So before we go any farther I want to go back and clarify what it is we mean exactly by depth experience, gnostic state or magickal trance, because these are not only versions of the same thing, but also exist on a line of continuity that includes things you probably take for granted. Because we’re getting to the point where we can’t talk about things in terms of just magick or just science as we normally think of them anymore without defeating the purpose. As now we’re hitting on things that both are lacking separately.

Even in mainstream science the experiential part of the knowledge process has a certain mystical connotation. It is sometime referred to, as wilber had said, as an ‘illumination’. There is a kind of mysterious aura to it, because you’re pushing out the boundaries of mind, and since mind is us, you’re pushing out the boundaries of self as it understands itself.

One need look no farther than a baby as it discovers it can control it’s own hand, or recognize itself in the mirror to find a gnostic state equal to most anything you or I will ever know again. That is a point on the line of continuity we’re talking about, and illuminations just like it are what we mean by depth experience. Something that increases the dimensional aspect of the world as we know it, and of ourselves. So it is at once both simpler and more profound than either science or magick usually thinks of it.

The difference between the simple and profound is really a matter of complexity and complexity is relative. And the seeming complexity of an experience is often a function of the skill it takes to evoke it, and skill you have to interpret it with.

And so, accordingly, the next pillar of our new structure, which probably ought to be self evident but often isn’t, is skill. Oddly enough, there are still people out there who think this field is the way to get something for nothing, and it partly why ‘magick’ has such a shoddy reputation.

One example that’s instructive for our purposes is with some users of psychedelics. Now, far be it from me to suggest that no one should approach these things as a quick ride into a depth experience for recreational purposes, but that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, really. The point is, even in cultures where psychedelics form the backbone of the shamanic traditions, there is still a body of knowledge, and a skill base around how to use them and what to do when you are using them. White people in a delirium of cultural appropriation almost always overlook this, conveniently. Doing it in this way is a step back into treating ecstasy as an episode, not your vocation.

If you want professional results, you have to treat it the way a professional does, quite simply. And just because there are no professionals around to give you a smack upside the head doesn’t get you off the hook. A surgeon can’t get away with diving in with a scalpel and no knowledge of what to cut or where, any more than a shaman can drink some ayahuasca and hope that a cure for the guy dying over there is going to land in his lap.

In a larger sense this is implicit in our learning behavior. Not only are we constantly experimenting, but we are constantly engaged in a process of progressive mastery of our experiential domain. This is how you can build experiments on top of other experiments. If you don’t master something at the bottom layer of the pyramid, then the thing runs a grave risk of collapsing at an inopportune moment because you went and built ten more layers on top of the one you neglected. And if you never bother to master anything, it’ll be sheer luck if you even get to the upper layers at all.
Just because someone tells you that all you have to do is whack off over a sigil, or do a mantra , or some visualization, or whatever and you’ll get a result, and that’s all there is to it… does that mean it’s true? Of course it doesn’t. Does it mean there aren’t ten or twelve layers of intermediate experiments that underpin the one you started with?

In prehistory people used to bargain with spirits for boons. Then they realised, no you don’t have to do that, you can just pray to the universal intelligence, and sometimes it would work. Then they realized, if you reintroduce some ritualistic elements you can get better results. Then someone figured out you don’t need any of that. Just a statement of intent and an altered state. And maybe you don’t even need that. I regularly have my intentions manifest without having to whack off over anything. I just clean up the ecology of my intentions, and state my wishes.

So the real cause and effect mechanism behind all that is still somewhat obscure, but successive experiments bring it forth in greater and greater resolution. Each experience allows one to fine tune the injunction, and slightly changes the resulting experience. But if you never take the experiment apart to see why it might have worked in the first place, and just repeat some ritual by rote, or even worse bolt another ritual on top of the first, you could very easily lose track of the causal mechanism. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen chaos kiddies who think that the only way to make something happen is with squiggly lines, and they add so many layers of complexity on top of the squiggly lines they have no idea what they’re doing or why. That’s how science turns ( back) into superstition, and we need to root that shit out.

