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Science and Magick, Principles, Ability

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,talk.religion.misc
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Science and Magick, Principles, Ability
Date: 3 May 1997 02:56:15 -0700

[technical difficulties enforced delay -- apologies for outdatedness]

49970418 AA1  Hail Satan!  

E6 (John Everall):
#>> Magick is unlike Science in the sense that following a 
#>> prescribed procedure doesn't engender a precise result.

[personal quoted wishes to remain anonymous]:
#> ...psychotherapy has been extensively researched, sometimes in a 
#> very controlled "scientific" manner.  However, from my experience, 
#> following a prescribed procedure certainly doesn't always produce 
#> a precise result with a particular patient....  Perhaps magick, 
#> like psychotherapy, is a blend of "science" and "art." (John Everall):
# ...I was thinking more about chemistry, for example. In that creating 
# specific compounds involves a precise procedure engendering precise 
# results if the method is correctly observed....  ...For some 
# inexplicable reason some people achieve [the growing of crystals] 
# better than others irrespective of diligent following of procedure.

my understanding is that "chemistry" as an applied discipline of the 
carrying out of predesignated procedures is not science at all.  where
science occurs is when a number of compounds are created using what
could be described as 'the same' experimental procedure (ontologically 
and statistically they do NOT qualify for this) and some overall picture
of what is going on is DEDUCED OR INFERRED from the resulting data,
*ignoring strange results which are presumed to be 'experimenter error'*.

the scientific process is much more messy and imprecise than is usually
let on, and yet through peer review and repeated experimentation a great
degree of confidence can be obtained as regards certain formulaic and
metaphysical descriptions which can THEN be used to produce results in
artistic or engineering endeavors.  however, the idea that there is a
level of certainty of %100 in actual experiments is, as I understand it,
fictional.  there are yet queer exceptions which cannot be explained
except by ignoring them, omitting them from the 'real data' (it is
called 'real' by virtue of its preponderance).

[now, back to magick]

given that your statement about the scientific process is somewhat
false, and that modern Science is not MERELY following a prescribed
procedure to produce a precise result, I would also suggest that
magick is in some measure exacting in its practice but that it has yet
to be so concisely described (even by Crowley, whose writ in _Book Four_
surely constitutes some of the most scientifically-valuable of those
extant) that it can compare easily at this early date.

often the external "t's and i's" are explained quite plainly, or even
imprecisely, while the INTERNAL requirements of the spell are left out
completely: a 'secret key' which must be absorbed either through the
trust of the social milieu (becoming shackled to secrecy in exchange
for these keys) or through experimental trial and error (almost having
to 'recreate' the rite or feel one's way through it while enacting the
external ceremony).
#>> I presume everybody on this list would concur that merely 
#>> performing a particular ritual assiduously, as in dotting the i's 
#>> and crossing the t's doesn't necessarily produce results. 
#>> ...the extra ingredient which is necessary to ensure
#>> success is the emotional and mental state of the practioner.

#>> anything which INTENSIFIES the normal, the quotidian,etc. 
#>> The other state seems to be one of extreme depression, or 
#>> vacuity in Spare's terminology.  But notable in both cases 
#>> is the extremity of the emotion involved.

#> ...the "emotional charge" that I place in a ritual is a very 
#> important variable for a "positive" outcome.  ...the emotional 
#> charge is the most important variable.  The actual mechanics 
#> and type of the ritual seem to be of secondary importance.

and yet the popular mythos surrounding magick (indeed that which did for
centuries inspire scientists to fabricate "formulae"; science in its
modern sense arose OUT of magical origins) is that the formula is all
one needs.  putting fingernail clippings F onto wax image I and reciting
power-words W within the context of the magical ceremony C produces the
result of the magically-connected poppet P.  

I think that there is much more here between the two (modern Science, 
magick) than meets the eye.  we are told that the experimenter must 
have a particular 'objective', 'removed', and 'detail-oriented' 
attitude in order to yield effective "scientific" results.  thus, at 
least within the objective, external-scientific pursuits, paying 
close attention to the externals about which the experiment is supposed 
to revolve is quite important.  one's internal condition is also 
a prime concern to the modern Science community, as was explained 
previously as regards 'excluding the possibility of expectation and 
desire influencing the results'.

what I am suggesting is that this exclusion is object-science based,
and is in no way a fundamental element of the entirety of science as
a field when integrating (again) the internal elements and returning
to magical pursuits.  when engaging subjective-science, there is also
an attention to detail as regards the internal and external conditions,
even though how they are to be regulated may change depending on the
type of activity and results one is attempting to produce (if any).

in this sense I am claiming that magick and modern (objective) Science
are NOT the same; in fact, that modern Science is an incomplete child
of magick (as can be demonstrated by looking at the history of any of
countless Sciences (note my use of capitals).  what once was part of
a combined science and art has taken on the GUISE of the entirety, and
paraded about in its real effectivity as regards the EXTERNAL WORLD.

while this is quite an achievement, people are beginning to realize
that this in part an Emperor Without Clothes as regards the core
principles of the ideal scientific pursuit -- that restricting oneself
to the external world, especially by virtue of dogmatic myopia (which
Kuhn and others have made plain) is in effect the turning of the
beauty of the foundation of science into a materialistic religion
whose corruption of human knowledge toward certainty is only slightly
compensated by the virtues it affords humans in matter-control and
the prediction of physical process.

