Book Club Post

The Ritual of High Magic: Chapter 14

With this post we continue a monthly chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by Eliphas Lévi, the book that launched the modern magical revival.  Here and in the months ahead we’re plunging into the white-hot fires of creation where modern magic was born. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend reading the earlier posts in this sequence first; you can find them here.  Either way, grab your tarot cards and hang on tight.

If you can read French, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Lévi’s book in the original and follow along with that; it’s readily available for sale in Francophone countries, and can also be downloaded for free from If not, the English translation by me and Mark Mikituk is recommended; A.E. Waite’s translation, unhelpfully retitled Transcendental Magic, is second-rate at best—riddled with errors and burdened with Waite’s seething intellectual jealousy of Lévi—though you can use it after a fashion if it’s what you can get. Also recommended is a tarot deck using the French pattern:  the Knapp-Hall deck, the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.


“Chapter Fourteen:  Transmutations” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 308-314).


There are times when Eliphas Lévi, writing our text at the very beginning of the modern occult revival, misses his mark, sometimes by a little and sometimes by a lot.  Then there are times when he hits the ball square on and sends it straight out of the park.  This chapter belongs to the latter category. Somewhere in the blend of metaphor, myth, nineteenth-century philosophy, and the idiosyncratic Frankist Cabala he got from his Polish teacher Hoene Wronski, he found the key to some of the most remarkable potentials of magical action. He then used that key to get past several of the clever barriers that mages have been using since ancient times to hide the essence of their art from the clueless.

It’s also a fine novel, by the way.

Most of my readers doubtless grew up, as I did, with fairy tales and children’s stories in which witches and wizards turned people into toads, teapots, or what have you. As our text points out, the same thing was true in classical antiquity, when educated people grew up hearing about the witch Circe turning sailors into swine, and went on to enjoy novels like The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius, whose protagonist gets turned into a jackass and spends most of the book trying to get himself restored to human shape. Transmutations and metamorphoses run wild all through myth, legend, and folklore, and so does the closely related art of magical invisibility.

These are also among the things that would-be rationalist critics of magic most often seize on when they want to insist that magic can’t possibly work. After all, they insist, a man can’t actually undergo a material, biological transformation into a jackass, let’s say, just because some witch brews a magic ointment and has him rub it onto himself!  On the one hand, the rationalists are quite correct: no such transformation can take place by magical means. On the other hand, there are few examples that do a better job of showing how clueless rationalists are about magic, and also about the realms of human experience in which magic has its effect.

Is it possible for magic to change one thing into another?  As Lévi points out, this happens all the time when somebody falls in love. We’ve all seen friends go absolutely goopy about somebody in whom we ourselves could see no redeeming features whatsoever.  It’s easy to mock a person in this condition, but it bears remembering that to the person in love, the beloved’s charms are absolutely real, as real as anything in the world of human experience.  Then, tolerably often, something breaks the spell, and the magic of Apuleius’s story takes place right there in plain sight, turning a previously charming and desirable human being into a jackass.

Yes, says the rationalist, but that’s not what I was talking about! Granted, says the mage, but that wasn’t what I was talking about either.  “Things are for us,” Lévi wrote, “what our interior verb makes them be.  To believe oneself happy is to be happy; that which we esteem becomes precious in the exact proportion of our esteem for it:  that is how we can say that magic changes the nature of things.”  In the words of a later archmage who studied Lévi carefully, Dion Fortune, magic is the art and science of causing changes in consciousness in accordance with will. Does that seem like empty handwaving, dear reader?  Not so; the magic that Lévi discusses can change misery to happiness, loneliness to love, and failure to success; it can also do exactly the opposite, and many other things besides.  We are talking about something with immense power over the most important things in human life.

Magic can do this. I think that counts for something.

Go a little deeper and magic can accomplish more than that. It’s always amusing to listen to rationalists insist that the world known by the senses is the one reality we can be sure of, because scientists disproved that dubious claim well over a century ago. (Philosophers got there much earlier, but we can let that go for now.) Consider the chair you’re sitting on:  its color, its texture, and the rest of its sensory qualities. Those only exist in your brain.