So does this mean that you probably have some remedial work to do? Yes it probably does. But it also means that when you build the thing properly, it will start to work properly, which is almost certainly less work in the end than fucking around and hoping for the best. And if that’s too hard of a swallow then maybe you should find something else to do.

The saving grace however is that you don’t have to master what I say you should be mastering. My opinion doesn’t matter. It’s you who decides what aspect of reality requires your mastery, what parts of life are the ones where you search for depth experience. It could be anything. It could be an area where you already have skills. The point of knocking out those walls before was to show that whatever you’re doing, whatever you want to be doing, still fits into this framework. Music, painting, chemistry, or playing video games is just as valid a source of depth experience as any other. Again, just points on a line.

Depth experiences can be found anywhere, but they still all require some chops.

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19 thoughts on “Building a Better Brand: …We Are, After All, Professionals

  1. “Depth experiences can be found anywhere, but they still all require some chops.”

    So is it endless? I’m starting to think the whole idea of a stable “ooh look now I’m enlightened” state foolish. It’s constant work isn’t it, that gets harder to match your progressive mastery. And thats where large scale evolution comes from isn’t it? When more entities have their shit together than don’t. Because the universe starts throwing more shit, meaning the skills have to improve and on and on…. from single cell to ringing bell….

    I just had a real funny feeling inside…

  2. …and this is where we get to the good stuff.

    I believe any act is an injunction, and every experience a depth experience; it’s simply a case of if you repeat the same injunction, then you get the same experience, then you ‘go nowhere’. Hence the reqiurement for chops.

    I think this is where I must differ in my definition of magic to you, Zac; I’ve said elsewhere that any act is an act of magic, which is synonymous with the term injunction (hence magic = science). So, if every act is an act of magic, and every experience is deep experience, no matter how retarded your magic (repeated injunctions), sooner or later (and much, much, later for some), every body and everything in the manifest universe will attain ‘mastery’ and reach ‘enlightenment’. So what’s the rush?

    Am I really saying magic IS the manifest universe? Yep indeedy – hasn’t this been taught for thousands of years by many ‘spiritual’ traditions? Isn’t existence a result of Mara, the great magician?

    So yeah, I agree Hmmm – it is endless, at least until there is no manifest universe, or the individual experience of fruition.

  3. I wasn’t aware of positing a definition of magick, only some attributes, and if I did define it, it was only an expedient one.

    I guess it’s really only a question of design and intent. well designed injunctions produce clear results which lead to more well designed injunctions.

    …so if you want to wander around like a fucktard in the veils of illusion, that’s still valid, but slow and clunky.

    So really the overarching concept is one of inquiry carried out without prejudice, in all realms with the highest level of design and rigor possible

  4. I’m aware that you aren’t positing a defintion with this series – just attempting to make all this stuff more accessible – I simply assumed from the post you held a view of magic that differs from mine.

    But re-reading it, I see my mistake:

    ‘So it is at once both simpler and more profound than either science or magick usually thinks of it.’

    Which is spot on – and the root of both your ‘rebranding’ and my attempt at a new definition…

  5. I think some people have a certian genius, natural ability, latent ability, call it what you will. Some people are magick.

    Then some people just really aren’t that magickal.

    So then you have these various methods, developed over time. Method.

    A genius is like an exemplar. Method is like a mold.

    Doing methods is doing it backwards and trying to get the same result. The method was created backwards, that is. When these injunctions are created, they are created backwards. Retroactively.

    So I think being professional like you say, developing discipline and attention to detail will help both cases.

    But a person with a certian genius will have some startling success just dabbling, and then with discipline a lot more. Because some people are already magic and don’t know it.

    So I want to ask you Zac, do you think everyone is magick, or can be magick?

    Are all these things really reproduceable?

    I mean is what a Leonardo does the same thing as what sombody trying to draw and paint like Leonardo ?

    Are they doing the same thing? You know like Step one: Draw this line. Step two draw this line.

    I am think a lot of info gets lost, possibly by magnitudes.

