In the books Liber Null and Oven-Ready Chaos, the reader is presented with the basic concepts of Chaos Magick. Among those is the S.P.L.I.F.F. method, which summarizes how sigils (and acts of Subtle Magick in general) work.
For those unfamiliar, S.P.L.I.F.F. are the first letters in each of the six necessary steps:
1) Specific Intent – The exact objective of what you want your act of magick to achieve.
2) Pathways Available? – The existence of known or accepted routes by which your magick can manifest. Example: If you make a sigil to get money, if have a job, a raise is one route this might occur. Buying a lottery ticket is another. But if you don’t have one, you might have an accident that might get you money from damages, or you might receive an unexpected inheritance if a relative suddenly dies. Subtle Magick will take an available pathway if successful, so it’s important to make sure you have desirable pathways for your magick to manifest itself through.
3) Link to Intent – You link your Specific Intent (1) to a symbol of some kind. That symbol may be writing on a paper, the act of magick itself (ritual), an idea, a feeling or anything else you want. But the Specific Intent must be anchored to something in order to allow one’s Specific Intent to manifest through one of the Pathways Available.
4) Intense Gnosis – A form of Altered State of Consciousness meant to help bring about one’s Specific Intent (1).
5) Fire – The act of magick is released. This can be done by burning a piece of paper that served as a symbolic link, but usually involves some kind of destruction of the symbolic link. With the link destroyed, bringing up the thought of the Act of Magick or its Specific Intent (1) will no longer affect the spell since it has been compartmentalized and isolated.
6) Forget – Non-interference. Sometimes this is done through banishing (such as laughter), but methods vary depending on the individual or the specific Act of Magick. Let your magick do it’s thing, you do yours.
In my studies of magick as a self-initiated, self-taught (for the most part) mage, I learned things in ways that were unorthodox and non-traditional. So I started from a unique perspective, without many of the preconceived notions that formally-trained mages have regarding the nature of magick.
The S.P.L.I.F.F. method is usually regarded as being a good summary of all the necessary steps in doing magick. But is it truly the most minimalistic method of doing magick? Are there really no redundant steps in this?
I think we can do better. In this post I’ll try to do just that. First, let’s think about the definition of magick:
By definition, magick is a set of rules (read: system) that allows some cause-actions to have different result-effects than what is normally expected through Physics and Causality. Meaning that an act of magick (like casting a spell) can produce unexpected, sometimes wondrous results (healing, changing probabilities, etc), despite none of that being expected by Physics nor Causality. Physics and Causality can’t explain why saying some weird words and drawing some chalk symbols on the floor can make you meet an old friend you haven’t seen in years minutes after casting the spell, who left days before you had even conceived of the idea of casting a spell to meet up with him.
But yet this is what mages experience – things which Causality and Physics cannot account for. And with enough frequency and consistency in their results such that they’re inconsistent with the “just coincidence” explanation.
In my previous I’ve mentioned the idea of a Symbolic Magick System, “Mental Voodoo Dolls”, and others. And there’s now I’m going to try to incorporate an idea that’s been a foundational part of Science since its inception, but apply it towards magick. And those are the ideas of Newton regarding the Scientific Method. Mages should start looking towards the early Scientific Method, but the later and more modern Scientific Method. For magick to take its next big strides we need to learn to walk before we can run, and magick should start at a more reasonable pace until measurements regarding the influence of magick over events and the physical world can be taken directly.
Here’s the principles for finding Laws of Physics: http://www.iep.utm.edu/lawofnat/#H1
I’ll try to use this to come up with a rough draft for some “General Principles of Magick”. Now, here’s a summary of the more important about the definition of the Laws of Physics I’ll adapt to use in magick:
Rough First Draft for the Definition of the General Principles of Magick
1) General Principles are applicable at all times and all places, and are non-contradicting. Under the exact same conditions and variables, the same acts of magick will produce the same results. General Principles cannot create paradoxes or contradictions among themselves, as contradictions and paradoxes do not do a good job at accurately describing nor modeling how magick works.
2) General Principles contain no proper names. Concepts like “Karma” or “Sin” are not valid; concepts like “intensity” and “specificity” are valid, as are measurements such as time.
3) General Principles are universal or statistical claims. They cannot be generic statements like “sigils exist”, but rather must be a first-cause rather than a result. (Like how the mathematical laws of motion express the movement of planets, and are part of the Laws of Motion, but the orbit of Venus is not a law of physics.)