The chair in itself is a pattern of standing waves in four-dimensional spacetime, utterly incomprehensible to ordinary thinking and describable only by mathematical equations of daunting complexity.  The color you see is simply the effect on your retinal cells of photons deflected by those standing waves, the texture is how the nerve endings in your fingers react to interference patterns between the atoms in your skin and the atoms on the surface of the chair, and so on. Of course the retinal cells, nerve endings, and the rest of your perceptual apparatus are also incomprehensible standing waves in spacetime, which just adds to the complexity of the picture.

Immanuel Kant got there a century and a half before the physicists did. No wonder they’re still sore.

Nor is this all. Once your senses create these sensory experiences, your mind assembles them into a set of patterns which you consider “the world.” You spent the first year or so of your life learning how to do that, by the way, and the next half dozen years refining the process:  it’s not a simple or straighforward thing. None of this is controversial.  All of it can be learned by anyone willing to do a little basic reading in the sciences involved.  Yet modern rationalists, who claim to take science more seriously than anyone else, serenely skate right past this fundamental part of the scientific worldview and insist that the world portrayed by the senses is the one true real world, and everything else is imaginary!

Au contraire, the world we think we live in is assembled from the raw material provided by our sense organs, but the patterns according to which the assembly takes place exist solely in our minds. A good many of them are biologically hardwired, having been selected by countless generations of evolutionary pressure because they were slightly more helpful to survival than the available alternatives. Many of the others are culturally determined, absorbed in early childhood as part of the model of the world that every culture teaches to its new members. The remainder are the product of personal experience.  This latter is why no two witnesses of a traffic accident see it in the same way: they are assembling the sensory cues into experience as best they can, but they use different personal structures and so the experiences come out different.

Any pattern that comes from personal experiences can be changed by using the tools of magic to reinterpret and revalue those experiences.  That’s the easy part of magic—relatively easy, I should say, as it still usually takes a lot of work.  The patterns that come from cultural programming in childhood are more robust, and take a lot more work.  The patterns that are biologically hardwired? We’re stuck with those, at least for the time being, but it’s sometimes possible to work with them and get unexpected results. A good example of this is invisibility.

They had quite a number of useful skills.

This is a surprisingly common attainment of competent occultists. The ninja, the fabled assassin clans of feudal Japan, were quite good at it; they picked up the trick from esoteric Buddhist sects, who got it in turn from India’s vast bubbling cauldron of occult traditions. The Rosicrucians in early modern Europe used to be famous for it. Plenty of other occultists have learned the trick, since it’s a useful thing to know if you ever need to get out of the way of violent persecution.  Nor is the secret lost. You can find one way of doing it given in full detail in Book III of Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn.  Just be aware that it will take you ten years of hard daily work to get to the level of competence at which you can do it, followed by repeated practices of an hour-long ritual working until you can get the effect reliably. Just because something can be done doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

Here again rationalist critics are likely to insist with some heat that there’s no way for a ritual to keep photons from bouncing off your body and carrying the telltale cues to watching eyes. They’re quite right, but that’s not what an invisibility working does.  Lévi points out in so many words that there are three ways you can keep someone from seeing something:  you can interfere with the light, the eyes, or the mind. The latter, and only the latter, is what magic does.

We have all walked right past things without noticing them. Sometimes we have done this while actively looking for the thing we walked past. This is the invisibility that magic can achieve. Part of it is simply knowing how to distract and confuse the watching mind through ordinary material means. Lévi’s story of the priest pursued by a mob, who got out of sight of his pursuers and then distracted them by loitering about as though he was just an ordinary bystander, is a good example of this, and one that has many equivalents in history.

According to occult teachings, however, there is another side to magical invisibility. The medium that Lévi calls the astral light appears to respond to the focused and concentrated will, and under some circumstances it appears to affect the minds of others unless they have trained themselves in clarity of thought and strength of will.  Our cultural map of reality, the one most of us absorbed in childhood from our parents and the media, insists that this doesn’t exist, and then taunts us with images of it in various corners of mass media entertainment. (“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”) Most of the world’s other human cultures, by contrast, treat the astral light, under various names, as a matter of everyday experience.

