Dogma-Free Magick

There’s a big problem in magick. Mages all describe magick slightly differently. Mages do this (usually) with a Model of Magick, which is just a model of reality that tries to explain how the physical reality we experience can coexist alongside magick while also taking into account the mage’s own personal experiences with magick.

The problem is that each view is unique. So are there multiple “magicks”, or is everyone viewing it from a different perspective? Hard to say for sure, but it makes more sense that it’s the latter.

For this post, let’s operate under the assumption that it’s the latter. Magick tends to work in whichever way the mage thinks it does as well, like placebo, except that it can produce results that affect objective reality.

So we see that much of magick’s specifics are made-up, and can be changed freely. But experienced mages soon realize that some aspects of magick stay the same. Those magickal dogmatic specifics aren’t needed by all mages, nor for all magick. But is it possible to set up magick that is dogma-free, or is some dogma (whatever it is) necessary. This post will try to figure that out. Let’s get started.


I won’t cover my thought process to get to my answer in too much detail. It’s too lengthy, and I didn’t document the whole process, so trying to remember all of it would create loss or inaccuracies. So best not to bother.

Here’s the non-dogmatic aspects of magick I’ve found:

  1. Mages are administrators of the rules that govern the relationship of cause-and-effect for their own actions only.
  2. Mages do this usually with their own Approach. Click here to read more. This may also include their Model of Magick, if they use the Systems Approach.
  3. Magick isn’t powered by the mage’s faith; instead, the only thing that keeps the mage’s magick from reaching its full potential is his own doubt. Magick exists as the mage’s will, acting in accordance with the rules the mage permits/accepts. Doubt denies magick its ability to act.

So how can we learn magick? Well, the first step is always the same:

  1. You build a set of rules that you make up for yourself, or that you read somewhere, or that someone else gives you.
  2. You immerse yourself in the mysteries of magick, usually with at least some degree of obsession. And you begin to reconcile how magick and reality as you’ve known it up to this point can coexist side by side. You also reconcile it with your own experiences.
  3. You begin to try to solve the question of how you could do magick within this system you’ve set up. Eventually a solution comes up (probably with one of those “a-ha! eureka!” moments) and your doubt begins to crumble away.
  4. You try something new. For some it works on their first try. For others, it may take a few attempts trying to debug what went wrong. Many give up, but some of those who persist will succeed.
  5. Building on that first success, the curious initiate is now a fully-realized mage. Now the mage may use that success to help melt away other doubt, and thus figure out how to do other things with magick using a process that starts on Step#1 on this list.

There’s also a few non-dogmatic rules in magick I’ve found. Well, maybe not rules, but things that are useful to keep in mind at all times, as a mage:

  1. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” Dogmatic-specifics in magick aren’t objectively true. The only truths that apply are the ones the mage permits. Doubt is how mages enforce the truths we permit. Doubt is the sword a mage uses to smite possibilities he doesn’t permit to become truths. But it’s a double-edged sword that may slay the mage’s own magick, and usually does. Skill in magick is successfully wielding this sword in the mage’s own favor, instead of against his own interests. (This explains why magick seems to obey the placebo effect, yet produce objective results that placebo can’t account for. Or why the Meta Model works.)
  2. Possibilities allow the mage to do more with magick than probabilities.
  3. No morality is absolute. If it were, all cultures on Earth would have reached the same conclusion, as would all individuals. That is not the case. Our actions define us, and we define ourselves with our actions. The world as we know it is made with actions. From this, morality emerges. So who the mage (or any person) is, is self-evident in one’s actions. This includes magick. Let who you are be known through your actions, and let that be your code of conduct, your morality.
  4. The most important “rule” of all: there is no “right” way of doing magick. Magickal dogmatic-specifics, “crutches”, Models of Magick, different approaches, tools (like amulets, crystals, runes, altered states of consciousness)… that’s all preference. Magick is self-expression, limited only by the mage himself – and self-expression is, of course, very personal. Let others be, instead just let you be yourself. Censor not thyself for another, lest the self wither and die.

Altered States of Consciousness, rituals, spells, chakras… those are all dogmatic-specifics in magick. They aren’t needed, unless the mage permits those rules to have an effect in his magick. And some mages prefer those crutches to others. Other mages prefer tools like amulets, crystals, wands, pentacles, runes, etc. Others prefer tarot decks, words of power, visualization, astral projection, lucid dreaming, etc. Some prefer to just dive in solo-yolo, no crutches, guns blazing. To each his own.


