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Magic and Psychic Energy/Power/Force

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.paranormal,alt.paranet.skeptic,alt.paranet.psi,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.magick,talk.religion.newage
From: (nagasiva yronwode)
Subject: Magic and Psychic Energy/Power/Force (was Taxonomizing Magic ...)
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 07:32:54 GMT

50000216 IVom

Harold F Stubbs  and Tom Schuler talk skeptically
(inquiringly and open-mindedly rather than cynically) about psychic
power and magic. one of the subjects of study I have found slightly 
of interest was "psychic power" or "psi". some of the texts I've 
retained over the years address what this is. here is an excerpt 
from one:

	Your Psyche and your body make up a very closely-
	united whole -- neither the one nor the other acts
	quite alone, and both work better when we recognize
	their basic interaction.

	  a. "Psychic Power" generally means the assertion 
	     of the psyche's powers in the material world 
	     without the apparent involvement of the physical

	  b. But, "Psychic Power" is also involved when the
	     physical body exceeds the usual level of strength
	     or skill -- as in athletic or sports achievements,
	     dance, or feats os strength. In other words, the
	     development of the psyche can also directly
	     benefit the body.


	You have a body, and you also have a psyche. You
	probably have a fair idea of the powers of your
	body, or of body and psyche together; now you
	want to find out how to exercise your psyche's

	As a fact, body and psyche together make up a very
	closely-united whole, and to expect either one or
	the other to act quite alone would be unrealistic.
	Still, what we mean by the use of psychic power is
	a very well defined [sic] form of activity. For
	example: if you wish to lift a pencil off the table,
	and you merely sit looking at it until it trembles,
	tilts, and at last rises up above the table, that is
	a demonstration of psychic power even though your
	physical enery undoubtedly helps. But if you grasp
	the pencil and lift it by hand, of course you show
	no special power even though your psyche most
	certainly is what causes your muscles to act.


	The human psyche is defined as the non-material
	part of the human individual. The idea, "You have
	one psyche, I have another" is a true reflection
	of a reality: one person's psyche differs from
	another in emotions, inclinations, abilities,
	aspirations. Thus far we can think of our psyche,
	if we choose, as a non-material "self" formed
	rather like a phantom replica body.

	Nevertheless, much of the psyche's experience is
	not "self" at all, in our usual application of
	that word. It is also questionable how far we
	"have" or "possess" the psyche; at all levels,
	both higher and lower, it is a vaster reality
	than the consciousness with which we explore it.
	Besides, the psyche has its mysterious doorway,
	hidden but never closed, into the Collective
	Unconscious; first, into that of the human race,
	and, beyond, into that of all life forces.

	The psyche, by its nature, is capable of various
	interactions with matter as well as with non-
	material realities, and these two capabilities
	form the main heads of our inquiry. The action
	of the psyche upon matter and the action of one
	psyche upon another, form the bases for a number
	of highly interesting developments and powers.
	Other abilities, which we may call the internal
	powers of the psyche, are also very well worth
	developing; they are less measurable, less
	demonstrable, but they can be of immense value
	in our lives. *Such is the ability to monitor
	our dreams, or to achieve out-of-the-body
	"The Llewellyn Practical Guide to the Development 
	 of Psychic Powers", Melita Denning and Osborne 
	 Phillips, Llewellyn, 1987; pp. 1-2, 5, 63-4.

the authors then move on to explain a personal spectrum as
comprised by spirit, mental psyche level, astral psyche
level, and the physical body. they describe the psychic
powers as having "their foundation in the astral level of
the psyche", which is described as "the emotional and
instinctual level" (Ibid., pp. 65-6).

as regards the production of effects, the authors suggest
that you must "get into harmony with what you want to do."
this is interestingly reminiscent of both mysticism and
magic in that the former tends to stress harmonization
(usually with some spiritual or personal principle) and 
the latter usually includes (at least symbolic) sympathy 
(either with one's ideal potential/true will or with the 
object one desires to influence).

from what little I have observed, the subject of para-
psychology or paranormal effects, abilities or events
seems to have its greatest impetus if not its origins
in the American Spiritualism movement. many books on
psychic power and education emphasize spiritualist
cosmologies, metaphysics, and morality. contact with
special entities (the dead, angels, divinities,
spiritual guides, extradimensional or extraterrestrial
beings, etc.) and the development of supranormal
abilities (of perception, influence and exploration)
have not only become an integral element of what is
today called the New Age movement, but also has had a
tremendously powerful impact on the subject of magic
and occultism, promoted by organizations on the edge
of these subjects and their practice such as Theosophy,
Rosicrucians, and other Hermetics (Golden Dawn and its
successors and competitors) and reflected in the text
of a number of ceremonial magicians inclusive of
Dion Fortune and William Gray.

for this reason I am consulting spiritualist resources
in this post for an expression of what defines and
explains what is called either "psi" or "psychic power".
my interest is particularly the boundary where these
abilities overlap with and describe similar effects to
what would be called in the occult community "magic".