It’s astonishing how much of our popular culture reflects the things our official version of reality denies.

Is it real? The astral light is as real and as unreal as the color of your chair and the other sensory cues that your sense organs create from stimuli and your mind assembles into your image of the world. You can learn to experience the astral light and work with it; mages, martial artists, and many other people do this as a matter of course, and get good results What physical substrate might underlie that experience is an interesting question that probably won’t be answered any time soon—try getting the grant money for the necessary research—and until and unless that happens, Lévi’s metaphoric talk about the astral light and the great magical arcanum—or any of the countless other labels that have been devised for it—will have to serve.

One other note probably needs to be made here. All through this chapter Lévi inserts various remarks about Christian miracles, and especially about the Catholic belief that the bread and wine in the ceremony of the Mass are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Jesus of Nazareth. Some of my more devout readers may be tempted to see these as snarky putdowns of their faith. I’m far from sure, however, that this was what Lévi had in mind.

To Lévi, this was one of the supreme works of magic. He took it very seriously indeed.

As I’ve mentioned more than once in these explorations of his work, Lévi’s attitude to the Catholic faith of his childhood and youth was complex.  His beliefs concerning religion were certainly idiosyncratic, and from the standpoint of traditional dogma they were wildly heretical, but they were not dismissive. This chapter among others makes it clear that he saw Jesus of Nazareth as the mage of mages, the supreme and paradigmatic practitioner of magic, whose words and deeds are an inexhaustible source of lessons for the magical aspirant.  He also saw the rituals of the Catholic church, from the Mass down to the simplest folk devotion, as classic works of magic deserving careful study.  Some of my more devout readers may find this unsettling or even offensive, but it was heartfelt on Lévi’s part, and should be given the respect that any sincere belief deserves.

Notes for Study and Practice:

It’s quite possible to get a great deal out of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by the simple expedient of reading each chapter several times and thinking at length about the ideas and imagery that Lévi presents. For those who want to push things a little further, however, meditation is a classic tool for doing so.

Along with the first half of our text, I introduced the standard method of meditation used in Western occultism:  discursive meditation, to give it its proper name, which involves training and directing the thinking mind rather than silencing it (as is the practice in so many other forms of meditation).  Readers who are just joining us can find detailed instructions in the earlier posts in this series. For those who have been following along, however, I suggest working with a somewhat more complex method, which Lévi himself mention in passing:  the combinatorial method introduced by Catalan mystic Ramon Lull in the Middle Ages, and adapted by Lévi and his successors for use with the tarot.

Take the first card of the deck, Trump 1, Le Bateleur (The Juggler or The Magician). While looking at it, review the three titles assigned to it:  Disciplina, Ain Soph, Kether, and look over your earlier meditations on this card to be sure you remember what each of these means. Now you are going to add each title of this card to Trump II, La Papesse (The High Priestess): Chokmah, Domus, Gnosis. Place Trump II next to Trump I and consider them. How does Disciplina, discipline, relate to Chokmah, wisdom?  How does Disciplina relate to Domus, house?  How does it relate to Gnosis?  These three relationships are fodder for one day’s meditation. For a second day, relate Ain Soph to the three titles of La Papesse. For a third day, relate Kether to each of these titles. Note down what you find in your journal.

Next, combine Le Bateleur with Trump III, L’Imperatrice (The Empress), in exactly the same way, setting the cards side by side. Meditate on the relationship of each of the Juggler’s titles to the three titles of the Empress,  three meditations in all.  Then combine the Juggler and the Emperor in exactly the same way. Then go on to the Juggler and the Pope, giving three days to each, and proceed from there. You’ll still be working through combinations of Le Bateleur when the next Lévi post goes up, but that’s fine; when you finish with Le Bateleur, you’ll be taking La Papesse and combining her with L’Imperatrice, L’Empereur, and so on, and thus moving through all 231 combinations the trumps make with one another.