From this, we can make some ontological conclusions to create an emergent definition of the what a General Principle of Magick is, as our fourth definition:
4) General Principles are not variable. General Principles may take variables into account, and the result may change depending on those variables, the General Principles remain constant. This is similar to a a mathematical equation with variables and an unknown answer. That answer will change depending on the value of those variables, but the equation (or formula) will not change, thus the formula is the constant. Likewise, General Principles are philosophical (or metaphorical/mystical) constants regarding the practical exercise of magick.
I’ll also add three more principles, the fifth and sixth are for style (but also sanity), while the seventh is for making sure mages allow the General Principles to flow from observation and experimentation, nor theorization and logical/ontological ponderings:
5) General Principles are not redundant, are irreducible (cannot be reduced in complexity or simplified further), and cannot be expressed ambiguously nor provide undefined answers/results of any kind. In other words, you cannot have duplicate General Principles, and they must be as simple and few as possible. And they cannot provide multiple answers that are all simultaneously valid, nor can they provide undefined or invalid answers.
6) General Principles are general statements, not specific ones. General Principles which take into account some variables must remain constantly true even if those variables change wildly during a mage’s observations and experimentations. If the General Principle’s statement does not maintain true, or if the prediction it makes changes, than the General Principle is not constant and does not qualify as a General Principle – it should be altered until the statement or prediction is always constant, and is completely reliable as a description and prediction for how magick functions and what results it can (or will) produce.
7) General Principles flow from observation and experimentation, and are true in so much as they are observable and repeatable under the same conditions (external variables of the world, and internal mind-state of the mage). No General Principle should ever be made nor stated if it does not stem from first-hand observations *and* experimentations – General Principles are only as true as they are accurate descriptions of the functioning of magick, no more and no less. If that description is not a valid description of practical magick (in observations or experimentations), than that General Principle is not true.
I hope this rough draft of my definition of the General Principles of Magick is good enough to be useful in my post, or for you in your study of magick if you choose to use it.
Now, let’s think about S.P.L.I.F.F. – We’ve stated that the General Principles of Magick are irreducible and aren’t redundant, so we need to remove any redundant or overly-complex steps in S.P.L.I.F.F. The way I’m going to handle this is by comparing against other, equally-valid ways of doing magick.
My comparisons will place S.P.L.I.F.F. against some of my own methods, along with other methods.
The first method I’ll compare against is Shoaling. You can read more about it here: http://runesoup.com/2010/06/shoaling-making-sigil-magic-more-awesome-since-2010/
The second method I’ll compare against is my own, for doing Subtle Magick using Daydreams. You can read more about it here: http://wp.me/p31b5Q-fZ
I was going to compare a third method, but my “Make Your Own Magick” idea fell a bit short of the mark because of how vague and unspecific it was.
Now, let’s start the comparison with the steps one by one:
1) Specific Intent
S.P.L.I.F.F. is very adamant about the idea of Intent being specific. Shoaling is good at keeping the intent specific (somewhat), but the Daydream approach doesn’t always use specific intents. Sometimes in Subtle Magick using Daydreams the Intent is just a feeling (like nostalgia, or missing someone, or feeling a sense of loss) that isn’t always specific (maybe the feeling is towards someone, or a group of people from a time in your life, or maybe just a time in your life, or maybe some place). And when Subtle Magick using Daydreams does work, it doesn’t deliver a Specific Result – instead it delivers a general result, because the Act of Magick was a sigil done without specificity.
We can deduce that “Intent” does not need to be clear, and that the specificity of the result from the of magick will be within the specificity of the “Intent” (if said act of magick is successful).
Conclusion: “Intent” is too strong of a word, “Objective” is broader and thus more applicable. “Specific” is not necessary, “General” is broader and more applicable in a wider variety of situations. The specificity of the result of an act of magick will fall within with specificity Objective. “Specific Intent” will be deprecated in favor of “General Objective” due to more accurate modeling of how magick behaves based on observation of the results.
2) Pathways Available?
This is not a pre-requisite of the act of magick, but rather a world-state and depends on the perception of the mage as to whether a pathway is open or not. In my post “Make Your Own Magick”, you’ll find that mages create pathways through the magickal system they adopt by accepting said magickal system passively (acceptance without question or awareness, rather than choosing to use a system actively).
“Make Your Own Magick” – http://wp.me/p31b5Q-g7
Due to this it is redundant, as it demonstrates that it is a variable rather than a constant, but also that it can be interchanged with pathways created through the mage’s acceptance of a new magickal system that creates new pathways rather than use existing ones.
