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Diary of a Sly Man
20 most recent entries

Date:2010-09-12 00:09
Subject:Windpower by Thomas Dolby

Switch off the mind and let the heart decide
who you were meant to be
Flick to remote and let the body glide
There is no enemy !

Etch out a future of your own design
Well tailored to your needs
Then fan the flame and keep the dream alive
Of a continent
A continent a continent a continent a -

There is no enemy !
Switch off the mind and let the heart decide
We're a continent
A continent a continent a continent a -

Shatter the lens and grind it into sand
One measured exposure
Scatter the seed and furrow in our land
The future is roses! Roses!
Switch off the mind and let the heart decide
There is no enemy!
Lift up the hearts of this your only tribe
We're a continent
A continent a continent a continent a

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Date:2010-09-04 06:34
Subject:Get Drunk by Charles Baudelaire
Mood: drunk

Get Drunk

One should always be drunk. That's the great thing; the only question. Not to feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and bowing you to the earth, you should be drunk without respite.

Drunk with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please. But get drunk.

And if sometimes you should happen to awake, on the stairs of a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the dreary solitude of your own room, and find that your drunkenness is ebbing or has vanished, ask the wind and the wave, ask star, bird, or clock, ask everything that flies, everything that moans, everything that flows, everything that sings, everything that speaks, ask them the time; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird and the clock will all reply: "It is Time to get drunk! If you are not to be the martyred slaves of Time, be perpetually drunk! With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please."

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Date:2010-02-25 12:41
Subject:Angel Tech "Polarity Ritual": Dreams and Reality
Mood: amused

I read Angel Tech by Antero Alli over the past couple of weeks and he designed a "ritual" that I have been doing lately. In brief, Two circles are consecrated; one is designed as a performance space while the other is a "chill-out" area to gather energy and "cleanse" one's self between parts of the ritual. In the performance space, one finds a word/phrase and a kinetic activity that describes one aspect of a seeming polarity (Good/Evil, Light/Darkness, etc.), then one moves back to the chill-out area to regroup and then returns to perform the other side of the polarity, takes a break again and then combines the two polarities' movements and words in the space until it reaches a sort of natural conclusion . One concludes the ritual by drawing in more energy and then taking notes on the whole procedure.

The whole thing seemed more like a theatre warm-up exercise than a ritual to me at first (Which given Alli's theatrical background, makes a lot of sense), but I decided to give it a shot. What I have found is that this is a kinesthetic way of considering duality and rather than using a dualizing process to Think about them (Rational consciousness), one instead employs a more intuitive method of analyizing these apparent contradictory aspects of life and comes to some very interesting conclusions about them--one processes them AFTER experiencing them, rather than ruminating over them intermiably. It's been very productive work.

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Date:2010-02-09 07:59
Subject:Walking Meditation I
Mood: productive

On Sunday, I tried the exercise I described in my last post. I went for a walk around the block. While I was distracted at some moments, there were several times when I had distinct moments of "attention." I don't know if I made it clear in my last post regarding the state of perception which I defined as "Will" or if I was hazy in describing it. I wasn't discussing acts of "concentration" (which are imaginary and futile at best) but "meditation" (attention placed on an object or activity as-it-is). When I had these periods of non-verbal/non-semiotic attention, I could actually see things with a striking clarity (In General Semantics, this is referred to as an experience of the "Silent Level" of consciousness).

In particular, I passed by a tall cactus growing against a fence in front of someone's home. Even though there were small blooms on it my attention to the "plant-as-a-whole" was active and engaged. While I took in the detail of the tree, I did not try to catalog it or judge the "beauty" or "tree-ness" of it in a sort of "Zen/Being-One-With-Nature"-type of way. It was more than just a part of the environment of the neighborhood; it had a presence as a living thing--not just the categories of "Cactus" or "Plant." I was simply conscious of it as a seperate and distinct "being" rather than an object to admire or disdain. And all this without the help of drugs...

