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A Way with The Wand.
People ask me, “Grand Master Magus, how does one become a Magician?”
I often decline to reply because most of those I have instructed in magic face to face have grown to hate me, either because they failed, or because it worked. Magicians rarely get on with each other for long. The professional jealousy seems even worse than in science.
The answer to the question remains astonishingly simple, you simply pick up something you can designate as a wand and use it until it works, and then you keep on using it.
For many decades I have always carried a Pocket Wand and have recommend that all aspiring magicians first make such a magical sidearm for themselves. The work of the Wand never ceases, and the form of the Wand evolves with time. My current version, about my fifteenth, carries different symbols and consists of different materials from all previous incarnations of the concept.
The Wand concept has at least six components: -
I) The Wand as an instrument of INTENTION. In Magic as in Life, intention counts for everything. The carrying and waving and pointing of a Wand helps to focus both conscious and subconscious intention.
II) The Wand as an instrument of IMAGINATION. Forget about ‘willpower’, you only really succeed if you can summon your imagination to support a course of action.
III) The Wand as an instrument of INSPIRATION. Nothing has ultimate truth. Anything remains possible. Engrave it with meaningful symbols of knowledge and aspiration.
IV) The Wand as an instrument of IDENTITY. If you have a Magic Wand and invest belief in it, you become a Magician – simple as that. However, because you don’t immediately become a brilliant all-powerful magician a concealable pocket wand may prove a convenience.
V) The Wand as an instrument of INVESTIGATION. A Wand, like a person, remains sanctified through continual improvement, add fresh notches and symbols or completely rebuild it as needed.
VI) The Wand as an instrument of IMPROBABILITY. There seems little point in taking up Magic unless you want to achieve something extraordinary, but the Magician achieves the totally improbable by manipulating probabilities in steps rather than by attempting extreme violations of causality, at least to begin with.
A brief interdenominational ritual for the initiation of Wands and Magicians now follows:
Find a suitable length of something that stretches from wrist to about the tip of the middle finger. A piece of wood seems a good place to start although I have made metal versions.
Decide on some meaningful symbols that you can remember and visualise for the following: -
a) Contemplate the Wand awhile and what it represents. Add any additional marks and symbols to the wand as desired.
b) With the Wand draw a circle in the air to surround the participant(s). Say something meaningful about the circle.
c) Utter three or five times the immortal words of Paul Huson’s incantation: -
THIS IS MY MAGIC WAND – I HOPE IT WORKS!
d) Turn to each quarter in turn and at each quarter draw in the air with the Wand something to represent each quarter. Firstly, with open eyes, secondly with closed eyes visualising what you draw, and thirdly with open eyes attempting to visualise as well.
e) Above the circle draw and visualise something to symbolise your highest aspirations, whatever represents ‘the spirit’ of yourself or the universe to you. Pointing at the ground draw and visualise a desire you wish to earth and manifest.
f) Conceal Wand(s). Close Circle.
It doesn’t come much simpler than that, add any meaningful embellishments as desired.
In the Chaos Magic style, we tend to regard all symbolism as human made and with a power entirely dependent on its meaningfulness to the user. We also take the Sir Terry Pratchett bottom line on Magic (he knew more about it than any mere novelist has a right to) that anyone can do it with a bit of effort, belief, and imagination.
The Way of the Wand.
Religion seeks knowledge and power through the understanding of the will of Supernatural Agencies.
Science seeks knowledge and power through the understanding of Natural Mechanisms.
Magic seeks knowledge and power through the understanding of Intents – personal intents, the intents of others, and the intents of natural phenomena.
On a superficial level, all three disciplines loathe and despise each other. Scientists dismiss the existence of supernatural agencies and the existence of intents (including free-will). Religionists loathe and despise the reductionism of scientists and regard the hubris of magicians as evil and blasphemous. Magicians consider science incomplete and regard all religious ideas as rather arbitrary vehicles for Intent.
Many people who express an interest in Magic only really want the consolations of religion and mysticism and something ‘spiritual’ - whatever that may mean.
If spirituality means ‘the way you live your life’ then Magic certainly has its own ‘spirituality’ – ‘Living your life by Intent’ - making things happen by all available means.
We should not confuse Intent with ‘willpower’ as in some early 20th century definitions of Magic. Both willpower and Intent arise from Imagination. The capacity to imagine what you want, consciously and subconsciously, and the imagination to build on that to the exclusion of other needs and wants and fears and distractions, leads to the knowledge and the power of Intent.
One thing marks out Magicians from the Scientists and the Religiously inclined. Magicians constantly practice Enchantment; they cast spells all the time. They may also practise Divination, the attempt to divine the intentions of people and events, or Invocation, the attempt to draw inspiration from imaginary supernatural agencies or their own sub-consciousnesses, or Evocation, the attempt to control the intent of imaginary supernatural agencies or their own sub-consciousnesses, but Enchantment remains the defining activity of a Magician.
For this reason, effective magical training programs always start with Enchantment and the use of wands and spells and sigils. Only those who truly ‘pick up the wand and run with it’ will ever master the life skill of Magical Intent. The rest will just end up toying with tarot cards and the like and creating their own idiosyncratic mysticisms and religions.
A Magician can do Enchantment without a literal physical magic wand, in the same way that anyone can do simple carpentry with their bare hands by breaking and twisting small pieces of wood together, but precision instruments give better results.
As the traditional instrument of Enchantment, the Wand serves several purposes; the magician can use it to focus more intently when drawing spells and sigils in the air, or in the mind’s eyes of imagination and visualisation. Wands also serve to constantly remind Magicians of their chosen vocation to Live their lives by Intent, whatever the distractions and blandishments and fears and conventions of contemporary life.
A Magician should always make Wands that represent personal intents and meanings. Two Wands will often suffice, a large one in the form of a staff of the Magician’s own height for use in private or special places, and a smaller pocket wand for carrying always. Magicians should consider upgrading their wands continuously during their careers as their skills and knowledge and intents develop.
A Wand does not even have to look like a conventional Wizard’s wand. Some Magicians have successfully defined special objects in the shape of rings or amulets or even weapons as their Wands.
Magic does not always work, but on the other hand Religious appeals to supernatural agencies work even less well, and Science frequently fails to do what we want it to because we inhabit a universe with a lot of randomness in it. This randomness has two consequences for the Magician, it makes Enchantment possible, but it also renders Divination subject to probability.
If only a fifth of your spells work or you find that you can only achieve a twenty percent distortion of probability, then you still have a real power that with persistent and subtle application will yield good results. If, however only a fifth of your Divinations give the correct answer then you will acquire a disability if you act upon them.
Additionally, because of the existence of randomness and probability, Enchantments work best when aimed well into the future whilst Divination gives better results over shorter times, so as I always say, whenever possible - ‘Enchant Long and Divine Short’. Of course, Magicians would prefer to Enchant and get a result quickly and to have the ability to Divine the distant future, but the chaos and randomness in this universe which makes Enchantment possible makes these acts difficult.
Taking the Way of The Wand means living in a universe of Intents and challenging yourself to succeed at difficult activities that require some sensitivity to the Intents of others and the Intents of human made systems and the Intents of physical reality, as well as a quiet self-confidence and a well disguised supreme arrogance.
Magicians rarely succeed in working together for long. Rivalry tends to become enmity. Magic tends to become a solitary pursuit shared only through books and manuscripts and letters. Humans tend to revile or ridicule or fear those who advertise themselves as Magicians in Science based cultures, and in monotheist Religious cultures, and not all Pagan cultures have regarded it favourably. Magic thus tends toward discretion if not outright secrecy.
Nevertheless, many magicians smile quietly when they notice ordinary people inadvertently using magical thinking quite successfully. Belief in the power of Intent and belief that all phenomena have Intents does often give good results, even if Science believes otherwise and denies even human free will. Believing in Intent seems an indispensable element in the human toolkit but use it with care and with a carefully crafted Wand for best effect.
Ordinary people seem to recognise the power of Intent but so often see to shy away from it out of fear about where it might lead them. It does have its dangers, but the Magician decides To Know, To Imagine, To Dare, and To Keep Silent.
The damned arte of trying or pretending to communicate with the spirits of the dead has contaminated the great work of magic since its beginning.
In the late 19th century and during the 20th century, magic began to part company with necromancy in the west, in large part due to the efforts of Macgregor Mathers and the adepts of the Golden Dawn. They seemed to have viewed spiritualism with the derision it deserves and did not in general dabble in necromancy, despite that the PPN (Platonic Pagan-Monotheist) theory underlying their paradigm could have supported it.
Some of the magicians whose work contributed to the Golden Dawn corpus did dabble in necromancy for a while but with inconclusive results. Dee attempted to re-animate a graveyard corpse and communicate with it, and Eliphas Levi attempted to invoke the long dead magician Apollonius of Tyana.
Necromancy seems to persisted since at least the time of Stone Age ancestor veneration, through the Shamanic practices of contacting ancestral spirits, through Pagan magical practices of invoking various named dead people for information or favours, through Roman Catholic invocation of dead saints for similar purposes, to the spiritualist practices which developed in the 1840s in America and became prevalent on the fringes of many Protestant Christian cultures.
The Roman Catholics of course banned necromancy except where it involved the myths and bodily relics of official Christian Saints. Rather wisely perhaps, they decided that any other form of necromancy invokes only ‘demons’ masquerading as dead people. Nevertheless Catholicism still makes much of praying for the souls of the dead to ease their passage through the purgatory that Catholicism has in store for them, so long as the non-sainted dead don’t speak back of course.
The medieval tradition of the Goetia and the Grimoires developed within Catholicism and advocated the invocation of the dead and demons on a more or less interchangeable basis. Despite the apparent evil, the necromancer invoked in the name of the Neoplatonic most high, the supreme one-ness or godhead, even when conjuring devils or the dead to supply wealth, favours, fresh females, or revenge upon enemies. Macgregor Mathers did of course provide a modern translation of both Keys of Solomon, but seemingly more for scholastic interest than for use by the Golden Dawn. Necromancy depends for much of its effect on the gnosis of fear and transgression, the high anxiety of forbidden work with demons and corpses in graveyards in darkness.
As the Protestant Christian view of ‘The Afterlife’ became progressively more dismissive of hellfire and brimstone, and increasingly vague and unspecified, so did spiritualism grow into the mucky and exploitative business of reassuring the living that their dead remained happy and in heaven and up for intermediated conversation for a fee. Both world wars caused a big spike in business.
Esoteric interaction with the dead seems to have gone forth (and sometimes back) along an interesting trajectory during human history. The dead human body seems to evoke a certain fear and disgust response for good evolutionary reasons, fear of death and fear of disease from corpses increases survival prospects. Plus grief at loss, and/or guilt or a sense of unfinished business, all play their part in our attitudes to the dead. Humanity has at various times, feared the dead, placated the dead, revered or worshipped the dead, tried to control the dead with hells and heavens and purgatories, and tried to get the dead to give information or favours.
In the modern QNP (Quantum Neo-Pagan) Magical Paradigm, ‘Spirits’ cannot exist in the old-fashioned Neoplatonic sense. Living creatures and natural phenomena do have their non-local quantum wave-functions which the magician can sometimes interact with, but such ‘aetheric’ or ‘astral’ manifestations of reality depend on the existence of the physical forms; they do not predate them in the Platonic or Neo-Platonic sense, and they do not survive their destruction. All Gods and gods and goddesses and ghosts and demons exist as Imaginary Friends (and enemies) within human minds, yet they can still have quite astonishing psychological and parapsychological effects.
Thus the Roman Catholics inadvertently got it right about getting ‘demons’ when you conjure the dead. The dead no longer exist to respond, so you will at best simply achieve a reanimation of your memories and expectations of the dead in your subconscious, a Tulpa or created thought form, as the Tibetan magicians call it.
If necromancers really could get objective information from the dead then an enormous demand would exist for them in all parts of the world to assist in murder investigations.
Imaginary friends, Tulpas, and various gods and servitors can prove of considerable use and value to the magician, so long as the magician doesn’t fall into the trap of regarding them as objectively real and of uncritically accepting their advice, for then they really do become demons in the worst sense of the word, amplifying aspects of the magicians subconscious beyond their original remit and creating obsessions.
However we now have every reason to conclude that the dead persist only in our memories and imaginations of them. Eliphas Levi seems to have more or less realised this and tried to develop a theory of magic that depended on some sort of ‘Astral Light’ and the personal efforts of the magician, rather than entirely upon the celestial legions of the dead, the demonic, and the archangelic. The adepts of the Golden Dawn seem to have come to similar conclusions, and Crowley disdained to play around with necromancy.
The presence of the belief in life after death in many ancient and modern religions doesn’t make it so. No attempt to describe a disembodied afterlife in detail really makes any sense at all; (try it), it just makes a comforting (or frightening) contra-evidential belief. The appeal of necromancy to modern magicians, who should know better, lies entirely in its gothic necro-charisma and dark glamour - the frisson of fear. This can prove profitable in spooking the gullible, but spooking yourself with it just seems adolescent.
