Happy new year! I wanted to start 2021 off with a experience from a ritual, as is classic for this blog. Then I thought perhaps there are other, more pressing matters in people’s lives. But now, intuition had guided me to write about something I consider to be of great importance to all magicians in this time. This is going to be either a 3 or 4 part series of articles describing, to the best of my ability, the most important secret of Magick and the Occult. The actual key to manifestation. Before I can get to the matter itself, I shall give about 2-3 posts of background material, of which this is the first.
So, let’s get on with it, shall we? Keep an open mind, and feel free to take your time to understand everything. Remember, the Internet is your friend when it comes to terms and concepts that you aren’t familiar with. I try explain things as completely as possible, but people have different levels of familiarity with various subject matters. Knowledge is power, and the growth of knowledge, is the growth of power.
What Exactly is Science
Some of you might scoff at the title. Allow me to explain.
These days, many New Agers, Neo-Pagans and even full fledged occultists create various theories about spiritual and occult experiences. This is nothing new, since ALL science emerged as the result of people trying to explain the Unknown.
But then, we have materialists, skeptics, and sometimes scientists dismiss many of these explanations as “pseudo-science”, due to lack of peer reviewed evidence and the inability to replicate results. While they may be right, in the end they are simply motivated by their own biases. Then the new agers angrily insist that it is “science” after all, because there is an established cause and effect, as well as physical evidence. They are also largely motivated by their beliefs, and claim this quite proudly, and then the other side insists that all beliefs are nonsense, and they they “believe” in science (an idiotic idea).
Many of you in the West are likely familiar with this, due to the hard line between science and religion in Abrahamic/ Atheistic nations, as well as the deep divides between spiritual, religious and secular ways of thinking.
Secondly, you may have heard about people in ancient, classical and medieval times who came up with some ideas long before modern scientists, such as evolution, atoms, the idea of parallel universes, planets etc
As I’m Indian, you can imagine that I’ve basically heard this argument my whole life, and I’m sure anyone in any non western country that is sufficiently ancient, especially in the Middle East, the Orient and the Mediterranean, has heard it too. For example, “why should we credit Darwin with evolution when the ancient Greeks had a similar concept”, or “why credit Dalton with atomic theory when the ancient Indians had a similar idea”, or even “why credit Einstein with quantum mechanics when the Vedas speak of the various different lokas and the supposed relativity of time?”
This has led me to realise that many, many people don’t actually understand what is meant by “science” and how something becomes a “science” in modern times. This is a problem not just when discussing the occult, but any other field. In fact, these days it seems to be a particularly important issue, where people’s opinions and ideologies are so divided that we cannot even sit down and agree upon a single set of facts, let alone debate their interpretation.
So what is science?
First off, to say that you “believe” in science is a very, very stupid statement that I hear often from atheists. I draw a clear line between “scientists” and “science cheerleaders”. Anytime I hear people angrily defending science, I usually find that they are ‘cheerleaders’, because they often aren’t up to date in their scientific knowledge, and often don’t even understand what science is. To them, “science” is like a religion. Similarly to Christian fundamentalists who think everything can be answered by the Bible, these “cheerleaders” read the basics of Newtonian physics, some biology and maybe chemistry in school, and they’ve turned these into tenets.
Whenever they encounter someone who disagrees with them, they just angrily dismiss their ideas because it contradicts what THEY think are real facts. They often use science as a shield, but usually are not scientists at all, not even having any scientific or academic training. This is the type of person who thinks Carl Jung is too “out there”. As magicians, you will most likely meet such people throughout your life. My general advice is to avoid them and not get into it, since you won’t convince them of anything, anymore than you can convince a religious zealot that the modern English Bible was not literally written by God 6000 years ago.
So, back to the question. What is science? Let’s look at the most crude, basic and easily accessible source for knowledge, Wikipedia.
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.~Some dude who writes for Wikipedia
In other words, a science means the study of things, or the expansion of human knowledge. Any field of study into some specific field is a “science”, and the sum total of this endeavor is scientific knowledge. So yes, you could say that it goes back as far as the birth of human civilisation, and even before. However, when we usually talk about Science, we are often referring to modern science.
We can draw a line between the natural curiosity of early man, the academic endeavors of ancient man, and the research conducted by modern people.