Conclusion: Pathways Available is by definition variable, and its use is optional and interchangeable with other components. It has been demonstrated unnecessary for magick in its current description, thus it does not meet the criteria for being a General Principle of Magick.
3) Link to Intent
This has been shown to be somewhat necessary. Some sort of system must exist to allow the cause-action (the act of magick) to produce the desired effect-result. However in my post “Make Your Own Magick” it was shown that these systems are all optional, and are just convenient metaphors we use to think about magick and interact with it through an abstract layer (read: visualization as a means of doing magick, interacting with it and sensing it).
This is purely psychological, however the need of some abstraction layer or system between the mage and the result is needed, even if it’s a very simple one (such as a purely physical ritual involving burning a paper sigil, or just Subtle Magick using Daydreaming).
Thus the “Link to Intent” may remain, but it is more accurately described as an Arbitrary Abstraction Layer… that serves to link cause-action to effect-result. It creates a set of exceptions in the rules which we expect the world to obey. So the mage’s actions have different results (the ones he wants) through this elaborate and completely arbitrary magickal system he uses in order to produce his results – basically a Deus Ex Machina that works, but with an operator that’s fairly inept at tapping its full potential.
Conclusion: Due to the naming being inaccurate, “Causal Abstraction Layer” seems more appropriate. Deeming it arbitrary may be somewhat accurate, but may lead to mages not realizing that just because something is arbitrary does not make it any less effective at producing results.
4) Intense Gnosis
While Intense Gnosis and Indifferent Vacuity are two methods that do work, they are not the only ones. Altered States of Consciousness do work well for magick, but worrying and anxiety can work just as effectively (if not more so) over longer periods of time.
If you do an act of magick, instantly regret it, and then worry that it will work and that there’s nothing you can do to stop it… you’ll be surprised (and terrified!) at your results.
The description is too specific. While good for the act of magick itself, I’ve noticed that going back and forth through various States of Consciousness with one’s Objective (however Specific or General that may be) seems to produce the best results.
Conclusion: Due to the description, “Shift in Consciousness” is more accurate. It also accounts for moving between different states of consciousness, while also allowing Intense Gnosis and Indifferent Vacuity within its descriptive capabilities.
This step involves the isolation/compartmentalization of the act of magick within the mage’s mind in order to keep it from being tampered with until it’s eventual completion/successful.
While a good recommended practice, this step is not strictly necessary. Subtle Magick that does not use it almost always fails, but APM (Abrupt Physical Manifestation) can work reliably without it (although that’s a very specialized use of magick and I won’t get into it here).
Conclusion: While a highly recommended good practice, it isn’t strictly necessary – thus it is reducible, even if not redundant. It’s use is the General Principles of Magick is deprecated, but its use is highly recommended.
Non-interference and banishing after the fact can be seen as a “releasing” mechanism. The description is too vague to be useful, and there does not seem to be any reason why non-interference should be necessary. Results can be immediate (like APM) or short-term to the point where not a minute has passed, and the General Objective has not left the mage’s mind, yet the act of magick has yielded a successful result.
This can occur with skilled mages enough to rule out coincidence, thus the “Forget” step is not strictly, but again it’s very advisable practice for novices and veterans alike.
Conclusion: Recommended good practice, but not strictly necessary. It’s use in the General Principles is deprecated.
Rough First Draft for the General Principles of Magick
So now we need to re-do the rough draft, using the first revision of S.P.L.I.F.F. using the first draft definition for the General Principles of Magick I mentioned earlier. Because I want to make several General Principles of Magick that are applicable in a wide range of areas, I’m going to group them into categories to help people navigate through them. Having 100s of General Principles of Magick would be impractical when trying to practice magick, and memorization is just plain boring. So here they are:
General Principles of Magick for the Practice of Subtle Magick
1) General Objective
A “feeling”, thought or objective, whether it’s clear or vague, specific or broad, it’s some sort of “feeling”, emptiness or desire (read: problem) which can be fulfilled (read: the problem can be solved). The primary objective of magick is the fulfillment of this General Objective, although magick by definition does not follow the ordinary/expected causality routes to get there.
2) Causal Abstraction Layer
This is where magick enters its own. Magick will, by definition, use some system (or set of rules) to allow the cause-actions of a mage to achieve his (or her) General Objective. This Causal Abstraction Layer sometimes does not even need to be clearly defined as a system, or to even allow breaks in causality – ordinary people seem perfectly able to do Subtle Magick using Daydreaming without knowing that what they’re doing is magick.