Work with necromancy and goetia only really gives personal effects if you persistently invoke the gnosis of fear, and this can upset the autonomic nervous system, leading to the skinny pallor and fidgety persona characteristic of high cortisol/anxiety levels. It doesn’t lead to self-understanding or much in the way of magical ability to interact with reality.
Here on Wizard’s Isle we have led the world in magic and esoterics for the last century or more. Theosophy, The Golden Dawn, Thelema, Modern Hermetics, Wicca, Neo-Paganism, Neo-Druidry and Chaos Magic all originated here, and they have all done much to call into question the conventional stupidities of established religions and the default assumptions of materialism, but the UK seems unlikely to become the home of a revival of the murky art of necromancy.
The magical revival which grew out of romanticism in the 1880s and which set the scene for the magical revival in the counter-culture of the late 20th century, attracted intelligent alternative thinkers precisely because of its rejection of the necromancy that had always featured in magic till then, and had made it look increasingly deluded to the modern mind.
The necromancy which features heavily in the Greek Magical Papyri would have, in Sir Terry Pratchett’s terms, qualified as the ‘Dragon Magic’ (i.e. the metaphysical ‘Rocket Science’) of Hellenic magic. Planetary Magic became the ‘Dragon Magic’ of the Renaissance. Stellar Magic, the attempt to interact with extra-terrestrial sources of consciousness and intelligence, may perhaps become the ‘Dragon Magic’ of the future.
As we enter the third millennium we find ourselves in an increasingly dynamic religious marketplace. Many traditional faiths have either retreated into fundamentalism or have undergone various reformations, whilst new faiths have attempted to establish themselves and ancient faiths have attracted numerous attempts at revivalism.
Rarely since the days of the late Roman Empire have so many faiths come into creative and destructive confrontation with each other, and rarely have we seen so much innovation in matters of faith and ideology and in religious and mystical practise.
This essay evolves from three main sources, firstly perhaps from late night undergraduate philosophical discussions some forty years ago when my companions and I joked about creating new religions for fun and profit. This occurred in a cultural milieu in which traditional religions had come under severe question and novel and imported cults abounded. Secondly it comes from my experiences in trying to develop better ways of thinking about and practising magic. Perhaps inevitably I became involved in initiatives to broaden the basic ideas of this new magic (Chaos Magic) into a more comprehensive world view that encompassed some of the traditional territory of religion. Thirdly it comes from my experience of numerous groups which have attempted to set up magical and mystical traditions, many of which have sprung from a similar cultural milieu as Chaos Magic.
Whether any of these traditions survives and prospers probably depends on how well they can satisfy the fairly broad demands that humans have when it comes to something to invest belief in.
The meme-sphere of humanities ideas and beliefs exhibits the usual power law distribution; we see many faiths with wildly varying numbers of followers involved. We have everything from a few major faiths with a billion or a few million adherents, to several million faiths with as few as a handful or just a single adherent each. Even beneath the umbrellas of the major faiths we observe major schisms and factionalisms between various doctrinal interpretations and forms of practise.
Epochs of social change and eras of interfaces between cultures always produces fresh thoughts, and as human culture globalises itself through enhanced communication and travel we witness a plethora of conceptions of faith and religious practices today, sometimes these interact in creative interface and sometimes they enter into deadly conflict with each other.
Nowadays we cannot discount the contemporary influence of the belief systems of various interpretations of science and secularism and the resultant humanisms (and in-humanisms) that have derived from it, for these have had a profound influence on metaphysics and morality since the Enlightenment.
I would guess that on top of all the advertised and census declared faith allegiances we probably have at least a billion humans who basically use some version of a semi-scientific paradigm as their basic modus operandi and worldview, but they have retained vestiges of old faiths or added bits and pieces from new or revived mystical ideas on top or underneath of that.
Perhaps it takes a dispassionate scientific observer to unravel the various strands of thought and practise in all these old and new faiths.
Writing in New Scientist Number 2805, the columnist Kate Douglas draws on the work of several commentators and poses the question ‘What form would the ideal religion take?’ This forms part of a larger article called Total Reboot. This ‘Total Reboot’ article speculates that many of the structures of our civilisation have not evolved to function as well as they might; and that if we tried to design them from scratch now we would probably try something else. In fact large numbers of people do seem engaged in trying to evolve designer religions by various pick and mix and trial and error methods these days, either to merely satisfy themselves or to attract more widespread interest in their conclusions.
So what ingredients do religions actually have, and what can they have, and what would constitute the ideal religion?
Kate Douglas identifies five major components, most of which occur to some extent in most religions.
1) ‘SACRED PARTY’. Roman Catholicism specialises in this with its vestments, decorations, rituals, bells and smells and sacraments and music and song, as do many oriental religions. Islam and the more puritan Protestant forms of Christianity often tend to downplay this aspect. Modern Witchcraft and Paganism often tend to play it up to the max, adding dance and other forms of celebration, with occasional reference to the purported orgiastic rites of ancient cultures, and to similar events alleged to have occurred in other historical anti-mainstream religious cults.
2) ‘THERAPY’. Most religions have prayers or meditations designed to have psychological effects and some go further with rituals of healing or the casting out of evil spirits or of sins and guilt and the invocation of more desirable states of mind. Many of the New-Age traditions place great emphasis on the psychotherapeutic virtues of meditation techniques and themes derived from esoteric and mystical traditions and often discard much of the traditional symbolism that once accompanied them.
3) ‘MYSTICAL QUEST’. Some forms of Buddhism place emphasis on enlightenment for all, but because intense mysticism often leads to schism, many religions reserve it for specialists only such as Monks and Nuns, Sufis, Kabbalists and Saddhus. Nevertheless some religions do use practices designed to create ecstatic experiences and revelation, but without theological discipline such practices can prove immiscible with the structure of the religion. The Thelemic faith places great emphasis on the discovery of true will, and like all tantalising quest objectives such as enlightenment it remains rather imprecisely defined. Christian salvation remains somewhat paradoxical as well as the better you get at it the higher they raise the bar, despite that it seems a sort of all or nothing event.
4) ‘SCHOOL’. The study or even the mere rote learning and recitation of scripture, myth, and lore feature in all religions and in most religious ceremonies. Judaism and Islam specialise in this, although in Catholicism the laity receive no encouragement to study scripture. Scholastic reinforcement of belief and practise becomes particularly problematical for new, revisionist, or revived religions, where alternative ideas may lack solid historical justification and require an act of selective attention and faith to have an effect. Christianity rather cheekily simply bolted on the old Judaic scriptures to create a larger cannon of study for itself.
5) ‘MAGIC’. All religions contain some ideas or doctrines that seem to transcend the principles of science or the everyday expectations of common sense. Miracles or at least strangely improbable events seem to characterise the founding myths of most religions. Most religions reserve the right to pray or hope for extraordinary intercession. Contra-reasonable beliefs characterise all religions and magical-mystical enterprises. Sometimes these depend on the supposed powers of various deities; sometimes they supposedly depend on the quality of the faith of their adherents or on some innate and barely recognised powers, such as Baraka, Chi, Holiness, Kia, or latterly, Quantum Coherence.
Either way, religions often provide the hope and the motivation to achieve what seems impossible by normal means, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We still lack comprehensive theories of our own Psychological and Para-psychological abilities and limits.
The human enterprise goes on, we stumble into the darkness, lighting fires where we can, perhaps hoping for life after death, physical immortality, reincarnation, virgin birth, miracles, or just low level wish fulfilment, and answered prayers.
Personally I would add several other features to Kate’s list:
6) ‘OTHERNESS’. As the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinkowski observed, ‘Ritual Language has a High Coefficient of Weirdness’, it usually resumes archaic or mysterious forms, as does the entire process of religious practise. Such practices usually stand outside of everyday behaviour and employ strange clothing, unusual architecture, and peculiar postures and movements as well, to denote their special-ness, sacredness, and their separation from ordinary life. The Catholic abandonment of Latin Mass does seem a mistake in this respect, the Protestant retention of archaic Old Testament language from the King James Bible looks like an attempt to capitalise on this effect. Religion needs its own idiosyncratic poetry.
7) ‘SACRIFICE’. Kate Douglas touches on this briefly when mentioning groups which demand bodily mutilation or which have traumatic initiation rites, observing that if members have to pay a high entry price they tend to become more committed. However there seems more to it than that. All religions seem to embody some sort of notion of exchange or sacrifice. Simple ideas of making material offerings and blood sacrifices to make bargains with deities, or at least to attract their favour, tend to give way to more sophisticated concepts of self-denial or investment of effort to achieve similar metaphysical effects and to deepen the sense of investment in, and commitment to the religion. Virtually all religions have rules about earthy behaviour, usually concerning various taboos about what you should or should not eat, and with whom you should and should not have sexual activity. Thus they enforce certain concepts of sacrificing some natural desires or pleasures for metaphysical gain or to reinforce social identity.
8) ‘WORLDLY QUEST’. Most religions have some kind of agenda in the world as well as some form of mystical quest. Usually such worldly quests have extremely challenging if not impossible objectives such as world conquest in the name of the faith, or world peace, or global enlightenment, or the establishment of the kingdom of heaven or ecological paradise on earth. Thus the majority of religions exhibit some tendency to proselytise with varying degrees of enthusiasm or aggression.
Now perhaps we can see why raw Scientism has failed to completely capture the imagination of modern humans, and why all attempts to create entirely rational or ’sensible’ religions have failed. Perhaps we can also see why so many novel cults and religions rarely manage to ensure their own survival if they fail to broaden the base of their appeal.
They simply do not tick enough of the above 8 boxes.
By Peter Carroll
Chaos Magic for the Pandaemeon
In Chaos Magic, beliefs are not seen as ends in themselves, but as
tools for creating desired effects. To fully realize this is to face
a terrible freedom in which Nothing is True and Everything is
Permitted, which is to say that everything is possible, there are no
certainties, and the consequences can be ghastly. Laughter seems to
be the only defence against the realisation that one does not even
have a real self.
The purpose of Chaos Rituals is to create beliefs by acting as
though such beliefs were true. In Chaos Rituals you Fake it till you
Make it, to obtain the power that a belief can provide. Afterwards,
if you have any sense, you will laugh it off, and seek the requisite
beliefs for whatever you want to do next, as Chaos moves you.
Thus Chaoism proclaims the Death and Rebirth of the Gods. Our
subconscious creativity and parapsychological powers are more than
adequate to create or destroy any god or self or demon or other
"spritual" entity that we may choose to invest or disinvest belief
in, at least for ourselves and sometimes others as well. The
frequently awesome results attaining by creating gods by act of
ritually behaving as though they exist should not lead the Chaos
magician into the abyss of attributing ultimate reality to anything.
That is the transcendentalist mistake,, which leads to the narrowing
of the spectrum of the self. The real awesomeness lies in the range
of things we can discover ourselves capable of, even if we may
temporarily have to believe the effects are due to something else,
in order to be able to create them. The gods are dead. Long live the
Magic appeals to those with a great deal of hubris and a fertile
imagination coupled with a strong suspicion that both reality and
human condition have a game like quality. The game is open ended,
and plays itself for amusement. Players can make up their own rules
to some extent, and cheat by using parapsychology if desired.
A magician is one who has sold his soul for the chance of
participating more fully in reality. Only when nothing is true, and
the idea of a true self is abandoned, does everything become
permitted. There is some accuracy in the Faust myth, but he failed
to take it to its logical conclusion.
It takes only the acceptance of a single belief to make someone a
magician. It is the meta-belief that belief is a tool for achieving
effects. This effect is often far easier to observe in others than
in oneself. It is usually quite easy to see how other people, and
indeed entire cultures, are both enabled and disabled by the beliefs
they hold. Beliefs tend to lead to activities which tend to
reconfirm belief in a circle they call virtuous rather than vicious,
even if the results are not amusing. The first stage of seeing
through the game can be a shocking enlightenment that leads either
to a weary cynicism or Buddhism. The second stage of actually
applying the insight to oneself can destroy the illusion of the soul
and create a magician. The realisation that belief is a tool rather
than an end in itself has immense consequences if fully accepted.
Within the limits set by physical possibility, and these limits are
wider and more malleable than most people believe, one can make real
any beliefs one chooses, including contradictionary beliefs. The
Magician is not striving for any particular limited identity goal,
rather he wants the meta-identity of being able to be anything.
So welcome to the Kali Yuga of the Pandaemonaeon wherein nothing is
true and everything is permissable. For in these post-absolutist
days it is better to build upon the shifting sands than the rock
which will confound you on the day it shatters. Philosophers have
become no more than the keepers of useful sarcasms, for the secret
is out that there is no secret of the universe. All is Chaos and
evolution is going nowhere in particular. It is pure chance which
rules the universe and thus, and only thus, is life good. We are
born accidentally into a random world where only seeming causes lead
to apparent effects, and very little is predetermined, thank Chaos.