Don’t worry about where this is going. Unless you’ve already done this kind of practice, the goal won’t make any kind of sense to you. Just do the practice.  You’ll find, if you stick with it, that over time the relationships between the cards take on a curious quality I can only call conceptual three-dimensionality:  a depth is present that was not there before, a depth of meaning and ideation.  It can be very subtle or very loud, or anything in between. Don’t sense it?  Don’t worry.  Meditate on a combination every day anyway. Do the practice and see where it takes you.

We’ll be going on to Chapter 15, “The Sabbath of the Sorcerers,” on August 14, 2024. See you then!


  1. “This latter is why no two witnesses of a traffic accident see it in the same way: they are assembling the sensory cues into experience as best they can, but they use different personal structures and so the experiences come out different.”

    Hello JMG and kommentariat. When I’ve read this paragraph, it has been unavoidable for me fond memories from a Japanese movie whose name is, well, “Rashomon”. Each character in this old movie tells a different version of the story…

  2. I would propose that one of the most powerful and effective uses of magic transmutation in the last century was the conversion of a doddering senile political grifter into to the ” sharp as a tack” noble leader of the free world defending democracy.
    This was accomplished by powerful incantations spread through the land by the magical conduits we call MSNBC, CNN and the New York Times.
    While it was obvious to anyone not under the spell of these powerful occult forces that the US had as its titular leader an elderly duffer with so much dementia he couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs or put on his own jacket. Those under the spell saw a completely different leader ( or figurehead) that bore no resemblance to Jackass apparent to everyone else.
    Then poof, the spell was snapped leaving only the most infantile or corrupt under the influence of this once great ( but dark) feat of magic. As this ( in. my opinion) was a feat of very dark magic ,I will guess that its ramifications will spread and destroy those involved.

  3. “This latter is why no two witnesses of a traffic accident see it in the same way: they are assembling the sensory cues into experience as best they can, but they use different personal structures and so the experiences come out different.”
    Hello JMG and kommentariat. When I’ve read this paragraph, it has been unavoidable for me to have fond memories from a Japanese movie whose name is, well, “Rashomon”. Each character in this old movie tells a different version of the story…
    “Some of my more devout readers may find this unsettling or even offensive, but it was heartfelt on Lévi’s part, and should be given the respect that any sincere belief deserves.”

    Well, OK John. I have no problem with Levi’s beliefs, because I’m myself an “idiosyncratic” Christian myself.

  4. One of the easiest spells of invisibility known is a maid’s uniform or the like. Or being a woman in late middle age and mundane clothing. Or anything else along those lines. In one of Chesterton’s stories, a mail carrier’s uniform made all the cops investigating a murder overlook him totally.

    Hmmmm… so people have to be told that the men Circe turned into swine were, by all the accounts in Homer, pretty much swine to begin with, just as Apulieus’s hero was a jackass. Shakes head. Though a competent hypnotist could certainly even make them believe they were the animals in question and start acting like them. Oh, yes, Levi hit the nail on the head with that one.

  5. More on pop culture invisibility, Dr. Who’s Tardis has a perception filter, and Douglas Adam’s had a Someone Elses’s Problem field. Both just convinced your mind to not notice them.

    Then there is Larry Niven’s “The Nonesuch” where a psychic alien predator that uses its ability to better hide and ambush its prey gets caught in a feedback loop when its human prey refuses to believe in it.

  6. Chuaquin, if the movie’s as good as the play, it’s a fine example of the phenomenon.

    Clay, one of the serious problems with spells of transformation is that if they’re overused, they can collapse, and when they collapse, yes, the unwise mages who cast them tend to be crushed under the falling ruins. It’s quite possible that we’re about to see an epic example of that.

    Chuaquin, duly noted, and I know a lot of the Christians who post here are at least a little idiosyncratic. Still, I want to remind the ones who aren’t that there’s some depth to Lévi’s thinking here.

    Patricia M, true — and yes, it’s embarrassing that people have to be reminded of this now, just as it was doubtless embarrassing that people had to be reminded of it in 1855!

