Author Topic: Explaining Magic with Psychology  (Read 679 times)

Ave Lucifugus

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Explaining Magic with Psychology
« on: December 31, 2017, 11:37:17 am »
A thought experiment:

What is magic?

Magic is the art of using symbols and metaphors to cause changes of one's own state of mind.

How does magic work?

The core element of magic is manifestation, that is to say to obtain an object of desire thanks to synchronicity - meaningful coincidences. The psychological model explains manifestation & synchronicity as thus:

When we perform a ritual, we would often enter a trance state - which is achieved through repetition (thoughts, chants, and what have you). It is thanks to this repetition (and also psychodrama) that we engrave our own will into our subconsciousness. When we step outside of our ritual chamber, and begin leading our mundane lives, we will unconsciously start noticing "meaningful coincidences."  We then begin to think that either the world around us is bending to our will, or subtle forces are at work.

The psychological model says, nay, it is us who are unconsciously seeking that which will fulfill our will. We have become more sensitive to opportunities, so it may give off an illusion that the world is bending to our will.

If this was not the case, we would be able to manifest objects of desire just by sitting and home and casting spells. The objects would come to our doorstep, but as you know, that's never the case. The magician must go out and WORK for the object of desire; nothing falls from the sky.

Another crucial component of manifestation & synchronicity is Spizzo's effect - it's an effect where we ascribe a causal relationship between our action(s) and an event. For example, when you clap your hands at a bus station and then someone coughs. If it happens enough times, we could fall into the trap of thinking that our clapping caused the person to cough.

The same thing is with ritual. When we're first starting out, we ascribe our results to coincidence (although there are people who instantly attribute it to their ritual working). But the more we practice magic, and the more results we get, we start to ascribe a causal relationship between our rituals and desired outcomes. Also, there's another side to this. We can also ascribe desired outcomes to the deities we work with, usually because of the patterns we notice, which I will talk about in a moment.

Now, an edgy reddt-tier atheist would say, "Ha! Ha! magic is just confirmation bias and fantasy delusions! Hail Dawkins!"

To which, I would say, "No. By performing magic you become more sensitive to opportunities that might fulfill your will. You turn yourself into a great tracker, which can be very beneficial. Without the ritual, you might've not noticed the opportunities."

How manifestation in evocation works & Other patterns

Pareidolia. Plain and simple. We are programmed to find patterns, even in randomness which results in us seeing things that aren't really there. This is the case with seeing entities in incense smoke, a scrying mirror, and so on.

And this isn't just a visual phenomenon. It's also a mental one. We will see elements and link them into a pattern. So, for instance, if I work with Odin, and then start seeing two ravens, and then later on a bearded man with a hat, and perhaps even get a desired outcome, I'll link all of these pieces into a pattern and conclude that Odin was there, and caused the desired outcome.

How Oujia boards & Pendulums work (divination)

Ideomotor effect. You are subconsciously sending tremors to your hands/fingers to move the board piece or swing the pendulum in a particular direction. These tremors are influenced by your thoughts and also (less commonly known) beliefs.

To test this out, take a pendulum, then ask it a question. If it "shows" yes, ask the same question but then start thinking "no" and see the pendulum "showing" you no.

Same thing with Ouija board. Start thinking about a particular outcome, and see the piece being "guided" to that outcome. Also, if you're working with an Ouija board with a group, tell everyone to close their eyes, and have another person write down what the board is "saying" while you're moving the piece with closed eyes. You'll find that you'll end up with gibberish.

Have the spirits forgotten how to speak & spell once you closed your eyes?

How does seeing entities and communicating with them work?

Evocation is the most intriguing practice of all magical workings. It is through evocation that many come to conclude that gods, demons, and angels indeed exist. But the psychological model says otherwise:

What you are actually doing is entering a state of mind similar to that of a dream, and start interacting with your own impressions of those beings, not the actual beings themselves. Hence, there are a lot of inconsistencies between occultists' experience with one and the same being. However, there are also similarities which are explained by the same explanation.

The archetypes are real, and that's how the psychological model explains the entities. They are archetypes. And two or three people can have similar impressions and associations of one archetype, but there will also be differences.