As everything is arbitrary and accidental then perhaps these words
are too small and pejorative, rather we should perhaps say that life,
the universe and everything is spontaneously creative and magical.
Relishing stochastic reality we can revel exclusively in magical
definitions of existence. The roads of excess may yet lead to the
place of wisdom, and many indeterminate things can happen on the way
to thermodynamic equilibrium. It is vain to seek solid ground on
which to stand. Solidity is an illusion, as is the foot which stands
on it, and the self which thinks it owns either is the most
transparent illusion of all.
The heavy vessels of faith are holed and sinking along with all
lifeboats and ingenious rafts. So will you shop at the supermarket
of sensation and let your consumer preferences define your true
self? Or will you in a bold and lighthearted fashion, thieve from
both for the fun of it? For belief is a tool for achieving whatever
one chooses to consider important or pleasurable, and sensation has
no other purpose than sensation. Thus help yourself to them without
paying the price. Sacrifice Truth for Freedom at every opportunity.
The greatest fun, freedom and achievement lies not being yourself.
There is little merit in simply being whomsoever you were destined
to be by accident of birth and circumstance. Hell is the condition
of having no alternatives.
Reject then the obscenities of contrived uniformity, order and
purpose. Turn and face the tidal wave of Chaos from which
philosophers have been fleeing in terror for millennia. Leap in and
come out surfing its crest, sporting amidst the limitless weirdness
and mystery in all things, for those who reject false certainties.
Thank Chaos we shall never exhaust it. Create, destroy, enjoy,
And so, on to The Paradigm Problem: -
Adapting our ideas and brain functions for the long and painful climb from hunter gathering lifestyles to exploiters of general relativity and quantum physics has not proved straightforward or easy. We still bear the scars and vestiges of our neurological and psychological adaptations.
Platonism rose to become the esoteric metaphysic of choice in the Hellenic west during the last few centuries B.C. because it provided a more effective mental tool than the animist and spiritist thinking that had informed pagan societies as they became progressively more urbanised.
Animist and spiritist thinking remains concrete, phenomenological, and immanent-ist. All phenomena exist ‘just as they are because they are’ and they have powers intrinsic to themselves. Yet these powers can remain subject to transfer by contagion, as for example when a shaman or priest dresses in a bear’s skin to borrow its ‘powers’. Such thinking still influences modern humans to some small extent.
Platonism supports abstract thinking. By positing the separate existence of the ‘essences’ of phenomena it allowed people to conceptualise such things as ‘the personal self’, and interesting abstract ideas like ‘justice’ and ‘mathematical principles’. It also supported the rise of monotheistic religion by positing the idea of a supreme essence, from which lesser essences devolve. Basically in Platonism ‘whatever you can think of’ acquires some sort of a transcendental reality as an ‘essence’, and sometimes as a ‘sentient essence’ as well.
However despite that it encourages abstract thinking, Platonism exhibits a serious flaw, most of its ideas remain untestable and unfalsifiable. The Platonists strove to create a corpus of ideas based merely on self-consistency, with insufficient reference to observed reality.
Neoplatonism, which arose in first few the centuries A.D, devolved from Platonism and it extended the basic idea of essences into all sorts of esoteric realms where it gave rise to Hermeticism, Kabballah, and Gnosticism. In these the essences multiply to create complicated schemes of emanations and archetypes based on pagan style deities, archons, demiurges, and a supreme transcendental monad or whatever.
Unfortunately Neoplatonism comes with few mechanisms for discerning between useful and useless abstractions, and it quite rapidly became fixated upon the supposed ‘essences’ of things like earth, air, fire, and water, or upon the supposed ‘essences’ of the classical ‘planets’ and the ‘essences’ of twelve zodiacal divisions of the ecliptic. Despite the very poor explanatory and predictive power of such schemes of ‘essences’ this style of thinking persisted for nearly two thousand years. It still persists as a rather sloppy form of common speech and thinking. We tend to attribute classes of attributes or ‘essences’ to phenomena as a kind of shortcut in our thinking. Phenomena remain mutable, not fixed by essence. People change continually throughout life, culture and circumstance determines behaviour far more profoundly than star-sign or race. We obviously don’t actually have fixed selves or souls or ‘essences’. Watch a child grow, or more disturbingly, watch dementia take an elderly person.
The attempt to discern the nature of the supposed ‘essence’ underlying the entire universe has involved a great deal of anthropomorphic projection and wishful thinking and it has left us with the chocolate screwdriver idea of a monotheistic God with a capital G. It may promise comfort and control, but what in heck does God actually DO apart from that? Huge natural disasters and small tawdry miracles?
Do gods and goddesses and spirits and demons actually exist as anything other than imaginary friends? As imaginary friends they can still serve to inspire and empower us as I repeatedly point out in The Esotericon and Portals of Chaos, and I have several of them myself, but where lies the extraordinary evidence required to go beyond that into the belief in their objective existence?
Astrology appeared as another chocolate screwdriver, or perhaps worse. The idea that each twelfth of humanity has certain characteristics dependent on conditions of birth now seems as indefensible as racism. It has no predictive power whatsoever beyond the obvious calendrical/seasonal associations.
Neoplatonism represents an improvement on crude animism & spritism but it now seems a debilitating and ineffective way of thinking.
Its corpus of ideas remains more or less untestable and unfalsifiable for whenever it appears to give poor results it tends to spawn ever more complex and evasive explanations, and as a general principle any unfalsifiable idea of this kind has very little predictive power at all.
The translation of the bible into vernacular languages provoked people to question the Neoplatonic assumptions that became incorporated into it during the first few centuries A.D. This led to Protestantism and the beginning of the end of the whole Neoplatonist paradigm which Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity had bought into. A British Protestant Parliament eventually required that any prospective member of its parliament would have to refute the doctrine of transubstantiation, the idea that a consecrated host actually embodied the actual ‘essence’ of the sacrificed body and blood of Christ, and instead compromise with the idea that it merely symbolised it.
This might seem an uncontentious and trivial theological point to many today, but the idea behind it led to the abandonment of Neoplatonism and Aristotelian theory (derived from pure thinking largely uninformed by objective observation), and this led to Empirical Science, the Royal Society, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, some Freedom of Conscience, and eventually to Democracy of a sort. Parallel developments took place over much of north-western Europe, despite ferocious Papal resistance initially.
The magical revival of the 1880s, initiated mainly by Macgregor Mathers of the Golden Dawn, represents the last high water mark of Neoplatonic thought, and from it most of the western esoteric traditions of the twentieth century descend. However the cracks in it already seemed visible at the time and a recession of the high tide seemed inevitable. Psychological insights into the mechanisms of esoterics began to arise upon the examination of oriental mystical practices and the Golden Dawn manuscripts and practices seem to imply in places that the adept can more or less manufacture gods and spirits to order, as many of them effectively went on to do so.
Plus of course most of the occultists of the late nineteenth century revival adopted Neoplatonism as a Romantic alternative to the Mechanistic thinking which came with the Industrial Revolution, Darwinism, Thermodynamics, and the emerging Social Sciences. They mostly came from such privileged backgrounds that ineffectual styles of thought did not immediately incur serious consequences, and some of their art came out rather well.
Yet the Neoplatonic theory of ‘essences’ or abstract ‘forms’ ceases to provide an competitive mental tool in a world increasingly dominated by evidence based Mechanistic thinking.
Only perhaps when we don’t understand a mechanism, or where mechanism seems absent and the phenomena seem random, does it seem worth trying the Neoplatonic paradigm, because it developed for precisely such purposes.
If you try and interact with people or machinery or institutions or natural phenomena on the basis that they operate on supposed intrinsic essences you will interact less effectually unless your theory of essences has an equal sophistication to theories of mechanism.
Essentialist type thinking had many seriously deleterious consequences, for example look at the underlying scheme of Humoral Medicine shown above. It derives from the ideas of Empoedocles' 'elements' and it survived as standard medical theory from the time of Hippocrates till the 19th century. Few of the concepts on it relate very directly to any definite observable physical substances, rather they relate vaguely to the supposed essences of substances. Only the tendency for most people to recover from most medical conditions regardless of ineffectual or mildly injurious 'treatments' kept it alive for 2 millenia.
This has created a big problem for the alternative types who re-adopted Neoplatonism in the late twentieth century esoteric revival. They often didn’t have the same resources as the wealthy Victorian bohemian classes had, and the western world had become far more demanding of adherence to a Mechanistic outlook. You can barely survive and prosper in it now without decent arithmetic, endless form filling, and button pushing.
Of course some people order most of their daily lives with Mechanistic thinking and reserve the Neoplatonic style for their religious, mystical and artistic interests. However the more they let the Neoplatonic style influence their everyday activities the more of a mess they seem to get into by using a set of unfalsifiable ideas that have very low predictive power.
If you cannot really test the idea that a certain phenomenon somehow represents a manifestation of the metaphysical elemental essence of say ‘earth’ then the whole concept has very little predictive or decision making power.
The magnificent edifice of late nineteenth century esoterics that Mathers created left a dual legacy. Some accepted parts of it wholesale and continue to paper over the cracks in the Neoplatonism that it partly exposes. Others accepted its welcome eclecticism and have since gone on to struggle with its metaphysical framework and update it.
One of the great challenges for Magical theorists lies in developing a metaphysic that remains compatible with Science and Existentialism.
Existentialism, for all its association with association with verbose and miserable French left bank philosophers, comes down to basically the insight that phenomena don’t actually have essences. We don’t have souls or real selves and neither do things in general, phenomena consist just of what they actually do, they don’t also have a separate abstract form of ‘being’, except in our minds.
So if phenomena lack any form of ‘otherness’ what can you base occultism or esoterics or magical ideas on?
Fortunately Science itself now comes to the rescue in a way that it couldn’t have done a century ago.
Unfortunately this new paradigm can often sound as contra-intuitive to the non-scientist as Neoplatonism now does to someone trained in science.
Basically, all physical phenomena do have an ‘otherness’ as well, but it consists of a ‘wave-function’ that we cannot directly observe. This may not sound as exciting as the idea that every phenomenon has an associated ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’, but it has far more explanatory and predictive power and it actually leads to more effective Magic,( and to more effective Science as well incidentally).
The wave function of any phenomenon carries information about the possible pasts, parallel superposed presents, and possible futures of that phenomenon. Moreover the wave function can have non-local effects in space and time and interact with other wave functions.
Mysteries come in three varieties:
Good questions to which we don’t yet have any answers.
Good questions to which we have answers that don’t really make sense.
Questions that involve dubious assumptions and to which we have answers that don’t really make sense either.
Science and good magic have mysteries in all three categories. Neoplatonism has no mysteries of the first type; it has ‘explanations’ for everything.
In Chaos Magic we treat Belief as a Tool of Magic, rather than as an end in itself.
Hassan I Sabbah: -‘Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted.’ - (Attributed to the Old Man of the Mountains.)
Psychology: -Thoughts are not Facts. Belief attracts Confirmation. - (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Positive Thinking).
Chaos Magic: -Nothing has Ultimate Truth. Anything Remains Possible. NUTARP! - (We prefer the precision of V–Prime language and thought. After all, nothing really ‘is’ anything else.)
Of course in a probability based universe such as this, some things remain more possible than others. Fortunately we can precisely calculate how much probability distortion a given act of magic will produce using the following equations of magic: -
Where means the probability of accomplishing something with magic; and P equals the probability of the events natural occurrence, and Ψ equals the amount of magic applied to the situation. ‘Spell’ refers to enchantment to encourage something to happen, and ‘Antispell’ refers to enchantment to prevent something from occurring. In divination P simply represents the probability of guessing the answer by chance alone.
The equations of magic give rise to three dimensional graphs, the first of which, traditionally known as The Tripod of Stokastikos, shows that even an event with zero probability of natural occurrence can occur under the influence of sufficient magic.
Unfortunately the ‘ingredients’ of Ψ do not equate to easily measurable phenomena: -
Where G equals Gnosis, two particular altered states of consciousness, L means the magical Link, S means Subliminal-isation of intent, and B means Belief.
To achieve maximisation of all these factors the magician may in practise need wands, robes, visualisations, symbolic systems, siglis, barbaric languages, rituals, and other means of egress from normal states of mind, even though in theory a supreme exponent of magic could achieve it all whilst sitting quietly in a chair, rather like a mathematician working without pencil or paper, wastepaper basket, blackboard, geometry instruments, books of reference, or a computer.
In a technique somewhat analogous to a mathematician using the vast store of axioms, theorems and conjectures developed by other mathematicians and suggested by nature, magicians evoke and invoke various real and imaginary entities, archetypes, and egregores on the basis of the experimental belief that the universe probably contains something somewhere that knows how to do anything, or to confer any knowledge or ability the magician might require.
