magical identity

Re-creating the world through magical workings

I’m re-reading Music Power Harmony by R.J. Stewart and one of the points he makes in the book is that a magical working is essentially about re-creating the world. It’s a profound observation, because what it recognizes is that a magical working is designed to take us out of the everyday world and then provide us a way to re-create that world with the desired result we want to manifest.

Of course there’s more to it than just that…

Cultural themes vs Personal themes of Wealth

culture identityAs I'm writing the wealth magic book and getting some feedback from prospective readers, one of the themes coming up is cultural identity vs personal identity, specifically how people define their own identity and definition about wealth in context to their environment, people in their lives, as well as what our culture says people should want. In Magical Identity, I explored how culture, family, environment, etc., shape a person's identity and this can and is easily extended to wealth as well. The perception of wealth that we're shown isn't necessarily the same as the reality of wealth for any given person. I think that truly understanding the concept of wealth as it applies to an individual's life involves some level of internal work that factors in the cultural theme of wealth and explores how much that theme really applies to the person's life.

I use myself as an example. Strictly examining my life by the cultural theme of wealth that is prevalent in the U.S. I wouldn't be considered wealthy. I'm not a multimillionaire, nor am I really obsessed with making lots and lots of money. I even have some debt that I'm paying off. My businesses are gradually becoming more successful, but I've made a few mistakes along the way. I've dropped out of graduate school, worked in the tech writing industry a couple of years and I've written a few books, but I'm not even all that well known in the occult community. By the cultural theme of wealth in the U.S. I would not be considered wealthy.

But by my theme/definition of wealth, I do consider myself wealthy. I am able to live on my own schedule, by my own rules, doing something I love to do. I am supported by someone who believes in me, and in turn I support her in a variety of ways that while not financial, nonetheless are significant to her because they make her life easier and bring her a sense of peace and contentment. I am able to work on my projects and I am happier than I have ever been. I have friends I care about, who also care about me. And while I have some debt, I also have some investments, and a financial plan that is moving me out of debt.

I am wealthy because I choose to define myself by the wealth I have in my life, which is more than just how much money I make. I am also wealthy because I have a plan that I am following, which is slowly but surely producing results. I am wealthy because I am doing what I feel called to do instead of settling for doing something that I don't want to do. I am wealthy because I have support from people who believe in me and are invested in my success, enough so that even when I have doubts, they don't and help me see what I have going in my favor.

I see cultural identity as a mirror of sorts. It shows me what the culture values and allows me to evaluate those values as they apply to my life, but in the end I think it is far more important to define your own values around wealth. This doesn't mean that I advocate believing in the virtue of being poor as a form of wealth, but rather I think that to truly understand wealth you need to understand how it applies to your life and this means consciously creating an identity and definition of wealth that gives you a way to meaningfully interact with what constitutes wealth in your life.

There's a lot of pressure to adhere to cultural standards of wealth, health, and everything else in between, but I don't think you can meaningfully get a lot from those standards because if you examine them you realize they create a lot more stress and unhappiness than anything else. People are so busy trying to fit into those standards that they lose themselves along the way. They can't keep up with the Jones, and they don't even know what they really want.

What really makes your life meaningful is how you define your life in context to how you want it to show up. Are you doing what you love to do? Are you happy with how your life is manifesting? Are you being true to your calling? Those are the questions I'm interested in, as they apply to my life and the lives of others, with wealth as a focus. I figure if you really get wealth, you know it when what you are doing is bringing you to life and who you are doing it with is what motivates you to do it. I admit its not a conventional approach to wealth, but I've never settled for conventional, because conventional is usually flawed.

Information filtering and magic

Ever since I read the post from Scarlet Imprint about their choice to leave Facebook, in part due to information overload I've been thinking about information filtering and where it fits into magic. Scarlet imprint makes a valid point when they note that your average person can only handle so much information before s/he is overwhelmed. Back in the days when I taught social media, I saw first hand how overwhelmed most people were (and still are) by how fast social media technology progresses, but also by the sheer amount of information that is shared. It can make your head spin.

My approach to handling information involves filtering information, both in terms of importance, but also in terms of how I process information. It is easier to filter information by importance because you can simply ask whether the information is important or relevant, and recognize that a lot of it isn't. As such cutting out the information that isn't important can be effective for reducing the stress on your cognitive load. But even then you still have to process the information.

In Magical Identity I discussed how I have developed a technique where I devote a specific aspect of myself to learning and processing information about a specific discipline. Information about that discipline is directed to that specific aspect and that aspect processes the information, and also comes to the fore when the information is needed. So for example I have an aspect of myself that is focused on processing information about neuroscience. I have another aspect that is focused on processing information about small business development. And so on and so forth.

By creating multiple aspects I can effectively improve my cognitive load and process more information on a variety of topics. I can then draw on that information as needed by simply tapping into that aspect to call it forth. And when I don't need the information, that aspect goes into the background and continues to process information and provide insights as needed. Sometimes I will find myself thinking about a particular subject of interest, and the needed insight will come to mind immediately, provided courtesy of the aspect that I have devoted to that exploring that particular subject. I think of my aspects as background programs that continue to run at all times, helping me process lots of information. As such I have never really found myself overwhelmed by information.