  6. This Exemplar/mold analogy: I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

    With the psychodelic drugs there is being created an effect. Then later, with a person with some latent magickal ability, they can intuit how to create the cause. See what I’m saying?

    Then create that later. You achieve an altered state of consciousness, with intent behind it, after that knowing what an altered state is from the drugs.

    But some people just get high, they may as well sniff glue.

    So its like you can create an effect in order to get a cause, or create a cause first to get the effect.

    Does this make sense?

  7. sure, they’re reproducable. it’s just that a lot of the variables are clouded in misunderstanding for most people. part of making this stuff work is laying the groundwork internally, which very few people actually do, which creates the error factor and poor reputation for reproducability.

    most people model the external presentation, and for many things that’s adequate, but not for this. you need to know what’s happening on the inside, which is a considerable translation problem, but not insurmountable.

  8. Its not insurmountable for somebody that can do it, that tries really hard to explain what they did.

    Is it insurmountable for a person to reproduce an internal state based on modeling an external presentation?

    Its like my bodybuilding expiriment. I’m convinced people create all these internal states I’m working on, but if they were they were a personal trainer, they would say

    “Ok, do 3 sets of 10 of whatever for so long, and you should get my results.”

    With the stuff I’ve read on magic its like-
    You know wear this outfit and say these words holding this knife and make this sign.

    But I have made three sigils in my life and I tell you what, that shit works for me.

    But here’s the thing though…I am not really trying to write a book. I am trying to accomplish various goals. But I will tell you somthing. There is no way for me to prove this-I had angina. My Mom reads my blog somtimes, so I didn’t post it on there. But one of my expiriments is healing angina, and tachycardia, with sigil magic.

    And it worked. My second sigil. Is it reproducible? I can show you what I drew. I could have done stuff to document my results, I didn;’t want to go to the doctor and get on stain drugs or some other poison. But pretty much I know I had angina. Chest pains hyper tension.

    My goal was to get better.

  9. so it’s about internal representation, then. That’s fine, but is that more of a dictum to clean out one’s “ecology” or to learn the “internal model”? I know that there’s more going on than “ecology” alone, but let’s get to brass tacks–what is that internal model?

  10. “In prehistory people used to bargain with spirits for boons. Then they realised, no you don’t have to do that, you can just pray to the universal intelligence, and sometimes it would work. Then they realized, if you reintroduce some ritualistic elements you can get better results. Then someone figured out you don’t need any of that. Just a statement of intent and an altered state. And maybe you don’t even need that. I regularly have my intentions manifest without having to whack off over anything. I just clean up the ecology of my intentions, and state my wishes.”

    Hey zac,

    long-time reader, first time commenter (well, first time in a while, anyway). Just wanted to say the paragraph I copied above is one of the best descriptions of magickal progress that I’ve read. From my experience, though, I feel that its important to point out that those previous models can be extremely effective and shouldn’t just be dismissed (not that you are). Sometimes using a ritual model is just a better “fit” for an intent, or its easier to manifest intent through a ruling divinity than through your own ecology. Its all context.

    And I’ve got a real issue with the idea that every action is magickal. Its a bit like saying “everything is up” or “everything is green,” its ultimately a meaningless statement. Why even have a separate term? And extended to its logical conclusion, why train? If everything you’re doing is already magickal, why waste your time staring at a dot on the wall or running through banishings. You’re already there…

    Be Good

    Ronin

  11. The conversation this latest piece has sparked hits me in a great way. I’m getting a lot out of the insights from the insights all of you have posted. As I sort them out in my headspace and in my action, mayhaps I’ll have some to share as well on this post!

    peace,

    cadeveo

  12. well, i’m not sure i said ‘everything’ is magickal… and if i did, it’s not what i meant. part of the point of all of this is getting away from vague and epistemicaly loaded words like ‘magickal’. or, at least dispelling the vague and epistemically loaded air around them.

    it’s all relative. from the perspective of someone who’s never done a certain martial arts throw, some of those things can seem magickal. and even if you can reproduce a certain effect without understanding it, it can still seem that way. thats the current predicament in occult circles anyway. when you understand what you’re doing better, everything seems less magickal. not more so.

    as far as i’m concerned there’s knowledge, skills and learning of both. full stop. magick is what we tend to call knowledge or skills that exhibit unfamilar or mysterious aspects of reality. when you understand it well enough, it just becomes another thing you can do. the problem is our culture has totally derailed the knowledge gathering process in this area, and it’s taken us several centuries to even contemplate getting it back on track

    so in that light, occult knowledge is just like any other knowledge, and can be approached or motivated by the same variety of reasons.