Just what that something might consist of remains a subject of ongoing debate and metaphysical taste. In some cultures magicians have appealed to the ancestors or the dead, or to the spirits of totemic animals or natural phenomena. In others they have invoked entities from the pantheons of pagan gods or the saints and lesser spirits of monotheistic religions.
Some contemporary magicians prefer to experiment with the belief that their own subconscious either contains astonishing knowledge and power and/or that it can somehow tap into such things using some sort of quantum non local psychic network. This can include sources of alien extra-terrestrial intelligence as well.
Either way, such ‘Spirit Guides’ seem best interfaced with by personifying them as animate entities, as our neurophysiology has largely evolved for just such forms of interaction.
Work with entities requires considerable skill and discrimination. As with people, some talk rubbish, behave unreliably, and have only menial abilities, whilst others display towering genius, have extraordinary abilities, and seem worth cultivating as lifelong friends and allies.
When evaluating work with entities the magician always needs to ask, ‘Do I get out at least as much or more than I put into this relationship, do my evoked servitors actually distort probability in the required direction, do my invoked gods and goddesses, daemons and demons actually inspire me to accomplish more than I could by ordinary means?’
Whilst the supreme exponent of magic could in principle invoke or evoke anything by pure will and imagination alone, many of us seem to end up with a temple full of such tools as circles and triangles, tomes of mythology, servitor ground-sleeves, and images and sculptures of ancient, syncretic, and synthetic god-forms and demon fetishes.
For an extensive Grimoire of entities suitable for Invocation and Evocation see https://www.specularium.org/peter-j-carroll/the-epoch
All esoteric phenomena from gods to demons to spirits and spells consist of relationships between self and reality. There, I have given you the final secret of the Illuminati for free.
Having answered the same three questions several hundred times in the same way over the last 3 decades I now place the answers in the public domain as I have a great many other matters to attend to.
Positive thinking works. Negative thinking works even better and Paranoia works absolutely brilliantly as a magical theory. If you imagine a conspiracy against you, you will soon end up manufacturing one for real. You will loose friends and allies and things will go wrong for you.
I have come across very few examples of genuine magical attack in my entire career. In almost every case it boils down to the supposed victim getting things wildly out of proportion and letting their fear, guilt, or paranoia, or self importance run away with them.
In my experience very few people have the skill and the motivation to launch a successful magical attack. If they do have that sort of skill they actually do something else instead. They simply work to change the behaviour of the person that creates a problem for them. Anyone with the skill and intelligence to perform real sorcery will turn an adversary into a resource rather than a casualty. Thieves are fools and murderers are romantics, for both could achieve their aims more effectively by other means. Serious capable sorcerers simply change people’s minds.
And that of course also provides the only real means of defence against it as well.
To solve this one you will find it more effective to change yourself rather than the other person. A male needs to project power to appear attractive, power can appear in the form of intellect, wealth, social standing, or as some other strength. A female needs to project beauty and/or an engaging personality. So work on these, cast spells, and put yourself in the way of the target. If that doesn’t work then the other person remains unworthy of your efforts, and you can do better. Never try to get a broken love back, unless you can completely change the terms and conditions.
Work + Money + Magical Spells = More Money.
However you can do it with any two of them. Do not blaspheme money by gambling. Invest only in activities where you can apply some work or magic to improve the outcome. Starting with money often actually proves disadvantageous as it can lead to a false sense of power. No business plan ever survives contact with the market, so remain flexible, keep as many options open as possible, examine any possible opportunity, and always try to keep some reserves, as in war.
In general a magician will find it more efficacious to conjure for the desired life experiences directly, any money required will usually then manifest as a side effect. Conjuring for the money to buy the desired experiences wastes time.
A general note on Magical Practise now follows, although we severely doubt that many will take much notice…..
Magic often appears as what some people try in desperation, having exhausted the possibilities of common sense, scientific knowledge, religion, or whatever. Thus many get led into the ‘Crisis Magician’ mode, where they resort to magic only in extremis, when all else has failed.
This seems an utterly misguided approach. If anyone can seriously entertain the possibility of exercising the various skills of Magic, then surely it seems logical to use it TO AUGMENT whatever else they want to achieve, rather than to reserve it for a desperate attempt to COMPENSATE for failure afterwards.
To live as a Magician, conjure in support of everything of significance that you do.
Do everything possible to achieve successful outcomes by ordinary means, and then throw in Magic AS WELL.
Dismayed by my tree surgeonâ's announcement that one of the ancient cherry trees in my gardens had virtually died, I resolved to immortalise part of it with a sculpture to the goddess Apophenia.
As her sculpture evolved from the wood over many months it seemed that she wanted to climb free of a clunky base and dance, so I resolved to mount her as a mobile.
Then an Apophenia wand that I had posted to Australia finally returned to me having circumnavigated the globe due to a misplaced number 8 on the address, and its incorporation seemed indicated.
Discussions about chaos mathematics and tetrahedrons on Arcanorium College also contributed to the final form of her sculpture which evolved into a lateral thinking and divination oracle shown on the accompanying video.
The chaotic torsion pendulum effect depends on having two linked pendulum weights, the goddess herself and the malachite sphere, with different rotation periods, as one spins it transfers torsion through the wire to the other and vice versa and the movement of the entire device remains hypersensitive to its initial conditions after the manner of the butterfly effect.
The operator takes readings from the various positions of the pointer as it momentarily comes to rest at various points in its spin cycle. This allows for the production of a string of results from a single spin cycle.
The video shows Apophenia set up with an I-Ching disk which gives also moving lines in the correct ratios. She also has disks to generate Binary Numbers, Ouranian-Barbaric words, and combinations of the Eight Colours of Magic.
We reserve these last two functions for private work but we provide a limited amount of free public oracle service by email for any question that interests us, and for which a Binary Number or an I-Ching Hexagram might provide an answer.
Note on Binary Numbers. Leibniz discovered them and most electronic information systems now run on them. All base 10 numbers have binary equivalents, viz:
0 = 0, 1 = 1, 2 = 10, 3 = 11, 4 = 100, 5 = 101, 6 = 110, 7 = 111, 8 = 1000,
9 = 1001, 10 = 1010, 11 = 1011, 12 = 1100, 13 = 1101, 14 = 1110,
15 = 1111, 16 = 10000, 17 = 10001, etc.
Verify that 1111111 = 127, and you will have probably understood the principle.
Tell us the base ten value of 1010001 before requesting any binary answer, and specify the length of any binary answer requested.
I-Ching Hexagrams will appear from the bottom line up with 1 as Yang, and 0 as Yin. 1* represents moving Yang, and 0* represents moving Yin.
Thus 10*0010 represents Hexagram 3 with a moving line, indicating a change to 110010.
Herewith The Octavo, by the grace of Apophenia, Ouranos, and all the other ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ mortals, goddesses, and gods, who came to aid this project………..
The Octavo wrote itself in an attempt to find some common ground between many of the bits of objective reason and intuitive sorcery floating around in the noosphere and available to this longsuffering scribe who willingly accepted the challenge.
For the last 50 years some mystics and magicians have sought to justify their results and speculations in terms of quantum and cosmological physics, much as they sought to justify such speculations in terms of theological ideas in previous centuries. Unfortunately most of such attempts lacked rigor or much beyond a superficial familiarity with popularizations of advanced physical theories.
We hope that we have finally got it right and that we have shown the maths to demonstrate it.
The Octavo does contain many falsifiable and/or confirmable hypotheses for our delectation. In particular it addresses the scale issue of how quantum and cosmological phenomena may influence the macroscopic realm in which we find ourselves incarnate.
Probably nobody will understand the full implications of The Octavo on a first reading. It took nearly 40 years to assemble this and it may well take some serious study and supplementary investigation to unravel it all. We hope that it constitute an egress into the magical, metaphysical, and scientific ideas of the future.
Hopefully it may keep magicians, philosophers, and scientists arguing and experimenting for some time.
Some may pretend to a superficial understanding, others may deride it as wildly tangential and obtuse to the traditional vision of what should concern magicians. However the hypothesis that only a critical analysis of the metaphysics underlying the theory and practice of magic can lead to progress in either informs this work. Only time will tell if this strategy proves useful.
Any respectable Octavo for any universe should traditionally contain just 8 timeless chapters; nevertheless this Roundworld Edition contains an excusable Zeroth introductory Chapter 0, and also perhaps an inexcusable Chapter (?) ‘The knights of Chaos’, which appears as Appendix 1, in lieu of a Chapter 9. This gives a purely contemporary view of what the wizards of planet earth may need to do in the next couple of decades to ensure that we still have a viable biosphere at this centuries end. Perhaps ‘Nothing has Truth’, but if ‘anything can Happen’, then we should give some thought
See below for the raw equation-spells of The Octavo, a picture of its cover and details of its availability.
Some of these spells relate to controversial cosmological matters and to equally controversial interpretations of quantum physics in terms of three-dimensional time, but each has a direct bearing on magical theory and practice. Plus some relate directly to probability manipulation
considerations in enchantment and divination whilst the last one deals with matters of ‘spirituality’ and ‘enlightenment’ in precise and quantifiable terms, perhaps for the first time ever.
Octarine fire may not immediately blaze from its pages, as would happen in the rather stronger magical field in Discworld, nevertheless careful study may provoke some surprising sparks within some minds.
The Octavo Grimoire itself contains a full explanatory exegesis of these rather terse and formidable looking spell-equations, some practical ritual models, and some fully explicated rituals in its appendices.
Future Stokastic Projects?
Nobody would believe any autobiography, we have difficulty in believing it ourselves, and so we probably won’t bother. We do however intend to continue trying to nudge the next generation of magicians in potentially productive directions, to assist in the production of The Portals of Chaos, a series of multifunctional enchantment, divinatory, evocationary, invocationary and illuminatory tools in graphic form on moveable cards. (Artists, publishers, and some concepts already in place.)
This will not look anything like another mere tarot deck we might add! We do not intend to go loudly into the night with a self aggrandizing autobiography, a tarot, or a final impoverished demise in Hastings (what a dump), like several of our predecessors.
If anything comes up to seriously challenge the hypotheses in The Octavo, like a definitive proof of the existence of the Higg’s boson, super-symmetry particles, an immortal soul, or god, then we shall have much to do in a hurry.
Otherwise our last couple of probable decades of current incarnation seem ideally suited to an exploration of how to make starships using both magical-metaphysical and physical ideas, or to die trying. Okay so that looks like a long-shot against difficult odds, but then again, doesn’t life itself, so why the heck not?
During Semester 5, 2007-2008, the Staff and Members of Arcanorium College conducted a review of the world situation to see if anything needed doing about it.
In response to concerns that had built up over some time, the Chancellor, with the assistance of several members of Staff, prepared a series of discussion papers on the following topics: -
A) Immanent Disaster?
2) Global Warming.
3) Resource Exhaustion.
B) Origins of Disaster, & Critique.
4) Organised Religion. Critique of religions.
5) Political-Economic Theories. Critique of such theories.
C) Chaoist Alternatives.
6) Chaoist Metaphysics. Panpsychic, Neopantheist.
7) Chaoist Philosophy. Values and Ethics.
8) Chaoist Practise. Celebration and Magic.
We seem to have a widespread assumption that Humanity faces immanent global disaster.
Magicians traditionally consider all such assumptions in terms of possibility or impossibility with the aim of empowering themselves. Thus each individual magician can determine a reality of choice- and perhaps swim against the tide of popular opinion and established convention where necessary, in order to achieve the freedom of the Universe(s).
Debate raged for some six weeks with over 380 messages and some several thousand readings. Some participants advanced the proposition that we do not face any more problems than usual on this planet.
A small but militant faction expressed the view that as belief creates reality, magicians should firstly believe in an optimal past, present, and future for themselves, as doom prophecies can become self fulfilling.
Others expressed the view that if we didn't entertain belief in at least the strong possibility of global disaster then we would have no motivation to avert it or to prepare strategies to deal with it.
A not so small, but pacifist faction declined to make, or act upon any value judgements, or interfere with the conditions on this planet.
Others supported the hypothesis (A), that we now face a set of problems unique in their global scope, and that civilisation itself; if not the survival of the human race; lies at stake.
During the period of the course, fuel and food prices, world population levels, and the deteriorating global economy seemed to feature rather prominently in the conventional media.
The initial discussion papers advanced the hypothesis (B), that the potentially catastrophic problems of overpopulation, global warming, and resource exhaustion all have their roots in existing organised religions or in secular economic beliefs about perpetual growth.
The initial papers also advanced the hypothesis that magical and esoteric thought has always historically played a leading role in the development of new paradigms and belief systems.
The initial papers argued that magicians may have a unique ability and duty to help humanity think its way out of impending catastrophe, if such appears the case.
Lastly that if so, the hypothesis (C), that an emergent philosophy broadly based around what one might call Chaoist ideas, might provide some solutions.
Overall we seemed to achieve an approximate consensus of ‘maybe’ on all three hypotheses, with some dissent. We also unearthed a huge wealth of links and references.