The creation of an information filter can help you with your cognitive load. As you can tell there are different types of information filters. Creating ones that filter and then process information frees up your everyday consciousness to focus on what is important in the moment, with the knowledge that you can draw on a vast store of information as needed.

How identity can move past the limitation of systems

I got into an interesting conversation with a friend that I don't get to speak with often. When we do get to chat, it's like drinking an especially fine wine of intellect, because we both think in similar ways but are drawn to different angles of research, so we can provide each other perspectives and suggested materials to draw on to further our respective areas of research.

Anyway, we got into a conversation about political systems and why people don't seem to care much about the congress. I pointed out that the apathy is actually favorable for the political system that is set up. The lack of interest and occasional grumble from people is perfectly acceptable to any political system, but its when people get interested and active that politicians start to sweat. In the U.S. elections are coming up soon, but I suspect most people are only focused on the presidential race and only know of the Republicans and Democrats. The other parties have presidential and Vice presidential picks but few people know about them. The same applies for anyone running for congress.

When people talk about politics and voting they talk about voting for the lesser of two evils and the desired outcome is that people will vote for a republican or democrat. There are other choices, but to really break into this political system you need to have a lot of money (like Perot did) and even that isn't enough. Some people might argue that the Tea party is an alternate choice to the Republicans, but its mostly been folded into that party. The occupy movement made politicians nervous for a while, but then they cracked down. The other parties make occasional sounds but for the most part don't matter. Now you have CEO's weighing in and warning their employees that they'll be fired if Obama wins another four years. It's a great big system that has ideal outcomes and like any system its focus is on getting people to move to those outcomes. This system also has countermeasures in place which it employs when people try to find an outcome that isn't desired. Once people vote the ideal outcome is that they mostly ignore what occurs in the political system and if they do notice something that they grumble and wait to vote some other person in, in the hopes that something will change.

Any given system is designed to purposely limit people within it to specific outcomes. If you want outcomes that aren't part of the system, you need to leave the system, or break it, or create your own. The choice to explore identity allows you to recognize how you have been limited by the identities imposed on you by a given system. The application of identity is the creation of your own system with outcomes you've developed for yourself. It has its own limitations, but those limitations are more readily changed because you control the system. At the same time your choice to embrace identity provides you a way to leave the system provided to you by others, or to choose to voluntarily participate in such a system but from an informed perspective that may provide insights and exploration in places that system doesn't want you to go.

For example, the choice to embrace identity can allow you to consider whether the assumption of an identity as a republican or democrat or green party or libertarian really serves you and/or your interests or the interests of others. You may still choose to vote, but you might choose to vote more precisely along the lines of what really supports your vision of reality. Or you might choose to get more involved in the system of politics, or walk away or make other choices, some of which are ideal outcomes, and others of which aren't so ideal.

Or you might examine your identity within a corporate system and explore whether or not that system is really one you want to be part of, or one that you can subvert. The same applies to religious and spiritual systems.

Systems are a result of a need to organize and structure human experience along specific paths of inquiry. The challenge a given person faces is determining whether those specific paths of inquiry are ones that /she wants to explore and/or whether such paths are really beneficial to him/her. Even your own identity is a reflection of this in the sense that familial and cultural influences structure your experience and provide proscribed paths, but your choice to consciously examine your identity and work with the issues and influences that have formed it can help you break away from old patterns and create new ones that reveal outcomes and journeys that take you far from what was established for you and provide you the opportunity to discover your own identity, formed as a conscious relationship between yourself, the various systems you interact with and the universe at large.

The Realization of Power

The concept of power is a funny one. Lots of people discuss having power or not having power. You'll see discussions on the execution of power, the doing as it were. All of these attempts to have power, to establish some way of getting it. Power is placed external to the personal, an object to be obtained, a desire to be fulfilled. You either have or you don't have it. Magic is perceived as one way to "have" power, to get it and use it. We could argue that money is another way, or politics, or any number of other avenues, all designed to somehow or another confer power from an external source on to another person. I disagree with this approach to power.

True power is the realization that power has always existed within you and your choice to use it to create the life you want to live. Magic is a path to power, that reveals to the practitioner how to connect the power within to the power in the universe and create a consensual reality. Power is not something you do or have. Power is the expression of your identity as it mates with the universe.

Now some might justifiably argue that if everyone has power, embodies power as it were, then why do so many people seem to be powerless. I think a lot of it is due to the abuse of power. Some people are much more in touch with their sense of power and have used it to abuse others, to create a perception of powerlessness, and to create cultural rules and boundaries that make it harder for a person to realize his/her innate power or to exercise that power. The concept of privilege speaks directly to that abuse of power, with the idea that certain people have a level of privilege that gives them a greater variety of choices and freedom, because of how the culture is structured to favor them.