Modern science is conducted via the scientific method. A lack of understanding of what the scientific method means, is at the root of all these debates and misunderstandings by spiritualists, occultists and new agers, as also the general populations.
People often think the scientific method means providing physical evidence. This is why you have new agers insist that something is “scientific” if they have been able to provide material evidence, or at least established cause and effect. For example, claiming that a person can do telepathy because they were able to correctly predict what is present another room.
But this is wrong. There are many scientific theories, especially regarding interstellar objects, for which no physical evidence can be provided, and many areas of science where cause and effect are poorly understood or not at all, such as regarding gravity and dark matter.
Basically, people think that science involves creating a hypothesis, and then trying to prove that it exists.
However, the scientific method is the exact opposite. First, you create a hypothesis. Then, you actively try to disprove it. In other words, you test your hypothesis. If it stands up to all the scrutiny, not just by you but by others, then it becomes a theory (I’m simplifying it a lot here. Remember I’m not a scientist or researcher either, this is just my own understanding of it).
This does not mean that it is now proven. Much more evidence will be needed for that. This is why you often have different theories regarding the same thing within science, which contradict each other.
Do you understand now, why so much “research” conducted by New Agers is dismissed? This is because many New Age and alternative science theories do not follow this method of scrutiny, nor are they peer reviewed. Often, they are entirely based on one person or group trying to prove something they already believe, which in turn is often based on scriptures. This results in conformation bias. And as all of you practicing magick know, when you really want something to happen, your entire perception conspires to make it happen for you. So if you REALLY want to prove something to be true, you’ll probably succeed, at least in convincing yourself, and maybe others too.
And then, whatever the findings are, the new agers try to extrapolate very, very broad conclusions. For example, let’s say you freeze a camera and take a picture with it. This results in the appearance of “bubble” like structures around the pictures of people. New Agers take this as proof of the aura. While I personally believe in the aura, you have to remember that this doesn’t actually “prove” anything. You have proven that frozen cameras take pictures where living things appear to have a bubble around them. That is all, and all the remaining interpretations are based on belief. You cannot jump from there to “the aura is a bio-magnetic energy field generated by the heart of every living thing” so easily.
Like it or hate it, this is how the scientific method works. I’m not saying I fully agree with every aspect, nor that it is suitable to understand all of reality. But hey, it is responsible for many of our modern inventions and discoveries. It made possible things like this blog.
Opinion: In fact, I personally disagree with identifying the aura as “bio-electric” or “bio-magnetic”. Personally, I think the etheric energy which makes up the aura has no electro-magnetic basis. If it did, I should see interference with electrical appliances at the height of a particularly powerful ritual. Now, there are cases of lights going out or appliances going haywire when people do magick. I’ve seen it, others I know have seen it, and even some readers have reported this. But then again, why would it affect the lights of my building, but not my cellphone? Why isn’t it more “localised”. There’s something else going on there, something far greater which we cannot even begin to comprehend.
The Problem With Modern Science
On the other hand, while I trust in science, scientists can lie. Here, I agree with new agers. At the end of the day, scientists and academics are human beings. Like any person, they can be biased, bought over, manipulated or corrupted. You would honestly be surprised how often scientists have been bribed and threatened into suppressing information, or how often they allow their bias to cloud their pursuit of the truth. Did you know professional academics were once bribed and threatened into assuring people that smoking was safe, or that it was okay to use radium in paints, or that petroleum stored in lead barrels was not causing lead poisoning en masse? Keep in mind, how “scientific” knowledge and data were distorted during the Chernobyl incident, or how the world was lead to believe for centuries that our diets should have high carbs and low protein, and that fats and oils were the cause of obesity (when it truth it is sugar). Now Chernobyl is going to be radiated for another 120,000 years, and 40 years of high carb diets laced with artificial sweeteners have left us with soaring levels of obesity and diabetes.
After all, one of their most important goals is to secure funding for their research. In this sense, the modern scientific establishment have become nearly like the medieval Catholic Church. They are the arbiters of truth, and we are entirely beholden to them. We cannot cross check or test any of their claims ourselves, especially now that science has progressed well beyond what a person can do at home. We simply have to take them at their word, and truth that they’re telling the truth about their discoveries. We can only hope that there’s government or corporate sponsored suppression of information.