We intend to continue in a further course in 2008-2009. In the meantime I present some by no means unanimous thoughts from our work so far.
Few if any authorities expect a ‘demographic adjustment’ (a reduction in birth-rates due to female emancipation, reduction in infant mortality, and increasing financial security) to prevent the human population attempting to grow from the current 6.7 billion to about 9 billion by 2050.
2) Global Warming.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels do appear to roughly correlate with this planet’s temperature.
We appear to have almost doubled the levels since the advent of industrialisation and we may double them again before we bring fossil fuel use under control. Thus some degree of human initiated global warming seems inevitable. The speed and extent of such warming remains unknown but a global rise of more than a couple of degrees will have disastrous effects on world agriculture. The rise in human produced carbon dioxide may trip a series of positive feedbacks that release catastrophic quantities of greenhouse gases from the land and the seas.
3) Resource Exhaustion.
The human race has based its post WW2 boom in food production and transport and its steep increase in population and manufactured items almost entirely on oil. We may have already reached peak oil production anyway, but any further use of fossil fuels can only add to global warming.
The huge recent expansion in human numbers and activity has led to serious environmental degradation and the loss of vast numbers of species already.
4) Organised Religion.
The three Abrahamic monotheisms all assert that their deity has given them the earth and all its creatures to do with as they wish, and that it wants them to go forth and multiply.
5) Political-Economic Theories.
Virtually all current political-economic theories assert the desirability of continual growth in production and consumption, despite that beyond a certain level this brings only marginal or even negative changes in quality of life.
6) Chaoist Metaphysics. Panpsychic, Neopantheist.
Chaoist philosophy rejects the ludicrous monotheist claim that some deity created the entire vast universe and that it also acts as a personal deity to all of its warring followers.
Instead it suggests that the universe and everything in it has a natural origin and that to some degree it all has ‘life’, and that humans conceptualise gods to represent various aspects of life which concern them.
7) Chaoist Philosophy. Values and Ethics.
Various ideals follow from the panspychic and neopantheist perspective in the context of the above.
All forms of life have an intrinsic value irrespective of their utilitarian value to us. Humanity does not occupy a theogenically sanctioned privileged position in the scheme of things.
Humanity has however developed the privilege of recognising that it cannot continue to expand its numbers and consumption without limit, and can use its intelligence accordingly.
Inner wealth and the quality of human interaction do far more to enhance quality of life than excess material consumption.
8) Chaoist Practise. Celebration and Magic.
The monotheist paradigm has ceased to give useful results. Atheism has little beyond a scientific wonder at the material complexity of the universe or mere nihilistic consumerism to offer.
Chaoism on the other hand suggests a universe that exhibits life and chaotic creativity on all levels from quanta to mind, a panpsychic universe which runs self-creatively on what we can call magic.
This can lead to what we can call ‘High Magic’, the mystical appreciation of, and the attempt to commune with, the ultimate chao-creative force of the universe.
It also leads to a ‘Low Magic’ in which we interact with gods and spirits and demons which we know that we have abstracted, mythos style, from nature and our own psychology.
In some ways this resumes the approach found in such oriental systems as Buddhism and Taoism where a high level non-deistic mysticism sits on top of a system of gods and spirits and rituals and celebrations drawn from folk practices.
However a big difference exists. Chaoist ‘peasants’ unlike Buddhist or Taoist peasants understand full well that they have abstracted such neopantheist mythos entities for their own enjoyment, inspiration, and enlightenment, and to enhance their magical interaction with the universe.
Chaoists describe such a paradigm as ‘Fifth Aeon’ philosophy to differentiate it from the fourth aeon paradigm of atheism/nihilism, the third aeon paradigm of monotheism, the second aeon paradigm of paganism, and the first aeon paradigm of shamanism.
Addendum to Project Eschaton.
Since the writing of the initial report about 18 months ago the situation has continued to deteriorate in most respects. No significant political agreements have emerged about reducing climate change and population levels remain a politically taboo subject. The world economic downturn has however slightly reduced the rate of destruction of some resources.
A recent World Wildlife Fund report concluded that at the present rate we shall probably need another planet as soon as 2030 to supply our resource demands.
All major political and economic paradigms remain committed to growth or to restarting growth following the recession.
If we cannot evolve a socio- political-economic praxis of adaptation to zero or preferably negative growth in population and resource consumption then we condemn ourselves to a rebalancing of the situation by wars or environmental catastrophes or most probably a mixture of both.
A Malthusian catastrophe has finally started to build because we have started to run out of technical fixes as we approach the resource limits of this planet.
The Knights of Chaos
Following the Eschaton report the Knights of Chaos project arose within Arcanorium College and with details released into the public domain in The Octavo.
The Knights and Dames of the KoC attempt to intervene to prevent Ecocide and those political, religious, and economic tendencies which support it.
First Earth Battalion KoC attempts this using direct sorcery to affect the hearts and minds of this planets enemies and those who oppose them.
Despite that this may seem mad and impossible, the results so far have proved highly encouraging and strengthened the resolve of the KoC for a long struggle.
Knights, Dames, and Squires of the order each need to create and conjure eight servitors which the KoC uses in various of its campaigns.
Campaign coordination, strategy discussions and target acquisition takes place at Arcanorium college.
Wizards against Synarchy.
Any half decent wizard can survive even under the most trying circumstances; however we do generally flourish better under conditions of religious, economic and political liberty. I could tell you plenty of horror stories from colleagues in Islamic theocracies and in the remnants of the Soviet Union, without of course naming those involved.
Magic attracts those with a penchant for self-reliance and free thought, many of us in the west have our own businesses for example, and most of us have our own personal and highly unorthodox moral and social values. Magicians value individuality and eccentricity above most other things. We do not accept the consensus view and the received wisdom; we want to experiment for ourselves, whatever the cost. We appreciate a modicum of freedom.
Over the last few decades a threat has started to grow against many of the freedoms that we have enjoyed in Europe since the fall of the last crop of totalitarianisms. I speak of the EUROPEAN UNION, and you may laugh, but I have looked deeply into this and uncovered the philosophy that underlies the EU. I have found out where it comes from, and I regret to inform you, Fratres et Sorrores, that, as with Theosophy & Fascism, the fault lies with ourselves, yes us occultists and wizards again. It all began with a French occultist Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1824-1909).
D’Alveydre devised Synarchy.
Many of us in the goldfish bowl of Anglo-Saxon wizardry will probably never have heard of Saint Yves d’Alvedre, but he remains a seminal figure in French esoterics. As grandmaster of the Martinist Order he mixed it with Blavatsky, Theodore Reuss, Eliphas Levi, Papus, and all the rest of them. I strongly suggest that you source the history and the connections and the ideas, because this man’s ideas about Synarchy have finally started to happen for real and we have a potential war situation. If we do not wake up to events soon, then things may get very nasty.
I will not go into the history here; the web offers plenty of starting references for that tangled tale. I will however briefly outline what Synarchy means so that you can see for yourselves the challenge that we face and the probable consequences of inaction.
Synarchy literally means Joint Rule. D’Alveydre used the term to imply several things in particular:
1) Synarchy implies Government by an Enlightened Elite. The Elite themselves of course decide on what Enlightened means, naturally it means those who agree with them.
2) Synarchy implies the opposite of Anarchy. Whereas in Anarchy the state should have minimal controls over individuals, in Synarchy the state has maximal control over every aspect of individual’s lives. Zero freedom in all spheres.
3) Synarchy comes neither from the Right or the Left; rather it consists of the Totalitarianism of the Centre.
Already in the post-communist states of Russia and China we see the adoption of the Non-Democratic Mixed Economy as the preferred model. The Euro-Synarchists appear to want to follow suit.
D’Alveydre proposed that a secret society of The Elite should take over the three main instruments of social control, the Political, the Economic, and the Religious institutions.
He and his followers envisaged taking over first France and then creating a Federal European Union, and then perhaps One World Government. They wanted to create a classless but Profoundly Hierarchical state, or mega-state, run by Elite Technocrats of neither the right nor of the left, but simply The People Who Know Best, and that this Elite should seek to control every single aspect of the lives of the populace.
D’Alveydre delved deeply into the crackpot mystical utopianism and freemasonry of the late nineteenth century and considered that his inspirations came from The Mystical Adepts of Agartha. So we have another Black Hat Illuminati sponsored project here I’m afraid, another dystopian conspiracy to put certain cliques who know what’s best for us into power.
Now French society has always suffered from domination by Elite Cliques. Ever since the revolution France has led the world in elitism and corruption. They replaced an elite and corrupt aristocracy with another clique, and just carried on with added enthusiasm, for now even peasants could in principle get a foothold on the elevator of the meritocracy of those colluding with the political class.
D’Alveydre’s ideas failed to really take off for some decades, because two world wars got in the way and France came under intense American pressure to become more democratic at the end of each one. Yet Synarchic ideas continued to spread throughout many of the elite French academies. The USSR and Russia of course provides an almost perfect example of a Synarchic state apart from the personality cultism associated with Lenin and Stalin, and now Putin. (Synarchs usually prefer the faceless anonymity of the technocrat) During WW2 French Synarchists collaborated with the German occupying forces in Occupied France and in Vichy France on the principle that they wanted to preserve their apparatus of state.
However with the advent of the European Union the Synarchist Conspiracy took its chance and grasped at it with all of its tentacles. It started to cleverly persuade most of the European Political Class that it had the perfect formula to perpetuate and aggrandise the Political Class itself, without reference to the tiresome niceties of democracy.
The Synarchist Eurocrats of the EU have largely circumvented democracy and now work on putting themselves beyond the reach of law. The real power in the EU lies not in its elected sham parliament but in the unelected Commission and in the vast bureaucracy and array of Quangos attached to it. The Commission provides the perfect home for members of the Political Class who would either rather not risk submitting themselves to democratic selection or for those who have failed in that selection. Once a person has become accepted into the Eurocracy they cannot easily become removed from it, no proper de-selection processes exist. We cannot vote them out, and they strive for increasing immunity from prosecution. Once inside, they become the arbiters of whom else they will admit or exclude. The Synarchists have almost completed step one of their agenda and taken over the political apparatus.
The Synarchist Eurocrats have created the most prolific Law-Mill in the history of the world. The sheer volume of laws and regulations staggers belief and seems to go beyond all sense and reason until you recognise that it constitutes step two of the Synarchist agenda in action, take control of the economy in minute detail. To do this, simply gradually make everything illegal, pass arbitrary regulations just for the sake of having them, pass regulations that nobody can comply with properly, and then apply them selectively.
Do this and you have effectively legalised what medieval monarchs dreamed of, you have legally given yourself the freedom of Arbitrary Rule.
The Synarchist Eurocrats seem to have upgraded d’Alveyde’s third step of taking over the Religious powers of their domains because they have ended up with a huge domain with too many religions in it. Thus they seem to have decided to create a new religion whose morality and dogma have legal precedence over all of the religions within that domain. They call this new religion Social Democracy and we should recognise it as a religion despite that it never advertises itself as such. Social Democracy permits slight shades of opinion but no real dissent. (Neither of the left nor of the right, remember?) You will never enter the Eurocracy if you do not basically agree with it. Like all religious ideals it remains forever unattainable because of its inherent paradoxes, socialism remains incompatible with real democratic freedom. Like all religions it has its own Thought-Speak, in this case mainly what we identify as Political Correctness. Like most religions it seeks to restrict the activities of competing religions. In this it has acted with considerable subtlety. Yes, you can have complete religious freedom, but we will increasingly take away your freedom to observe or to promote any of the customs of your religion. You can believe what you like, but you have to behave exactly as we tell you.
Some wizards and occultists may gloat over such aggressively irreligious secularism; however, as we have learnt from both fascist and communist totalitarianisms, your turn for persecution will come eventually as the Synarchy gets into its stride.
Europe became the cradle of so much of the world’s art, culture, science, and politics precisely because it has usually existed in a highly divided state. Various nations have tried many different social and political experiments and nations have struggled against nations, religiously, politically, economically, and militarily. The modern world arose almost entirely out of that crucible of struggle and experiment. Geography accounts for much of this. Europe contained enough mountains and rivers and forests to make hegemony difficult and to allow experiments to take place.
Technology (nearly all of it invented in Europe) has now broken down those barriers and a new form of hegemony now threatens to radically reduce the diversity of the entire continent.
Welcome to The USE, The United Synarchy of Europe.
Does Synarchisn exist as a hard conspiracy or merely as a pervasive soft consensus amongst the political class? The answer to this question will probably tell us whether to expect a Europe that merely becomes amorphously boring, dull, mildly oppressive, and fairly unproductive for a while until it breaks up acrimoniously or violently, or whether it will descend into full-scale Orwellian totalitarianism.