Hill ("Spiritualism, Its History, Phenomena, and
Doctrine") has nothing on "psychic power" per se.
Randall ("Parapsychology and the Nature of Life")
has little more to say. Woelfl has this to say:

	_Psychic-Force, Cosmic Energy:_ the power used
	by spirit-operators for manifestations of all
	psychic phenomena.
	"Psychic Experience: An Introduction to
	 Spiritualism", Genevieve Woelfl, Redwood
	 Publishers, 1976; p. 179.

and Blunsdon elaborates significantly:

	_Psychic Force_  The term was originally
	suggested in a letter to Sir William Crookes
	by Serjeant Cox; the persons who employed
	the force were to be called "psychics", the
	science itself as 'psychism' a branch of
	psychology. The sensations accompanying its
	emissions according to Maxwell are: 
	1. Sensation of cool breezes over the hands.
	2. Slight tingling in palms and tips of
	fingers. 3. Sensation of a current through
	the body. 4. 'Spider's web' sensations in
	contact with the body in various parts.
	These sensations are now considered due to
	the emission of ectoplasm.
	"A Popular Dictionary of Spiritualism",
	 Norman Blunsdon, Citadel Press, 1963;
	 p. 168.

now we're getting to its historical origins,
at least. according to the same source, Crooks, 
who lived between 1832-1919, was a physicist who
investigated Spiritualism with grandiose claims of
exposing the fraudulence and later claims of its
truth (in the investigation of Katie King and
Florence Cook) that his peers found objectionable.

this appears to specifically involve what is called
"ectoplasm", the subject of humour and special
effects in movies such as "Ghostbusters". here is
what Blunsdon has to say about it:

	_Ectoplasm_  A subtle living matter present in
	the physical body, primarily visible but capable
	of assuming vaporous liquid or solid states and
	properties. It is extruded usually in the dark
	from the pores and the various orifices of the
	body, and is slightly luminous, the more so when
	condensed. The temperature of the room is usually
	lowered when ectoplasm is produced; it possesses
	a characteristic smell and is cold to the touch.
	This substance is held to be responsible for the
	production of all phenomena classed as 'physical',
	and is the substance out of which materialized
	forms are built by the spirit operators. In
	addition they build elastic or rigid rods to produce
	movement in objects (telekineses), raps and noises;
	artificial 'voiceboxes' for the phenomena of the
	direct and independent voice. The levitation of
	tables and heavy objects is accomplished by
	building extensible columns under them. Hands have
	materialized, dipped themselves into molten wax
	and then dissolved, leaving perfect moulds behind
	that are impossible of duplication by ordinary
	means (see _Kluski_). Solid balls of cold light
	are familiar manifestations in physical phenomena.
	Ectoplasm has been photographed on many occasions
	and appears opaque white by infra-red flashlight
	which is the usual method employed. Sudden
	exposure to white light is of great physical
	danger to the medium when the ectoplasm is being
	used, due it seems to its swift elastic recoil
	as it returns to its source. In movementit can be
	swift or slow, it can build a perfect representa-
	tion of a living human body with pulse warmth and
	muscular movement. Dr. Dombrowski of the Polish
	S.P.R. [Society for Psychical Research] had a sample
	analysed in 1916 and to quote a summary of the
	bacteriological report: 'The substance is
	albuminoid matter accompanied by fatty matter
	and cells found in the human organism. Starch and
	sugar, discoverable by Fehling's test, are absent.'
	Ibid., p. 69.

the same author also mentions that a different term for
Psychic Force used by Professor Thury is "Ectenic Force",
but I find little which explains how ectoplasm is
integral to Psychic Force as a parallel to magic. its
part in Spiritualist seances is obvious enough, but how
this progressed to today's notions about psychic power
and psychic force which, as in a variety of books and
films, is used to manipulate matter directly, is not
clearly explained. modern Wiccans and psychics tend to
describe a kind of "energy" which they associate with
a tingling or warm experience in the hands or 
other body parts.

the evidence of fraudulence in psychic "demonstrations"
is clearly documented. books like Brandon's "The
Spiritualists" and "Madame Blavatsky's Baboon" (author
forgotten and I don't feel like going downstairs to
obtain their name, sorry). there is a categorical
difference typically made between 'magic' and 'psychic
influence' based on symbolism and principles like
contageon and sympathy. the latter tends to ignore any
kind of 'magical link' (after Crowley). for this reason
and because of the deceptions rampant in the psychic
community, some magicians (like Crowley) heap scorn 
upon those who associate with this phenomenon or its
character. that so many newcomers to the occult
community describe magic as a kind of psychic force
seems to me the result of the projection from earlier
spiritualism through modern films and books and their
portrayal of 'magicians' or 'witches' as doing little
more than wiggling their nose or waving their wands
to achieve their fantastic effects. very few bother
to further distinguish between thaumaturgy and theurgy,
especially whilst describing their activities as in
conformity with spiritual authorities or agents. 

it occurs to me as I finish off this small investigation
that Mesmerism is probably also an influence on the
subject, but I'm unsure if Mesmer or his successors used 
the term "psychic" or indeed "psychic power" or "psychic 
force" in their explanations of consciousness changes
and electromagnetic flux. I very much doubt it.

additional input (especially quotes from reliable
sources or citations in review of scholarly materials)
requested. my interest is in attempting to isolate the
history and explanatory components of what modern Star
Wars fans call the use of 'The Force' or psychic power
to directly influence the world whether telekinetically
or in a more extravagant fashion (a la 'Bewitched' or
several other fictional examples).


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