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Science and Occult History

To: alt.magick.tyagi,sci.history,alt.magick,alt.astrology
From: Mark Nuttall 
Subject: Re: Science and Occult History (Long)
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 15:57:03 +0100


George E. Hrabovsky  writes:
> The categorization of matter as composed of fundamental elements is the
> most obvious which comes to mind.  In antiquity this was thought to be
> earth, water, air, and fire; (which interestingly enough corresponds to the
> four states of matter: solid and semisolid, fluid, gas, and plasma).  These
> four elements were thought to be indivisible.  

George, please forgive me if I'm mistaken but you give the impression of
having missed the point here. The division into four elements - at least to a
modern occultist - is a division of {manifest stuff} into more-or-less
psychically distinguishable categories. Other possible divisions are possible
- I think the Chinese use wood and stone in replacement of a couple of the
above. The distinction is made as part of the psychological/psychophysical
toolkit which the magician's consciousness becomes. `Air,' `Fire' etc are sets
of qualities of consciousness, not to be taken literally. 

> This lead to ideas about the structure of matter as atoms composed of
> electrons, protons, and neutrons which were indivisible.  The structure of
> the hadrons (neutrons and protons) was then puzzled out as being made up of
> up and down quarks, which not only are thought of as indivisible, but
> inseparable.  Now there are ideas about the structure of quarks, but I think
> the point is made.

Such `atomist' theories go as you know back to certain tribes of antique Greek
philosophers. There are several issues raised here. Firstly: in magickal work,
`reality' (such as the word is meaningful) applies both to inner psychic and
bioenergetic processes as much as the nature and structure of the `external'

`Science' - physics, chemistry, etc etc has gone to great efforts to exclude
the nature of subjective, inner experience from its enquiries. `Reality' is to
be `explained' through a body of algebraic expressions by which matter and
energy may be manipulated. Well and good... but `consciousness' has been
ignored as a factor in physical processes. You're a physicist... you know full
well that there is No Such Thing as an objective observer, and that a quantum
level the very term `structure of matter' does not carry the same meaning as
it does at an atomic or molecular level. 

Physical science is still suffering from a chronic dose of Cartesian
dualism. One's thought processes and consciousness may, we are told, be safely
excluded from factors determining the results of experiment.. even though
Bohr, Heisenberg et al have demonstrated IN OUR OWN LANGUAGE (calculus) that
no such dualism applies in actuality. 

> Are you suggesting that modern science does not inspire?

Modern science has a woefully limited field of enquiry. Science can be
insprational but (certainly as I was taught) there is little or no room for
questioning certain fundamental beliefs about `Reality' .. such as the
implications of non-dualistic states of consciousness, Jungian synchronicty
and its apparent/potential links with quantum mechanics/Bell's theorem,
etc... nor does it investigate practical techniques for producing such states
of consciousness. These are the things that truly inspire me now. 

> Indeed, in my opinion, science is magick at its highest level.  

This is to elevate the mathematical modelling of physical processes to a level
above that of  which is the true aim of magickal endeavour. 
The  denote a general term rather than a specific dogma.

> All science is, in reality, is a method of study.  As a scientist one agrees
> to treat as reality that which can be verified by independent experiment or
> observation. 

True. Very true. Problems occur when scientists decide that the methods of
other groups are `unscientific' or `superstitious nonsense' or `wholly
subjective' and, without further investigation, write off the conclusions of
the other groups and often as not refuse to discuss the matter further. This
reification of institutionalised ignorance is very common. Let me give you an
example: Yoga. This is a body of knowledge well over 5000 years old referring
to experiments and observations made by a large number of practitioners over
that time. Yoga is a SCIENCE of inner, `subjective' realities. It's approach
is one of, Do these exercises and see what happens. Results have a markedly
reproduceable nature... after a while folk's perception of `inner' and `outer'
realities start changing. Other things happen. Regularly. Yoga talks about the
`subtle body.' Nonsense! Howls western science, There's No Such Thing, Kirlian
photography notwithstanding. What western science contrives to fail to
understand is that if one does the practices provided then one comes to
first-hand, experiential contact with the phenomena under discussion. This is
just one example of `western science's' blindess to the fetters imposed on
legitimate fields of enquiry through it's ``certainty'' of what is ``real''
and what is ``imaginary.''