I leave it to the historians and the conspiracy theorists to find out the details and the philosophical lineages of the guilty. History suggests that it probably exists in both forms simultaneously at the time of writing. Most of those who act out of self-interest in the service of the Synarchy have probably never even heard of it as a formal concept. The status quo just seems to move in that direction and they move with it because it pays them to do so. However I cannot believe that Eurocratic Synarchy has evolved entirely by screw-up. Some element of conspiracy appears necessary to explain the contra-logical economics, the contra-liberal politics, and the covertly aggressive secularism of the EU.
We know that d’Alveydre formally enunciated the principles of Synarchy and we can now see them coming to fruition. We know that d’Alveydre had enormous influence in French Freemasonry and esoterics and in the French elite academies. Can we track the intellectual lineages of his followers and challenge them before they achieve complete hegemony and plunge Europe into totalitarianism?
If this all seems a little paranoid, then try reading the proposed ‘European Constitution’.
This astoundingly pompous, ambiguous and incredibly lengthy document ultimately reduces to a single terrifying sentence that perfectly reveals the agenda of Synarchy.
“The Government of the EU can take Any and All powers that It deems necessary.”
Of course nobody in their right mind (outside of the Political Class itself) would ever sign up to such an agreement presented in such stark terms. Any proper constitution should both Define and Limit what a government can do. The EU constitution basically gives the EU government carte blanche. Thus the actual document dissembles and waffles for hundreds of pages in a ponderous legalistic attempt to disguise what it actually means. It actually means quite simply that: -
“The Government of the EU can take Any and All powers that It deems necessary.”
Perhaps we should look further into the record of the author of this Synarchist Manifesto, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, ex-President of France. Even a cursory analysis throws up much that appears disquieting.
As Churchill so astutely observed; “The only thing worse than Democracy is every other system that we have ever tried.”
Above all we must not follow the examples set by Russia and China or feel compelled by difficult world economic conditions or fear of social unrest to allow our freedoms to disappear by stealth.
The EU Constitution’ got formally rejected in referendums in France and in Holland and it would have got rejected by the British, so the Eurocrats simply retitled it and persuaded the Political Class they they could simply sign it off as The Lisbon Treaty without any democratic consultation.
Thus we do effectively have a European Union Constitution in place, a vastly long document that simply reduces to a single horrifying sentence: -
“The Government of the EU can take Any and All powers that It deems necessary.”
The ‘Remain in the EU’ argument now runs along the line that the EU has evolved into a terrible mess, but Britain must remain in it and try to reform it because the alternative of leaving it seems even worse.
This cowardly and defeatist argument does not actually work. Things will most likely become much worse if Britain remains in.
In refusing to meaningfully renegotiate Britain’s terms of membership the EU has already flatly stated its refusal to reform, it remains hell bent on forming a Synarchist Superstate.
Britain can only change the EU by leaving it now. This will hasten its collapse, other nations will soon follow, and Europe will become liberated from the EU.
A Europe of free nations will then undoubtedly agree to some modest and sensible trading arrangements.
If Britain hadn’t joined the EU it certainly wouldn’t try to enter it now.
With the possible exception of the Germans, the great majority of the people of the EU would not have let the EU project go ahead if they had known of its real agenda, and they will now vote to get out if they get the chance.
Those who give up their political freedom for economic gain will end up losing both, as the Greeks, the Irish, the Spanish, and the Portuguese have already found out, and the French have just begun to realise.
If the grandiose and megalomaniac EU project continues it will become ever more undemocratic, centralised, bureaucratic, synarchic, inefficient, corrupt, and oppressive. It serves only the interests of a large section of Big Business and The Political Class.
The EU Synarchists intend to remove the Political Freedom, the Economic Freedom, and the Freedom of Thought from everyone else, and to create a ‘Totalitarianism of the Centre’.
In the interests of the prevention of Tyranny, Synarchy, or Democracy hamstrung by short-termism and self interest we should perhaps reconsider an ancient Greek idea, government by randomly selected people.
An ideal government would consist of an oligarchy of experts drawn from all relevant fields that would plan for a sustainable and equitable future for its entire polity that does not preclude sustainability or equitability in other polities.
Such a government cannot exist in principle if the Oligarchy of experts has full executive powers, for it will inevitably use them to privilege, protect, reward, and aggrandise itself. The system would require another element to check and balance the Oligarchy to ensure that it behaved selflessly, wisely, and with farsightedness.
A democratically elected and democratically de-electable body cannot properly perform this function because it remains at the mercy of the short term economic interests of the electorate.
We need to find some way of checking the power of the Oligarchy of experts that involves the electorate in an equitable way, but does not involve the use of politicians.
Thus I propose Government by Chaocracy & Oligarchy. (Chaoligarchy).
Oilgarchies of Experts divided into various ministries or departments can propose and draft whatever legislation or actions they see fit.
The Chaocracy, has the absolute power of veto over any of it. It may also repeal any law.
Society selects the Chaocracy by random means from the population; everyone remains eligible for drafting into the Chaocracy by lot, as with jury service.
If the Chaocracy has some several hundred members then it should contain a representative selection of ages, sexes, and interest groups, unlike most parliaments.
Half the Chaocracy gets replaced every few years and those serving on it receive the kind of rewards that put them beyond concealable bribery and corruption.
The system also requires a specialised Oilgarchy called an Independent Judiciary.
The Chaocracy settles all matters by debate and their own consciences expressed by secret ballot. (Thus they cannot be bought or intimidated).
The Chaocracy can dismiss or downgrade a limited number of Oligarchs.
The Chaocracy elects a head of state, if required, as frequently as it wishes.
The emerging ‘political class’ which has begun to loose its class roots in the class structure of post-industrial societies, will thus become partly absorbed into the Oligarchy of experts. A random selection of the people will decide which of their policies to adopt, after searching their own consciences.
An Oligarchy offers the best means of producing and maintaining a group of experts in any field, for only experts can decide what constitutes expertise, and we should let them get on with that through their own efforts to persuade each other in the battle of ideas. It works well enough in universities, and we would have no obligation to accept their recommendations.
Members of the Chaocracy would get paid handsomely to turn up and argue and vote on all measures proposed by the various departments of the Oligarchy. The members would consist of a roughly equal mix of sexes and a representative selection of age and interest groups. Half will display below average intelligence and some will make little or no impact on debates but about 5% will show leadership qualities, so a selection of 500 people will provide a nucleus of about 25 persons capable of leading serious debate about exactly what policies a society should pursue. As they have nothing else to do, and no accountability, or re-electability, or short term self interests to worry about, I think that they would inevitably do it well.
I believe that the majority of humans instinctively act for the good by default, except when they find themselves in situations where other courses of action appear more rewarding. Thus we should endeavour not to put them in such positions.
Many elements of the political class, and those with strong political convictions would find a natural home in the oligarchy and revel in the internal power struggles of its various departments. They would also enjoy considerably enhanced job security, for failure to persuade would usually mean merely failure to advance, not outright unemployment.
The legislation offered by the departments of the Oligarchy would at least have the virtue of having been devised by specialists in the relevant fields rather than by politicians with little understanding of anything but its short-term political implications for themselves and their power bases.
The population at large would become free of the tiresome duty of voting merely to exclude the least apparently desirable candidates and parties.
The power to approve or discard policies would lie with those who did not seek such power but had it thrust randomly upon them as a well rewarded public duty performed for a limited period only. In return for discarding a mostly pointless personal vote everyone would receive a chance to perform this privileged function of government.
The media would loose much of its political influence as would big business and indeed any self-interest group with disproportionate influence.
A society must delegate power, for not everyone can continuously involve themselves in matters of government. Yet we should not delegate it to those who seek it. Thus we should delegate it by the only truly fair method – pure chance.
Can Chaoligarchy evolve out of any current form of government?
Well the Political Class would oppose it almost everywhere but we could make a start on it in Britain by having a Randomly Selected 'House of Lords' instead of filling it up with aristocrats, bishops, failed politicians, and political apointees. Most importantly, it should have absolute power of veto.
Caution, For Wizards Only. Not For Consumption by My Physicist Friends.
In every Aeon, magicians have borrowed from the paradigms of their native cultures when they felt the need to explain how magic worked. Thus in shamanic times, magicians assumed that they somehow interacted with the animistic essences intrinsic to natural phenomena, plants, animals and people. This idea finds perhaps its fullest development in the classical Greek doctrine of Platonism where all outward forms which manifest to our senses, merely reflect, somewhat imperfectly, certain ideals which reside in some sort of superior realm. Thus all observable cats reflect, to varying degrees of perfection, some sort of cosmic feline principle. To the modern mind this looks rather like an excessive fascination with the ability of the human mind to form abstract concepts. Nevertheless Platonism, and its fuller flowering as Neo-Platonism, had a profound influence on magical and religious thought for two thousand years.
Early Christianity initially incorporated neo-platonic ideas wholesale, and its traces remain in the Orthodox ideas of Christ as the Logos and in the sanctity and power of icons. In the Catholic Church, the doctrine of literal transubstantiation and the veneration of relics remains an influence. Despite the philosophical and monotheistic gloss, such ideas hark back to animistic ideas like eating the hearts of brave warriors to acquire their powers.
Alchemy arose as a quest to find the essences of things. It would have seemed quite reasonable to the medieval mind to try to distill the essential principle of Metal out of lead or mercury, or the essential principle of Generation out of menstrual blood. Of course none of this seems to have got very far until some alchemists had the humility to observe the actual rather than the imagined and abstract- idealized qualities of various types of base matter.
Animistic style thinking still colours the way all humans think, we all still have to weigh up any phenomenon from the idea of an atom to our ideas of a particular a person in terms of similes and metaphors and analogies, what powers it has, and what else it resembles. In other words we want to know what something ‘is’, to give us some kind of a handle on it. For the purposes of manipulating the world by physical means, such animistic thinking does not work very well if you restrict your vocabulary of analogies and archetypes to such abstractions as earth, air, fire and water. Adding Aether does not help much and adding the sephiroth of the cabbala or the signs of the zodiac just multiplies the illucidity.
To manipulate the material world indirectly you need something far simpler and more basic than the earth, air, fire, and water concepts. You need something so simple that you will often find it very difficult to see it in the seemingly complex real world. You will need an abstraction based on an idea so mind-numbingly trivial that you can easily Discount it, (pun intended). You will need mathematics, either intuitively to throw a stone, or formally to hurl a rocket to the moon.
However when it comes to interacting with the world directly (by magic), the animistic style of thinking may have advantages. If we assume that the mind or the complex functions of the brain can somehow, and to some extent, mesh directly with the world to find things out or to influence them, then we have a mapping problem, or what magicians call the problem of the magical link. How can something inside of our heads have any kind of one to one correlation with the phenomena outside? This problem has bothered philosophers since the inception of their profession. We have imperfect senses, but when we enhance them with careful observations or machines the problem just gets worse because we then begin to see an awesome complexity in the simplest of things.
Thus we inevitably must resort to some kind of conscious analogical modeling of the phenomena in our reality because our conscious minds cannot digitize anything but the simplest of our experiences, although our unconscious minds may have a greater ability to do this. The unconscious mind plainly stores vastly more information than it makes available to the conscious mind. When you meet an old friend your subconscious immediately confirms their identity through matching hundreds of their features which you could not consciously describe, let alone sketch from conscious memory.
Animistic style thinking can thus offer a useful kind of data compression. Assuming that one cannot consciously remember enough for a decent magical link then a classification in terms of say an earthy/aquatic nature with jupiterian influences moderated by the sign of Sagittarius might serve as a sigilistic type of shorthand for interacting with the target event by psychic means. However for this kind of thing to work the operator must maintain a pretty tidy and unequivocal symbol system. Modern people rarely do this, they think too much.
Animistic systems rarely have explicit models of a purely animistic ‘extra dimension’ or whatever, through which the powers inherent in physical phenomena act on the world. Where such animistic dimensions exist they tend to become identified either with alternative states of consciousness that the shaman induces by various means, or with some sort of spirit realm.
The hypothesis of spirits arises naturally out of the human propensity to form a ‘self image’ and a ‘theory of mind’. We would find it almost impossible to live without a self image. Somehow we have to develop a model of ourselves inside of our heads so that we can separate our perceptions into those relating to self and to those relating to the outside world. As we develop, our self image becomes more sophisticated as we incorporate abstract concepts into it, and we become very dependant upon it to structure our lives, we cannot imagine its absence and so we may come to believe that it must exist as an immortal soul. You can turn off the self image with certain mystical practices or large doses of hallucinogens, and then you seem to become everything that you perceive, the object placed in your hand becomes part of your body; you become one with the tree in your field of vision, or with a religious notion in your thoughts. People with a seriously impaired self image cannot act effectively in the world and we regard them as mad.
We would also find it very difficult to deal with our personal worlds if we did not, at an early age, develop the hypothesis that other people had intentions and perceptions that their actual behavior often conceals or only partially reveals. Autistic people seem to lack this ability to various degrees of severity.
Our inbuilt propensity to form a self image and a theory of mind leads quite naturally to the idea of souls and spirits and gods, or ‘sky fairies’ as some atheists unkindly call them.