Whatever you do, don’t take my word on any of this. Try it out for yourself.

And don’t just agree with me. Draw your own conclusions, even if they’re different than mine. Trying new things and thinking for yourself are excellent qualities for any mage, aspiring or veteran alike.


Anyways, hope this post was good. Take care.

Learn Magick Quickly

Never done magick before? Don’t have an in-person group to go to, no mentor, and online groups seem sketchy as h*ll?

Are you just looking to get your toes in the waters, as it were? Something fairly quick, just to try it out? You’ve found the right post!

Two links below, both for The Complete Psychonaut Field Manual by bluefluke.

Check ’em out. They’re in visually-friendly format, very concise, fairly easy to learn and use.


http://ultraculture.org/blog/2015/11/13/the-complete-psychonaut-field-manual/

http://bluefluke.deviantart.com/art/The-Psychonaut-Field-Manual-THIRD-PDF-EDITION-530005584


Disclaimer: Just remember that the PDF/images from that book include sample rituals/methods/rules. They’re a good example to learn, but none of the specific actions need to be followed to the letter to produce a result. The mage (or aspiring mage) can link which cause-action produce which effect-results – manipulating causality/cause-and-effect is the most concise definition of magick possible (as far as I’m aware).

Disclaimer (2): Don’t take any of this literally, nor as the only interpretation. All forms of magick that are practiced are just the application of an interpretation of what magick is. Those interpretations form the various schools of magick. If you peel away the things which magick isn’t, you’ll find what magick really is. You’ll have to question your assumptions with a pliable/flexible mind, and learn multiple mutually-exclusive interpretations of magick in order to do this. The more you peel away what magick isn’t, the more competent a mage you’ll be, and the more you’ll be able to do with it. Complexity creates restrictions, and the core of what magick really is, is really, really simple.

Just remember that Chaos Magick requires the mage’s mind to be like water. Flexible and pliable. Rigid minds which require absolutes and specifically-defined answers will not do well with it – they’re better off with some other form of ritualistic magick (sometimes called High Magick).

Take care. Good luck, and good hunting (for your own answers).

TL;DRticles x001 – How We Learn Magick: Epistemology

What are TL;DRticles? New series (or just one part, I don’t know). Has concise content, little filler, minimal sentence structure. This is how all my posts are formed in my head – I add the “in between” stuff later. May contain bad attempts at humor… just kidding, but seriously. Let’s start.


Intro:

Epistomology is the study/philosophy of knowledge. “How do we know stuff?” is the gist of its focus.

Article will cover how that relates to magick, special attention given to learning “how to” knowledge.


Prerequisite reading materials:

Click here for dictionary definition. Click here for Wikipedia page. The rest of this post won’t make sense if you don’t read that stuff. Content will still be here if you pause to read.


Part I: Present Evidence, Clarified

(This part is useful later on. Later parts will build on it.)

Science tries to infer truths of the world by observation, prediction and experimentation. Scientific theories are ones that fit with the current evidence and predict future evidence on how the world works (or how people think/act, if sociology/psychology).

Magick is a “how to” system. There are no measurements, only experiences. Various mutually-exclusives models of magick contradict each other, same goes for different pantheons in different forms of deist magick. Many mages have made these observations.

An impossibility cannot exist, likewise a paradox cannot exist. If you think you’re aware of a paradox, there’s something you’re missing. Mages sometimes come up with a “theory of everything” by trying to unify all models of magick and “other things which create apparent paradoxes”, usually trying to shove all that into a modified model of magick. Result is usually larger model of magick where complexity gives rise to far greater complexity. Rarely is it simplicity that gives rise to complexity. Rarest are cases where that simplicity creates useful and efficient “how-to-do methods” that allow the mage to do magick more easily, more reliably, faster, etc.