To some degree this inequity has been countered, with difficulty by people who have recognized that such an inequity harms all of us. If power is to be realized as something you ontologically have present within you, the ability to execute that power must also be realized. Magic is one method (among many) of executing that power, and as such can be a way to discover empowerment of yourself , both in the environment around you, and within you. It is most effectively utilized when it is combined with other expressions of power, but can still be effective in and of itself.

There is nothing inherently better about one person or another. The realization of power ideally brings with it a realization of the responsibility that accompanies power. That responsibility is not merely to see to your own well-being, but to also look out for others, and to meaningfully contribute to the community around you in a way that shows other how to realize their own power.

Inner Transformation

In Magical Identity, I discussed at length the importance of internal work to the magical process, and to creating an empowered identity for the magician. I also noted that at least in Western Magic there seemed to be a tendency to gloss over the internal work in favor of achieving practical results. Or on the opposite end, the focus would be on a model such as the Tree of Life, but with little focus on doing internal work. I've found a couple of exceptions, and one of those is R. J. Stewart's work. Actually reading him, in some ways, is like reading William G Gray's work, which makes sense when you consider that Gray was one of Stewart's mentors. But I think the difference I see is a much more articulate focus on internal work.

In Living Magical Arts, Stewart discusses the following about transformation: "Magic begins by changing yourself, but eventually it changes the whole world if enough selves partake of it." He goes onto to note the following about magical symbols (which would includes physical tools such as your cup, rod, sword, wand, etc.: "The main, indeed the only, real function of magical symbols is to transform the magician." This is where he reminds me of William Gray, especially in Magical Ritual Methods, because Gray discusses at length that for the magician to master a tool, s/he ultimately needs to make it part of his/her consciousness.

Now on an aside, one of the reasons I favor a paintbrush as a magical tool is because there is a level or practical work that can be done with it that goes beyond being a symbol. A paintbrush or pen for that matter is a more potent tool and symbol precisely because it offers a level of transformation that goes beyond the symbolic. There is something very magical about touching a pen on paper or a brush on canvas and consequently transforming something into something else. In fact, there's a level of internal work that occurs in such artistic expressions (more on that in a later post).

But getting back to the original topic, I think that magic becomes truly effective when you understand that it fundamentally involves change through intentional transformation, and when you also realize that the most effective magic works by changing the internal reality of the magician first, and then changing the environment around him/her. Results based magic that doesn't factor in the needed internal work is typically reactive magic, done more as a reaction to a problem and as an attempt to solve said problem. Results obtained through a reactive approach to magic don't last long. The magician will sabotage him/herself because some part of his/her internal reality doesn't agree with the obtained result.

To truly understand transformation and change, you must be willing to shape yourself as well as shape the environment around you. It might even be argued that you need to be willing to be shaped by the magic, in order to truly benefit from it. Fundamentally what is being asked is: "Are you truly ready and willing to handle the responsibility of changing your reality?" You can only answer yes when you've done the internal work that allows you to critically examine your place in the universe and willingly change that place by changing your internal reality. Place, or space isn't just a physical is a metaphysical, emotional, and mental place as well. It is the embodiment of your relationship with the universe. To change your place, work from within, and let it manifest without.

In the majority of the magical work I currently do the focus is on embodying the magic, starting from within, or bringing the desired possibility into my space, and choosing to become it and letting it move me accordingly. Genuine transformation is the understanding that you are moved by the magic and by your own commitment to doing the necessary internal work that paves the way to the new expression of reality that expresses your connection with the universe and the space you embody.

Change and magic

Change is one of those understated elements of magic that is part of any and everyone's process. That's probably why its understated, because change of some kind or another is expected to occur when you do magical work. So why even focus on it?

I think it is worth focusing on, especially when we look at change in conjunction with results. Your result is the explicit indicator that change has occurred. Without a result you wouldn't really know if your magic worked. But change is more than just a result. Change is a transformation of the environment around you and within you.Respecting that aspect of the magical process is really important for understanding how magic work. There needs to be a change built into your process. Magic is a causative agent of change, and the employment of it is a signal that you want to bring change into your life. But its also worth noting that even though you might get a specific result, you might also get other changes that are connected to the result, but weren't necessarily desired. This occurs, not because of the magic, but because of a lack of specificity about the result, or because specific consequences are triggered when a specific result occurs.

Change is a constant in our lives. We change moment to moment, but intentional change is something a person chooses to create, and that's what makes magic distinct. It's a methodology used to to produce intentional changes. When we recognize that change is intentional, then perhaps we consider it more carefully, recognizing that what it brings isn't just a result, but also the consequences that come with that result.

Radio Interview

If you missed the interview on Stirring the Cauldron you can listen to it here. It was a good interview with some great questions.