This reminded me, once I got back home, of how we "lump" people into categories out of shear laziness (and without a little ego-aggrandizement) when we could actually experince them as unique beings--which is far more fascinating and engaging. I was also reminded of two things which I read recently. One was a statement by Ouspensky that "evil" acts can never be conscious--that if one is truly aware of what one is doing and of the real and distinct and individual presence of one's self and others, then there is no room for malicious behavior (Which reminds me now about Crowley's statement that true will does not interfere with the Will of another). It is only in our blindness to others that we perform "evil" actions. This conclusion seems clearer to me now more than ever.

The other thing that I was reminded of was the skills that General Semantics (GS) provides in reinforcing this perspective. Indexing is one of them (distinguishing between, for example, Muslim 1 (Osama Bin Laden), Muslim 2 (Rumi), Muslim 3 (Malcolm X) as opposed to "Muslims are 'x', 'y' and/or 'z' ") and Dating (Bono [1983] isn't Bono [2010], for example) are just two ways that can help the semiotic, time-binding mind to incorporate a non-Aristotelian perspective into one's line of reasoning. While I am of the belief that acquisition of skills and behavior change does not constitute a change in Being ( a priori structures of the Mind), it is important to recognize these qualities of differnce in order to think and communicate more clearly about others and to understand the world in more non-absolutist terms.

Not bad for a walk around the block...

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Date:2010-02-01 10:29
Subject:Will and Desire
Mood: contemplative

Magick has been defined as "change in conformity to the Will" which, on the surface, seems easy to accomplish. One example of such "magick" that I have read defined brushing one's teeth as one such act. I can see where the example leads on a superficial level--it implies that ANY or maybe EVERY intentional act is both an act of Will and a Magickal act as well. In spite of this, my recent studies and contemplations have changed the nature of what I consider "Will" and ways to act in "Conformity" with this elusive quality of consciousness.

Will and desire are not the same thing. If this were true, then "lust for result" would be an aid to magickal acts rather than a hindrance. The more lust, the better, right? Lust/desire is a tentative line of "Reasoning" that obviously fails to produce an act which can be associated with "Will". Thus, the current focus within Occulture on "Results" is merely the desire to gain material possessions and for the fulfillment of emotional needs. There are better ways to achieve these goals than using magick--climbing the corporate ladder, buying the right clothes and car, etc. are more practical and easier to do than to cast enchantments to hope for the same result.

So, if my "Will" is not to get what I want, then what is it? What form of "Will" can magick/spirituality offer me that a "9 to 5" job can't?

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Date:2010-01-24 18:39
Subject:Reality Tunnels and Me...
Mood: content

It has been a long time since I have posted to this journal. I decided to keep it online in order to express my ideas in light of the paradigm that I formed from reading works by Ouspensky, RAW, D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Colin Wilson and Crowley. My perspective on the Occult has changed and I will be reflecting this by posting things that are more philosophy-oriented rather than ritual-and-magick oriented. I simply question the neuroses that motivate a lot of the goals of "change in accordance with the Will" and don't wish to participate in them. I had an experience which I consider a "Satori" (It was like Sartre's "Nausea" only more fun!) regarding the very foundations of life and feel that an occult audience would be more receptive to the ideas that I have had in light of it, even if it is not strictly magickal in the strictest sense of the word.

Hopefully, you'll be hearing more from me...

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Date:2009-03-30 08:41
Subject:Magic as Perception

I have been doing a lot of thinking about magick in terms of an alteration of perception rather than as a means of altering reality.

"It is not the spoon that bends, but yourself. Just remember that there is no spoon."

I think it is important to understand that the practice of magick or interest in the occult is not an end in itself, but a means by which someone can percieve reality differently and therefore change reality through force of Will alone.