This all assumes that magick is based on a rigid, absolute set of rules (like “Laws of Physics”, except for magick). The problem is that such predictions are usually wrong, and don’t easily account for many observations mages have noticed for decades. “The Universe (being the accommodating creature that she is), will tend to provide confirmation of any paradigm one chooses to live in.” [1] Translated: The universe will conspire to confirm your beliefs, practices, religion, etc. Normally this is placebo. Magick escapes this, because it predicts results that placebo (a psychological effect) cannot explain alone – it also can be used as a “how-to method” to replicate those results on demand, albeit degrees of success vary with the mage’s skill. Placebo only affects people’s perceptions, magick affects the shared world physically (whether subtle magick over time or not).

An attempt to unify all understanding of magick by building complexity and adding assumptions is unlikely to succeed, due to the number of possible variations of equally-plausible “theories of everything”. The room for interpretation is just too much, which creates those variations. Add the difficulty in testing, considering how the universe conspires to confirm your beliefs (including your magickal ones, too, like your Model of Magick or “theory of everything”), and you start to get lost in murky waters without a map in a hurry. Magick does tend to produce results that your expectations predict (including the expectation of surprise) – and although this may sound like it’s unfalsifiable, it is testable, since you can test how changes in your expectations affect how you do magick. (Underlined phrase is one of the major ideas behind this blog, and one of its main features. To help mages figure out how to do this and test it for themselves, so they can verify the results for themselves and arrive at their own conclusions objectively.)

[1]  Peter J. Carroll, “Liber Null & Psychonaut”. York Beach, ME. Samuel Weiser, Inc. 1987 pp. 191


Part II: Epistomology And Learning About Magick

Mages learn magick at first by second-hand knowledge. They read or hear about someone having done some kind of magick – whether its the result or the “how-to-do method”. Sometimes it can also start by belief. But in all cases except being initiated by another mage (or witnessing magick first-hand), mages either have a belief in magick or they have second-hand knowledge about magick. At this stage, one isn’t really a mage, because one hasn’t done any magick yet. One would be a student or researcher.

The mage’s first successful act of magick may happen in various ways. Maybe they believed it was possible, and “it just happened”. Maybe they studied hard, tried it and earned it. Maybe there was something akin to “writer’s block”, and after a “eureka” moment (or an “a-ha! moment”) the mage had insight which helped him overcome that hurdle. Maybe it was an accident which happened by chance. Whatever the case, second-hand “knowledge of” became first-hand experience.

Usually one has to practice (at least a bit) before one has enough control over one’s magick to make it practical in day-to-day life (although many never achieve even that). Part II about learning magick after you’re done it at least once yourself.

Magick in a Model of Magick (read: theory of magick) is a series of propositions. The generic gist of it is: This Model of Magick says this collection of statements is true, and this set of rules are true. This collection of statements and this set of rules allow magick, and following this path of logical inference, you can achieve this result. Check the Energy Model and how some people use a small set of rules to create really clunky explanations for how they can justify to themselves that they’re achieving some kind of otherwise-impossible result. Or alternatively (for some laughs), look up explanations on why crystal healing works. (I can accept it as being a result of magick, sure. But the explanations of “ley lines”, “etheric energy”, “higher dimensions” and whatnot… well, let’s just say I went through that phrase and I’m glad I’m over it now.)

Logical inference means “if these two statements are true, then this statement must also be true”. An example is A = B and B = C; you can infer that if A and B are equal, and also that B and C are equal, that A and C must also be equal: therefore A = C.

Unfortunately, this also turns in on itself and creates a paradox. Mages make mistakes. Their logical inferences aren’t always true, and neither are the series of initial propositions. Because your model of magick depends on the assumption that those propositions are true and are as you described them; and even more so for your inferred propositions/statements, and you inferred sets of rules. If any critical initial propositions isn’t true, then if your Model of Magick and all you’ve done using said Model of Magick is based on bad information, then what are the odds that you would have predicted you would have achieved your results, if you knew the errors in your Model of Magick? Now consider how many mages there are, and how many variations and interpretations of magick there are. With so much room for variation and interpretation, why do mages still achieve desired results for their magick, and yet somehow the similarity of the world appearing to provide confirmation of their beliefs, religion or model of magick (as the case may be) ? (Don’t bother trying to make the case that mages are manifesting confirmation of their beliefs. Because that would have rather huge implications of the role of the mage, and the extent of his influence/power, without the mage being necessarily aware of what he’s doing or how he’s doing it. It’s also unfalsifiable.)