Book Review: Rebounders by Rick Newman

In this book, Newman discusses the characteristics of the rebounder, a person who is able to take failure and turn it into success by learning from it. Newman uses over nine case studies to demonstrate how various people have rebounded from failures and mistakes to become successful in their fields, while highlighting the mental skills and tools that are necessary to accomplish this. I found the stories to be inspiring and useful for helping me see how I could become a better rebounder.

Do you Rebound or Wallow?

I'm reading Rebounders by Rick Newman. He offers some fascinating case studies about people who taken failure and used it to learn from their mistakes and become successful. He also divides people into two categories: Rebounders and Wallowers. It reminds of what I wrote about in Magical Identity, in regards to people who are professional victims versus people who choose to learn from tough circumstances and make changes accordingly. According to Newman "Rebounders know how to solve problems and overcome setbacks, often because they've done it before. So they tend to react with calm determination, and even a sense of humor...They'd rather solve problems then complain about them or blame someone else...They analyze their mistakes and learn from them, and change their mind when new information turns out to be better than old information.

Wallowers, by contrast, often do the opposite. They get rattled when something goes wrong, even something small, because they're not accustomed to solving their own problems. They complain or get indignant instead of simply trying to fix things. They spend a lot of time figuring out who to blame for a problem usually absolving themselves...they tend to be the people who get stuck in their careers and don't understand why, and who remained convinced that their tribulations are somebody else's fault"

The rebounder learns to take responsibility for him/herself and solves problems, while the wallower makes lots of excuses, blames everyone else, and acts passive aggressively when problems occur.

The magician is ideally a rebounder, instead of a wallower. Wallowing is a waste of time and effort. It's something the professional victim does, crying "poor me, Poor me." But what goes does that do? You might get some attention, but in the end the problem is still there, still present. The problem can only be solved when you take responsibility for it and determine a course of action to make a change. Whether that's magic, something, or a combination thereof, the point is that it's better to focus on solving the problem than just wallowing in it and letting it define your reality.

Act instead of reacting.

Speaking of Magical Identity, this Thursday I'll be interviewed on the Stirring the Cauldron radio show at 9pm EST and 6pm PST, where I'll be discussing my new book and ongoing projects and other fun magical topics.

Magic as a Transformative Process

If there's one description I'd use about Magical Identity is that its really an exploration of magic as a transformative process. So what does that mean? When I think about western magical practices mostly what I think of is a fixation on achieving measurable results, but I think that's what missing is an exploration of transformation and the role magic can play in the transformation of your life. I'd argue that any result you achieve isn't merely a change in the external environment that happens to suit you, but is also a transformation of you as both a person and magician. That this transformation isn't considered is always a cause for concern, because its something that shouldn't be ignored.

If we look at the anatomy of a magical act, there is a focus on change. Something needs to be changed in order to bring the world back into balance for the magician. But assuming that the change only occurs in the external environment is a mistake. The magician is also changing his/her internal reality in order to align it with the desired external result. And if s/he can't change the internal reality, the external result may manifest, but it won't last. At a recent talk I asked attendees how many had manifested a desired result only to have it go away without bringing the desired change they wanted. Most nodded their heads and the reason for that is simple. Their internal reality didn't align with the desired external reality they wanted.

Effective transformation calls on the magician to be in touch with his/her internal reality so that s/he can truly determine if a desired result is in alignment with his/her life. The magical act is a transformation of the life of the magician as well as the environment. The two aren't separate, and whatever separation we assign is a convenient illusion used to avoid understanding the act of transformation.

This doesn't mean magic involves the law of attraction or other newagey concepts. Rather what it means is that achieving a result involves a level of internal work that complements any external work that is done to achieve the result. The recognition that magic is a transformative process is a recognition that a given magical act occurs on an ontological level and involves a recognition of embodiment as a principle for manifestation. The result you desire is something that you need to embody in your existence, write it in your code to use a technology metaphor.


Elemental Balancing Ritual Fire Month 5

2-23-12 There are times I feel broken, times I realize how profoundly the abuse I experienced has affected me. I look back at a history of my life and I see patterns in different ways than I had before, and while I recognize that I've healed from a lot of it, I also see how much it still affects me. I've been thinking lately as well of my early sexual encounters with women who were much older than me, and how naive I was, and how much I didn't realize how those encounters affected my perspective on relationships, love, lust, and what would be considered acceptable. Until recently, I believed love was always conditional as a result of those early experiences. Now I realize it doesn't have to be conditional, but that belief about love came about because of circumstances that shaped what I thought love and commitment was. Understanding that history has helped me look closely at my choices, both past and present, and with the present choices, make them from a place that's less reactionary. That's the whole point of doing internal work. It challenges you to explore and understand the underlying causes of your choices, so that you know why you are making, and can ideally make them from a place of health as opposed to dysfunction. It challenges you to take responsibility for your choices, instead of trying to blame everyone else for your problems.

2-29-12 When I meditate with fire each day, what strikes me is how people have created such a mythology around such a primal force of life. The various stories about how fire was discovered or given as a gift, the focus on the creative or destructive nature of fire. This raw, primal force has been made into so much by how people try to negotiate and understand it. I don't think many people, even now, really look at fire as a wholly physical phenomenon, but even if they do, they still have to acknowledge its a force that can have an effect on our lives. A burning house is a prime example, as is a campfire that people huddle around to keep warm.