    Siliconguy, funny. Niven was one of the few hard-SF writers who took magic seriously enough to ask hard questions about the faux magic in the fantasy fiction of his time. Have you read his “What Good is a Glass Dagger”? It applies peak oil theory to mana…

  7. Dear JMG and commentariat,

    I have an experience to share and a question connected with it.
    I have dioptries and I do not normally see distant objects very clearly. However, I have experienced clear vision several times in my life, and recently I have experienced it again and was able to notice some details: I saw with my “physical sight” and with “?astral sight” together: I could see the blurry physical sight I am normally used to alongside with an absolutely brilliant, beautiful, clear astral sight (?). I wonder if this phenomenon is known to you, what you think about it and where to look for more information or others’ experience.

    Thank you.

    With regards,

  8. “Your senses did not evolve to accurately depict reality, they evolved to help you survive and reproduce.”

    Thinking though that idea has toppled my belief in TRUTH and science as a way towards the TRUTH.
    And a new universe has unfolded. Now i just believe that ideas are more or less useful depending on the situation and the TRUTH is beyond me. Now i use science in my job to solve some chemistry problems, but the viewpoint of scientific materialism is dead to me. The world i live in is now much more mysterious, amazing, surprising, funny and alive. I have taken to thinking about ideas everybody “knows” are wrong but still are useful in some situations.

    It has been quite a transformation !

  9. No arguments from my part, dear JMG. For quite some time I have been convinced that the array of C, H, O & N atoms in each communion wafer conserve proportions and arrangement patterns that are thoroughly vegan during the Sacrament of Eucharist. And yet, that does not make me doubt if those species are, for the duration of the ritual, the True Body and True Blood of the Christ. If anything, the question of “what is the meaning of being one’s body and blood” makes for excellent meditation material.
    Regarding the form it is presented to the devote, I am equally sure it’d be possible for Him to acquire the taste of a perfectly cooked slice of tenderloin. I’ve never had that particular experience, but it falls within the range of other similar experiences I have either had myself or heard recounted first hand (the “Jesus in my cheese-sandwich” meme is a gross misrepresentation of what I am talking about). Though I’d not pursue the means to make that happen on command; IMHO it is so much sweeter if that happens organically as a side effect (some would say “reward”) of one’s core spiritual practices.
    But practical stuff from the healing arts, or the martial arts, and I am game!

  10. Hello JMG,
    Thank you for the fine analysis. I have a real-life invisibility story. The year was 2022 – still a pandemic in Silicon Valley. There was a computer science competition, in which my ambitious teenager wanted to participate. Of course, the event was for the vaccinated only. One of the volunteer jobs was being the usher at the door and checking everybody’s vaccination cards. My teenager signed up for that job. Since he was the one checking everybody’s cards nobody checked his… which was great since he didn’t have any :))

  11. You might find it amusing that the 1999 movie Mystery Men had a parody of real-world magical invisibility: one of the protagonists has the power to turn invisible, but only when nobody is looking at him, including himself. This allows him to bypass a motion-activated security system, meaning that while he can’t stop others from noticing him, he can affect photons.

    (To add further comedy it turns out his actual power is that he becomes physically-intangible, something even he didn’t realize until he disarms the system and realizes that he’s no longer wearing any clothes.)

    I’d need to watch it again but given some of the other jokes I remember being in the movie it wouldn’t shock me if at least one of the writers knew enough about occultism that the parody was deliberate.

  12. Markéta, fascinating. I’m not familiar with the phenomenon but it makes sense. Anyone else?

    Dobbs, I’m delighted to hear it. It astonishes me that so many people haven’t noticed that science itself disproves scientific materialism.

    CR, it seems to me that if a deity can incarnate in a human body, the same deity can perfectly well incarnate in a piece of unleavened bread, or anything else that the deity chooses to incarnate in. Even if Christian theology is correct about the divine identity of Jesus of Nazareth, for that matter, I’m sure a genetic test done on him would have turned up a perfectly ordinary human genome. As for the flavor of the host, one very modest but real miracle that occurs sometimes in my tradition is the miracle of the Grail — the bread (which we always dip in the wine, taking both kinds by intinction) tastes exactly like your favorite food or drink. Once when I was present at a ceremony where that happened, the intinctured host tasted to me astonishing like a really good stout, while to Sara it tasted like high-quality dark chocolate, and other people present had their own unexpected taste experiences. It was really quite remarkable.