However the past remains. The results of magick remain. The explanations based on incorrect information then don’t appear to fit in anymore. Some mages are hit hard by this realization. Others, like myself, realize the explanation isn’t what’s making magick work. It’s how you got it to work, not the explanation (or internal justification) of why it working. Medieval sailors didn’t need to know about electrons or magnetism in order to use a compass, and neither did you when you were a kid. Newton didn’t have a full explanation as to why the world appears to be described mathematically with such elegance… and neither do we, but we can still use mathematics even if we have no explanation at the moment as to why that is.

A mage simply uses propositions (statements of truth, but also sets of rules) to explain to himself (internal justification) as to why magick works, based on his first-hand practical experience. It isn’t his explanation that gives him some special insight into how magick works, that grants the mage his power. Nor is it the internal justification he gets from his model of magick (read: those propositions made of statements of truth and also sets of rules). Instead, it’s that “this explanation makes a lot of sense” feeling that erodes a barrier that keeps people from doing magick. That barrier is one where people disallow themselves from experiencing magick because they don’t believe it’s possible. If you open yourself up to new experiences, you’ll be surprised at what you’re able to experience.


Part III: Will be about changing your beliefs to allow you to do more with your magick… coming soon, eventually, maybe.

Now available at:

Dogma-Free Magick” – http://wp.me/p31b5Q-j9


Part IV: Ask you to try to make sense of this, fit the pieces together, try it out for yourself once it does, and arrive at your own conclusions even if they disagree with mine.

Now available at:

Dogma-Free Magick” – http://wp.me/p31b5Q-j9


Part V: Probably a conclusion and thank-you at the end. Also a reminder to comment with your feedback.

Also, click here for a persistent baby panda for no reason. Guess that’s the end of the post. Yep. Could end at any moment.

Yep.

Fun fact: did you know that people who bring up made-up facts and statistics in conversation are more likely to be interru-


 

Impetus – A Mage’s Drive

Sorry for the very long hiatus and no updates. This post is to explain why, and also maybe say something relatable for a lot of other mages out there (veterans and novices alike). Let’s begin.


Definition of “Impetus” (according to Merriam-Webster):

  1. a force that causes something (such as a process or activity) to be done or to become more active
  2. a force that causes an object to begin moving or to continue to move

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impetus


The definition for “impetus” that I’ll be using is “motivation that causes the individual to take action”. This is very different from “fantasy”, where there is desire but it’s insufficient to cause the person to do anything about it other than day-dream. A good Physics analogy is comparing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potential_energy to the energy that is released.

Potential Energy is energy that is stored while it’s only once the energy is released that actually does any work.

Long story short, over the past few months I’ve been losing my Impetus to do magick. When I started learning about magick, I was young, feisty, ambitious, idealistic, fearless. My head was in the clouds, and my ambitions were even higher. But I started with a good foundation, and my goals/desires/dreams about magick were simple, yet difficult.

There was challenge. There was the obsession. There was something to strive for, a land not-yet-treaded lying a bit beyond the horizon, impatiently awaiting discovery (or maybe that was just me? – probably me).

But along the way, I had some of my questions answered. The answers quenched the ambition and the thirst for knowledge I had just enough. Just enough is the dangerous part for a mage. (You’ll get it in a moment. I’m building up to it.)

I also satisfied some of my desires. Not all, and not to the extent I’d have wanted. But my desired were fulfilled just enough, and my hunger for achievement and ambition was sated just enough.

Just enough to keep it from bothering me so much that I’d act. True satisfaction means you have nothing left unfinished, nothing more to want. The in-between gray zone is one that I feel some mages here might relate to (or hopefully find somewhat useful).


So what’s my point?” I hear someone think aloud. (Well, I actually don’t hear what people think – that would be weird. But I thought it sounded good, albeit “sounded” is a weird way to describe something that’s written, but I guess that in itself is also weird. I’m sure people trying to understand will figure out what I meant. Maybe someday I will, too. In the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Move along.“)

The point is that a mage needs Impetus in his (her/it/whatever/flyingspaghettimonster) life. Impetus is the catalyst in a mage that takes his (her/it/donutholesarenegativespace!) Will and transforms it into action to the best of the mage’s abilities. Not some half-*ssed attempt to say to yourself “I tried.”, trying to rationalize away your own desires as impossible due to an unwillingness to give your Will a shot with all of your heart.