# Spare's theory seems to indicate that one is using a portion of the
# Kia or life energy. Not a million miles from vitalist approaches, 
# Bergson, etc which I feel have been unfairly neglected.

countless subjectivist models could and should be created.  our taste, and 
the models' parallels to the elements of our experience, will determine
which we may consider to be 'true' or 'accurate'.  Spare's theories
are obviously somewhat popular, though I don't know them to be much
better than those already created (and often misunderstood) by 
religious communities (often centered in the mystical).

this is the great travesty of religion, that it posits models which
can be of inestimable use to the scientific investigator (those who
are involved with Transpersonal and Noetic Sciences have realized
this it seems, as did Jung and Maslow), yet which it considers to
somehow lie completely outside the person or within a dualistic and
therefore fracturing paradigm.

#>> ...the type of ritual employed is of less importance than the 
#>> cultivation of these states [emotional].  

I'm unsure that this is the case.  it is possible, for example, that
the condition of the mechanism (body, mind, whatever else) determines
what is most effectively engaged where magick and ceremony are
concerned and therefore you are only partly correct in that what
brings on these states will vary depending on these elements.

#>> ...Spare,to my mind, a much greater artist than Crowley, is 
#>> proof of this; 

[some text spatially rearranged]
# I don't think Crowley had a well-developed aesthetic sense. All 
# his poetry demonstrates is that he is well read. To me there is 
# an absence of real feeling. 

how can we determine who was a greater artist than whom?  if you
mean that Spare was better GRAPHIC artist, then from what I have seen
this is accurate.  however, as regards text I have never seen anything
of Spare's which compared to Crowley's best prose or poetics of which
I am aware (some of AC's books now available in print include these).
his most prized work _The Holy Books_ is filled with beautiful poetry.

#>> his magic was perhaps more potent than Crowley's not because of 
#>> the superiority of his method but because of his ability to enter 
#>> into these states more easily than Crowley.

identifying a superior is perhaps unnecessary.  how to assess whose
_magick_ is more potent is equally if not impossibly difficult.  by
what measure are we to gauge this?  by an extrapolated discernment of
who was better able to summon up emotional intensity, as you appear
to be attempting here (complete with what I'd call overgeneralization)?
or through the supposed RESULTS we might be able to compare in hindsight?

# ...[Spare's] paintings ...completely transfixed me....
# ...nobody has recently tried to organize a major exhibition of his work. 
# To my mind he is superior to any of the Surrealists and perhaps on an 
# equal footing with Blake.

the Grants have attempted to place a great deal of emphasis on Spare.  I 
think this is one of the reasons that Spare is popular in the occult world, 
yet I could be mistaken.  it strikes me that your expressions here are 
personal resonances rather than any kind of convincing argument for 
superiority in the realms of art or magick.

#>> Crowley only seemed to be able to access these states via his 
#>> preferred methods of sex and drugs, hence their emphasis in 
#>> his system.

I gather that sexuality (at least masturbatory, perhaps others can say
more on this) played a VERY important part of Spare's works.  

quite aside from this, however, do the tools or methods which a mage 
uses to effect their magical pursuits somehow absolutely imply the 
power of the mage, or their abilities?  

I'm also unsure I really understand your mention of mystics such as 
Blake and Wordsworth in a discussion of mages.  are mysticism and magick 
inextricably woven, as you see it?  how shall we discern them, if there 
is some difference?  if mystics participate essentially in the realm 
artistic (at least those being predisposed toward expression), then can 
we really say they are "scientists" in any meaningful sense, and 
therefore (at least within my preferred/AC's terminology) "mages"?

#> I find it hard to comment since I only know the man from what 
#> he wrote.  

I agree that this is a major limitation to our discussions.

# Same with his mountaineering: many people would stand on a mountain 
# top and feel a tremendous sense of awe and power, a la Nietzsche. To 
# Crowley it just seemed to be a challenge, another way to prove his 
# manhood or whatever. Also this applies to his relationships with 
# people, he seems so self-absorbed that they hardly exist for him, 
# especially women. In all his works I can find no genuinely emotional 
# feeling for another human being. He only seems to admire people
# for their achievements: Bennett, Eckenstein, etc.

this is really important support for the critical analysis of Crowley's
aesthetic sense.  your points here made may indicate that this sense was 
severely hampered, likely if so affected the upbringing and era into 
which he was born.

# ...his emotional deadness meant he was a very inadequate magician
# in the same way he was an inadequate poet and painter. 

the emotional deadness of which you speak is seen through the limited
lense of a cache of his writings to which you have been exposed.  is
this sufficient material upon which to base an assessment of another's
magical abilities?  what of the RESULTS and their relationship to the
intended objectives of engaged rite?  how does 'emotional aliveness'
square with 'intentional acts' as regards indicators of power?

# His knowledge of magick was vast, but I would dispute his ability.

this is a very important tack to take with Crowley, and I think that,
despite the lack of presented data you have provided (have you actually
perused the huge amount of private correspondence which lies unpublished,
for example?), there is a strong case to be argued here.  as regards
results, after which I've been asking, one might say that Crowley's
interminable seeking of monies and his "inability to manifest in the
material world" may have been an indicator of his weakness, magically.  

however, I am as yet unsure that Crowley did his magick FOR money, or
for anything other than his HGA-relationship (he did seem to place a
HUGE emphasis on it within _Book Four_, categorizing all that was not
in support of this relationship (K&CofHGA) to be 'black' and somehow
lesser).  what other "magical" pursuits of the man might we analyze in
an assessment of the RESULTS of his magical activities?

is magick solely a matter of realizing one's limitations, working
within them, and achieving along lines towards which one applies
one's efforts?  if so, then FAILURE (esp. longterm) becomes the
hallmark of the charlatan or the weak, and some of the greatest
confidence-men-cum-magicians in occult history should be classed
as 'successful and powerful', despite their means of working
(political or illusion-based rather than ceremonial or symbolic 
activities designed to produce intentional results without direct

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