I have had a number of epiphanies lately--genuine moments of contact with the ineffable through simply deciding to look at things in a state of no-mind. These moments as such have provided me with a glimpse of what I consider Reality to be--a permanent and indescribably beautiful experience and not simply a mutable movable feast. The "reality" that we superimpose over this fundamental world of experience is indeed malliable, but Reality itself is not transcendental, but immutable.

I am glad that I have been able to interface with it and am trying to cultivate more moments of "non-intellectual knowledge of Reality." I am still being heavily influenced by Castenada and Gurdjieff at the moment rather than a Ceremonial/Crowley view of things. I will post more about this as my perspective evolves

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Date:2008-12-01 17:11
Subject:A New(er) Paradigm

I took a break from metaphysical matters in order to re-evaluate my approach to Magick and the Occult in general. In the intervening time I studied a lot about Science, Standard Philosophy/Metaphysics and a cybernetic approach to magick which was buried amid several of the books that I already had in my collection (Mainly Phil Hine and Dunn's "Post-Modern Magick" along with "Liber Null" by Carroll) and managed to crank out a children's Steampunk Novel.
As a result, I have come up with a paradigm that I am comfortable exploring--it won't be as "mystical" as some other people's paradigms and in fact it may sort of reduce magick to simple psychology and Ego Magick, but for right now this approach seems valid and logical to me and I will discuss it more in the coming days. I considered a name change for the page and posting a reminder about it, but I think that this site can serve the purposes that I hope to achieve without making a melodramatic statement and starting from scratch.

If I have to boil my approach down to a simple mission statement, then I guess that I would say that Magick is the most efficient, effective means of altering probability for the benefit of the collective. This is a less egotistic approach than I held previously and that I hope fits in with a understanding of personality and civilization that is more clearly perceived than I held in the past.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to posting here and I hope that many of you will find something interesting in what I write...

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Date:2008-04-10 17:09

Since I am not using my journals as much as I used to, I decided that I would crosspost a few things and see how it goes.

I've been doing a bit of reading about magick and picked up a new book "Portable Darkness: An Aleister Crowley Reader" which compiled his writing into basic categories and followed that up with articles that directly relate to one another. For example, it contains an article about the Book of the Law that explains how the voices should be read [i.e. When Aiwass or Crowley or one of the Godforms he contacted is speaking and to whom the speaker is addressing (Mankind or just Crowley] ) which really helped me to understand what the Book is all about. There are several things that he mentions which started to lead me down some experimental pathways that I consider to be two of the goals of my practice: Open-handed Technique and The development of Free Will through magick.

One of the statements that Crowley makes in regard to the Tree of Life is that language and sentence construction is a kabbalah. Its the interaction of one's self with the Tree that gives it some sort of significance. Combining that with an article I read in the "Disinfo Book of Lies" which talks about viewing life as "Code" (The intelligent Willed shaping of reality through thought, words and the creation of objects) and it made me realize that it could be possible to create one's own Tree of Life based on one's own understanding of "reality" and work with it in such a way that one can achieve magickal states of consciousness (which I believe is the goal of the kabbalah, per Crowley). If anyone wants me to detail what my kabbalah is and how I have been working with it, then I will, otherwise I will just state that it has helped me out tremendously in my practice and look forward to the results that I will achieve through using it.

Through studying Determinism and Free Will, and through the Book of the Law and the general layout of Crowley's practice, I came to a realization about the purpose and nature of Ceremonial Practice. Crowley describes how he one time recited a poem with passion and this served as an incantation that produced a result. In the "Book of the Law", it states: " '44. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered form the lust of result, is every way perfect.' " What I realized was that Free (Pure) will is achieved through the absence of lust for result and that one way to practice this removal of lust is to perform Ceremonial Magick.

