Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Advanced Search

The Next “Scientific Explanation” of Magick?

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on August 13, 2012 | Comments (8)

One of the challenges of magick has nothing to do with magick. Rather, it has to do with those of us who believe in various magickal or occult principles but feel insecure because we don’t know exactly how one thing, such as a ritual, directly causes a result. As I have described before, some magicians look for the latest “scientific” principles as an explanation for how magick works. As a result there have been books that “explain” the functioning of magick by associating it with magnetism, electricity, atoms, spirits, ghosts, synchronicity, and most recently, quantum physics.

I have a feeling that the next explanation of magick may be a subdivision of quantum physics known as quantum entanglement. Is it interesting? Well, Albert Einstein described it as “spooky action at a distance.” So I’m taking the attitude that if Einstein thought it was “spooky,” this must be really weird!

Quarks

To understand this concept we have to look at the weird world of subatomic particles. Most of us are familiar with the basic electrons, protons, and neutrons. You probably studied them in school. However, there are even smaller particles, some of which combine to form these particles (as well as make other subatomic particles). These smaller particles are called quarks.

There are six types of quarks of which two, known as up quarks and down quarks are the most stable. They also have certain intrinsic properties, one of which is spin. That is, they can spin in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.

Now this gets a bit fuzzy and is the reason some people relate this with magick. It is only when a quark is measured that its spin becomes established. This does not mean that we simply can’t see the direction of the spin without measuring the quark. The spin direction is actually indefinite. When we measure it, the spin direction becomes established. This means that our actions (think “ritual”) determine the qualities of the basis of all matter. That sounds like magick to me. But wait, this science gets weirder.

Entanglement

Quarks don’t exist by themselves. They interact in the quantum universe with other quarks, often becoming entangled with them. Now comes the freaky stuff: Suppose there are two quarks that are entangled and then separated by a large distance. You measure one, resulting in its establishment of a spin direction. Even though there is no known connection with its now-distant counterpart, that other quark will also establish its spin, but in the exact opposite direction.

So let’s think about this. You affect quark one and quark two, at a distance, performs predetermined actions. By the way, this isn’t sometimes. It always happens. Every time.

Now let’s relate this to magick.

  • You perform a ritual.
  • The words, thoughts, and actions have an effect on matter.
  • Matter is ultimately composed of quarks.
  • Therefore, your ritual interaction with the quarks in some way results in specific changes in the quarks.
  • At a distance, other quarks that are entangled with the quarks you affected react instantly in a known way.

You do X. Y occurs at a distance. Although there is no direct cause-and-effect that we can detect, quantum entanglement is the name given this currently unmeasurable and unknown process. The result is definitely “spooky action at a distance.” But does it explain magick?

The Quantum Problem

Quantum physics, including quantum entanglement, produces all sorts of counterintuitive phenomena. Quantum particles can start down one wire and end up going down a separate wire. How did it get there? Currently, scientists can’t tell you how it happens, only that it happens. It certainly seems like the principles of quantum physics could explain, scientifically, how magick works.

The problem with this explanation is that quantum physics explains phenomena in the quantum world, not our physical world. If you roll a bowling ball down the gutter of a bowling alley, it’s not going to suddenly appear in the gutter of a bowling alley 50 miles away. Knock two bowling balls together, separate them by fifty yards, and spin one counterclockwise. The other won’t immediately begin spinning in a clockwise direction.

Quantum physics doesn’t explain magick in our world because its rules apply to the subatomic world. It’s like the laws of a completely different universe.

So if someone tries to explain magick in terms of quantum physics, they would have to solve the problem of how the rules of one universe can expand beyond that universe and into our physical world. Without that, such an “explanation” of magick is meaningless…until we look at quantum entanglement.

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Quantum entanglement might explain magick if we could show that it exists on the physical plane. Well, it seems as if this has been detected. According to an article in NewScientist, researchers have shown the effects of entanglement in tiny diamonds. This blurs the separation between the quantum universe and our physical universe.

But does this mean that entanglement can exist on all levels and explain magick? Well, not yet. Even if you see books or articles that claim this for the scientific explanation of how magick works, remember that the same announcements were made for magnetism, electricity, psychology, etc.

Quantum entanglement may be great from creating tiny, ultra-fast computers. But does it explain magick? No.

Well at least, not yet.

Reader Comments

avatar
#1 
Written By Blackbird BB
on August 13th, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

Dear Don,
Thanks again for a thought provoking post, hope you don’t mind my sharing some of the thoughts it provoked with you. I think there are two points I would like to touch on here. One is a Question of Epistemology, the other actual practical science.