I have a physics degree, a decent BSc. I have frequent, first hand
experiential contact with my `subtle body.' This experience is utterly unlike
anything non-practitioners of yoga or any other viable similar technology have
ever encountered. Could I get my `results' published? Recall that Wilhelm
Reich died in jail. For all that there are many independent observers of these
phenomena, they are not acknowledged by ``science.'' Why do you think that is,

> Science is a community, and the stated facts of the community
> are the facts that are agreed upon by the community AS A WHOLE!  The
> individual can make significant progress only when the individual's results
> are reporducable.  This does not say anything about the relative value of
> beliefs, which by their nature are a leap of faith.  In magick this leap is
> necessary, in science it can kill people

As indicated above, faith is not a prerequisite for magickal practice. It is
enough merely to keep an open mind and be open to unfamiliar experience.

> Sir, this is patently absurd.  As a theoretical physicist I get complaints
> all day that I am not dealing with reality.  That the mathematical worlds
> that I create are far removed from the experiments of my fellows.  On the
> other hand, as an ordained minister I believe that the spiritual is far more
> important than the physical.

Do you appreciate that the method of science may be applied with great
efficaciousness to the aims of religion? Do you recognise that this has been
done in India, China and elsewhere for millenia? Do you accord the knowledge
derived from these experiments the same standing as the knowledge of the
`external' world developed here in the west? If not, why not?

You're an ordained minister: if `the divine' is `real' can one not perform
investigations and experiments? The history of such work is the history of the
western tradition of magick, known to the profane as `alchemy' and `astrology'
among other names. Leibniz and Newton, the founders of Calculus were both
dedicated alchemists.. and it was from the alchemical pursuits (most
particularly the hebrew Cabala) that their mathematical ideas arose. Einstein
also paid great attention to this body of work. Have you repeated their
experiments in this field? 

> Much of what was thought of as magick has been shown to be outdated.

Who thought of these things as magick in the first place? Magick's main
techniques are geared towards

	1. Effecting one's will.
	2. Union with , ie, Gnosis.

Are these outdated? There's long been all types of pseudo-psychic charlatenry
and quackery around the magickal fringes... ignore it. On the other hand, bear
in mind the many records of Christian saints levitating. It's not just the
Hindus who experience such phenomena. 

> It is my opinion that there is much to be learned by science and by
> the more mystical arts (I do not call them sciences).  Incidentally,
> stop calling magical arts sciences unless you expect to hold them
> to the same standards as REAL sciences (physics, chemistry, ...).

Real science starts out with someone saying:

   I did these experiments, with these parameters, controls, precautions,

Other folk try the procedure and either get the same results, or not. If they
do, a variety of models may be proposed to `explain' the observations. These
models may be tested: they should make predications which may themselves be
subjected to experimental verification.

George, the magickal arts do indeed in many many ways fit this criteria. They
do consist of a body of TECHNIQUE the application of which RELIABLY delivers

> The true sciences tell us about the physical world around us.  

And this from an ordained minister! The above sentence is an arbitrary
definition. Might I not as a yogi state

    The true science leads us to union with God

and then refer to `other parts of reality' like those manifest fragments of
 appearing before us as structured vortices of energy, more commonly
termed `matter'?

> The magical arts and religious studies tell us about the other parts of
> reality, which cannot be measured physically.  Since we live in
> the physical world, we need to know about it.  As a magician it is
> stupid to not seek to learn about one's environment.  As a
> scientist it is stupid to believe that you can measure everything.

