Gordon White, Is Magic Outdated Tech? |405|

#41
I'm not at all interested in magic. I don't want to try to try to enhance my control over things even if that's possible. Life seems interesting enough without that. At times maybe I've been helped in some way without having the faintest idea by whom or what; but if so, I'm not that interested in knowing how or why. I just note how I've been lucky and offer prayers of thanks to the universe.
I am not interested in magic - certainly not in using it - however, it may be yet another manifestation of the paranormal. If it is, I suppose we need to think about what it actually tells us about the nature of the greater reality.

David
 
#42
Nor have I experienced notably paranormal experiences -- just the occasional possibly by-chance seeming oddnesses that most folk have from time to time. I have had the occasional spiritual experience (don't know how or why they occurred), but to my mind that's not a lot to do with magic. Also, I do have this instinctive inclination to avoid messing about with things I know nothing about -- don't want to, and quite possibly am not meant to. Like I said, I find life fascinating and remarkable enough by itself without my trying to influence events with magic.

In addition, you do seem rather certain that you know what you're talking about. Maybe that's true, who knows, but I rather enjoy uncertainty and just going with the flow of my life. Despite my uncertainty, things generally seem to work out in the long run. Maybe the magic, in its being obscure to me, is something that just happens if you don't try to force it; and if you do, maybe you end up going in directions that aren't in the long run useful. I guess I'd say that going with the flow is what's interesting: just observing and quietly reflecting is something I find satisfying enough.
I entirely agree with you. Messing around trying to influence stuff you know nothing about in reality, but think you know something about is what I fear a lot of magical efforts are about. When I discovered I could do things I was more alarmed and afraid than anything else. I wanted to understand how to control it, to avoid unintended harm. But, weirdly, for me, learning formal ceremonial magic was not useful.

But, beyond magic, we humans do tend to mess with stuff we know bugger all about. That's one reason why we are in the mess we are in. Political, commercial and scientific things are messed with constantly by people with big egos and poor morals. The Taoist approach, which you seem to favour, is a gentler, wiser way.

I am certain I know what I am talking about because I talk about my experiences, about which I have reflected long and deeply. I am not an expert on magic in the way Gordon White is. But I have a POV based on my encounter with magic - an ethnographic perspective.

On a personal level I have come closer to your way of seeing things. I have, however, harvested the fruit of my experiences with the intent o learning as much as I can from them. And some of them still eat at me - there are things to figure out and resolve yet.

I have deep respect or your peaceful way of seeing things. It just ain't mine - though often I wish it were.
 
#43
I am not interested in magic - certainly not in using it - however, it may be yet another manifestation of the paranormal. If it is, I suppose we need to think about what it actually tells us about the nature of the greater reality.David
Well, David, I have little doubt that "paranormal" events actually happen. That they sometimes might happen as a result of magic, of intention, could be true, but if so it's something I'd be loathe to try: one can't be certain one's intentions are pure or in the best interests of oneself or others. Like they say, be careful what you wish for on account of possibly unintended consequences.

The best attempted magic (if it could be called such), might be saying a prayer requesting that the universe help if and only if it can be done without deleterious side-effects. We used to use the phrase "God willing" more than we do now (and Muslims still regularly say "inshallah"). We're saying by this that we'd like something to be a certain way, but only if it doesn't involve derailing a higher plan.

Who knows, maybe God or the universe or MAL might have a little leeway and can respond to such an explicit plea. If it doesn't because an unwanted event must happen on a particular occasion, then prayer can't work, but no harm in asking if one means well. However, a subtle point is that asking MAL for help could be making the tacit assumption that without asking, we won't be helped -- when in fact, just maybe, if things can be that certain way, MAL will see to it without our needing to ask. This is an image of God at all times acting in the best interests of humanity, an image that requires faith and trust. If so, it's what might lean one towards accepting whatever occurs regardless, and not being too demanding with wanting something else.

Quite often in life, I've wanted something that has come to pass, only to find that eventually I've discovered it might have been better if it hadn't -- and vice-versa. Things have tended to go my way most often when I've not known what I wanted and just went with the flow. I really have been very lucky at specific times of my life when it seemed I was just drifting. Who is to say that that wasn't MAL "taking care of me" without my trying to influence events?