You said: “One of the challenges of magick has nothing to do with magick. Rather, it has to do with those of us who believe in various magickal or occult principles but feel insecure because we don’t know exactly how one thing, such as a ritual, directly causes a result. As I have described before, some magicians look for the latest “scientific” principles as an explanation for how magick works.”

I don’t think it is truly fair to describe magicians, pagans, readers whatever who seek some sort of ‘Scientific’ explanation for why magick should work as insecure.

The simple fact of the matter is that Science*, whether we like it or not; is in our world today the ultimate arbitrator of what is real. If science decrees something is real, it is; if science decree’s something is not real it is not; that’s the world we live in – and so Dark Matter, and Dark Energy – virtually undetectable forces that supposedly make up 95% or so of the stuff in the universe are real.

Where as Astrology, despite an extensive and centuries old literature; and being able to claim some of the brightest minds in history to include Newton (as I’m sure you know) as practitioners Astrology is not, it is self delusion; and intellectual fluff & Nutter. So says science and science rules.

So I don’t think it is fair to say that any given practitioner of Magick, that that person is insecure simply because they seek an explanation of their craft that reconciles that craft with the dominant paradigm; especially when given the failings of our education system; I think relatively few people think of science as a theory of knowledge, among other possible theories of knowledge; Vs say the sole possible source of valid knowledge, Certainly that is not how science as an institution presents itself.

It’s very difficult Emotionally, socially, Culturally to live outside that box.

Of course as Magickal practitioner’s we all have chosen to live outside the box, but some of us have chosen to live a bit closer to the box than others; we should honor their choice IMHO. For myself, for the sake of this argument I consider myself a Radical Empiricist. I trust first and foremost what I have seen with my own eyes; and if what I have witnessed does not fit the accepted Paradigm, so be it; no amount of argument, or math will convince me I have not seen just what I have seen; and as a Tarot reader with over 1000 readings experience; I’ve seen a fair bit; as have you.

But I am not dismissive of Science.

My Day job in satellite communications involves science at a high level, if not by me personally, the equipment I use could not have been created 50years ago, barely imagined 100 years ago; Science has made great strides; but those strides are in terms of describing to an awesome level of detail the material world; and if Magick has anything to add to the conversation it must be in terms of expanding on what science has to offer; and not by making the fundamentalist mistake of denying that which is known, is known.

If both Science and Magick are ways of describing and understanding reality; and I believe they are; and if science and magick both describe a common reality; and I believe this is true; then at some point their descriptions must begin to converge; and I do personally believe Quantum theory represents a very real possible starting point for that convergence.

Recently on Coast, George Noory hosted a long an interesting interview with Nassim Haramein, whose research points directly to that possible convergence; points to the possible interconnection of all things, mystics have long spoken of, as a reality at the Quantum level. In his 2004 book Science and the Akashic Field, Ervin László speaks to the resonances between the Akashic Field; and what we are coming to learn about Quantum reality. Especially in terms of the conservation of information; or basically how at a quantum level; if you or I were to fall into a blackhole, all the information the describes us would be preserved on the ‘skin’ of that blackhole; now if they universe itself is, as some postulate a blackhole, all the information in it is also present at the event horizon of that massive blackhole; which would be … an Akashic Field; and at any point in that holographic universe all that information would be accessible. … Sounds oddly familiar to me. ; )

So is Quantum Theory at last the Unifying theory that will reconcile Science and Magick; I dont know, lets say for now the possibility is reasonably high in my grey box; but what I do believe is that thier ultimately is but one truth; and any valid description of that truth must at the end of the day find resonance and reconciliation with other valid descriptions of reality; even
those arising out of very different disciplines and very different Paradigms.

Indeed I rather suspect that reconciliation will be a rather large part of the human project in the coming Aquarian age; every bit as much as Faith, Faith in Faith, Faith in God, Faith in Science have been such a huge part in this Piscean age.

Which is a good thing, It means you and I, and other Magickal persons will surely not be bored in future rides on this cosmic wheel.

:) Blessings, BB.

*And here we are talking of course of Science as an institution; not of any individual scientist; indeed my own mentor in astrology

is and was a scientist by profession.

http://www.coasttocoastam.com/show/2012/07/24

http://theresonanceproject.org/

avatar
#2 
Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on August 13th, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

Thank you for your long and thoughtful response, BB. Yes, indeed, there are some magicians who are simply interested in seeing if there is a “scientific” explanation of magick. That’s why I wrote “some magicians.” I certainly didn’t mean all magicians.