    Kirsten, ha! Has your son considered a career as a ninja, or perhaps as a wizard?

    Slithy, funny. Thanks for this.

  13. Invisibility seems to have struck a nerve today. This reminds me if Plummer’s ability to disappear in “Stars Reach.” Ten years of hard work! For me, I wish I could make the rain disappear; we’ve had 4 inches today and my sump pump is working overtime!

  14. When I was young I had a job litter picking on the seafront. My friends and I noticed, in line with Patricia’s comment, that we were often seemingly invisible to seafront users with our high-viz jackets on, and invisible to our boss in the van with them off!

    I recall seeing a David Blaine skit where he used a blank piece of paper to buy things in a number of places (the only person who called his bluff was a market stall holder.) Inspired by this a friend confidently presented a £50 Early Learning Centre note to a barman in a local pub, and got 3 drinks and change for a £50, we watched astonished as the guy even held it to the light! (We told him when he bought our drinks over of course and paid properly). I think this sort of thing is especially easy when people are doing repetitive actions, serve drink, take money, serve drink, take money. Ive done those sort of jobs and you do go on autopilot, so I expect you are more open to suggestion in this state if it is in line with what your brain expects to see. I reckon the market stall holder was more used to theft and tricks, so was more atuned to it than the shopkeepers who saw a bill rather tham a blank sheet (fairy gold turning to leaves anyone?!).

    A question, how does transmutation interplay with the notion of Schrodinger’s cat? Can a mage choose whether the cat is there or not?

  15. I have indeed read his “What Good is a Glass Dagger”? I also have “The Magic Goes Away” on the same theme. A god might do what you want, but will certainly do what it wants.

  16. At this link is the full list of all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below and/or in the comments at the current prayer list post.

    * * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May Kerry’s dad Michael, who is experiencing extreme delusional behavior and overwhelming anxiety, be healed mentally and emotionally.

    May Ian, who has recently been diagnosed with Diastolic Heart Failure, be healed and restored to full health quickly and completely.

    Regarding Princess Cutekitten’s recently renewed problems with mortgage servicers causing her difficulties, may the situation resolve in the best way possible.

    May MindWinds’ dad, Clem, be blessed and healed after his fall and consequent head injury.

    May Jeff H’s cat Tuxy, who ran off from their new home in June, be safely returned home to Jeff’s family.

    May Jennifer have a safe and healthy pregnancy, may the delivery go smoothly, and may her baby be born healthy and blessed.

    May Ecosophian, whose cat Cheesecake (picture)ran away on Wednesday 6/12, be safely reunited with Cheesecake; and may Cheesecake be protected and guided on his journey home.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    May Jennifer’s father Robert, who passed away on May 29th, be blessed and soothed, and may his soul be helped to its ultimate destiny and greatest good.

    Tyler A’s wife Monika’s pregnancy is high risk, and has now successfully entered the third trimester; may Monika and baby Isabelle both be blessed with good health and a smooth delivery.

    May Jennifer’s mother Nancy G. in SW Missouri is still recovering from various troubles including brain surgery for hydrocephaly; may she be healed, regain her mobility, and be encouraged with loving energy.

    May Erika, who recently lost her partner James and has been dealing with major knee problems (and who senses a connection between the two), be healed in both broken heart and broken knee, and be able to dance in the sun once more.

    May Doug Y of Geauga County, Ohio be supported and healed as he makes his way through the diagnosis and treatment process for prostate cancer.

    May Ms. Krieger’s hometown of Norwalk, Connecticut recover quickly and fully from the gasoline tanker fire that destroyed an overpass and shut down interstate 95 on May 2. May the anger and fire that has made driving in the area so fraught cool down in a way that benefits all beings. May all people, animals, and other beings around the highway, the adjacent river and the harbor be protected and blessed, and may the natural environment improve to the benefit of all. (update)

    May Christina, who passed away on 5/8, experience a peaceful repose; may the minor child she leaves behind be cared for, and the needs of all affected me met; and may her family be comforted in this difficult time.

