Over at the Gleamings from the Golden Dawn blog, Morgan Eckstein talks about the myth that we use only 10% of our brains. Why is debunking this myth of value? First, it is falsely used to explain how things such as psychic abilities and magick can occur. Second, I would contend it’s irrelevant.

Morgan traces the source of the 10% myth back to early days of brain scans when we couldn’t really see deeply into the body of a living person.

Transaxial slice of a 56-year-old male patient taken with positron emission tomography (PET)

Checking with one of the best sources for investigating internet rumors, snopes.com, I discovered that this myth actually goes much further back, perhaps as far back as a century. The exact source isn’t clear.

One of the problems with the myth, according to snopes, is that it “presupposes an extreme localization of functions in the brain.” If 90% of the brain wasn’t doing anything, as the myth implies, why not remove it? Of course, this is a ridiculous thought. Although there are spots or areas in the brain that can be associated with certain things, the actual functioning is spread throughout the brain, allowing for other areas to take over when an area is damaged. This often requires training and rehabilitation, as in the case of Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, the congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in the head and is now going through recovery. So it would seem that the full brain is necessary, right?

As Reported in The Lancet

The Lancet is England’s premier journal for medical professionals. It is highly respected around the world. In it, there was the report of a 44-year-old man in France, a civil servant and father of two children. He came in for medical help due to a weakness of his left leg. Of course, they had him give a medical history. He was just a normal person with one exception. He was born with hydrocephalus, commonly known as “water on the brain.” This is when there is too much fluid that usually protects the brain. As an infant, he had a shunt put into his head to drain the fluid. It was removed when he was in his teens.

So the doctors did a CAT scan and an MRI. The results were astounding. Some tiny chambers that usually hold cushioning cerebrospinal fluid had enlarged. See this photo:

The black spaces on the left are filled with fluid.
The photos on the right show a normal brain for comparison.

He was essential missing most of his brain. Although he wasn’t a genius by any standard, he was living a successful and happy life. How could this be? Unless…

Perhaps the Brain Isn’t What We Think?

Aristotle—philosopher, expert on numerous subjects, and whose writings have influenced Western civilization and philosophy—believed that the purpose of the brain was to cool the blood and wasn’t part of the thinking system. Certainly if you look at the brain, with all of its wrinkles and folds, it could be a type of heat sink. This is why I think the myth that we only use 10% of our brains is irrelevant: Is it possible that our actual thinking isn’t done in the brain at all? Rather, for higher functions such as thinking, what if the brain is just a conduit to where the mind exists? Perhaps the thinking mind is not the same as the brain.

It certainly appears that things such as the autonomic nervous system and much of our unconscious functioning (controlling breathing, heart beat, etc.) are found in the brain. But what if our minds are not the same as the brain? Perhaps the mind and brain are in the same locations (“coterminous”) but on different planes of existence. If that’s possible, perhaps they are not conterminous. If that’s true, then your mind could be much larger than your brain. The subtitle of my friend, Lon Milo DuQuette’s book, Low Magic ( It’s All In Your Head … You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is) makes perfect sense. It would explain why intelligence has little relationship to brain size.

If this is true, the key to increasing your intelligence and perhaps producing all sorts of phenomena would be learning how to truly access the mind through the conduit of the brain. Of course, there’s a name for that: magick!


I would like to give my extreme thanks to all of those who have had such nice things to say about my new “eShort” ebook, The Magical Life of Scott Cunningham. Scott was a good friend and this small book was very meaningful for me. It’s a quick read that brings you an understanding of Scott’s magical techniques and motivations. For more information, see my previous blog post. It’s available through your favorite online ebook retailer such as the Kindle Store (LINK), Kobo (LINK), Sony (LINK), and iTunes (available now through the store in iTunes).

Written by Donald Michael Kraig
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy. He has also studied public speaking and music (traditional and experimental) on the university level. After a decade of personal study and practice, he began ten years of teaching courses in the Southern California area on such ...