I would point out, however, that some of the magicians of the 19th century were sure that science, as they understood it, explained magick. I see the same thing, especially at the end, of your response, with authors using the latest explanation of science to reveal (or allow magicians to accept) how magick could work. I have no doubt that in another 50 years there will be people snorting at the foolish people of our era and telling people how magick “really” works–according to science!

While it is certainly interesting to know how magick works, perhaps the fact of magick working is more important than learning the how of magick. Perhaps there is something beyond our current understanding of science just as quarks are beyond subatomic particles, and subatomic particles are beyond atoms, and atoms are beyond molecules.

You wrote, “If science decrees something is real, it is; if science decree’s something is not real it is not; that’s the world we live in.” I would both agree and disagree with this. The concept, I think, is correct, but I don’t think it is “science” that does this. Rather, it is an artificial construct that the media thinks is science. Nobody can speak for “science,” but there are people ranging from specialists in certain areas of scientific research to sleight-of-hand magicians who have set themselves up as experts and define what is and what is not “real.” And the sad fact is, because they are focused specialists or not knowledgable in actual science, often what they say is based on belief, not actual science.

And the fact is, magick does not fit into their belief system. If you had 100% solid proof of magick according to their own scientific concepts they would still deny the reality of magick. They have to just as much as a religious fundamentalist doesn’t want to hear about magick from their religious viewpoint. Therefore, no matter what you do will not make them say magick is real, and their form of science, as reported in the media, will also never accept it.

So why seek it? For personal interest? Certainly some may do it. To prove it to the world? Why? When there is nothing you can do that will make the purveyors of the popular paradigm accept it, why bother?

I would contend that for those trying to do this it is not for others. Rather, it is to fulfill a need to have their beliefs accepted.

And another name for having a need to have others accept your beliefs is “insecurity.”

avatar
#3 
Written By Blackbird 'BB'
on August 13th, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

If I may I would like to make a brief reply; and then leave you with the last word.
.
BB re: “If science decrees something is real, it is; if science decree’s something is not real it is not; that’s the world we live in.”
.
Don re: I would both agree and disagree with this. The concept, I think, is correct, but I don’t think it is “science” that does this. Rather, it is an artificial construct that the media thinks is science.
.
BB re: While there is certainly more than a grain of truth to this; it is also true that Science through vehicles like the NIS, which as you know controls funding and grants at a national level; does exist as a describable institution that has its own world view and biases. Take for example the Great Pyramid; while there are a great many questions in the minds of many people as to how this amazing construction was built; is it possible to imagine a peer reviewed paper being published that questions that somehow, against all odds, this amazing construction was not built using stone age technology.1
.
Still, I think we will have to agree we have somewhat different views on this point.
.
Don: Nobody can speak for “science,” but there are people ranging from specialists in certain areas of scientific research to sleight-of-hand magicians who have set themselves up as experts and define what is and what is not “real.”
.
BB re: Agreed, but I really was not speaking to professional skeptics; my point in choosing the case of Dark Matter, and Dark Energy was not that they do not exist; but that not 10 years ago no one suspected their existence; but when news of their discovery entered the public mind; there was not a collective – Say What? but instead that reality was accepted as the new approved paradigm. That did not come out of the Skeptical Community, but the community of Astronomers, who have recently radically redefined the material dimension of the world.
.
Snip
.
Don: Therefore, no matter what you do will not make them say magick is real, and their form of science, as reported in the media, will also never accept it.
.
So why seek it? For personal interest? Certainly some may do it. To prove it to the world? Why? When there is nothing you can do that will make the purveyors of the popular paradigm accept it, why bother?

BB re: Of course your absolutely right in your position that attempting to appease the self described ‘Skeptical’ community is about as useful as teaching a pig to sing.
.
That said, Cosmology remains one of the oldest human endeavors; it lies at the roots of Western Philosophy, and from Parmenides to this day, these questions remain vitally important to some of us to understand how the world is put together.
.
This may be the most eternal of all the ‘Eternal Questions’ after all; there are serious questions about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything else if the universe truly were just a meaningless jumble of matter.
.
At the same time it is no doubt it is true, some people will be motivated by insecurity; I would still repeat my original point that, any magickal person has taken it upon themselves to step outside the box, just how far one steps out of the box is an individual decision; that I would say should be honored and encouraged. Like a cat or a puppy being welcome from their carrier into a new home. A home that after all is rather differently looking to the home expected, no?
.
I’ve been well blessed in my life in that it’s peculiar winding path through the woods have exposed me both to the wonders and limits of science, and allowed me a certain comfort a few steps further from the box than I might have otherwise taken.
.
Once again, thank you for a thoughtful reply, and for maintaining this blog; certainly one of the best places I know to feed ones brain.
.
Brightest Blessings, BB.
.
1. btw I am not an ancient astronauts fan, I suspect Robert Schoch is closer to the truth myself.