The goal of Ceremonial Magick therefore is not the actual result of the Working in and of itself but the learning a of a skill to carry with you throughout your life. Wanting the result of a stimulus (cause) is what makes us perform certain actions (effect). By taking on a role as the prime cause of one's own action without wanting a result from these actions (effect), the chain of Determinism is broken and Free Will is achieved. The goal of a Magickian therefore becomes Free Will or what could be termed Knowledge and Conversation with the HGA. That means that the HGA is Free Will. So, I am going to change how I approach Workings from now in order to reflect this ultimate goal: Free Will.

That's about it for now...

Cross-posted to davmhl

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Date:2008-02-12 13:34
Subject:The Use of Magick for Internal Change

My original emphasis in the use of magick was for the manipulation and transformation of reality to suit my consciousness (in other words,to get what I wanted or what other people wanted) because I wanted to see if it worked and to use the power inherent in "reality" to my own or my friends' benefit if it was at all possible, but in the short time that I have been practicing magick, I have come to realize that it is more important use this power wisely rather than just to "get what I want."

To get what you desire is great, but what about Desire itself? I am more interested in what motivates Desire and the use of subtlety in order to change reality. Now ritual, myth and magick itself are more symbolic of allowing other states of consciousness to occur to me and to others rather than just to manipulate physical objects or influence events. I know that I can always fall back on getting what I need when I want to (sigils and extended rituals are fine for that), but the individual needs of the magus are secondary to the need to transform the very base of Desire itself. That's where the real magick is.

"Why do I desire certain things and not others and why do I feel the need to alter reality in order to get them?" is the question that I keep asking myself. I am not so much interested in altering "Reality" (like there is only one ;-))as in experiencing realities through the transformation of consciousness itself. By experiencing these alternative realities I hope to transform myself into more mercurial and adaptable character than the rigid and up-tight person that I was before I started practicing magick.

I put into practice something that I whipped up from a book entitled Fear No Evil and combined it with Stanislavsky's "Sense Memory" exercises and Robert Johnson's emphasis on ritual in his book Inner Work that really seems to have had an impact on me. I waited a few months before I decided to post on it because I wanted to see if the changes that it brought about would stand the test of time--and it seems to have done the trick. I'll detail it under a cut for anyone that is interested.

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I feel less neurotic and compulsive and more fluid and responsive to "reality" rather than reflexive and habitual in my responses to the world around me. I act more on instinct generated by circumstance rather than pathology--and people seem to like to be around me more, too. The process took about two weeks, but the results have been going on for about three months now so I thought I would let you in on my "little secret."

I'll save what else has been going on for another time. I hope that everyone is doing well.


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Date:2007-06-22 11:19

What color is your soul painted?


Your soul is painted the color red, which embodies the characteristics of love, strength, physical energy, sex, passion, courage, protection, excitement, speed, leadership, power, danger, and respect. Red is the color of the element Fire, and is associated with blood, life and death, birth, volcanoes, and intense emotions.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

Quizzes and Personality Tests

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Date:2007-06-14 21:22
Subject:23 and Fnord and Such

You scored as Discordian, You are a Discordian! That makes you a real oddball, and this is a fact in which you take great pride! Everything is funny, and really, who cares anyway? Synchronicity is the Great Cosmic Comedy, and meaning is where you find it! Have you hugged your paradigm today?




True Alternative






Aimless Eclectic






White Lighter


What Subversive Alternative Paradigm Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com

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Date:2007-06-04 08:16
Subject:St. Anthony v. G.I. Joe

Here is a Macquette/Action Figure of Heronymous Bosch: http://www.talariaenterprises.com/product_lists/parastone/products_large/jb20-saint-anthony-on-flying-frog.html

There are more available above the picture.

Who would win: Snake-Eyes or Saint Anthony..?

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Date:2007-04-08 10:22
Subject:A poem by José Gorostiza

...this incessant stubborn dying,
this living death,
that slays you, oh God,
in your rigorous handiwork,
in the roses, in the stones,
in the indomitable stars
and in the flesh that burns out,
like a bonfire lit by a song,
a dream,
a hue that hits the eye.