I'll give you an example. Let's take Lucifer, for instance. Five occultists will have these same impression/association of Lucifer: he is male, he is the bringer of light, he appears as a shining angel, most likely with blond hair and blue eyes (because of that light association). Those are similarities, and people will report them as confirmation. But that does not mean that those are Lucifer's objective characteristics. Rather, it's kind of obvious why people experienced those things when working with Lucifer. And, of course, there are variations - not all occultists will see Lucifer as male. Some may see him as female. But this isn't unique. How many times have we dreamed of people we know as dramatically different? Even gender-bent them in our dreams. I know I have.

Then, you'll have the differences. One occultist may perceive Lucifer as prideful, because he's more Judeo-Christian oriented. Another occultist may see him as very benevolent, because he's Luciferian / Satanism oriented. The third one might see Lucifer as violent, and so on.

The voices that people hear are actually a part of their own mind. Just like you're capable of dreaming of a person talking to you, you're also capable of talking to an entity. It's the same thing, essentially. Except the entity's voice will probably be more "voiceless" like your own inner voice, because you're not in a deep trance or sleep as you would be when dreaming.

How does divination work?

It's cold reading, for the most part. When someone performs a divination for another, usually they'll fish for information, and they will almost always provide them with vague information. The psychic readers almost never (if never) will tell you specifics that only you would know, WITHOUT YOU SAYING ANYTHING TO THEM! Check out Darren Brown's youtube channel for more information; how psychics operate, what is cold reading, and so on.

How does "energy work" work?

Often magicians will talk about feeling energy, and what not. Feeling energy of an entity or something. What this essentially is is placebo. They convince (subconsciously or otherwise) themselves that an object or an entity "vibrates" a certain way, so they'll feel some sensations. This "energy" they're speaking of are nothing more than sensations. You cannot measure it, you cannot use it to power something; they're just feelings.

What is Astral Travel and how does it work?

Astral travel is essentially lucid dreaming. If you would look at the methods for astral travel, all of them require you to lie down and enter REM phase. With very few exceptions, astral travel experiments resulted in the person not being able to see what is in the other room, and usually they'll see blackness instead of other floors if they're trying to ascend through the ceiling and enter their neighbor's apartment.

With exceptions, the reason why people don't end up dreaming nonsense, but instead find themselves leaving their body while their surrounding stays relatively the same is because the person is entering the dream state with the goal and the belief that they will leave their body. And, as some of you already know, convincing yourself that you'll have a lucid dream before going to bed is a legitimate way to have a lucid dream. The difference is, with astral travel, you specify what kind of lucid dream you wish to have, rather than give a vague affirmation, "I will lucid dream tonight."


So here's my promised psychological view on magic. Let me know if I had left something out, and do let me know your thoughts on this. Whether or not this is plausible to you or not, etc.

Criticism is more than appreciated! This is a mental exercise, after all! Bear in mind, though, I will answer from the perspective of someone who adheres to this model, and as such, my replies with be something you would expect from a materialist.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2017, 10:23:20 pm by Setamorphosis »

pi_rameses

Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2017, 02:40:50 pm »
This is quite coherent actually. And I'd imagine that idealists, immaterialists or nondualists may possibly see it this way - not only materialists. At least I do. Concerning archetypes, an evocation can be reframed as someone facing their demons and approaching their shadow so as to integrate it to their conscious psyche. It would be the equivalent of an alchemical transformation of the self to gold through a series of processes. Bookmarked.
"Some say Kos, others Kosm.
As you did for the vacuous Rom,
grant us eyes.
Grant us eyes."

-Micolash, Host of the Nightmare

Ave Lucifugus

  • Guest
Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2017, 02:55:15 pm »
Thanks for the feedback! :)

I think that this model covers magic quite nicely; the only few things that this model cannot explain are experiences that are really out there, such as:

1. Receiving information you couldn't have possibly known in evocation

2. People behaving in unusual ways as a part of a synchronicity, almost as if deities we work with are speaking through them

3. Animals behaving in unusual ways as a part of a synchronicity

4. Telepathic experiences, which aren't frequent, but still

5. Being able to obtain information you couldn't have possibly known during astral travel

6. Concrete, physical phenomenon seemingly caused by spirits that have been called on and witnessed by third parties, including people being physically accosted/assaulted by said spirits and/or physical items being moved/thrown/stolen, etc by spirits.

7. Curses that cause the actual destruction (death) of targets who had no idea that they were cursed at all. (Although this can be, and usually is, chalked up to coincidence.)

8. Curses that cause the target to start experiencing phenomenon as outlined in number (6).

Aside from these 8 things, my model explains magic quite well, I'd say. But, likewise, I am open to criticism.

