Let's do an occult research update thread today with some observations, theories, and where I'm at with my research.
Theory #1: Magic is real. It's still too early for me to conclusively explain why I believe that or what the boundaries are, but the deeper I go the more convinced I am that something really weird is happening in magical trance states (Gnosis) that may actually impact the physical world.
Some additional working theories I'm loosely holding at this point:
Theory #2: Whatever you're doing, from Christian prayer to chaos magic, the idea of genuinely believing that it will work and taking it seriously is an important component to it working.
This may be why many people test the theories and can't get them to work. May also be attributable to the possible heritable nature of magic and differences in natural aptitude. Systems of ritual and religious/mystical tools serve the function of enhancing personal belief in the attempted magic and have no other inherent power or function.
Western Ritual Magic and other esoteric systems developed highly-ornamented systems to make them seem more mysterious and enhance the practice with a ready-made belief framework that lifted the magician out of the mundane.
But this is not necessary for efficacy.
The concept of play also seems very important to belief and magic; wonder is a component of this. Loosely held ideas in the style of Kegan Stage 5 as discussed on Meaningness mimic childhood mindstates in some ways and there may be overlap.
Furthermore, the efficacy of belief to work magic may be heritable, which is why we have cultural priors encoded in our media about "magician lineages."
Check out placebome studies and consider them from this lens.
Theory #3: There are some limitations to how it works or what it can affect and I don't know what they are or how they function... yet. But magical practice has produced better than random results in my best attempts to be unbiased with tarot, sigils, and dreaming. If you're inclined to be skeptical, my results won't convince you. The nature of magic working seems to be variable and highly subjective.
Skepticism itself may interfere with magic and there are some very interesting theories as to why, which I intend to explore. The skepticism interferes to such a degree that my personal tarot results are consistently worse when I'm reading for a person skeptical of the practice.
This needs more study and better consideration, but the results are still better than random. Also, attempting to use it for military or economic ends appears to interfere in unpredictable ways.
Theory #4: Magical practice is intimately linked to Art, Technology, and Philosophy and is much more art than science.
I can't really explain what I mean yet except to say that labs will not produce good art consistently, and even individual practitioners/artists won't produce good art consistently.
Imagine putting an author in a lab and forcing them to reproduce the success of a piece of art under similar conditions or using their method to try to repeat it yourself.
It won't work.
Magic appears to be linked conceptually to coding via the manipulation of symbols to achieve real-world outcomes but it's more related to ideas and personal belief than code on a screen.
Magic appears to be linked to Art and Technology as a creative discipline--it seems to be about making something new appear in the world via focused effort.
I wish I had a better term for this than "Magic." Creative evidence-based reality manipulation is a mouthful.
Philosophy and cognitive development may apply when learning about various concepts in magic like gnosis and holding contradictory or apparently untrue ideas as true, as well as using systems of belief as tools to achieve outcomes.
The brain states required to produce results require you to be able to genuinely empty your mind and suspend belief, which is why I'm researching the neuroscience of meditative states which I think mimic magical trance states.
This also leads me to my research on how entheogens affect the brain because I believe that also mimics the same brain state and has some of the same potential pitfalls and impacts.
Theory #5: Entheogens such as LSD, DMT, MDMA, and psilocybin have influenced many practitioners of magic and may be related to the required mindstates or trigger awareness of thought patterns that can lead to magical practice.
It's been theorized that certain mental states can trigger DMT release in the human brain, sometimes irreversibly and ongoing. There is evidence that the human body produces DMT naturally. I think this might be what's happening chemically when meditation breaks some people. Some of the risks of meditation resemble observed subjective and objective states similar to those in entheogen use and magical trance states.
That's a very loose, unpolished list of some of the ideas I'm trying to dig deeper on right now with primary and secondary research.
There are some other interesting observations I have questions about that aren't really theories yet, as well. Like:
- Language, writing, and metaphor being central to operation of magic somehow. George Lakoff's work on metaphors is relevant to this.
- The conclusions in the CIA studies and work by other highly educated and respected professionals concluding that some of these techniques work to produce outcomes.
- Possible explanations for why magic works inconsistently: Emotionally resonant egregores of their time may serve as evocation entities: once Baal/Allah/Yahweh, now corps/movements/leaders? Chaos magic plays with this idea a lot (jeksite.org/psi/jp03.htm)
- Playing with identity may protect you from various dangers associated with getting into these weird mental states: ex. weird sun twitter shields you psychologically from attacks because you're constructing a fake identity as an ego shield, may hold elsewhere
- Why are mages obsessed with gathering books in pop culture and specfic? It's not actually because they're looking for spells, but they're looking for new ideas and symbols to cross reference to feed their ability to play with symbols necessary for outcomes. This is hard to explain, though, so instead we get a presentation of seeking spellbooks for new spells which is a dumbed-down and simplistic metaphor for this.
There are lots of other interesting threads and ideas I haven't cobbled together into anything resembling a structure yet. I'm still very much trying to assemble a landscape of interesting concepts to decide where to go deeper first.
At this point, it's too early to share anything concrete because I have a lot more reading to do to test and harden some of these ideas. It's a very fuzzy picture I'm just beginning to explore.
But there's something weird going on here. My process is trying to organize all of this into a structured landscape of ideas via Roam and answer some core questions I have while webbing out from there to go deeper on specific topics and try to get at the mechanics from both a neurological and a spiritual perspective.
I have an organized list of both questions I want answered and challenges (apologetics) to the investigation, some of which I've gathered from y'all in my apologetics thread (below).
I want some objections to sharpen my own thinking about occult stuff. Assuming "magic" is using personal directed will to affect reality external to your body, give me your best questions or objections for why it can't work. Example: Why don't very smart people believe in it?
And I'm starting by answering my own questions about why I'm doing any of this and what I hope to gain.
My primary line of research right now is on the actual neurological, physical, and spiritual risks of continuing with this research because I'm tired of people going "woo woo this is dangerous territory." I want to know what the dangers are and think about how to protect myself first and foremost... then go deeper.
If it's dangerous, it should be dangerous in observable ways.
After I feel like I've explored the risks enough for my own risk aversion to be satisfied that I know what I'm doing, I'm planning to lightly experiment with primary research and records of results while drawing on more sources.
I should also begin by doing my best to answer the questions on my Apologetics page about once a quarter with my updated ideas to make sure I'm not getting too out there and staying on task, which is really answering my two big questions: 1) Is this real? 2) How does it work?
Also early on in my research I'm starting with established neurology and brain states to the degree that we understand them now to try to give myself some stable framework that'll help me make sense of and challenge more out-there theories as I go.
Anyway, this is the loose plan and where I'm at right now.
I have so much reading to do. -_-
But I'm really excited at how Roam is helping me keep my ideas and threads structured and ordered. I'll start producing some more concrete essays on this stuff in the next few months too, I hope.
Ideally I'd like to construct a simple primer that explains the basis of the ideas of how this all might work but sound 90% less crazy than this thread does.