Well, would you look at THAT! The world is currently in the midst of a global pandemic that got out of control due to suppression of scientific information at an INTERNATIONAL level.
Now yes, the existence of an entire global network of scientists, all competing with one another, ensures that there’s only so far that deception can go. If a certain groups of scientists make a claim, another group from another country may be quick to dispute this. But that is precisely where we are now, and it’s actually a bigger problem. In the 21st century, the scientific landscape is littered with contradictory claims about even the most simplest of things.
I’d once heard it said that “the greatest embarrassment of modern science is that it cannot even give us simple, conclusive information on which diet is best”.
Go ahead, try to find out what is the best type of diet. Keto, carnivorous, high carb, high fat, vegan or something else? You’ll quickly realise that you can find “scientific” claims to support anything and everything you want to believe. Besides truly outlandish claims like the flat earth, you would honestly be surprised at how often we lack concise scientific knowledge on something as simple as diet, lifestyle and disease. Let us say that one scientists claims that he can prove with “evidence” that a high carb, low protein diet is great, and another says that a high protein, low carb one is great, and both claim the other is full of crap. Tell me, is this so different from medieval theologians arguing about witches, werewolves and possessions? At the end of the day, we cannot test the evidence ourselves. We are simply reliant upon the testimony of a person who has been given the authority to decide these things. And who gave them this authority?
An institution? One which seems “credible” to us, much like Catholic Church seemed “credibe” to medieval peasants. After all, the members of the Church were much more educated than the average peasant, and yet they were still routinely wrong, and more often they actively distorted facts.
Perhaps people in the future will laugh at us the way we laugh at the ignorance medieval peasants. Are we any different? Do we have much of a choice? We wonder why people in medieval Europe practiced bloodletting as a cure to illnesses. Did they not realise that it was making matters worse? Well, perhaps in the future they’ll say:
“ha ha ha, you’re telling me those primitve 21st century folk WILLINGLY created environments that made people depressed, wrongly diagnosed depression as a genetic disorder for decades, then gave them medicines that made matters worse? Were they just stupid?”.
Well maybe we are.
And let’s be totally honest. If tomorrow some crazy dude managed to create some sort of miracle cure in his garage, or find evidence of aliens, or successfully summon a demon, you think that stuff wouldn’t immediately be suppressed?
To be honest, I’m not discrediting modern science. I still believe that the scientific method is one of the best tools we have for conducting research, and so far there is no real reason to challenge it. I’m simply pointing out some issues with it, and that “scientific knowledge” isn’t as reliable as we think it is. At the end of the day, we aren’t all that different than we were in previous eras of human history. Many scientific and philosophical truths that we cling to, may simply be scoffed at and criticized, the way we criticize medieval superstitions. On the other hand, some of those medieval superstitions may turn out to be very true after all.
Scientists are regularly proven wrong about various theories and predictions they had, and this is largely thanks to the scientific method itself. If you actually follow scientific news on a daily basis, you’d be amazed how many firmly held facts are frequently shown to be untrue. Many of the facts you learned in school are probably not true anymore.
For example, did you know that water IS actually blue, and not colourless?
Ancient Modes of Science
We saw how modern science is built upon the scientific method, which began to be used only about 500 or so years ago, towards the end of the Islamic Golden Age, and became common during the European Enlightenment.
So what did people do before then? And why don’t we consider the various philosophical works of Greece, Rome, India, China and the Middle East to be “science”?
Well, you may have picked up on one word: philosophy. Science that was practiced before the scientific method is regarded as “natural philosophy”. The distinction is important, with regards to how this knowledge was gained. Starting around the time of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, people began to make extensive records and write books about various topics regarding the natural world. The tools used varied from time to time, but most common were logic and math, and also theology and reason in more sophisticated eras.
Science was considered a branch of Philosophy, and so the way people came up with scientific theories and concepts was through, well, philosophizing. If you’ve ever read any philosophical works, you’ll notice they do not use the scientific method. Instead, it is based on logical reasoning, discourse and insight. Basically, a person literally thinks their way to conclusions. Now, this works quite well for some branches of philosophy, such as moral or existential philosophy. Certainly, many achievements of humanity, such as art, literature, political and legal systems and yes, even the scientific method, are the product of philosophy. Secular reason and scientific method were born out of the the philosophies of Ibn al-Haythan, Rene DeCartes and John Locke.
And yet, philosophical methods were simply not good enough for a objective study of the material world. In truth, it was like an elaborate method of trial and error, based on how things seemed to be. For example, the reason why people of Ancient Europe and the Middle East believed that the Earth was the centre of the Universe was because that’s just what it looked like to them. Based on their “logic”, it made perfect sense for the Universe to be made of seven concentric rings. And you might ask, what “logic”. Well, religious logic (theology).
What annoys me when people say that quantum physics and atomic theory are mentioned in the Vedas, or that the Greeks understood evolution, or that the ancient Arabs and Persians practiced chemistry, is how often people forget how these discoveries were made.
For example, an ancient Indian Sadhu was once walking along the banks of a river. There, he saw grains of rice floating in the water, and how they would clump together. In that instant, he had a realisation that the whole world around him was also made of similar particles, which attracted to each other. He concluded that these must be like magnets, being of opposite poles. This led to the creation if Vedic atomic theory, where it was believed that all things in the Universe were made of two particles, armanu and parmanu. The Greeks also had similar conclusions, calling these particles “atomos”. And these are remarkable accurate.
But notice how this entire encounter was the result of insight. Natural philosophy was entirely dependent on such insights, followed by logical reasoning. Only exceptionally creative, intelligent and skilled people could do it, and only those who had both time, and an education, meaning the society they lived in needed to be both prosperous and progressive. If you ever ended up in a situation where such people were lacking, or suppressed (such as the European dark ages, or by things like the Indian caste system), a whole society could completely decline in it’s scientific understanding.
Besides, it really was just a case of belief. If enough people believed the natural philosopher, or couldn’t produce a counter argument, they just went with it.
This is the case with Aristotle. Many of you have probably heard of him. For someone who was consistently wrong about almost everything, he seems to be very popular. He is the one came up with the geocentric model, and the idea that planets were made of ether. You see, he was a very gifted speaker. He was so good at logical reasoning, and so confident, that most people just assumed that he knew what he was talking about. Despite being wrong, and having little evidence for his claims, it was assumed he was right because his conclusions appeared logical.
Now, let us take a hypothetical example. The ancient Hindus placed a great emphasis on purity and cleanliness. Some people claim that this was because they understood germ theory, but it’s more likely due to observation. They observed that people who stayed clean and lived in clean environments stayed disease free and lived longer. Why do you think the concept of untouchability came around?
Perhaps some day a priest observed a leather tanner coming to the temple. Perhaps this leather tanner had just finished his work, and his hands were still dirty from working with animal carcasses and skins. Perhaps, as was custom, he washed his hands and feet in the Temple basin before going inside, contaminating them. Perhaps, following this several people who used the basic or drank water from the same well fell ill and died. Maybe many such events happened.
The priest must have quickly consulted a local theologian, who drew the “logical” conclusion that leather tannery was a sinful, and impure profession, and all who were engaged in it were polluted. This led to this job being designated to the weak and ostracized members of society, and perhaps resulted in centuries of stigma against their tribes and communities, even toward those that did not work in leather tanning. This is the product of “natural philosophy”.
Logic and perception are not always true. Even the logical conclusions of gifted minds can be wrong. Yes, many of the insights they gained happened to be correct, because these are messages from the Divine, but they were also wrong very often, since not every thought the Ego has are divine messages. Often it’s just noise.
That is the fundamental difference between natural philosophy and the scientific method. In fact, in the early Enlightenment even the scientific method was reliant upon insights by gifted individuals. People like Newton and Einstein would have sudden insights that would suddenly and greatly increase human knowledge. But we cannot rely completely on such insights to develop human understanding forever. Yes, these still happen, but science now is also a profession. While the insights of brilliant individuals propel use forward from time to time, scientific research is also conducted side by side. Unlike insight, research is slow and incremental, but anyone can do it. Technically, you could study science and become a researcher in any field. You do not even need to have a very high IQ. As long as you are good at logical analysis and math, you can become a researcher and contribute to our slow and steady growth on knowledge. And even if you’re not all that good at math, there’s probably still some fields you can participate in, such as geology or archeology.
Some of you fellow magicians may feel bitter that people are overly cynical and skeptical of magick. But let me remind you, that very skepticism is what stops things like the Salem witch trials from happening. Since the scientific method places doubt and critical enquiry as the highest value, people cannot just get away with making stuff up. As far as the ordinary masses are concerned, it is better for them to disbelieve, than believe too easily. Can you imagine if tomorrow some crazy, charismatic cult leader came around and said he had a vision from Jesus and that the world would end in 3 years unless all the “heretics” were purged?
Heck, that still happens, despite such people being unable to prove anything. Think how much worse it would be if modern science was replaced with the insights, experiences and musings of gifted individuals, many of whom may not be all that benevolent.
In fact, the whole reason the witch hunts in Europe stopped was because a certain group of Dominican friars adopted skepticism over Church dogma. These friars insisted that just because someone was having strange experiences, did not mean they were a witch, and just because someone claimed to be in league with the devil, did not mean they really were. To us this may seem obvious, but thanks to this the Church was able to stop using forced confessions as evidence for devil worship.
Personally, I think the scientific method is the best toll we currently have for advancing human knowledge, at least until something better come along.
Now, let’s talk about matters that are important to us. What about our sacred science? And what of pseudo-science?
Personally, I think the line between pseudo-science and natural philosophy is quite blurry. You could say that pseudo-science is simply natural philosophy that came around after the scientific method. Many spiritualists, occultists and new-agers get accused of pseudo-science, largely due to the methodology. Even when they use math and logic, the lack of critical enquiry is the problem. That is to say, very rarely do people actively attempt to disprove what they have found, or get their work peer reviewed. But this isn’t all that different from ancient natural philosophy, and as we know the natural philosophers often stumbled upon truths about the Universe which were very deep, such as atomic theory, without being able to prove or understand it beyond a superficial level.
It is very difficult, even for an occultist, to say exactly how much that was given to us by our predecessors is literally true, how much is metaphor, and how much is willful distortion of secret knowledge, either to hide it or destroy it. Similarly, it is difficult to say how many non-scientific ideas present within the spiritual and occult community are true. For example, is the Aura really a bio-electric or electromagnetic field, or not? Are crystals really better at conducting magical energy, or would using plastic or metal have the same effect? In fact, what even is magical energy, and is it “energy” in the same way that the word is understood by science (i.e. kinetic energy), or is it simply a word we use for an entirely different kind of substance?
Do binaural beats truly work, or is it simply the belief in them? Do different metals have attributions to Planetary energies, or is it some totally unknown process? If all of these are true, then how do we justify the contradictions that exist within different traditions of magick?
I’m not saying that these questions have or don’t have clear answers, just posing some obvious questions that many occultists may considered.
One obvious answer would be that we cannot know for sure, and that we should subject all our findings to the scientific method. But then we run into another problem. The scientific method is built upon one single, extremely fundamental idea: that our thoughts and beliefs do not directly affect objective reality. After all, since the scientific method is based on critical enquiry, it works on the assumption that the result of any experiment will be the same regardless of the beliefs of a scientist. It is thanks to this that the scientist can actively seek to disprove something, in an attempt to prove it.
Now, all you who practice any kind of magick will see how amusing this problem is. Occult wisdom and practical experience with magick tells us that beliefs and thoughts are the SINGLE and perhaps ONLY factor that shapes and guides our reality. Objective reality is fluid, and I wonder how much it even exists. Anyone who has had spiritual experiences will know how quickly “reality” appears to shift and fall apart.
This is a major problem in uniting occult science with modern science. Modern scientific research often involves research on very subtle levels of reality, especially with fields like quantum physics, astrophysics and psychology. These are not simple and material fields where things can be easily tested and physically observed.
The result of this clash is that scientists simply disregard the occult (even though all science is and continues to be born out of delving into the occult) while occultists and spiritualists disregard science itself (even though without critical thinking we are simply left with unproven claims). Personally, for me this is a very major contradiction. I am a strong supporter of science and the scientific method, and yet I know that objective, material reality is fluid and illusory.