And maybe that's what accounts for my instinctive (or maybe intuitional) attitude to life. As I said in my previous post, there could be magic in my life, but if so, it's rarely if ever been consciously pursued by me. Put in religious terms, I've mostly had faith and trust in God without ever having thought of it in such terms: "que sera, sera" as the song has it.

Trying to practise magic could be viewed from one perspective as arrogant; as trying to alter the course of events as if one were literally MAL or God or whatever. Maybe it's possible to a minor degree to consciously change events, but this seems such an egoic aim to me. According to Idries Shah (I'm paraphrasing), the Sufis believe that we have free will, but when we attain self-actualisation, we accept that the only will that makes sense is the will of God, which all our actions should mirror. We freely choose not to exercise our own will, which inevitably arises from the ego, and follow God's or MAL's will, as it were, in an instinctive way.

Sufis (and holy figures in all religions) frequently are said to have had paranormal powers, but if so, my thinking is that it's because they've lost their egos and are "mirroring God's will". Trying to "practise magic" before the loss of personal ego is to my mind asking for trouble, and best avoided. Shah says that the onset of such powers frequently comes when the student is approaching self-actualisation, but at such a time egoic attractions can still be overpowering. Students may become sidetracked and abandon the path to truth at the last minute.

The female Sufi saint, Rabia (who had long ago vowed only to ask God for something, and no-one else), is said (by Attar) one day to have been in the kitchen whilst her servant was cooking; the latter needed an onion and said she'd go and ask a neighbour for one. Just then, a bird flew by and dropped a ready-peeled onion into the frying pan. But Rabia was suspicious of its source (it may have come not from God, but a instead a trickster demon), and ate her bread without the onion.

This may be an apocryphal tale, but it perhaps illustrates the dangers of magic even for someone who is both pure in heart and fully self-actualised. Magic can turn one to the "dark side" so to speak, take one back into the realm of the ego. It's sometimes said that self-actualised people may refrain from exercising magic or paranormal powers for exactly this reason. And in general, one should exercise caution about accepting a teacher who does overtly exercise them.

In short, magical or paranormal powers perhaps shouldn't normally precede enlightenment, but rather be a result of enlightenment, and then only be exercised sparingly or not at all. Maybe Michael is in some way enlightened and his experiences are the result of that; I don't know. All I do know is that I am not enlightened and hence am not concerned about prematurely developing such powers.
 
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#44
Well, David, I have little doubt that "paranormal" events actually happen. That they sometimes might happen as a result of magic, of intention, could be true, but if so it's something I'd be loathe to try: one can't be certain one's intentions are pure or in the best interests of oneself or others. Like they say, be careful what you wish for on account of possibly unintended consequences.
To be clear - I wasn't saying that I wanted to do magic, or encouraging anyone else to, but it is nevertheless relevant to discuss whether this activity works, and if so why it works - just as it is relevant to discuss the weird effects that entheogens produce.
David
 
#45
I find it interesting the definition of magic here seems to have narrowed to only work done with the assistance/approval of spirits. Is new-thought type / "all is mind" based influencing of outcomes not magic? What about qi/energy based work? Mesmerism? Radionics? Remote healing? I suppose my question could be more simply stated as - is Magic truly distinct from Psi? And further - are Psi effects only possible with spirit assistance? I tend towards a No, for both.

I understand the hesitance to practice magic if we limit the definition to spirit work. But what about these other things? Should we fear focusing our thoughts on a goal because it is more likely that goal will be achieved? Should we be afraid to gather/harness qi/energy because we don't know exactly how it works? We don't know exactly how our brain works but we use it all day long. We're mucking about in and with things we don't understand all of the time... is there anything we do that we truly understand to the level that we can ensure there won't be a deleterious outcome of our actions somewhere down the line? I like the Taoist approach too, but I think the reasoning that exploring magic is any more dangerous than most other human pursuits because we don't understand it is a bit flimsy.
 
#46
I find it interesting the definition of magic here seems to have narrowed to only work done with the assistance/approval of spirits. Is new-thought type / "all is mind" based influencing of outcomes not magic? What about qi/energy based work? Mesmerism? Radionics? Remote healing? I suppose my question could be more simply stated as - is Magic truly distinct from Psi? And further - are Psi effects only possible with spirit assistance? I tend towards a No, for both.