We cannot imagine ourselves dead nor what happens to the self we ascribe to other people when they die, we perceive the natural world as capricious and perhaps therefore possessed of minds (gods) or perhaps one big mind, (God).
The theory of spirits, or spiritism, crept up quite quickly on pure animism and held a dominant position in magical theory until scientific analogies began to take over. The old pagans saw mind everywhere, and personified natural phenomena as gods. Household gods for small matters and bigger gods for more serious matters like storms, mountains, oceans, cities, and the afterlife. Having imputed mind everywhere, the ancients could at least try to enter into negotiation with it. Prayer and sacrifice to the big gods thus become the staple religious activities whilst magic offered some latitude for trying to push around and command the smaller ones.
Monotheism arose as the pagan systems collapsed under a cacophony of too many gods and an expanding sense of self image. Pagans did not attribute their lusts and their warlike impulses, for example, to their own sense of self, but rather to the gods, so they could only expand their own sense of agency and identity by adding more gods to their pantheons to explain themselves to themselves. Replacing all this with a unitary deity had the advantage of enlarging the self image, but at the expense of condemning a large amount of socially dubious behavior to the demonic realms. You do not see many temple prostitutes in monotheist institutions for example. However this in itself brought a political dividend. Social control gets much easier if you only have one priesthood, one consensus identity, and one set of rules.
Magic within the monotheist spiritism becomes legally perilous. The priesthood rarely tolerates freelance negotiation with the spirit realm so folk magic goes underground, but the priests themselves usually develop a characteristic type of spiritist magic of which we see examples in Kabbala and Goetia and the Islamic Djinn or Genies. Here the magician commands lesser spirits by invoking the power of God. As most monotheisms, (at least in their youth), tend to leave a host of lesser spirits in charge of mundane matters, the priest/magician can conjure for almost anything by the double proxy of God and lesser spirit.
Given the belief that mind suffuses everything, this all makes perfect sense. In modern terms it still makes a certain amount of magical sense if we assume that ensigilising phenomena as spirits renders them easier for the mind to interact with. The spiritist paradigm that sees mind in all things will probably always influence human thought if only because human thought remains the tool by which we investigate the world. Not a few scientists have exclaimed that the universe consists entirely of thoughts or mind stuff, but they had mostly been calculating too hard or overdoing the nitrous oxide.
In terms of its value as a magical theory, the spiritist paradigm has very little real explanatory or predictive power. We all know what ‘the spirit realm’ means, it means whatever the spiritist wants it to mean. In other words it has fantastically complicated and more or less arbitrary and variable properties. Thus it cannot tell us anything about possible or impossible, or probable or improbable forms of magic.
The materialist-scientific paradigm spawned a host of neo-scientific explanations for various parapsychological, spiritualist, occult, and magical phenomena. These fall more or less neatly into the categories of occult aethers, occult energies, and occult information paradigms. Occult aethers or ethers seem to have begun with Eliphas Levi, a nineteenth century French cleric who dabbled in magic and Kabbala. He proposed the Astral Light, a sort of medium for the transmission of thought and the support of spirit. Then came the rather more elaborate doctrines of the etheric and astral planes and ectoplasm, and so on, in response to the scientific ideas of the luminiferous ether and the dimensions of space current at the time. Before the popularization of Einstein’s ideas it appeared that gravity could operate like an astrological influence at a distance, and that light and electromagnetic radiation in general would need some kind of a medium to cross space.
From such mighty misconceptions, puny occult explanationisms developed.
Science constrains the concept of energy with a very tight definition of its properties and this makes it useful. Unfortunately ‘occult energies’ suffer from exactly the same problem as with spirit realms, they mean anything anyone wants them to.
As the so-called information age dawned, it did seem at last possible to nail down an irrefutable explanation of magic in terms of a hidden exchange of information between material structures, including brains, assuming that information had some power to modify the structures involved, and assuming that quantum physics allows the information to find its way to wherever the magician wants in space and time.
I must confess myself guilty of the above, during the folly of my extended youth.
I fell into the trap of making the paradigm so broad that it would do anything I wanted, despite the fact that I could not always do what I wanted by magic.
Now, reviewing my casebooks and my theory books, I can see the need to both limit and to extend my frames of reference.
I suspect that time has a richer structure than we commonly imagine and that a Multiverse or Omnium of realities caused by quantum entanglement and superposition surrounds us in three dimensional time, and that particles travel both backward and forward in time. In this scenario we do not need ‘disembodied information’ to account for the functioning of the universe or the phenomena of magic, the exchange of ordinary particles of matter and energy will do the trick given the extra degrees of temporal freedom.
See the Quantum Irreality Paper on this site, for the arguments leading to the above.
When the magician divines he interacts primarily with future versions of himself. In divination he basically taps into what he may know in the future. A curious circularity seems to exist in divination; it only seems to work if at some point in the future you will end up knowing the result by ordinary means. This explains why the best results in divination seem to occur for either very short term divinations about unlikely things that will happen in the next few seconds, or for events which are heavily deterministic, but not yet obvious, in the further future.
In enchantment the magician basically aims to select a future where his wish has come true. The entanglements between the magician, his past and future selves, and his environment can provide many channels for the modification of events towards the desired objective, so long as it does not remain ridiculously improbable. This explains the observation that enchantment tends to work best when used over longer periods of time.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, witches and wizards, may I believe, constitute the beginnings of: -
A New Magical Paradigm.
It may not greatly alter the way we attempt to do magic for some time, but it may alter the way we think about why it works, and that may eventually improve our practice.
Perhaps for the first time it offers a potentially testable model, particularly where it relates to divination, and one that we could potentially quantify with a view to eventually wrapping some mathematics around it.
As an afterthought I should perhaps mention the traditional ideas of evocation and invocation once again. Whilst I accept the psychological and sigillistic value of the animist and spiritist paradigms, to me the proof of the pudding in both evocation and invocation remains the quality of the divination and enchantment arising from such activities.
General Metadynamics 1.
Note, read the Quantum Irreality paper first.
Abstract. General Metadynamics attempts to provide a paradigm of Science and Sorcery. To do this it shows how the three dimensional transactional time in the HD8 interpretation of quantum and particle physics could allow divination and enchantment to occur.
Metaphysics concerns itself with our ideas about the ultimate nature and reality of phenomena. Any serious enquiry into such matters should in principle, begin with an examination of underlying metaphysical assumptions and end with their reconsideration. Few people actually bother with this exercise because metaphysics embodies a fatal flaw derived from the structure of language that has a tendency to render the exercise pointless.
Metaphysics traditionally includes Ontology, our ideas about the existence or being of things. Ontology studies our ideas of what things really ‘are’. We could perhaps call this Metastatics instead, to differentiate it from Metadynamics, the study of our fundamental ideas about what phenomena actually ‘do’.
No phenomena actually exhibit being. You can never catch anything in a state of just ‘being’. Everything has internal movement, at least on the atomic scale, and everything exchanges energy with its environment to maintain its existence.
Thus Ontology or Metastatics remains an illusory and pointless exercise except where it generates useful similes that we can use as a sort of shorthand for descriptive purposes. When we ask what something ‘is’ we really want to know what it does, or what properties it has, or what history it has.
Metadynamics, the study of our fundamental ideas about what phenomena actually do, has become perhaps humanity’s most powerful and least recognised tool for understanding the universe. The great concepts of causality, chance, probability, symmetry, and the conservation laws, all fall within the remit of what I would call Metadynamics, and they all dominate the way we perceive the world and act in it, to such an extent that we rarely stop to question these concepts.
Now people exhibit a range of differing metadynamics. Scientists have a fairly formal consensus metadynamic, although quantum physicists often have eccentric versions of it. Ordinary westernised people usually have diluted and informal versions of the scientific metadynamic. Religious people often have metadynamics which lack self-consistency (gods act mysteriously). Magicians and occultists often have metadynamic concepts that conflict radically with scientific ones.
Religious belief systems usually disguise their inconsistencies with metastatic concepts. Gods and dead people can apparently get away with just ‘being’ instead of doing. Occultists usually fall into a similar mire and fill up their paradigms with all sorts of planes of being and disembodied forces and energies that conveniently explain everything and nothing, depending on what actually happens.
Can we develop a General Metadynamic which reconciles what we know about the fundamental activities of the phenomena of the universe from our knowledge of both science and magic? We need not include most of the phenomena of religion within such a metadynamic because mere psychology explains them. Only ‘miracles’ offer any justification for the inclusion of religious data, and magic offers a better explanation for miracles than does religion. We do not need to erect a false metastatic/ontological distinction between mind and matter either. We know enough about the behaviour of the brain to understand that it acts as an information processing machine, albeit a very complicated one, and that it creates the necessary subjective illusions of self and consciousness for perfectly good evolutionary reasons.
Do we have enough data for such a General Metadynamic?
Well science may have got pretty close to describing the behaviour of matter at its apparently most fundamental quantum level, however the ideas we get from the description can lead to a variety of interpretations, few of which make much sense. The HD8 interpretation does make a kind of sense although at the price of adding extra degrees of temporal freedom with three dimensions of transactional time.
I find some justification for what I have attempted in HD8 in a quote from Professor Sir Roger Penrose, and they don’t come much more brilliant and illustrious than him.
‘It is my opinion that our present picture of physical reality, particularly in relation to the nature of time, is due for a shake up – even greater, perhaps, than that which has already been provided by present –day relativity and quantum mechanics.’
Stephen Hawking brilliantly observed that entropy increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which entropy increases. We simply adopt the entropy increasing direction as our temporal reference direction, and so we do not usually notice the orthogonal components of time. Entropy (or increasing disorder) defines our forward direction I time so order propagates backward through time, thus we can see why the theory of causality works so well in reverse but not so well forwards. We can always find a reason for something that has happened but we can rarely predict precisely what will happen. Things often happen for insufficient causes in forward mode, but afterwards both we often construct sufficient causes and reasons.
I suspect that the orthogonal components of time correspond to net entropy changes no larger than those that could slip through at the quantum level. We could write an equation with entropy and orthogonal time as another pair of complementary terms in an Heisenberg style uncertainty/indeterminacy relationship thusly:-
DST Dti ~ h
Where D(delta) ST means entropy change (at a particular absolute temperature),
D(delta) ti means imaginary (orthogonal) time,
h means Planck’s constant (an exceedingly small number).
This provides a key to understanding three-dimensional time and the association of quantum weirdness with exceedingly small energy differences. It means that you can have as much orthogonal for a process as you like, so long as entropy changes remain minimal, but I digress.
Most magical descriptions of reality still require some nebulous extra component to the universe beyond the matter and energy that science can measure. Spirit, spirits, astral planes, occult energies, morphic fields, and disembodied thoughts or information have, at various times, all filled this role.
If the HD8 interpretation of physical phenomena remains un-falsified then it remains as a valid, if highly eccentric, description of fundamental physical behaviour which could form part of the metadynamic. The problem then reduces to one of describing the phenomena of magic using only the extra degrees of temporal freedom afforded by three dimensional transactional time, and avoiding the traditional spooky immaterial explanationisms.
A General Metadynamic including magic would have to offer an explanation of only divination and enchantment, for these lie at the root of all magical phenomena.
Divination presents the simplest case. If at some point in the future the diviner can know the answer to a question, then that answer can feed back from the future to the present. However because the universe behaves with a degree of randomness and chaos, several different futures can feed back to the diviner’s present to give mixed results. In some cases the diviner’s choice of one particular item of feedback could even act to increase the likelihood of that future becoming more probable. Thus divination can work as enchantment by self-fulfilling prophecy.
Pure divination works best in pursuit of a fixed but concealed future. As a simple example consider the case of a well shaken dice. If you slam the dice cup upside down over it without looking and then try to guess the number showing, the number remains a fixed element of your future (except to an extreme quantum solipsist). If however you try to guess the number that will appear before even shaking the dice, then all six futures exist at the time of divination and only enchantment offers any hope of obtaining a non chance result. In practise the former type of divination works far better than the latter.
Dowsing provides a classic example of how divination actually works. The dowser basically divines what effect digging a hole in a certain place will have on his future perceptions. It plainly does not depend on mysterious geomantic energies emanating from water or minerals because experts can dowse from mere maps of the terrain.
Note that in this metadynamic of divination we do not require anything immaterial to pass between the diviner and the target. The diviner functions as a collection of superposed states entangled with the superposed states of his past and future. As the ‘particles’ of the diviner move forward through time they simultaneously move backward through time as well,(because they actually consist of particle/reversed-particle pairs), however we do not normally notice this.
The metadynamic of enchantment (making things happen by magic) has symmetries with that of divination but it also demands something else.
The collapse of quantum superpositions and entanglements remains officially indeterminate and random, but macroscopic phenomena often behave with deterministic chaos according to general scientific consensus.