Quote
Concerning archetypes, an evocation can be reframed as someone facing their demons and approaching their shadow so as to integrate it to their conscious psyche.

I think this too. When working with Lovecraftian entities, for instance, I could view it as pulling repressed memories and such from my subconscious mind, which are quite nasty and chaotic ... which matches the nature of Lovecraftian gods.

Author edit: Number 6, 7, and 8 were written by Frater V.I.M
« Last Edit: December 31, 2017, 10:29:09 pm by Setamorphosis »

pi_rameses

Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 03:18:04 pm »
Yes. So I suppose this model would treat those five points as exceptions to the rule. Statistically, you have covered the normal distribution of phenomena that would occur on a day-to day basis for anyone. Whatever remains are seen as outliers.
"Some say Kos, others Kosm.
As you did for the vacuous Rom,
grant us eyes.
Grant us eyes."

-Micolash, Host of the Nightmare

Ave Lucifugus

  • Guest
Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2017, 03:32:33 pm »
Indeed. It certainly explains 99% of my experiences. Even my today's experience with Freya. I was in a trance, after all.

Ave Lucifugus

  • Guest
Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2017, 07:34:01 pm »
Perhaps I should include an explanation of astral travel...eh...

pi_rameses

Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2017, 08:44:00 pm »
Perhaps I should include an explanation of astral travel...eh...

By all means, do as thou please!
"Some say Kos, others Kosm.
As you did for the vacuous Rom,
grant us eyes.
Grant us eyes."

-Micolash, Host of the Nightmare

Frater V.I.M.

Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2017, 10:22:38 pm »
To that list of 5 things, I would maybe add:

6. Concrete, physical phenomenon seemingly caused by spirits that have been called on and witnessed by third parties, including people being physically accosted/assaulted by said spirits and/or physical items being moved/thrown/stolen, etc by spirits.

7. Curses that cause the actual destruction (death) of targets who had no idea that they were cursed at all. (Although this can be, and usually is, chalked up to coincidence.)

8. Curses that cause the target to start experiencing phenomenon as outlined in number (6).
"The old gods did not die, they fell into Hell and became devils.”
- Anton LaVey

Ave Lucifugus

  • Guest
Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2017, 10:25:13 pm »
Good call, @Frater V.I.M.

The curse can be explained the same way I explained manifestation & synchronicity. We ascribe meaning and make patterns when we see our targets having problems in their life. That said, death curses are another matter altogether, and they, indeed, deserve the spot among the other phenomenon which my model cannot explain.

I just added the explanation of astral travel just a few seconds ago, by the way.

Olive

Re: Explaining Magic with Psychology
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2018, 04:21:59 am »
I have a similar psychological model of magic in my materialist paradigm. I think the individual soul arises with and exists concurrently with the body. I do not believe it survives independently or apart from it, and neither does it reincarnate and live again. (At least in the way people generally think about reincarnation - there is a deeper understanding buried in that doctrine however.)  That being said I think it's important to acknowledge that the dimension of mind has hidden properties and states that can contain knowledge and wisdom. I do not rule out the possibility of obtaining certain types of knowledge through magical means, as mentioned in the list of things the model doesn't cover.


I think that this model covers magic quite nicely; the only few things that this model cannot explain are experiences that are really out there, such as:

1. Receiving information you couldn't have possibly known in evocation
...
4. Telepathic experiences, which aren't frequent, but still

5. Being able to obtain information you couldn't have possibly known during astral travel


People speak of learning things in the Akashic records. And I also do not rule out information gained in so-called "past life regressions" or experiences. Heck, I reinvented half of witchcraft through direct channeling before I ever even picked up a book on it. Even if these things are possible, I do not think it proves or points to the independent existence of the soul from the body. Instead, it just points to the fact that we are all interpreting parts of this manifold mind. It has been said that "thoughts float in the air," referencing telepathy, two people having the same thought at the same time, gaining knowledge, etc; now, they don't literally float through the air, that's just referencing this phenomena.

If you want to be careful to not externalize this partially shared pool of information with the way you talk about it, instead of saying we interpret the manifold mind - you can say we are all built on top of versions of the manifold mind.

It really raises questions about how much is available and how some of this stuff could be known by or stored by the brain. I don't have all the answers on that one, but I know for a fact that the subconscious mind and the hidden parts of our metaphysical dimensions are not simply inert echo chambers as one might expect of fully self-contained and physically-emanating minds.
    Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
     Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, -
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley