a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Magic, Science, and Skepticism

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.pagan.magick,alt.lucky.w,alt.magick,sci.skeptic,alt.philosophy.misc
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Magic, Science, and Skepticism (was skeptics in magic land)
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 03:41:25 GMT

50020617 VII 

Earth Wolf :
>> ...all we skeptics want is either an acknowledgement that 
>> magic, as you see it, does not involve anything that violates 
>> the laws of nature or a demonstration of something that 
>> unequivocally does violate the laws of nature, at least as 
>> we understand them.

gonna give 'em a ticket? :>

> Well, nothing that exists "violates the laws of nature", by 
> definition. Many things violate our understanding of them -- 
> and investigating them is what scientific inquiry is all about.

it is quite popular to equate "our understanding of them" with
the Laws themselves, arrogantly presupposing the truth touted.

> If you want someone to say that magic is not a plot device or a 
> special effect the way it appears in books and movies, no problem.  
> That is not what magic is, any more than "the laws of nature" are 
> some sort of heavenly legislation that the world is forced to 
> conform to.

one is dictated, the other forms a part of the continuum of energy.

Amanda Walker  :
> magic and religion often mean different things at
> different levels of abstraction....  

this is a wonderful point. I omit it here only to save space.
see the original!
> In most discussions of magic and science, these different levels
> of understanding are hopelessly conflated until things become
> a complete mess.  Recent threads are texbook examples of this.

one way to make heads or tails of said mess is to keep track 
of the various sincere and coherent assertions about the topic
(whether magic or science), then watch the levels weave and
change as the conversation changes, for interesting motivations.
it can become a veritable anthropology (and archaeology) of
conceptual constructs. comparing and contrasting what you can
personally support (using whatever means which are available
to you) with what exists, you may discover your relative role
with respect to the bulk of humanity. it is debatable whether
any aspect or social strate of this species has truth corralled.

>> If, however, you mean an ability to tamper with the laws of nature
>> (physics, probability, etc.) by the use of "supernormal" powers, 
>> magic incantations, potions, spells, etc. then I think you should 
>> be able to demonstrate that - if it works. If you cannot 
>> demonstrate or test it, then you are making a claim that is, ergo, 
>> untestable.

tampering with ANYTHING via these supposed supernormal powers is an
ability I'd like to see demonstrated. I don't believe in it, and do
not consider it to be related to magic. you're talking role-playing
games and fiction, maybe modern neuvoreligious concepts of magic,
but nothing supported by longstanding traditions.

> But the very idea of "tampering with the laws of nature" is a
> contradiction in terms.  If it can be tampered with, it's not a 
> law of nature.

of course, but the way in which this is phrased lends itself quite
easily to political exposition. "tampering with laws" draws criticism
from people who are too ignorant to understand that Laws of Nature
are observed regularities in the cosmic flux. an ability to somehow
influence these would be a remarkable thing, and I doubt it possible,
as do most magicians.

not only this, many would agree with you and then exclaim -- 

	"That's right! And that's why magic can't exist!!!" 

because they don't understand you're making a point about laws of
nature, rather than some kind of problem with your "tampering".

> The "laws of nature" are simply the principles by which reality 
> is structured.  

at any one time and place. it is possible that these observed
principles may change within certain circumstances.

> The scientific method is an excellent way of distinguishing and 
> studying the subset of those principles which cover aspects 
> of reality that are independent of individual experience -- 
> those aspect of reality about which we can compare notes and 
> find common elements -- objective and interobjective, to use 
> terms from epistemology.
> Magical and religious traditions offer other methods, just as
> rigorous, for distinguishing and studying those which are not
> independent of individual experience--subjective and intersubjective.
> Picking one of these four aspects of reality and declaring that
> that's all that exists is a mistake, no matter which you choose.

there's gotta be a name for those who do, tho. :>

	Objective -- Hard Scientism (to borrow your term).

	Interobjective -- Soft Scientism

	Intersubjective -- Soft Spiritism (to make up a new one)

	Subjective -- Hard Spiritism 

a variety of religious and occult philosophical constructs could
be mapped into this spectrum (and then wiped from the 'what Amanda 
thinks is true' set of possible ideological sets? :>). I'll 
contribute one to start it off:

	Subjective -- Hard Spiritism: 



Message-ID: <>
From: catherine yronwode 
Organization: Lucky Mojo Curio Co. 
X-Mailer: Mozilla 3.01-C-MACOS8 (Macintosh; I; PPC)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.pagan.magick,alt.lucky.w,alt.magick,sci.skeptic,alt.philosophy.misc
Subject: Re: Magic, Science, and Skepticism (was skeptics in magic land)
References: <> <>  
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Lines: 21
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 03:47:13 GMT
X-Trace: 1024372033 (Mon, 17 Jun 2002 20:47:13 PDT)
NNTP-Posting-Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 20:47:13 PDT
Xref: alt.magick.tyagi:33100 alt.pagan.magick:33204 alt.lucky.w:11838 alt.magick:306154 sci.skeptic:544214

nagasiva wrote:
>         Objective -- Hard Scientism (to borrow your term).
>         Interobjective -- Soft Scientism
>         Intersubjective -- Soft Spiritism (to make up a new one)
>         Subjective -- Hard Spiritism
> a variety of religious and occult philosophical constructs could
> be mapped into this spectrum (and then wiped from the 'what Amanda
> thinks is true' set of possible ideological sets? :>). I'll
> contribute one to start it off:
>         Subjective -- Hard Spiritism:   SOLIPSISM

 Jean-Paul Sartre claimed that EXISTENTIALISM was identified with
"inter-subjectivity" as early as the 1940s. 

cat (props where proper, creds where accredited) yronwode

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races