‘ Deterministic chaos’ means that the behaviour of a complicated system like the weather exhibits extreme sensitivity to its initial conditions. Change the airflow or the temperature just a tiny bit and you may change tomorrow’s weather quite a lot, this in turn could change next weeks weather totally. This gives rise to the rather poetically named ‘Butterfly Effect’, in which a butterfly changing course over Belgium could result in a hurricane devastating Cuba, or not devastating Cuba, sometime later. In another age we recognised this as the horseshoe nail effect, for want of a horseshoe nail, the horseshoe was lost, and hence the horse, the messenger, the message, the battle, and the whole empire became lost, for the want of that horseshoe nail.
Most theorists of chaos mathematics maintain that the behaviour of complicated macroscopic systems remains causal and deterministic, although difficult if not impossible to predict. However they fail to reiterate their equations far enough to realise that the sensitivity to initial conditions for many systems must eventually extend down into the quantum domain.
Random events at the quantum level must therefore lead to random events in the macroscopic world. However because of the exchange action in transactional time, something even stranger must also occur, chosen actions on the macroscopic level can cause non-random changes at the quantum level. Of course we accept part of this already, we can polarise light or make atomic nuclei disintegrate by doing clever things with lumps of matter, but temporal reversibility in transactional time entangles macroscopic action with the quantum past as well as the future.
The enchanter functions as a collection of superposed states entangled with the superposed states of his past and future universes. In theory, by changing his perception of the universe he can bring about changes in reality, with two provisos.
Suitable entanglements and suitable superpositions must exist. The magician will need a magical link; he cannot conjure successfully in complete isolation from the target, and the desired result must have some natural probability of occurrence, preferably not an excessively remote one.
In practise the magician will need to rely on some kind of butterfly effect to create substantial changes in the universe and he will usually have to rely on his subconscious to intuit where these possibilities exist. Conversely in divination the magician will usually have to rely on his subconscious to pick up the feedback from his personal futures. We currently understand only the tip of the iceberg of neuroscience, but I suspect that many of the functions of the brain depend on superposition and entanglement. Magicians have distilled from historical traditions a few pragmatic ‘sleight of mind’ techniques for enhancing divination and enchantment, but they remain unreliable if occasionally remarkable phenomena. This paper merely attempts to explain the mechanisms that can allow what we call ‘magical’ effects to propagate across time and space without invoking some sort of nebulous ether or whatever.
This metadynamic of enchantment does not require any kind of mysterious occult influence to pass between the enchanter and his target; it requires only that the known effect of entanglement and the dynamics of chaotic systems can extend into three-dimensional transactional time.
The General Metadynamics paradigm does suggest some modifications to our approach to practical magic.
In Divination it would suggest that the magician seeks to visualise the future situation in which he will know the answer. It may also help if the magician resolves to visualise sending the answer back to the time of divination when he has found the answer or confirmed his divination. This may seem a very bizarre and pointless thing to do, but in a number of my best divinatory successes I decided that I just had to ‘complete the circle’ as it were. So when I finally received confirmation that I had divined correctly, I made a point of acting out the peculiar scenarios in which I had divined myself getting the answer.
In practical terms you can adapt techniques like this:-
0) Do not attempt to divine for future events that remain indeterminate at the time of divination. (This usually applies to roulette wheels and lottery devices).
1) Resolve that whenever you receive the answer (by normal means) to a specific divinatory question, that you will do something highly specific like write the answer on a big sheet of paper, whirl on the spot and scream a specific codeword whilst staring at the writing. Basically resolve to do anything that will turn your attention forcefully to the answer. Plenty of anecdotal evidence exists to support the view that extreme forms of gnosis often generate the best results.
2) During the Divination visualise yourself performing the above actions.
3) Do not even think about not carrying out your original resolution afterwards!
In Enchantment, General Metadynamics suggests that the magician should give much consideration beforehand as to how the desired effect could come to pass, and to the availability of magical links.
I do not advise conjuring against a static situation. In enchantment the magician tries to exploit changes by encouraging changes to manifest as desired. The magician thus needs to look for fluid situations or to provoke them deliberately. The rather delicate power of magic works best when deployed in situations balanced on a knife-edge, not on those set in stone.
For a magical link, nothing seems to beat physical contact or at least visual or vocal contact. Recorded images seem to work only to the extent that they provoke remembered images, the same usually applies to physical objects; they rarely remain significantly entangled with their origins or owners for long.
In summary, General Metadynamics attempts to provide a paradigm of Science and Sorcery. To do this it shows how the three dimensional transactional time in the HD8 interpretation of quantum and particle physics could allow divination and enchantment to occur.
General Metadynamics has the virtue that it does not depend on nebulous metaphysical influences that remain, in principle, impervious to confirmation or falsification by rigorous means. Thus it constitutes a proper hypothesis or theory, rather than just a mere assemblage of beliefs.
Three dimensional transactional time explains the apparent ‘spooky action at a distance’ of entanglement which so annoyed Einstein, and the apparent ‘multiple states of being’ of superposition which together have bedevilled scientific understanding of quantum phenomena.
It also has the virtue that it explains why Science usually works reliably whereas Magic often works erratically if at all. Science deals mainly with large entropy change events of high probability. Magic relies mainly on the low entropy changes associated with orthogonal time that often have low probabilities of occurrence.
On a practical level, conjuring within the General Metadynamics paradigm means looking at your own future(s) in divination, and seeking good magical links to fluid events in enchantment.
General Metadynamics does not of course constitute a complete theory of either science or magic for each has a huge repertoire of disciplines, techniques, and data. Rather it offers a way of looking at our core ideas about what kinds of events can occur in this universe.
Most previous attempts (including some of mine) to model magic and parapsychology using quantum physics have proved inadequate because they assumed the reality of quantum ‘spooky action at a distance’ and then used it too freely to assert a general case for any kind of occult phenomena without limit.
Chaos Magic has accumulated a cornucopia of ritual and sleight of mind tricks over the years and a wealth of mixed results and metaphysical hypotheses. Most of the experimental data used to create General Metadynamics have come from results generated by working with Chaos Magic techniques.
I thus offer General Metadynamics as a paradigm that can supply the theory of how the parapsychological effects of Chaos Magic actually occur, in a way that does not contradict what we can know from science.
General Metadynamics 2.
General Metadynamics and Strong Emergence.
Abstract. A rather metaphysical debate rages about how the universe works between the proponents of Reductionism and the proponents of Emergence, particularly in the field of Complexity research. Can we derive all the complex behaviour that we observe in the universe from a few simple laws, or do other laws somehow emerge at higher levels of complexity?
General Metadynamics throws a fresh perspective on the principle of strong emergence that may interest both scientists and sorcerers.
General Metadynamics 2, the case for Strong Emergence.
The Reductionist paradigm states that we can in principle derive all the complex behaviour that we observe in the universe from a few simple basic laws. At the time of writing the candidates for these basic laws officially come down to quantum mechanics and gravitation. Thus life reduces to biology, biology reduces to chemistry, and chemistry reduces to quantum mechanics. As cosmology reduces to astrophysics and astrophysics also reduces to quantum mechanics, plus gravitation, (in a way not yet fully understood), we can in principle derive the existence of snowdrops and their blossoming in spring, this paper, your reading of it, and the Great Wall of China, from just a few basic quantum and gravitational laws. The calculations and derivations might prove fiendishly difficult but reductionists maintain that a sufficiently detailed picture of the initial conditions and sufficient computational power would reveal the entire past and the entire future of the universe and all its contents, to any desired degree of detail. Thus to a hardcore reductionist we inhabit a rigidly deterministic clockwork universe, and we advance towards a perfectly predictable future, if only we could measure and calculate with sufficient precision.
Two particular problems exist with the Reductionist paradigm. Firstly quantum physics seems to show that we could not in principle measure the initial conditions of any system to an arbitrarily high degree of precision because down at the quantum level, events simply do not exist in a sharply defined manner. Secondly we cannot have arbitrarily large computational power because either the universe has a finite size (if it does not expand) or because we can only have access to a finite amount of it (the part of it restricted to us by a finite lightspeed in an expanding universe). We could never in principle achieve a computational power better than the Landauer-Lloyd limit of 10^120 bit flops even if we commandeered every particle in the universe for computational purposes. Despite the enormous size of this number it does not exceed 2^400, so the theoretically available computing power of the entire universe could not in principle tell us what a group of just 400 elementary particles, each in one of two possible states, might do.
The idea of Weak Emergence gives something of a boost to the reductionist paradigm. Weak emergence occurs when complex behaviour arises directly from simple rules and laws. The Mandelbrot Set for example, emerges in all its complex beauty from the reiteration of a very simple mathematical formula. Similarly, cellular automata in the so-called Game of Life can produce very complicated images and even patterns that reproduce and evolve, from a few simple rules.
Nevertheless in both these famous examples of emergent behaviour, all experimenters who start with the same initial conditions and the same rules will get exactly the same result, because in these two examples we can specify the initial conditions and the rules precisely. The results may seem unexpected and richly fascinating, but they remain rigidly deterministic.
The proponents of Strong Emergence however, insist that many of the complex behaviours that the universe exhibits do not arise as directly deterministic consequences of the basic laws governing the behaviour of matter and energy acting upon certain initial conditions. Thus given the laws of quantum mechanics and gravitation and a vast amount of elementary particles, Snowdrops and the Great Wall of China do not have to happen at some precise point several billion years later.
Proponents of the Hard School of Strong Emergence often seem to imply that the laws of the universe actually evolve with time.
Thus instead of the universe running exclusively on bottom up principles, where simple initial rules and conditions fix the entire future, we have a scenario in which a certain amount of top down rule making also occurs.
Theorists disagree about what, if anything, causes the seemingly random collapse of quantum wave functions when particles drop out of entanglement and superposition at interaction or measurement. Some suspect that minute gravitational influences might tip the balance; some suspect that consciousness or at least deliberate choice of measurement can affect the issue.
Some Emergentists have intriguingly suggested that some sort of top down effects occur in complex systems. A complex system thus modifies the quantum behaviour of its components!
Personally I doubt that quantum physics can entirely specify chemistry or that chemistry can entirely specify biology. I would defy anyone to derive the exact melting point of aluminium oxide from basic quantum mechanics.
The Strong Emergent idea of Top Down causation augmenting lower level laws smells strongly of Magic, or at least the of the General Metadynanics paradigm which seeks to provide a metaphysic for both science and magic.
In General Metadynamics, causality can work retroactively, or top down, backwards in time, because all changes consist of a probabilistic exchange of particles/reversed particles across time. Thus if a complex system evolves some form of higher order behaviour, perhaps just by chance, then that behaviour can feedback to modify the behaviour of the starting materials to establish that new behaviour as a physical law, or at least as a convention that could grow stronger with time.
General Metadynamics can thus explain the phenomenon of Morphic Ressonance and also point out some limitations to the accompanying theory.
Morphic Ressonance undoubtedly occurs, the manifestation of any novel phenomenon does seem to facilitate the subsequent occurrence of that phenomenon, but it does not require the agency of some sort of spiritual nebulous Morphic Field that so horrifies scientists. The top down causation implied by Strong Emergence and explained by General Metadynamics will do nicely.
Some Emergentists claim that consciousness provides a prime or even the sole example of Strong Emergence.
I have to say that I do not understand the meaning of the term consciousness, although I understand that both I and other people can have awareness of all sorts of things. I receive sensory imputs from within my body and from outside of it, I do thinking and emoting, I can do thinking about thinking, emoting about thinking and vice versa, and emoting about emoting, I take decisions, I perform actions, during dreamless sleep I do nothing except metabolise and snore, apparently. I do not seem to have something that I can identify as separate from all of these activities as consciousness. Instead I seem to have a brain in which a surprising capacity for information processing has emerged.
I suspect that nobody has consciousness and that the word does not really mean anything at all, although people can have awareness of all sorts of things including their internal states, as can any sophisticated information-processing machine.
Evolutionary biology suggests that the decision-making capacity of brains has evolved by weak emergence from the large information processing facility that they provide. Simple animals thus display complicated but ultimately predictable behaviour. However at some uncertain point, something else seems to happen, the brain acquires the capacity to modify itself and the realisation that it can do so. At this point, Strong Emergence comes into play. We recognise this as free will, (although it rarely acts completely without reference to previous experience). It does not of course mean that we suddenly have some sort of indefinable consciousness or an immortal soul.
Watch a baby develop into a child and then through adolescence into adulthood, and you can see the Strong Emergence gradually kicking in.
Not all adults behave like babies in big meat overcoats, although this does provide a useful rule of thumb. Sometimes more means qualitatively different.
General Metadynamics offers a mechanism by which Strong Emergence can occur.
Basically, once a complex system has evolved a novel behaviour by stochastic means (random trial and error) or by deliberate means (in the case of thinking organisms), then retroactive causality can, to some extent, modify the subsequent behaviour of the system or the universe as a whole, to establish that novel behaviour as a convention or even as a hard physical law.
Subsequent papers will examine the implications of this idea for magical theory.