avatar
#4 
Written By Vinncent
on August 13th, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

I have to touch on your first point, even if it was in jest; Without any sort of empirical backing, even if it lacks an explanation by our current models… then most magickal literature amounts to “defaulting on the authority of old dead guys who had a completely shit understanding of the universe compared to what we have today.”

Certainly there are some facets in occult literature that had predicted things long ahead of their time, other facets can be said to be close with a loose interpretation, and tons of other explanations and predictions that are just flat out wrong. Although you didn’t say as such, I’ve encountered many people with the mindset, “science is just catching up with what mystics have known for thousands of years”, that is plain ignorant. The fundamentals of the scientific method allow us to determine with greater clarity which aspects are true, and which are false.

But I agree with the greater portion that people have always been trying to explain occultism with the current scientific understanding, which is usually later disproven. I still see these as a useful endeavor, since if there is a demonstratable occult feat that is not able to be explained by our current models (such as the use of faraday’s cages to rule out physical forms of energy in psychokinesis as an explanation), it both gets us closer to understanding the processes at work, and helps to refine our scientific models of reality.

But I’ll also be glad to see when all the “quantum woo” is over with, in terms of being an actual final explanation for the functioning of occult abilities. Most people seem to misinterpret the experiments as being, “The researcher’s changed reality using their minds!” In reality, most of it goes back to the Uncertainty Principle, where the act of measurement changes the system that they are observing, depending on how its measured… not that the researchers are using their “Magickal Will” to change the fundamental nature of reality, which is the common pagan interpretation.

(There’s also some issues with the Coppenhagen interpretation and quantum mechanics, and the implication that it allows for faster than light travel of information which largely invalidates it, but that’s a whole different discussion.)

avatar
#5 
Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on August 14th, 2012 @ 1:35 am

Vinncent, I would have to respectfully disagree with your statement that “Without any sort of empirical backing…most magickal literature amounts to ‘defaulting on the authority of old dead guys…”
As it says in “Liber Al” (III:46) “Success is your proof.” Authority can, at best, only be a guide. If something works, use it. If it doesn’t work, abandon it and do something else. It doesn’t matter if “science says” something is real or not. What matters if whether it works.

avatar
#6 
Written By Angel Angelov
on August 14th, 2012 @ 11:54 am

According to Petar Dunov a.k.a. Beinsa Douno (a.k.a The Teacher in Bulgaria), magick is basically a higher science. It’s wisdom and knowledge of the cosmic laws and it’s largely mental. It’s not supernatural, as there isn’t anything supernatural, only natural. Things appear supernatural only to those that don’t know the cosmic laws.

avatar
#7 
Written By Vinncent
on August 14th, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

I agree that results are the dividing line, but in this context, empiricism is best able to answer whether something was successful or not.

A common problem in occultism is that people that people mix up actual results with what they improperly imagine has happened. This occurs constantly with “energy work”. Dozens of people, myself included, have spent a great deal of time producing psychosomatic effects that are attributed to “psychic energies”, when they are much more directly able to be understood in terms of simple psychology and neurology.

So, instead of the actual result, “my hands feel warm”, you get something like, “The density of fire energy in my hands is massive!” An occasionally useful tool, but a severe handicap to mistake the actual results with whatever superstition a person chooses to tack onto it.

If we’re quoting old dead guys, he also spoke of this:

“The Magician may go on for a long time being fooled and flattered by the Astrals that he has himself modified or manufactured. Their natural subservience to himself will please him, poor ape!

They will pretend to show him marvellous mysteries, pageants of beauty and wonder unspeakably splendid; he will incline to accept them as true, for the very reason that they are images of himself idealized by the imagination.

But his real progress will stop dead. These phantasms will prevent him from coming into contact with independent intelligences, from whom alone he can learn anything new.

He will become increasingly interested in himself, imagine himself to be attaining one initiation after another. His Ego will expand unchecked, till he seem to himself to have heaven at his feet. Yet all this will be nothing but his fool’s face of Narcissus smirking up from the pool that will drown him.”

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address

Verification Code:
Please enter the words that you see, below, into the box provided.