...and you, yourself,
perhaps have died eternities of ages out there,
without us knowing about it,
we dregs, crumbs, ashes of you;
you that still are present,
like a star faked by its very light,
an empty light without (a) star
that reaches us,
its infinite catastrophe.

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Date:2007-03-27 07:23
Subject:Election Ritual/Castaneda

I normally don't change my mind when it comes to rituals, but I decided it would be best not perform any rituals in regard to the upcoming elections. My view on magick is being radically changed by reading the works of/inspired by Carlos Castaneda, and while there is no prohibition on such actions, ceremonial magick doesn't seem to fit with the paradigm. What does seem to fit is sigil magick and I will continue to perform it from time to time along with pursuing a path inspired by Nagualism/Shamanism in general. As I become more engaged with the with this particular mode of understanding magick I will post more.

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Date:2007-03-15 14:21
Subject:Seizing Power by Stephen Mace
Mood: awake

There were some aspects of this book that were somewhat interesting but there were only a few revelations contained within its pages. Since I am a solo practitioner, his information on disseminating power in occult organizations, while interesting, was rather pointless for me to read. The structure of power within such groups is the reason that I don't belong to one. I felt that Peter J. Carroll had a more interesting take on group structures in Liber Kaos; describing his initial motivations for the organization of the Pact. Since that has now changed into a "more typical" organization it shows that the power plays inherent in many occult organizations are something that may naturally develop due to the personalities of individuals who seek identification within groups rather than in the structure of the groups themselves. Even when provided with a opportunity to negate the stratification of power within a group, in the end it all boils down to "whose wand is bigger than whose."

His description of the "Mesosphere" and its application within the Aeonic-like structure of Oswald Spengler's view of culture and empire was interesting. I think that a mesosphere does act as a medium that helps to maintain a culture while it goes about the business of creating and overwhelming other cultures so that, even as a culture peaks and then decays, it can perpetuate itself.

His response to this construct is to disengage from its means of maintenance (The Media)which is something that I find untenable and frankly ridiculous. I believe that the Mesosphere is the aspect of culture that is most susceptable to change and that one needs to participate in culture in order to affect it. One needs to use discernment in order to filter out those influences that one finds disagreeable. While the current availability and manipulation of symbols and emotions that happens within electronic mass media is something that is almost overwhelming (especially the pervasive commercialism which accompanies the communications it sends), to reject it for this reason alone is more like surrender than resistance. The title of the book is Seizing Power not REJECTING Power.

While it may be impossible to wrestle control of mass media from the hands of corporate hands, it is possible to carefully select what programs and music one accepts simply through intellectual effort and not slipping into the habit of lazy channel surfing or passive inundation of media through overwhelming exposure which allows for the manipulation of one's instincts and emotions.

Rather than just standing around and waiting for the media to present one with entertainment/morality/consensus on what is desirable and necessary in life (either in terms of what is "cool" or in terms of what is acceptable in terms of behavior and conduct), one needs to take an active role in determining the validity and necessity of the accompanying assumptions and underlying implications of what media is.

There will always be a cultural assumption and corporate ethos inherent in media that is not handcrafted in order to communicate something and such media (made without the use of creative intent--but rather for corporate gain) is always suspect and needs to be taken as such.

To rely on mass communication as one's sole means of entertainment or aesthetics turns one into a passive consumerist blob. Ephemeral and transitory entertainment and experiences like theatre, live music (when it is actually performed live), dancing, and reading decent books (rather than just trash)are things that electronic media can't duplicate and, in fact, have trouble translating into visceral entertainment. Watching a show on tape is never the same as actually being there and to experience something that exists on more than just the audio/visual level enlivens the individual and creates transformative experiences rather than simple events that transpire in front of the person rather than inside them.