I understand the hesitance to practice magic if we limit the definition to spirit work. But what about these other things? Should we fear focusing our thoughts on a goal because it is more likely that goal will be achieved? Should we be afraid to gather/harness qi/energy because we don't know exactly how it works? We don't know exactly how our brain works but we use it all day long. We're mucking about in and with things we don't understand all of the time... is there anything we do that we truly understand to the level that we can ensure there won't be a deleterious outcome of our actions somewhere down the line? I like the Taoist approach too, but I think the reasoning that exploring magic is any more dangerous than most other human pursuits because we don't understand it is a bit flimsy.
Just a point -- I'm not a Taoist; that's how Michael P. characterised my approach, but I personally would say I'm an idealist with a hint of stoicism thrown in.

You are correct that there are all sorts of dangers in things other than magic - think of developing nuclear materials, weapons of various kinds, and so forth. But those are dangers that threaten our lives, not so much our souls or essences, which after all, are thought to be eternal and precious. If you or anyone else wants to play about with magic, carry on, but I don't think my caution is based on flimsy arguments.

Nor do I believe we "use" our brains. The brain as I see it is just the second-person appearance to perception of our consciousness.

And finally, I do Taichi every day. Not so much because I want to accumulate qi/energy, but because it feels good and is rather invigourating.
 
#47
Woul we be better off using a different term other than “magic”? Would it help us progress our worldview towards those more skeptical? Or, do we not care what materialists think? Modern day people are more open to accepting “sciency” sounding words. “Negative entitity” sounds more believable than “demon.” Speaking of a “dis-carnate individual” sounds more credible than speaking of a “ghost.” A lot of these words carry the baggage of ridicule, skepticism, and scorn.

CK Chesterton once wrote that (paraphrasing) “scientists would have a much easier time accepting the ressurection if it were called “the re-galvanization.”
 
#48
I believe magick is outdated tech to an extent l, the props are not needed, neither are robes.
I believe that those things might actually be significant in certain ways. Largely as it may help to facilitate confidence and intent. But there may also be something to them now that they’ve been accepted in a consensual psychological way by other practitioners.

I read a book about lucid dreaming once and in it a woman from a University study had lingering and horrible ankle pain. She entered into a dream lucidly, and went inside of her own ankle, and began cleaning “garbage” out of her ankle. We’re talking things like wrappers, plastic etc. And this healed her ankle. Whether this particular case is true or not, it does illustrate the point I’m trying to make. Symbolic gestures are a real means to an end sometimes in the human experience.

I think this is why exorcisms from all sorts of faiths and religions seem to work largely.
 
#49
Just a point -- I'm not a Taoist; that's how Michael P. characterised my approach, but I personally would say I'm an idealist with a hint of stoicism thrown in.

You are correct that there are all sorts of dangers in things other than magic - think of developing nuclear materials, weapons of various kinds, and so forth. But those are dangers that threaten our lives, not so much our souls or essences, which after all, are thought to be eternal and precious. If you or anyone else wants to play about with magic, carry on, but I don't think my caution is based on flimsy arguments.

Nor do I believe we "use" our brains. The brain as I see it is just the second-person appearance to perception of our consciousness.

And finally, I do Taichi every day. Not so much because I want to accumulate qi/energy, but because it feels good and is rather invigourating.
Michael L., I actually had no intention of directing my comments to you. I was speaking very generally in that I truly DO like the Taoist approach - not your approach. I'm sorry if it read as though I was criticizing you. When people ask me what spirituality I most identify with I tell them Taoist. I practice Qigong daily, and I do it decrease stagnation of Qi and be able to hold more of it.

The critical piece of what I was saying was that I think messing about with spirits is more easily understood as dangerous - but that other things that might fall under a definition of magic (can the definition be broader than spirit work?) probably aren't all that more dangerous to mess about with than other human pursuits e.g. doing Qigong is probably not more dangerous than bodybuilding. Does practicing remote viewing run the risk of harming our souls more than amassing unnecessary wealth or turning a blind eye to the suffering undergone to provide us with the material comforts we might take for granted?
 
#50
Michael L., I actually had no intention of directing my comments to you. I was speaking very generally in that I truly DO like the Taoist approach - not your approach. I'm sorry if it read as though I was criticizing you. When people ask me what spirituality I most identify with I tell them Taoist. I practice Qigong daily, and I do it decrease stagnation of Qi and be able to hold more of it.
No probs - I didn't actually think you were criticising me, just wanted to stress that it was MP who raised the idea of Taoism.
 
#51
Some of it does work
That's not a statement a lot of people would feel okay with. And that's then problem with talking about magic in an open forum, where the level of knowledge of the subject is unknown and likely to be mostly zero to very little, as well as a bunch of very negative POVs inherited from religious or general cultural habits of thought.

I know what you mean, but few others reading this would. You also made the point about ego and morality being issues from your experience, and I assume also that you found the desire for power and status a real problem. The public face of magic often involves very strong characters, and that is because it may be problematic that magic has a public face at all. Why do you need others to know this is what you are into?

There are perfectly good communities of magicians doing what they do in private. I have no doubt about that. The posers and pretenders are sincere, but locked into a culture that repels many. I thought studying magic was going to be my path. It wasn't. I came close enough to learn some useful things, and then I was spun off. I was told, in fact, by a 'spirit guide', that it was not for me. Maybe this the same for you?

I come back to the question of whether magic is old tech. For most of us I think it is. We have to redefine and reframe the ideas. But that also means knowing enough about the 'old tech' to get a sense of what to redefine and reframe. In that regard I think people know what they need to know and when they have enough.

I, by no means, pose as an expert. I just know what is enough for me, and would not presume to opine on other's needs. Magic is an intensely personal matter. We have, or do not have an innate skill. We and our spirit guides have decided we will, or will not, get into magic. We are, or we are not, curious about our ability to make stuff happen. We will, or will not, meet people read/hear stuff that changes our thought and leads to experiences that are transformative.

I do not see any fundamental distinction between magic and spirituality. We each define our relationship with the metaphysical side of our reality as we will - and it plays out in the physical world. In an ultimate sense the idea of magic simply formalises an innate human sense to make the link between desire/intent/imagination and the reality in the physical world immediate and potent.

Gordon touched on the roles of defending a person/community from adverse spirit agents. That's another dimension that is vitally important - and not one I am involved in.

What we call magic is known by many other names and has subsets we will not immediately recognise. It can found in all the faith and mystical traditions - as esteemed acts (miracles) and things to be feared and loathed - but what is propaganda and slander?
Is humanity egotistical?
Here's some food for thought. Is mastering humanity an egotistical feat?
 
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#53
I find it interesting the definition of magic here seems to have narrowed to only work done with the assistance/approval of spirits. Is new-thought type / "all is mind" based influencing of outcomes not magic? What about qi/energy based work? Mesmerism? Radionics? Remote healing? I suppose my question could be more simply stated as - is Magic truly distinct from Psi? And further - are Psi effects only possible with spirit assistance? I tend towards a No, for both.
That's my definition because it works for me and I am entirely content to encounter other definitions. If we accept the all is mind or God or MAL assertions we are still talking spirits in my view. By spirits I mean discrete expressions of God (for the want of a better term) in the same way that you and I express as individuals but are of then one humanity and, finally, the one divine expression.

Materialists tell us that the cosmos functions through what are essentially 'mechanical' processes - objective forces that possess no agency of their own (although that's not the way they talk). The early Greek philosopher Thales is credited with saying that 'everything is full of gods'. In animistic terms everything is infused with spirit - and hence spirits. We have to choose whether we see reality in materialistic or animistic terms essentially.

I don't think magic is distinct from psi in any essential way. It is an intentional methodology in one sense, but it is often defined in terms of effect - in ways that create the illusion that it is distinct from any act. Let me try to describe it this way - magic generates processes that are substantially metaphysical, so when the outcome of a magical act has a physical expression the cause of that expression seems to be mysterious.

However a more sophisticated understanding of the world we inhabit would suggest that mysterious mechanisms are routine (especially so in politics and commerce). For many magic is about processes they cannot guess about - or find plausible 'explanations'. That is there is no evident relationship between effect and cause is what excites us. This is what makes magic as entertainment fun - like Penn & Teller's 'Fool Us" (which I love btw).

This, and the public face of magic via popular culture, causes us to misunderstand. In strict terms Jesus was a magician. Christians celebrate the arrival of the 3 wise men - the Magi - at his birth. My Oxford Dictionary app says "magi were regarded as magicians'. Yogi are magicians. Taoist magic is well known. Buddhists, especially the Tibetan variety, were into magic as well. In fact really no religious, mystical or spiritual tradition is devoid of what is essentially magic.