3-1-12 I've been feeling a bit nostalgic lately, prompted partially by listening to music I haven't listened to in a long time that reminds me of later teenage years spent trying to find myself. The right sound, the right sight, and you can get taken to a different time, a different awareness, then as now. And suddenly you have two temporal experiences, and you reconcile the memory with the place you're at now. My memories of my teenage years are bittersweet (but who's isn't?), mostly bitter, and yet listening to this music touches a place of naivety, of hope that's not quite gone. There's a sense of longing, and sadness, and experience as I listen to this song. There's a sense of change, and the appreciation of that change. We are not static. We are changeable and the changes are for the best. The right experience will trigger a doorway to the past, to an intersection with a you from before and the you of now. Two moments merge into one and both variants influence each other. It's fairly amazing when you allow yourself to fully open up and experience the merging of past memory with present experience, and sometimes even future dream.

3-5-12 Knowing when to take a break from actively being creative is important. I haven't done much writing since I wrapped up Magical Identity. I'm glad I took the time off, because now I'm feeling primed again and looking forward to writing. The days of pushing myself to write are over. I'd rather honor my creative genius by giving it the time to recharge so I can write with focus and verve.

3-7-12 I've been reading about and considering the emotions of jealousy and compassion. I think jealousy gets a bad wrap, but that if you consider it in the right context, it can actually be a warning system of potential problems with the connection (or lack thereof) that you have with a person. Sometimes jealousy is overblown, but sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it indicates real problems that need to be addressed. If I were to map jealousy to an element, it would be fire, because of how it feels and the associations it has with other emotions like love. I'd also map compassion to fire, because of the feeling of warmth it can convey.Compassion is the comprehension of another person's pain, and the ability to reach out to that person with genuine understanding. It's a very giving emotion, whereas jealousy is a very protective emotion.

3-10-12 I look back at the first entry of this post and I find it ironic today because when you learn something about yourself that you hadn't faced, it forces you to see patterns in your life in different ways than you'd acknowledged. Its good, even if its not pleasant to face. Maybe in a way that's why its good. It forces you to see what you've kept hidden from yourself. It's in facing yourself that you bring healing to yourself, but facing yourself means acknowledging not just how other people hurt you, but also acknowledging how you hurt other people and doing your best to learn from it and be a better person.

3-16-12 I'd never wish any of my past experiences of abuse on anyone, even my worst enemy. Experiences like that, where you are a victim, they make you protective of the people in your life, because you know you don't want them to ever have such painful and disempowering experiences. At the same time, as you get to know people you realize on some level or another everyone is dysfunctional, carrying wounds with them that define their lives. I think its a shame, because when a wound defines your life you can't move past it. It holds you back and keeps you in a restricted pattern that hurts you more than it does anything else. I've managed to let go of some of the wounds that previously defined me. I've learned my lessons from them, but I don't hold onto them anymore. Some of them I'm still holding on to, figuring out how to let them go and how to redefine myself in the process. Again that's part of internal work. It's not an overnight cure-all. It's doing the work so you can let go, heal yourself and move on.

3-22-12 - Magical Identity arrived today. It feels strange to realize that the journey to write this book is finally over. There's nothing more to do beyond selling it and talking about it (very important activities). It's created, birthed, realized, manifested. It exists...a part of my thoughts, ideas, life, etc., expressed into written form. I'm glad its published, and yet I find myself facing this curious feeling of "What next?" I actually know what's next, but it doesn't change the fact that I feel this feeling. I feel it anytime I finish any project. It' that realization of separation. This is no longer just mine. Now it's something that belongs to whoever chooses to adopt it and use it. It belongs to all of you as much as it belongs to me.

The fire doesn't burn out when somethings created, if you know how to cultivate it. It's alive. I'm a live. And that next project is beckoning.

My books are now available on Kindle and newest radio interview

I'm pleased to announce that my books are now available on Amazon Kindle. We recently were able to work out a deal where we could get them  placed on Kindle. We'll also be converting other Immanion Press books into Kindle files as well, so be on the look out for those in the near future. My latest book, Magical Identity, is now available in print, on smashwords, and Kindle.

In other recent publishing news, I was pleased to hear that smashwords was able to come to an agreement with Paypal where paypal will continue to accept payments on books published on smashwords. It's definitely a victory for free speech.

I was recently interviewed on The Infinite Beyond radio show about my newest book Magical Identity. Take a listen. It was a fun show to be interviewed on, and we got into some interesting discussions about identity and magic.

Magical Identity is now Available as an E-book

Magical Identity is now available as an e-book through Smashwords. I'm working on the Kindle version and hope to have it available some time next week.

The print version will also be available soon. We will hopefully be getting proofs in the next couple of days and once they are approved, it will be available in print. You can still pre-order the print version and take advantage of the pre-order special to get a free e-book from me.