Mace's idea of transforming a culture through subtle means rather than violence is a good point. Larger changes in the structure of a culture have been subtle and long-term rather short, sudden and swift. Once a culture's destiny has been fulfilled, it is susceptible to the influence of change from the inside rather than change from external forces. Mace's point on this is correct. But he never details how to go about changing things from the inside or what he feels needs to be changed (other than the mesosphere). While I don't need a step-by-step handbook in terms of what a revolution is and what such a revolution should entail, it would have been interesting to see what means he feels could be used to create this desired state of transformation.

In the end, I feel that my own posts on social action covered the areas he discussed and provided concrete examples of how to initiate such changes. I was hoping the book would provide me with more means by which to ferment such change, but in the end it didn't and therefore, I found it unsatisfying.

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Date:2007-02-07 14:11
Subject:Perfect by The The

It's a chilly English winter,
And solitude is never easy to maintain,
Except when it rains.

So I hang an empty smile beneath my empty eyes,
And go out for a walk.
The wet morning sun reflects off the paving-stones,
While a little dog barks its head off,
In the distance.

Oh, what a perfect day,
To think about my silly world.
My feet are firmly screwed to the floor.
What is there to fear from such a regular world?

Passing by a cemetery,
I think of all the little hopes and dreams,
That lie lifeless and unfilled beneath the soil.
I see an old man fingering his perishing flesh.
He tells himself he was a good man and did good things.
Amused and confused by life's little ironies,
He swallows his bottle of distilled damnation.

People turn around with unseeing eyes.
They're looking for something that doesn't exist.
The world you once knew is being eaten up by rust.
No-one has time for the past, but still, in God they trust.

The future is now, but it's all going wrong.
Bodies good for nothing, but it's to nothing they belong.
People say their prayers and some work hard.
If you give them all your money, they'll give you their hearts.
This town ain't going like a ghost town.
It's going like hell....
Chorus (X5)

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Date:2007-01-31 07:59
Subject:Magical Thinking: Why Do People Cling to Odd Beliefs

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

A graduate school application can go sour in as many ways as a blind date. The personal essay might seem too eager, the references too casual. The admissions officer on duty might be nursing a grudge. Or a hangover.

Rachel Riskind of Austin, Tex., nonetheless has a good feeling about her chances for admittance to the University of Michigan’s exclusive graduate program in psychology, and it’s not just a matter of her qualifications.

On a recent afternoon, as she was working on the admissions application, she went out for lunch with co-workers. Walking from the car to the restaurant in a misting rain, she saw a woman stroll by with a Michigan umbrella.

“I felt it was a sign; you almost never see Michigan stuff here,” said Ms. Riskind, 22. “And I guess I think that has given me a kind of confidence. Even if it’s a false confidence, I know that that in itself can help people do well.”

Psychologists and anthropologists have typically turned to faith healers, tribal cultures or New Age spiritualists to study the underpinnings of belief in superstition or magical powers. Yet they could just as well have examined their own neighbors, lab assistants or even some fellow scientists. New research demonstrates that habits of so-called magical thinking — the belief, for instance, that wishing harm on a loathed colleague or relative might make him sick — are far more common than people acknowledge.

These habits have little to do with religious faith, which is much more complex because it involves large questions of morality, community and history. But magical thinking underlies a vast, often unseen universe of small rituals that accompany people through every waking hour of a day.

The appetite for such beliefs appears to be rooted in the circuitry of the brain, and for good reason. The sense of having special powers buoys people in threatening situations, and helps soothe everyday fears and ward off mental distress. In excess, it can lead to compulsive or delusional behavior. This emerging portrait of magical thinking helps explain why people who fashion themselves skeptics cling to odd rituals that seem to make no sense, and how apparently harmless superstition may become disabling.

The brain seems to have networks that are specialized to produce an explicit, magical explanation in some circumstances, said Pascal Boyer, a professor of psychology and anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. In an e-mail message, he said such thinking was “only one domain where a relevant interpretation that connects all the dots, so to speak, is preferred to a rational one.”

