I want to deal with some portions of scientific knowledge and their relation with magick. In order to do this effectively, it will be necessary to make certain generalizations and a number of statements that may not be entirely accurate. This is unfortunate, but unavoidable if I am to produce something remotely coherent. I want to begin by stating that I regard experience as the essential criterion of reality. Scientific instruments merely extend the range of human experience and enable detailed quantification thereof, but it is the perception of the people that ultimately tests and is tested in experimentation and observation.
Einstein’s famed equation E=MC² revolutionized physics. What does it mean for magick? The terms mean: energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. The result of this is that all physical components of reality are to be seen as formations of energy.
The entire universe is composed of energy. What differentiates the various aspects of this energy field that we perceive from one another is the characteristic vibration of these aspects. For example, visible light is broken into a series of colours. Each colour is actually the perceptual referent our sensory apparatus generates in response to a particular wavelength of light. If our senses were capable of being stimulated by a wider range of wavelengths, we would see many more colours, as we would possess referents for such things as Gamma rays and Microwaves.
Light is our term for one kind of energy, but in effect all kinds of energy may be regarded as light. What, then, is light composed of? Light is made up of particles termed Quanta (singular: Quantum). Quanta are units of energy. They are classed as particles, but they carry no mass; they are pure energy. Also, they display wavelike properties. Quanta cannot be pinned down to a particular point in space without losing knowledge of their speed, or vice versa. This is known as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, and it shows why the mechanistic Newtonian physics do not accurately describe reality (i.e. the universe does not run like a clock).
In order to develop a physical model that incorporates the behaviour of subatomic particles such as quanta, scientists came up with equations to define the probability of a particle being in a specific area at a certain time. I do not have the mathematical ability to understand these equations, so I will not try to explain them fully. It can be said that the modern worldview is stochastic at heart; the universe operates in an apparently random manner. No one can predict precisely what the future will be like even at the lowest level, because that level can only be understood in terms of the probability of a particular possibility. For this reason, physicists talk about a superposition state, in which a quantum may be considered as being at several locations at once until it interacts with something and reveals itself. Even once the waveform collapses into a particle with a known position, it remains impossible to be certain what route the particle took to reach its destination.
Despite the chaotic situation described above, there are instances of surprising conformity in the behaviour of physical systems. For example, quantum indeterminacy flattens out and becomes negligible once one ascends to higher levels of observation, which is why the discredited physics of Newton retain their value for ordinary life. More interesting, however, is Bell’s theorem, which states that two particles that are united or ‘entangled’ at one time remain connected by some unknown medium, no matter how great the distance between them, until they interact with another particle. So, if one manipulates the spin of one of the pair, its ‘mate’ is altered immediately in an equal but opposite manner, with no physical connection between them. This seems to violate Einstein’s theory that the speed of light is impossible to exceed, but it has been shown to be accurate under experimental conditions. It is suggestive of a connection via a different dimension than the usual four that make Einstein’s space-time continuum. I don’t want to go further in the direction of dimensional physics at this time, but I would direct interested parties towards M-theory and the introductory writing of Stephen Hawking.
An alternative interpretation of Bell’s theorem is that each quantum is a unit of information, that the universe is a
self-organizing complex of information. Now this is too broad a proposition to be acceptable to science, although there has been work done in this direction. However, we also have the experiences of vast numbers of mystics and mages. It is quite common for people who undergo religious enthusiasm (being filled with god), or mystical illumination, to refer to a sense of being part of a vast mind, or to having access to unlimited information. This will become more relevant shortly.
If mind is not an epiphenomenona of biochemical activity in the brain, but a fundamental property of quanta (light energy), then we have reason to regard the whole of existence as a living mind. This is an axiom of many mystical and philosophical schools. Xenophanes states that all things are “set in motion” by one “mind”. Heraclitus held that all things were “steered” by one “thought”. These ancient philosophers are supported by the relatively recent Kybalion, wherein is said: “All is Mind” (and this is claimed to be a distillation of millennia old Hermetic teaching). Beyond the dry statements of philosophers are the emotionally charged utterances of saints and mystics who speak of cosmic consciousness, as treated in depth by William James.
We now have a working theory. The universe is alive and aware and active. Light is observed to behave as though it is conscious, and all things are held to be light in different states of vibration. Returning to the Kybalion, we have the axiom “everything vibrates”. We also have for the experience of an awakening of universal awareness, the accepted terms enlightenment and illumination. The etymology of these terms becomes highly suggestive in the present context.
Of course, many people have conflicting views. There are many magical systems in existence, and most of them contradict one another to some extent. Some hold that the gods (odd gods, old gods, onion-flavoured gods…) rule everything, others that one control-freak god does the lot. Then some folks favour an impersonal universe that works like clockwork and has to accommodated (“lest we be crushed”). A few go for supremacy of individual will, some for control of elemental powers. A lot favour the idea of psychic powers as the natural product of evolution. And it goes on… Now, although there is no real consensus between these parties, they do all agree that magick works. It is real.
My solution to this problem of plurality is founded on the fact (as proclaimed by science), that energy is indestructible. No matter what happens, we cannot destroy energy (even our greatest weapons do no more than alter its state), and neither can any process in nature. If it is alive and aware and has a capacity for volition, then why shouldn’t the universe do what it likes? If you had eternity to exist in, and only your own self for company, might you not decide to play a few games?
It is my present view that we are all aspects of a vast entity that chooses to indulge in experiment and entertainment. It has no fear or anger, for it is immortal. However, it produces the situations that we experience as pain and danger, as well as love and amusement, so as to benefit from such activities (in that they provide alternatives to perfection, they are interesting). More than this, it voluntarily divides itself up into unaware pieces, so that they may know the great joy of reunion with the whole. That, I think, is the goal of the mystic.
I cannot prove this view. It is a statement of my views, as they are informed by experience and study. I can only say that the thoughts I have here expressed feel right to me, and that is often the best confirmation one can obtain.
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