So, what is to be done? Well , nothing for now. For the time being, the scientific method reigns supreme. Until someone can come up with something better, we occultists should abide by it, at least publicly.
My personal approach has always been to keep my personal spiritual and occult experiences to myself. Yes, I write about them on this blog, but my approach is never to convince someone of anything, nor present any alternative frameworks to modern science. In fact, often I present them within the framework of modern science. My experiences are my own, as are my beliefs and understanding. I know what is true for me, and I know it may not be for others.
In my opinion, I suggest the same to all of you. Making claims beyond the realm of science, or trying to understand things we yet cannot is simply the Ego trying to pretend that it controls everything. And in fact, you may be wrong at times, or misunderstood by the masses, and unwillingly cause new dogmas and incorrect beliefs to persist, much like Aristotle.
The pursuit and study of Occult knowledge is a good thing, but it is kept secret for a reason. If you must share it, as I do, simply share experiences and leave it up to the reader to form their own opinions. True occult wisdom often falls within the realm of philosophy, which is far more flexible and open ended than science. Sometimes it is best to answer philosophical questions instead of forcing some sort of new scientific understanding onto others, unless you have some really ground breaking evidence.
To end it off, I just want to say a few things regarding genuine innovation in magick.
To say that magick is opposed to science is a fallacy. As I have explained, a lot of people who talk like this don’t understand these words very well, and are strongly influenced by modern American politics. It never ceases to amaze me just how much the petty disputes among the American leadership affect and shape global culture.
Science is the study of the world. Occult simply refers to all that which is yet Unknown to humanity. Not necessarily just scientific knowledge, but also philosophical ideas and creative concepts can fall within the realm of “occult”.
Religion is something else entirely, and is not even in the same category as “science” or “history”. Religion is more like a collective set of beliefs, artforms, values, philosophies, mythologies, folktales, and histories possessed by any group of people. It is inherently linked to the culture from which it comes. I genuinely do not understand where the whole “science vs religion” thing comes from. If you think about it, it truly makes no sense. It’s like saying “music vs history”. A meaningless comparison. I suppose the correct terms would be “Theology vs Rationalism” or “Traditionalism vs Progressivism” or even “Mentalism vs Materialism”. But this would force both sides to actually have an honest discussion!
Spirituality is the development and evolution of the individual, and often within the framework of religion. After all, a set of symbols needed for spiritual growth and magick. And before the Internet, people simply HAD to rely on their own culture and religion to supply these symbols.
Spiritual development takes place when a person encounters the Unknown/ Occult. For the ancient people, this may have meant venturing into the dark forest or staring up at the sky. For us, it may mean using psychadelics or performing invocations. In the future, it may involve exploring the cosmos and understanding the nature of reality. By encountering the Unknown, the process of spiritual development is initiated (do you get it? That’s why spiritual Adepts are called ‘Initiates’. The word “initiate” means to “begin a process”. When you undergo Initiation, you are initiating this process!)
I suppose we can say magick/ yoga is simply an advanced state of spirituality. A person who is sufficiently developed spiritually, becomes able to detatch himself from the perspective of the world that he has inherited from his culture, or developed throughout his life without thinking much about it.
By doing this, the person is entirely left on their own, free to define their own reality and form an entirely unique and independent world-view. By altering their world view, they can literally alter reality according to their Will. This is true magick. (Keep this in mind, it’ll be really important in the next post)
I stated that all that is Unknown to us is “Occult”. But that word also means “Secret”, referring to the Secret knowledge held by Magicians. When magcians encounter the Unknown, they come into possessions of new understandings, ideas and information. Sometimes, they may also discover new phenomena of Nature. But revealing this to ordinary people usually leads to persecution, or worship. Often both together.