Children exhibit a form of magical thinking by about 18 months, when they begin to create imaginary worlds while playing. By age 3, most know the difference between fantasy and reality, though they usually still believe (with adult encouragement) in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. By age 8, and sometimes earlier, they have mostly pruned away these beliefs, and the line between magic and reality is about as clear to them as it is for adults.

It is no coincidence, some social scientists believe, that youngsters begin learning about faith around the time they begin to give up on wishing. “The point at which the culture withdraws support for belief in Santa and the Tooth Fairy is about the same time it introduces children to prayer,” said Jacqueline Woolley, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas. “The mechanism is already there, kids have already spent time believing that wishing can make things come true, and they’re just losing faith in the efficacy of that.”

If the tendency to think magically were no more than self-defeating superstition, then over the pitiless history of human evolution it should have all but disappeared in intellectually mature adults.

Yet in a series of experiments published last summer, psychologists at Princeton and Harvard showed how easy it was to elicit magical thinking in well-educated young adults. In one instance, the researchers had participants watch a blindfolded person play an arcade basketball game, and visualize success for the player. The game, unknown to the subjects, was rigged: the shooter could see through the blindfold, had practiced extensively and made most of the shots.

On questionnaires, the spectators said later that they had probably had some role in the shooter’s success. A comparison group of participants, who had been instructed to visualize the player lifting dumbbells, was far less likely to claim such credit.

In another experiment, the researchers demonstrated that young men and women instructed on how to use a voodoo doll suspected that they might have put a curse on a study partner who feigned a headache. And they found, similarly, that devoted fans who watched the 2005 Super Bowl felt somewhat responsible for the outcome, whether their team won or lost. Millions in Chicago and Indianapolis are currently trying to channel the winning magic.

“The question is why do people create this illusion of magical power?” said the lead author, Emily Pronin, an assistant professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton. “I think in part it’s because we are constantly exposed to our own thoughts, they are most salient to us” — and thus we are likely to overestimate their connection to outside events.

The brain, moreover, has evolved to make snap judgments about causation, and will leap to conclusions well before logic can be applied. In an experiment presented last fall at the Society for Neuroscience meeting, Ben Parris of the University of Exeter in England presented magnetic resonance imaging scans taken from the brains of people watching magic tricks. In one, the magician performed a simple sleight of hand: he placed a coin in his palm, closed his fingers over it, then opened his hand to reveal that the coin was gone.

Dr. Parris and his colleagues found spikes of activity in regions of the left hemisphere of the brain that usually become engaged when people form hypotheses in uncertain situations.

These activations occur so quickly, other researchers say, that they often link two events based on nothing more than coincidence: “I was just thinking about looking up my high school girlfriend when out of the blue she called me,” or, “The day after I began praying for a quick recovery, she emerged from the coma.”

For people who are generally uncertain of their own abilities, or slow to act because of feelings of inadequacy, this kind of thinking can be an antidote, a needed activator, said Daniel M. Wegner, a professor of psychology at Harvard. (Dr. Wegner was a co-author of the voodoo study, with Kimberly McCarthy of Harvard and Sylvia Rodriguez of Princeton.)

“I deal with students like this all the time and I say, ‘Let’s get you overconfident,’ ” Dr. Wegner said. “This feeling that your thoughts can somehow control things can be a needed feeling” — the polar opposite of the helplessness, he added, that so often accompanies depression.

Magical thinking is most evident precisely when people feel most helpless. Giora Keinan, a professor at Tel Aviv University, sent questionnaires to 174 Israelis after the Iraqi Scud missile attacks of the 1991 gulf war. Those who reported the highest level of stress were also the most likely to endorse magical beliefs, like “I have the feeling that the chances of being hit during a missile attack are greater if a person whose house was attacked is present in the sealed room,” or “To be on the safe side, it is best to step into the sealed room right foot first.”