I'm really excited. This book not only features my latest research and experimentation in Space/Time Magic and Inner Alchemy, but also the exploration of an ontological approach to magic.

The Latest Update on Magical Identity

I've finished final revisions and I started layout last night on the print version of Magical Identity (It will also be available at Smashwords and on Kindle, but that will happen a bit down the line). If you haven't pre-ordered Magical Identity, now is a good time. From now until the book is in print, I will offer a free e-book of your choice from my other books, when you pre-order Magical Identity. This is a great opportunity to not only get my next book in print, but get another book for free. Once the book is in print, I won't offer this promotion.

Priming the Pump: An Excerpt from Magical Identity

Note from Taylor: This is an appendix in Magical Identity. Thought I'd give a little teaser of what to expect in the book. I hope you enjoy!

In this book I've discussed identity and how it applies to magic. Now I want to present an example of how magic can be applied to identity. One of the biological features of identity is associative activation:

Ideas that have been evoked trigger many other ideas, in a spreading cascade of activity in your brain. The essential feature of this complex set of mental events is coherence. Each element is connected, and each supports and strengthens the others. The word evokes memories, which evoke emotions, which in turn evoke facial expressions and other reactions, such as a general tensing up and an avoidance tendency.  The facial expression and the avoidance motion intensify the feelings to which they are linked, and the feelings in turn reinforce compatible ideas. all this happens quickly and all at once, yielding a self-reinforcing pattern of cognitive, emotional, and physical responses that is both diverse and integrated (Kahneman 2011, P. 51).

Associative activation triggers a flood of ideas. A few of them register with us consciously, but the majority of them aren't consciously thought of, but nonetheless are integrated into our identity. What this means is that we have a variety of associated ideas with a given stimulus that we may not have conscious access to, but nonetheless influence our activities and choices. This is known as a priming effect. For example, if you saw the word EAT and then saw a word fragment SO_P, you are more likely to fill in the blank with U, creating SOUP, than with A, which would would create SOAP (Kahneman 2011). The word eat primes associated ideas and experiences that are evoked by seeing the word and considering it. You might feel a sensation of hunger as you've read the last couple of sentences, and this also is a result of priming. This effect occurs in a variety of ways. Kahneman cites another case study where a group of students were given scrambled sentences, half of which included the words Florida, forgetful, bald, gray, or wrinkle. Once the task was completed, the students were asked to walk to another place to do another task. The scientists observed how they walked and found that people who'd formed sentences using one or more of those walked significantly slower than people who did not (Kahneman 2011). The reason is that they'd been primed by the experiment, and even though they didn't consciously think about it, their identities embodied the associated ideas with the words. Their actions were influenced by the idea.

Priming is used in marketing, both in politics and in business. For instance, if a school wants to improve the chance of getting more funding, having a voting booth at the school will significantly increase the votes in favor of the funding, even from non-parents (Kahneman 2011). The reason is simple. Being surrounded by imagery associated with schools evokes memories and other ideas about education that prompts a desire to improve funding. We see this effect in commercials as well. Watch a fast food commercial and you may feel a sudden hunger pang and craving for that food, even if you'd recently eaten. Even when we consciously think about the fast food, we're still priming ourselves in favor of it to some degree, unless of course you have associations that are unpleasant. The point is that we are primed on a daily basis and don't even realize it. Consciousness allows us to recognize some of the associations, but others are experienced and acted on without consciously considering why. After all, if you're hungry you won't spend much time thinking about why you are hungry. Instead you'll satiate that hunger.

Priming is even used in social media. Facebook ads is a great example of priming at works. The ads you see on Facebook are targeted toward you based on your interests and your friends interests. Additionally if a friend of yours likes the service or product featured in the ad, it's indicated as a way of building further association. You are primed, so that even if you don't click on the ad, it's still may an associative impression with not just your interests but also with the idea that the next time you see or hear from that friend it'll trigger an association with what was advertised.

So how can we apply priming to magical work. We understand that a given idea will trigger an association of ideas, some of which will be integrated into our identity. There are two approaches we can take to this matter. First we can be selective about what we allow to influence us. For example, I don't have cable TV. I've purposely chosen not to in order to save money, but also to limit the exposure to commercials. The result is that I only encounter commercials if I watch a show on Hulu, turn the radio on or see them on a bill board or on the internet. I keep my radio off, limit my access to social media sites and while I enjoy a good show on Hulu, I also tend to ignore the commercials by focusing on something else at the time. Conscious actions can limit associations, if done right. At the same time, I know I'm going to be influenced to some degree and I accept that such an influence will be there. What I try to do is question why I'm feeling hunger for a particular food as opposed to just being hungry. This kind of question can be effective for helping to limit the effects of priming.