Think about the ancient alchemists. They made demonstrations of chemical processes, at a time when no one understood this. They had come into possessions of this knowledge through ancient teachings that were passed on to them, which they expanded upon. At times, they would become worshipped, butoften they would be tortured and persecuted out of fear. People desired their knowledge and tried to steal it, or simply reviled them for their knowledge. Often, the moment alchemical knowledge leaked out, pretenders would show up trying to make a quick profit, and this would tarnish the name of alchemy as a whole, and confuse the masses . As a result, the alchemists kept such knowledge secret and passed it on, and with each generation it expanded. By leaving social norms and tenets behind, those who chose to be alchemists would have been exceptionally brave, inquisitive and humble. They did not have text books or chemistry, and had to painstakingly decode secret knowledge left to them in form of metaphors and ciphers. This required tremendous patience, persistence and skill. Sitting by the fire of the furnace for long hours, gazing into flasks of boiling liquid, they entered an almost meditative trance. Every experiment was a new step into the Unknown. They would contemplate and learn about themselves, they would see how the chemical processes resembled their own trials and tribulations. Their strange experiments and observations became a canvas onto which the projected their inner Being. They combined this with prayers, hymns and chants. They built philosophies and stories to pass on their knowledge and wisdom. In the purification of gold ore, they saw the story of the magician himself becoming purified. In the production of herbal tinctures through repeated extarction, they saw how man’s spirit itself was reborn countless times. These insights initiated the spiritual process, and they became enlightened. It was also dangerous. Some metals were toxic, some experiments explosive. Only those who were undeterred and brave could proceed. Some did not make it. It was like Mother Nature revealing her mysteries to they who were chosen, amidst the seeming Chaos. Kalki turning into Durga. Black Isis turning to White Isis. Order from Chaos. Think of all the motifs! Of lady Venus appearing shrouded in veils, revealing herself to the worthy!
Do you see now?! It was never about the chemical processes! It was not the physical purification of metals or the herbal tinctures that contained the magick. The Magick was in the alchemist himself, not in some external object!
Finally, there came an especially progressive and open minded era, when many people became interested in this stuff, and humanity underwent a sudden burst of mass spiritual growth. The knowledge had grown to the point where it could be made public. The alchemists of the 17th and 18th century, who were able to formalise all this “occult” knowledge and reveal it to the world, made it the standard science known as chemistry. Now imagine this same process in every other occult and scientific field. It happened for astrology when it became astronomy, or for herbalism when it became biology, or even psychicism which became psychology.
Currently, the same is happening in the field of psychadelics, mediation, breathwork and deep psychology. Did you know, last month there was even a scientific paper that proved the similarities between neurons in the human brain and the web of galaxies in the Universe? After decades of being called a pseudo-science, some researches actually managed to prove these things through the scientific method.
Some day, the same may happen for invocations and evocations, sigils, crystals, psychic healing etc. And besides, who says all the secrets of alchemy or herbalism have been revealed? Even now, there are many experiments recorded by alchemists that have yet to be reproduced.
And, we ourselves may be wrong about many of these things. For example, when we invoke an archangel using sigils and incense, we only have a vague idea of what is happening. Due to our lack of understanding, we are forced to rely on archaic metaphors, passed down to us by our predecessors, where we recite Latin hymns to these “winged beings”. For all you know, in the future there will be a simple and straight forward method for contacting these “angels”, much like how simple chemistry is compared to the archaic and elaborate methods of ancient alchemy. Therefore, we should always keep an open mind and never get bound down by dogma and tradition. If something doesn’t work, we need to be more willing to cast it aside, as well as adopt new techniques that work better. This is how the knowledge grows and becomes refined with each generation.
My approach is to be completely open minded about magick, and not try to force pseudo-scientific dogmas of others, or even ancient religious dogmas of my predecessors, upon it. I form my own understanding and techniques, and keep developing my own frameworks and theories. A lot of it is based on intuition and insight, which is how the beings on the higher planes communicate with us and guide us. Remember, tradition is the preservation of the fire, not worship of the ashes. My suggestion to you ALL is to be completely free and open in your magick, and do not allow modern science or pseudo-science to limit it. What we are doing IS the sacred science.
It is good to be in touch with mainstream science (so you can think criticially), and good to at least understand the more popular theories in alternative science (since many of them may turn out to be true). But ultimately, be inquisitive and free thinking. If a magician combines critical thinking with open mindedness, they will truly be one among few, and very powerful. Save your energy, and don’t waste it arguing with zealots, materialists or anyone simply not open to new ideas.
That has been my take on science and magick. Hopefully you enjoyed this first part, and next time we shall look at philosophy.
Until Next Time
~White Raven Invictus