“It is of interest to note,” Dr. Keinan concluded, “that persons who hold magical beliefs or engage in magical rituals are often aware that their thoughts, actions or both are unreasonable and irrational. Despite this awareness, they are unable to rid themselves of such behavior.”

On athletic fields, at the craps table or out sailing in the open ocean, magical thinking is a way of life. Elaborate, entirely nonsensical rituals are performed with solemn deliberation, complete with theories of magical causation.

“I am hoping I do not change my clothes for the rest of the season, that I really start to stink,” said Tom Livatino, head basketball coach at Lincoln Park High School in Chicago, who wears the same outfit as long as his team is winning. (And it usually does.)

The idea, Mr. Livatino said, is to do as much as possible to recreate the environment that surrounds his team’s good play. He doesn’t change his socks; he doesn’t empty his pockets; and he works the sideline with the sense he has done everything possible to win. “The full commitment,” he explained. “I’ll do anything to give us an edge.”

Only in extreme doses can magical thinking increase the likelihood of mental distress, studies suggest. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder are often nearly paralyzed by the convictions that they must perform elaborate rituals, like hand washing or special prayers, to ward off contamination or disaster. The superstitions, perhaps harmless at the outset, can grow into disabling defense mechanisms.

Those whose magical thoughts can blossom into full-blown delusion and psychosis appear to be a fundamentally different group in their own right, said Mark Lenzenweger, a professor of clinical science, neuroscience and cognitive psychology at Binghamton, part of the State University of New York. “These are people for whom magical thinking is a central part of how they view the world,” not a vague sense of having special powers, he said. “Whereas with most people, if you were to confront them about their magical beliefs, they would back down.”

Reality is the most potent check on runaway magical thoughts, and in the vast majority of people it prevents the beliefs from becoming anything more than comforting — and disposable — private rituals. When something important is at stake, a test or a performance or a relationship, people don’t simply perform their private rituals: they prepare. And if their rituals start getting in the way, they adapt quickly.

Mr. Livatino lives and breathes basketball, but he also recently was engaged to be married.

“I can tell you she doesn’t like the clothes superstition,” he said. “She has made that pretty clear.”

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Date:2007-01-18 15:34
Subject:Liber Kaos

I just finished reading Liber Kaos and found it to be more enjoyable than Liber Null & Psychonaut. I particularly liked the CMT pages and 'Liber KKK' which I plan on exploring starting on my birthday. Did anyone else prefer the second book to the first?

Now I am going to read Seizing Power: Reclaiming Our Liberty Through Magic by Stephan Mace. I am looking forward to it as it will hopefully add some additional information for my posts on Magick and Social Action. I'll let you know how it goes..

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Date:2007-01-05 08:25

HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON? PARK SERVICE WON’T SAY — Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”

In a letter released today, PEER urged the new Director of the National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon. PEER is also asking Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive staff in making distinctions between science and religion when speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.

In August 2003, Park Superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block the sale at park bookstores of Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, a book claiming the Canyon developed on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however, intervened and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of Communications David Barna told reporters and members of Congress that there would be a high-level policy review of the issue.

According to a recent NPS response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by PEER, no such review was ever requested, let alone conducted or completed.

Park officials have defended the decision to approve the sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View, claiming that park bookstores are like libraries, where the broadest range of views are displayed. In fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries. As such, materials are only to reflect the highest quality science and are supposed to closely support approved interpretive themes. Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective. Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore placement while approving only one new sale item — the creationist book.

Ironically, in 2005, two years after the Grand Canyon creationist controversy erupted, NPS approved a new directive on “Interpretation and Education (Director’s Order #6) which reinforces the posture that materials on the “history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism [and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes.”

“As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan,” Ruch added, pointing to the fact that previous NPS leadership ignored strong protests from both its own scientists and leading geological societies against the agency approval of the creationist book. “We sincerely hope that the new Director of the Park Service now has the autonomy to do her job.”

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