This dissociation of expected causality is not something the user is necessarily aware of. Trained mages (formally or self-initiated) are aware of it. Others may have varying degrees of awareness of this causality dissociation (or causality break, if you prefer). The presence of a Causal Abstraction Layer is just verified by the ability to dissociate predicted causality through some sort of action, even if the system and its rules are something it’s user has only minimal awareness of (so long as that awareness is at least enough for accidental or incidental use – sufficient awareness for deliberate use, even if not always successful, qualifies it’s user as a mage).
3) Shift(s) in Consciousness
A shift in consciousness occurs in the user’s mind. Normal thought does not produce magick more reliably than coincidences; but with shifts in consciousness (whether Intense Gnosis, Indifferent Vacuity or just worry/anxiety) the user’s state of consciousness will shift back and forth at least one time (often more than just once) before the act of magick produces its success.
A simple shift in emotional intensity, or changes in tension or relaxation are enough to qualify as a shift in the user’s state of consciousness. Traditionally-accepted Altered States of Consciousness such as Intense Gnosis, meditation, sleep, hypnosis, chanting and so forth do work, but their intensity is overkill for what’s needed. Smaller changes in the user’s state of consciousness are enough in the hands of capable mages.
General Principles of Magick about the Properties of Magick
I’m also going to add some additional General Principles of Magick about the Properties of Magick. These will serve as rough guides as to some of the properties that magick can hold, and can dispel notions about supposed limits as well as help those interested hone in on more specific ideas. I’m basing this off of the following post: http://wp.me/p31b5Q-gl
1) Cause and Effect Dissociation
Cause and Effect can be dissociated from their expected/predicted relationship, allowing the mage to create exceptions in order to produce a result only predicted by the magickal system the mage has both adopted and accepted.
2) Causality and the Arrow of Time cannot limit, contain nor restrain magick
Magick may create exceptions or ignore them completely in order to produce results. The state the world is in flows from the mage’s actions and choices (including his magick), such that truth flows from the viewer into the world rather than the user being forced to obey the rules of the world he’s in. Magick obeys Humean (or Regularist) views, while Physics obeys Necessitarian views. Visit link for more details: http://www.iep.utm.edu/lawofnat/#H1
3) Magick allows General Objectives to flow from one World-Location to Another
Magick allows General Objectives to flow from one World-Location (such as the mage’s heart or mind) into other ones (such as the Physical world). Magick can be metaphorically described as one “world” leaking part into another, where the “water” that’s leaked is truth itself spilling from one world into another to become that “water-holding” world’s new truths and facts.
4) The Causal Abstraction Layer is independent of what magick actually is
The Causal Abstraction Layer is independent of what magick is, and will behave as if it always had been whatever its user presently adopts it as being and also passively accepts it as being such – in other words, magick will usually present evidence that’s falls within Hindsight Bias, suggesting that the mage’s mind may play a larger role in magick than most mages care to admit. The Causal Abstraction Layer, in that sense, behaves like a Placebo, but infinitely more malleable. And more interestingly, manages to produce valid results far more consistently than mere coincidence ever could.
The independence of the Causal Abstraction Layer from what magick actually is allows mages to interact with an incredibly malleable interface that behaves in almost contradictory ways, but still obeying the General Principles of Magick. This reconciles the differences observed by varying practices (Energy Model, Spirit Model, Psychological Model, Information Model, Symbolic Magick Systems, “Mental Voodoo Dolls”, etc) into a system where the observer is interacting with a “middleman layer”, much like how an Operating System’s GUI (Graphical User Interface) is a software layer between the user and the machine code running on his computer or smartphone. The inputs and outputs are processed by this layer to help the interaction run smoothly. Users of Windows, Linux, iOS, Android and MacOS can argue about what works best or how something is supposed to work, but the debate doesn’t usually revolve around what the machine code is doing; generally it’s about what GUI is simpler, more customizable, more feature-rich or just most efficient at a given task for the user that’s arguing for or against another OS’s GUI.
I hope this post was good for you guys. Take care. (I know, long time since I last posted. If I can produce content at this quality, is it worth the wait? Let me know what you prefer in the comment section below.)
Remember, guys, this is just a rough first draft for the General Principles of Magick.
EDIT: I’ve also included an addendum of extras that didn’t make it into this post, but serve as useful additional information to help develop the ideas proposed here further.
“Addendum to the Rough First Draft of the General Principles of Magic” – http://wp.me/p31b5Q-gF