TL;DR summary (who are me, and what have me done with the real me? – I mean something more coherent, methinks kinda):

An attempt to succeed sometimes will actually succeed. An attempt that tries to succeed will always succeed in trying.

But when it comes to giving your all, there are no attempts; it’s a matter of putting your heart into it if you’re into it, or not. You can know who you truly are inside by observing the outcomes of your actions,; and if they’re attempts to succeed then you know you put your heart into it; if they’re attempts to try to succeed then you know your heart isn’t into it, so why bother pretending anymore? Are you trying to fool others, yourself? Maybe both?

That’s sort of where I am. I don’t like double standards, and when applying them to myself I can only draw one conclusion: my heart just isn’t into it right now. I don’t have an Impetus strong enough to keep on trying to study magick (for now). I know I’ll come back to it, when my interest returns (or when inspiration hits me like a Miley Cyrus stage prop). But I don’t want to pretend. So I won’t.

Therefore, the hiatus will continue (until further updates, of course). But I hope this was somewhat interesting and useful, and I hope this can give you guys some insight into what makes a mage tick. And hopefully, armed with this knowledge, maybe you guys (or gals/its/sockpuppets/sundries) can stay inspired and motivated to continue learning about magick (and hopefully not from just one source either – there’s a lot of much better writers, bloggers out there – all I have to offer is my own unique perspective, which hopefully some might find somewhat useful, insightful, or at the very least entertaining).

Anyways, thanks for reading, guys. Best of luck and remember: keep your stick on the ice (or: wise-sounding_applicable_magick_equivalent_placeholder_here). Take care.

Lecture by Peter J. Carroll

Normally I like writing. But who am I kidding? Too few people have an attention span long enough to read, fewer still care enough to do so, and even less of the remainder have the time to do so in the first place. So most people aren’t going to bother reading.

Which is why I have some YouTube videos (audio only) from Peter J. Carroll. They’re really great, have wonderful insights and are remarkably similar to my own experience throughout the years – which is probably a really good sign.

Anyways, enough stalling. Enjoy the content (and also that epic British accent)!

Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Cheers, guys!

Addendum to the Rough First Draft of the General Principles of Magic

This is just a few additions and criticisms of my previous post. You can read it here:

S.P.L.I.F.F. Distillation and Reduction: Rough First Draft of the General Principles of Magick” – http://wp.me/p31b5Q-gx

First, I’d like to start by saying that this is what the General Principles of Magick try to do:

General Principles of Magick are descriptions of “what” and “how”, not “why”. I’m going to return to this towards the end of this post, but in order to do so I need to make a slight detour into a parallel (but a prerequisite) subject. And that is why I didn’t include in my General Principles of Magick a hypothesis as to why magick does what it does, or what magick itself is (whether particles, waves, fields, spirits, information, subtle energy, holographic reality, etc).

For this we’ll need to turn to Sir Isaac Newton once again to see his response when critics asked why he did not include a hypothesis as to what gravity was, what the cause of gravity was, nor how it was able to act over such great distances (and even through objects). Here is his response:

“Hypotheses non fingo” – Sir Isaac Newton, in Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

This quote in Latin from one of the world’s greatest scientists means “I frame no hypotheses”. This was his response to critics when they began to question how Newton could speak about gravity acting from such a great distance, without knowing what the cause of that attraction was.

In fact, to this very day we do not know what the cause of gravity is; gravitons, gravity waves, the Higgs field, curves in space-time, quantum gravity, or even how one or more of these things interact. Or if one, more than one or even none of them is correct. We just don’t know. We may know more than Newton did about gravity today, but we’re still just as much “in the dark” about it’s true causes as he was back in the day.

His response was meant to suggest that it wasn’t necessary that he knew the cause, or that he even propose a hypothesis as to what the cause could be. For a Law of Nature to be true, he argued, it simply need be an accurate way of describing and predicting the behavior of nature, the motion of objects (planets, apples, etc), etc.

Thus, in the spirit of “Hypotheses non fingo” I will also not try to incorporate hypotheses about the causes of magick in the General Principles of Magick. They describe “how” magick can be done, and “what” magick can do – but the General Principles of Magick are not meant to describe “why” magick exists in the first place, nor “why” magick is able to do what it can do.

