn't manifest as explosive in some cases, but it others it does. And it doesn't mean this can come in the form of someone starting to act like they're in their 20s again. In my father's case, it came in the form of a terrible car accident.

Manuel Martinez said...

Quantum mechanics, and celestial phenomena are dealt in pie just as the picture shows even people give offa torus. True pie or at least the one I use, take 314 raziel. Give three power over the rest 3.14 hit square root 1.772,004,514,666,935,040,199,125,097,536