The second approach involves actually using priming to prime the pump of your identity and set up associations that are favorable for you and motivate you to do activities that will help you accomplish goals you set for yourself. Recently I acquired a whiteboard to use as a priming tool. It's set up so that I have to look at it when I come into my office and it reminds me of various projects I need to work. It primes the pump because when I see the tasks I need to do it consciously evokes the given task as well as associated ideas and experiences that are relevant to that task. I see it as being a useful stress tool in the sense that it keeps my attention consistently focused on the goals I want to achieve.

You can set your own environment up with similar cues that prime you. For example laying clothes out the night before primes you in the morning when you wake up. The clothes have associations with your professional life and activities and can even evoke associations of whatever you were thinking about when you laid them out. Putting an open recipe book with ingredients nearby can be useful for priming you toward cooking at home. In essence you learn to use priming to remind you of what you want to do, both in terms of actual activities and lifestyle choices. You prime your identity to keep your consciousness on task.

You can also use priming in your magical process. In fact the use of sigils works on the principle of priming. The sigil is associated with the desired result as well as the process that will be used to obtain that result. Every time you see the sigil you are primed toward achieving that result. Similarly if you ritual tools or other props you can create specific associations with those tools that will prime you. The different attributions we associate with tools are essentially primed ideas that prompt action, and we don't have to limit them to magical actions. We can deliberately create mundane actions that we associate with a given tool that prompts follow-up actions on our part to create a path of least resistance for the magic to manifest through.

The deliberate set-up of your environment as well as the crafting of chosen associations is how you turn priming into a magical tool and make your identity into an ally that supports your conscious goals and activities. If we're going to have associations that effect us on an identity level then we should do our best to pick those associations so we can prime the pump and create an embodied identity that enables us to achieve the results we desire and sustain the life we want to live.

Consciousness isn't special

Mike made another post on his blog (can you tell I like this guy's work?) and it prompted some thoughts. He notes that consciousness isn't special and I agree. In Magical Identity, I discuss at some length why consciousness isn't special. Consciousness is the apprehension of our activities and the application of a rational explanation for why those activities occur. It's basically a filtered awareness and explanation of what we do and why we do it.

That said, what makes consciousness important for magical work is the fact that we can experienced altered states of conscious awareness, and while consciousness is a ultimately a filter, it nonetheless is also what provides a sense of self-awareness and an ability to question and examine what we are doing.

Situating consciousness in the proper context is useful because then we know its limitations as well as what it can do within those limitations. That understanding allows us to apply it toward our magical processes at just the right place to use it effectively, while also enabling us to be skeptical of it, as it is ultimately a very subjective experience.



Magic and Biology

Mike recently posted some intriguing perspectives on energy work in his blog. He noted the inaccuracy around the language that's used to describe how energy work happens, and where it interacts with the biology of the person. He uses a concept from computer programming called scoping to demonstrate the need to differentiate the definitions being used to discuss energy work. I find myself in agreement with him, which makes me then think about magic and biology, as it pertains to cells and what's really happening with energy work.

Mike notes the following:

So, let’s apply scoping to energy healing. There’s bio::energy, for the normal energy that makes cells operate when there’s no magick going on (ATP, electrical impulses, etc.), and there’s magick::energy, for the energy we use that makes you feel all tingly. And, most importantly, they are different.

It's clear that biological energy isn't the same as magical energy perse, but people do conflate the two, which can create an inaccurate understanding of what is being done when healing or working with your physiology in general. Mike argues that increasing the energy  of a cell using magical energy doesn't seem to work. I agree with him, and I'll explain why further below, but he also notes that you can use magic to kill bacteria, decelerate a specific biological function (which doesn't involve adding energy, but could involve changing specific outputs in a cell) and finally that you can use magic to cancel one type of energy and substitute another type of energy, basically bringing in a different energetic signature. My experiences with healing have provided similar observations, so I feel fairly confident that he and I are on the same page with how energy work actually seems to work.

I made my own response to Mike and noted that part of what I think occultists are fudging or portraying inaccurately is how we communicate with our biology (if we do) and where does energy fit into that communication. Mike responded in agreement, but argued that its not communication but influence. I note this because both he and I would agree that word choice is very important in describing how a magical process ( or any process works).

Why do I use communicate? Well for one thing I'm not ready to assume that an individual cell isn't intelligent. It may not exhibit intelligence as I understand it, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have just may be a very different type than I know. More importantly however, we have to consider if cells are communicating with each other, and I would argue they are. In both Inner Alchemy and Magical Identity I discuss biophotonic energy, which is an energy that cells emit and seem to use to communicate with each other.

If we go with the process that magic energy can be used to accelerate or decelerate biological processes, we still need to figure exactly how that occurs, and just as importantly we have to ask if the cells have any "say" in how that process is being changed, and if so what kind of say they have. The reason I opt for intelligence when it comes to the cells is that if I'm going to go in and make some changes to my biological structures, I want to work with those structures and I need to be able to communicate with those cells, to get input or if nothing else a stop order when enough energy has been applied and they need to take over with the healing work. From my experiences with working with my body on a cellular level, I'd argue that the magician is not merely influencing a cell, but is communicating with it and that the communication is occurring via the interaction of magical energy and biophotonic energy. It turns out that biophotonic energy can accept a variety of frequencies of energy and since magical energy operates on a frequency it makes sense that communication could occur if biophotonic energy accepts that frequency. If that's the case, then what we're dealing with is communication wherein the cell(s) provide information and even notify us when to stop applying energy in order to let them do what they do.