  13. Naw man,

    My bad. I was actually referring to something one of the earlier commenters mentioned with the whole “every act is magickal” thing; I should have been clearer.

    From what I gathered about this current series you’re attempting, among other things, a deconstruction of “magick,” stripping away the “supernatural” edifice thats grown up around it, and then later trying to place it back into the “natural” or everyday world.

    I haven’t really been online over the past quarter and have just been intermittently checking your site, so I may just be really missing your point, but thats what I’m getting…

    Be Good,

    Ronin

  14. ‘And I’ve got a real issue with the idea that every action is magickal. Its a bit like saying “everything is up” or “everything is green,” its ultimately a meaningless statement. Why even have a separate term? And extended to its logical conclusion, why train? If everything you’re doing is already magickal, why waste your time staring at a dot on the wall or running through banishings. You’re already there…’

    Hello Ronin, I do believe it was my comment. I believe I answered your question in that comment:

    ‘I believe any act is an injunction, and every experience a depth experience; it’s simply a case of if you repeat the same injunction, then you get the same experience, then you ‘go nowhere’. Hence the reqiurement for chops.’

    ..and as Zac replied:

    ‘I guess it’s really only a question of design and intent. well designed injunctions produce clear results which lead to more well designed injunctions.

    …so if you want to wander around like a fucktard in the veils of illusion, that’s still valid, but slow and clunky.

    So really the overarching concept is one of inquiry carried out without prejudice, in all realms with the highest level of design and rigor possible.’

  15. zac,

    on second thought, you seem to be attempting something more than just simply deconstructing magick…more like paring the concept of magick down to some fundamental…positions?…insights?…processes?…in order to later assemble a cleaner understanding of the activity of magick/enlightenment.

    The chaotes did something similiar with the technical process of magick, but their hostility towards theory caused them to run into a brick wall when dealing with concepts. They were able to drop the technical “shackles” of ritual, but a lack of any sort of real theory prevented them from doing the same with the conceptual baggage.

    Or whatever, I haven’t eaten all day and can’t say I’m really thinking straight right about now…I’m gonna take a shower and go to bed…damn internet keeping me up waaay past my bedtime…

    oh and alan, if what you’re saying is that any action is potentially a magickal act…I’ll follow you there, but I’d say the difference between any action and a magickal action is “design and intent,” i.e., Will/Thelema…

    Be Good,

    Ronin

  16. [quote]So the real cause and effect mechanism behind all that is still somewhat obscure, but successive experiments bring it forth in greater and greater resolution. Each experience allows one to fine tune the injunction, and slightly changes the resulting experience. But if you never take the experiment apart to see why it might have worked in the first place, and just repeat some ritual by rote, or even worse bolt another ritual on top of the first, you could very easily lose track of the causal mechanism.[/quote]

    How seriously do you intend the idea that magic is causal in nature? Given that the results of workings often manifest as synchronicities, how sure can we be that a causal model applies?

    Similar to yourself, sometimes I’ve had results merely from thinking about doing a working; not even going to the extent of tidying up my intentions. In these instances the effect seems to have arisen independently of a sufficient cause.

    Magic appears to exploit the way that causes and effects exist in our minds but not in the universe. Isn’t it possible that any search for specific causes in our technique turns us into the superstitious kaos kiddies you mentioned, even when it leads to a paring down of technique to an imagined ‘essence’?

    Oh my God. Thinking about the implications of this: I’m starting to sound like Alan…

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