Any General Principle of Magick that can be framed as a statement of “why” something is the way it is should be reexamined for useful in describing and predicting the properties and behaviors of magick. General Principles of Magick should be framed as statements of “what is”, not “why” something is.

That is because to test a hypothesis we need first a valid theory that is testable in practice and falsifiable, and based on the experimental results (being that said test/experiment results rule out anything other than confirmation or disproof of said theory) greater knowledge regarding the nature of magick can be determined or inferred.

Right now magick cannot be directly measured or tested. Physical objects such as tables and chairs have certain testable properties, like mass, density, speed, angle, spin/rotation, electrical conductivity, reflectivity, chemical reactivity, etc. Magick does not yet have any such testable properties, at least not testable physically (which is to say that taking the word of some mage as to the exact measurements of what they’re visualizing is unacceptable).

Without some way to measure magick without the mage (in order to remove subjectivity from the problem), magick cannot be accurately measured. Moreover, without such a measuring device or measuring units, magick can only ever remain an inexact craft rather than an exact science.

For magick to take the next step, magick must disavow hypotheses untied from evidence (like Subtle Energy, Spirits, etc). Sir Isaac Newton said it best:

[…] For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction.” – Sir Isaac Newton, in Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Newton pushed the scientific revolution with more than good mathematical descriptions of gravity. The real revolution began in admitting our ignorance and framing no hypotheses. Instead of hypothesizing about some cause untied from evidence, based on some physical, metaphysical or occult qualities, Newton proposed we infer propositions from a phenomena, and later render them general by induction.

Definition of Inference – Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/inference

“3. Logic.

  1. the process of deriving the strict logical consequences of assumed premises.
  2. the process of arriving at some conclusion that, though it is not logically derivable from the assumed premises, possesses some degree of probability relative to the premises.
  3. a proposition reached by a process of inference.“

Inference is reaching a conclusion based first upon the evidence, and later by reasoning.

Definition of Induction – Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/induction

“3. Logic.

  1. any form of reasoning in which the conclusion, though supported by the premises, does not follow from them necessarily.
  2. the process of estimating the validity of observations of part of a class of facts as evidence for a proposition about the whole class.
  3. a conclusion reached by this process.“

Induction is making a conclusion about the truth of a general statement by testing it through experimentation. If in an arbitrary number of tests the general statement holds true, than it is accepted as being true in general. This is because there is not an infinite amount of time to test perform an infinite amount of tests with an infinite number of variables and all the combinations thereof.

Therefore induction must be used. If exceptions are found which do not support the general statement, than that statement may require revision or the exception-evidence should be re-examined to determine if other variables are at play and might be interfering with the test of said general statement.


We should begin to accept and incorporate into our study and practice of magick that when we frame no hypotheses, we admit our ignorance. In doing so we create a clear border between what we do know and what we do not, and based on this we can chart our studies and research into the depths of the unknown so we may discover new knowledge.

Without admitting what we truly know and what we do not, we cannot begin to chart a course into the unknown.

Subtle Energy, Spirits, Information… we have no evidence to support this. They are not theories nor accurate Models of Magick – they are hypotheses about why magick is the way it is. We do not need these hypotheses in magick anymore if magick is going to undergo the same kind of revolution it did with Newton.

We need to admit that while we can verify the results (success or failure are both valid results), we cannot measure physical mechanisms by which magick does what it does objectively (read: without the mage). Thus, until physical measurements of magick that are objective (such as a hypothetical magick-measuring tool) can be tested and verified, we cannot begin to theorize as to “why” magick is the way it is.

So we must do what Newton did when he began his study which culminated in his formulating of the Universal Laws of Gravitation. He observed the motion of planets (step 1: observation), made general statements regarding how the planets moved (step 2: inference), as well as predicting what their next motions would be and also the speed at which they moved (step 3: induction), and finally measuring the motions of objects (like planets and their speeds) to see if said measurements supported the predictions made by his general statement regarding his then-proposed Universal Laws of Gravitation (step 4: verification/validation).

These four steps, which were both falsifiable and testable at the time, were proof enough that the Universal Laws of Gravitation were indeed true. Mages should adopt something similar in order to bring the same kind of revolution Newton brought to science, to 21st-century magick.

S.P.L.I.F.F. Distillation and Reduction: Rough First Draft of the General Principles of Magick

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.

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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.

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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.

5) Fire

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.

6) Forget

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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