As a final note I haven't even discussed mitochondria or the metabolism of the cell which could be additional factors to consider when it comes to communication or influence, depending on which route you want to go with. Regardless I think its really important to examine the interaction of magic energy and bio energy if you want to nail down a comprehensive process of magic.






Magical Identity Pre-orders

Magical Identity explores magic from an ontological perspective, to show why identity is an essential part of your magical practice. In this book, author Taylor Ellwood explores how you can change your identity and why making changes to your identity is the most effective magical practice you'll ever learn. In this book you will discover:

  • Advanced neuro-magic techniques for working with your body consciousness and neurotransmitter entities.
  • The web of Time and Space, a space/time magic technique for changing your life.
  • The key to successfully changing bad habits into positive habits.
  • and much more!

Magical Identity challenges you to take your magical practice to the next level. You will learn techniques that will change how you think of magic and yourself and will show you how to create effective change for your life.

Here's what other authors are saying about Magical Identity!

Like Space/Time Magic and other of his works before it, Taylor Ellwood has filled Magical Identity with a potent combination of magical techniques for change, the neurological discoveries that explain how these techniques work, and accounts of how he has applied them in his own life. -- Bill Whitcomb, Author of the Magician's Companion

Throughout this book you'll find a sparkling clarity in the writing (seriously; no mystic mumbo jumbo, no obscure oh-so-spookyness). And when you've read this book the chances are that you'll have discovered an attitude to magic that is rich in new ideas and perspectives and will undoubtedly enhance your own approach, whatever your style or tradition. -- Julian Vayne, Author of Magick Works and Now That's What I Call Chaos Magick

Learning the answer to the question “Who am I?” may prove vitally important, at some stage of the game, for most magicians. Allow Taylor Ellwood to be your guide; his answers aren’t simple ones, rather, he describes a method for exploring the interconnectedness of human and universe in a way that promises to help you find your own answers. -- Phil Farber, author of Brain Magick

This book is now available for pre-orders. The book will be available in March 2012. The cost is $20.99, plus Shipping and Handling.

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Books will also be available on Amazon, Immanion Press and in your local Occult bookstore

Self-Evocation 2011

Here's my latest painting. It's a self-Evocation painting. I do these occasionally and I use them to paint an internal landscape of my consciousness. This one is actually quite nice and feels much more peaceful compared to some of the other ones.

A self-evocation is really a snapshot of time, a way to connect with a particular moment of my life. I've used the paintings occasionally to interact with younger versions of myself. In a sense the paintings act as a temporal powerspot. It's not the only method I use for accessing past versions of myself, but it is a useful method to use, and one that provides something to focus on to help you reach that past point of existence.

Spatial Dynamics and Magic

Space is one of those elements that continues to fascinate me, especially when I look at how people use space to situate and express their own identity. I came to this perspective through the anthropological of Edward T. Hall and Alexander Laban's perspectives on space and movement. The occupation of space whether with objects or with politics or spirituality. The application of space in a person's sense of identity via home, work, car, etc. Now apply this to magic. Magic is about changing a space. It changes a space by turning possibility into reality. Space changes, becomes a different space when a possibility is brought into reality. Space is changed by time, with the understanding that time is what brings possibility into reality, while space provides the necessary anchor for reality to exist in.

A person is his/her own space. Space acts on space and in turn is acted on by space. The person expresses his/her space in the external space, but that same space also shapes the person's identity. When a person performs an act of magic s/her is inviting in both time, and specific defined spaces to modify the current space s/he inhabits, both in terms of identity, and in terms of circumstances the person is in.


An update on My New Book, Magical Identity


Here's a picture of the cover, done by Kat Lunoe. Doesn't it look great? Magical Identity is currently being edited. I had to switch editors, which pushed the book release date back to March of 2012. However I'm not presenting at Pantheacon this year, so it actually works out that the book will be out a bit later. It gives me time to finish revisions and add in some more content that I've developed since I finished the first draft.

I'm reading the very last book I need to read for research. I've actually taken a little break from it, because I've spent the last couple months reading books I'd found out about that could be relevant to the book. All that reading reminds me of graduate school, where I'd literally spend up to 12 hours reading (they'd have preferred 16 but I believed in having fun's not an approved academic activity however).

I'm really excited about almost having this book done. I'll be doing radio interviews soon about it and just knowing that finally, after so many years I've got another book on magic coming out...That has me pumped.It might be the last book for a little while as well. I have ideas for other books, but I'm very much at a pre-research phase with those books. However, I think Magical Identity will be my best book yet, especially because it deals with themes of space and time as well as neuroscience.