What we really have is types of magic, and I say there are two critical divisions - those practitioners who have an innate relationship with spirit - and for whom magic comes naturally (in many forms) - and those who have to labour at it. In both instances there are those who act for themselves or for others - and for a greater good or a pragmatic 'good'.

In the Bible the 'witches' are considered evil but they are more likely spirit chosen as opposed to priestly classes obedient to tradition ( so no talent bums get to wear robes just because they are of a certain family). In traditional cultures there are also divides between the 'shamans' (sanctioned within the cultural tradition) and 'sorcerers' (Western language) that are considered 'evil' - probably because they equate to the Biblical witch for the Western reporters .

Things are always way more complex than we are induced to think. The world isn't comprised of simple binaries. But wrapping your head around that takes a lot of hard work.
 
#55
Just a point -- I'm not a Taoist; that's how Michael P. characterised my approach, but I personally would say I'm an idealist with a hint of stoicism thrown in.
Yes, I did that. You just struck me as having a Taoist outlook. I didn't mean to say I thought you were a practising Taoist in an intentional form - just in a sense of harmony with Taoistic views - that were not informed by a thorough appreciation of all that Taoism is.
 
#56
I read a book about lucid dreaming once and in it a woman from a University study had lingering and horrible ankle pain. She entered into a dream lucidly, and went inside of her own ankle, and began cleaning “garbage” out of her ankle. We’re talking things like wrappers, plastic etc. And this healed her ankle. Whether this particular case is true or not, it does illustrate the point I’m trying to make. Symbolic gestures are a real means to an end sometimes in the human experience.
There are thousands upon thousands of stories like this. We are induced to think that 'magic' is rare. It isn't. Innate spirit assisted acts of magic are as common as (I don't know - pick something). What is rare is the formal magic - the ceremonial. But it has the name and the we live in culture in which we are induced to believe that talking about weird stuff will get you laughed at and condemned.

But here's the reality. Outside dickhead materialists and cranky fundamentalists - who you should see coming a mile away - we are eager to talk about our experiences once we know it is safe to do so. We have, I believe, been cowered by a minority. What we mostly want is respect and open-mindedness. But we don't know how to signal that.

Back in 2008 I acquired a catastrophic disability that put me out of work for 18 months (in hospital for 10 of them - mercifully not in the USA. I had to pay $35 a week for access to a television and nothing else until I found I could order in pizza). Talking about disability is almost as bad as talking about paranormal experience. Whether disability or psi or other weird crap - we don't know how to talk to each other because we have bad cultural habits of discrimination and exclusion.

Weird is normal. But we hide in the corners of our psyches because we have been intimidated the 'scientific' and the 'religious'.The two aspects of our culture supposedly devoted to truth conspire to conceal what will disempower them.
 
#57
Rick Archer just did an interview with Damien Echols on how ceremonial magick helped him in the death row. It would be interesting to see him on skeptiko too...

 
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#58
The one question I tee up from this interview, let’s say we, as in the United States government or some shadow government or some other entity, is trying to break into the spirit world, is that okay?
Quite frankly, I think all nations on Earth are already under malevolent spiritual influence. What human being in their right mind wants anything to do with war? What human being would not prefer for one marriage to work for themselves and their children for their entire lives? what human being would not want for seemingly constantly evolving diseases to be gone? I could go on and on with the preferences we, every single one of us as human beings wants. So I'll end with a question too. What the hell is standing in the way of our harmony?
 
#60
So I'll end with a question too. What the hell is standing in the way of our harmony?
The questions proposes we are at an equal stage and there is something unreasonable that prevents us from expressing our equal affection for each other.

So much depends on how we understand who and what we are. If we accept reincarnation we will imagine humanity differently from those who do not. One belief opens up options another does not. Whether our view of humanity is informed by materialism or shamanism we will, answer the question differently.

Is the impediment to harmony a dark spirit or unequal capacity to express harmonious sentiments and actions?

Its an interesting question to try to answer, but, for the exercise to be worthwhile, we need to appreciate the assumptions, presumptions and guesses that will underpin our answers.
 
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