For all that inner experience is not very usefully measured physically, it is
an act of gross stupidity, surely, to assert that `reality is that which is
measurable on a recording device' ie

    Reality is that which is known to the five senses 

since any instrument is but an extension of one or more senses? This is
approaching the saying

    The spirit is not measurable
    Reality is measurable
    The spirit is {not a suitable subject of enquiry/ not real/ illusory}

Both the above indented bits are 100% ass-backwards. Manifest energy/matter is
measurable, but Reality must be commensurate with Eternity, surely?

> My suggestion is to learn some real science. 

I got a physics degree. 

> Do not approach it superficially, but really dig into it.  You will magick
> at its core, the magick of intuition and understanding of the world around
> us.

My suggestion is to learn some real magick. Not's approach it superficially,
but really dig into it. You will find true Science at its core, the true
Science of the Gnowledge of the Divine, the real reason and cause of
existence, true wisdom and perfect happiness.

> Actually, you are, probably on purpose, overlooking the part about
> verification by REPEATED experiments.  This is the true test of science, as
> opposed to philosophy.

Remember to keep up your magickal practices for at least a year or so, to make
it a true test over repeated experiments. Ensure that you keep a diary to note
the changes that occur during your life in this time. `Philosophy' is just
talking the talk.. real magick is walking the walk.

> Science requires that before anything is accepted as true fact, it be
> verified through repeated trials, by different laboratories.  Only then do
> we get a theory.

Your laboratory is your own consciousness. You are the lab and the scientist,
the subject and object. Gnow thyself.

> There are no occult sciences. 

A gratuitously ignorant assertion, I'm afraid. `I know of no occult sciences'
would have been a statement of Truth.. so near, and yet so far...

> A science is a methodical method of studying a collection of phenomen using
> the scientific method.


> If you believe that conjuration or divination is a science, I would
> truly be happy to look at your verifiable data (as this would be proof
> to show to others). 

The proof is to be had by repeating the experiments yourself.

> The reason they are called pseudoscience (a term a personally find
> distasteful) is that the practioners of such arts decry science and then
> pretend to be scientists.  When did you perform your last controlled magical
> experiment that could be repeated precisely by someone else?

I do not decry science, only the artificial limits placed on legitimate fields
of enquiry by the currently established priesthood. My last controlled magical
experiment took place this morning: I performed a Lesser Banishing Ritual of
the Pentagram. Instructions for this procedure are widely available. I would
recommend its practice perhaps twice daily for a minimum of six months,
supplemented with yogic breathing exercises perhaps 10-15 mins daily. Anyone
can do these things: but if the results are known before starting to be `a
load of pseudoscientific nonsense' rather than `a definite shift in the
individual's state of consciousness' then what's the point in starting? 

> What I know to be true is that as a scientist, am I am hardly the exception,
> I  find that every time we discover something new (a fairly frequent
> occurance) it raises many more questions than it answers. 

The `human aura' `astral body' `body of light' `chi' `prana' `orgone' is a
real phenomena, and may be experienced by each individual that makes a real go
at one of the many available practices for activating it. This fact has been
known for millenia, and the knowledge has been put to good use for the same
period of time. This does indeed raise questions.. like, why is it still a
dangerous heresy to say so?

> Making broad statements about the inner workings of a field you are
> not part of is both malicious and stupid. 
> There are no occult sciences.

George, you made a good effort but still came out sounding at least as
opinionated as Tyagi. Did you read 


? What do you make of the document? 

The bottom line seems to be this: We have a body of technique that produces
results, reliably and repeatably. Unfortunately, the results are obvious for
the most part only to the practitioner. Your instruments define the limits of
your field of enquiry. Simply because we do not give our results in joules,
equations and silicon chips should not invalidate the applicability of our
results and nowledge within the appropriate field of enquiry, that is,
consciousness? Would you agree with that, at least?

Mark Nuttall, Phone (+44) 171 5948237  Fax (+44) 171 5818024
[Dept of Computing,Imperial College, 180 Queensgate, London SW7 2BZ] [93 93/93]

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