    May Frank Rudolf Hartman of Altadena California (picture), who is receiving chemotherapy, be completely cured of the lymphoma that is afflicting him, and may he return to full health.

    May Just Another Green Rage Monster‘s father, who is dealing with Stage 4 Lymphoma, and mother, who is primary caregiver, be blessed, protected and healed.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.

    * * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  17. A comment from an idiosyncratic Christian. The New Testament say that the Holy Spirit will do magic/miracles/manifestations in the lives of those who are Christians. A discussion of this is found in 1 Corinthians 12. Over years I have experienced various manifestations of the Spirit in my life and in the lives of people I know. This a fruit of a relationship with Deity. Though one may ask and seek the manifestation of Spirit in the end the deciding factor is the will of the Holy Spirit “All these (actions of the Spirit) are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” Though I imagine this relationship system with Deity has some overlap with the system described in this series of posts on magic it is a quite different method over all IMO.
    A modern Christian who experienced invisibility as a gift of the Spirit is the Chinese Brother Yun, his auto biography entitled The Heavenly Man describes the event, a prison escape where he merely walked out of a high security prison in China. Also referred to here

  18. Oddly enough, I have seen ‘scientific evidence’ of invisibility.
    At my previous house I had a security camera set up with motion detection. This reliability detected birds, moths at night, spiders dangling in front of it, and people walking around (it would email me photos). But the local cat seemed to have the ability to bypass the motion detection at will. I could see the cat walking through the camera’s field of vision, but no motion was detected. At other times it did pick up the cat. Further evidence that cats have powers we can only guess at.

  19. My favorite Marcus Aurelius quote seems appropriate today

    “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

  20. “It’s always amusing to listen to rationalists insist that the world known by the senses is the one reality we can be sure of, because scientists disproved that dubious claim well over a century ago.”

    Indeed. This kind of edges into the Hard Problem of Consciousness and other related philosophical issues. What we call the ‘material world’ is not something we actually empirically observe or demonstrate. It’s just a convenient construct that we create to explain the consistency of our sense perceptions, all of which are strictly mental, not material. We know of consciousness directly and can be assured of its existence, but the material world is only a secondhand inference. And yet we have so many rationalists claim that consciousness is just an illusion and that the material world is the real reality! Very strange that they try to reduce the concrete reality of consciousness to this shadowy unknowable matter. No wonder they’re having such a hard time of it.

    I personally think the true reality is spiritual, and the stuff that we call matter is ultimately reducible to it, ergo “The All is Mental.”

  21. Here is an interesting magical Thesis. In popular culture transmutation is often depicted as a give and take between two different beings. One person (creature) is transmuted to the beautiful evil queen while some poor chamber maid becomes a frog or troll. This ( simplistic) magical theory is that for one being to be transmuted to a higher level someone else must be diminished. Not sure if that has any basis in actual occult learning but lets go with it.
    So if the DNC ( or elites in control) had a powerful dark mage who they contracted with to make a majority of Americans believe Joe Biden was a sharp and thoughtful leader . The Mage proceeded by commanding them to deliver him a sacrifice to offset the magic he would need to to perform on Biden. They delivered to him a hapless but normal political operative in the form of Kamala Harris. At this point she was a politician with average speaking and interaction skills but little or no moral virtue ( bullseye).
    Once the mage performed his dark art, and his minions in the media spread the spell the MSM masses saw the transmuted Joe Biden as the bold warrior for democracy. But to balance the scales Kamala was transmuted in to a babbling Buffon with the public speaking skills of a high school cheerleader on quaaludes.

  22. Phutatorius, I modeled Plummer’s ability on the standard Rosicrucian habit of turning invisible. Unfortunately weather modification was never one of their skills!

    Free Rain, excellent! Thank you for these fine examples. As for Schrodinger’s cat, it astonishes me that so few people have noticed the obvious fallacy there; the cat is just as conscious as the experimenter, after all, and so would cause the probability wave to collapse instantly.

    Siliconguy, delighted to hear it.

    Quin, thanks for this as always.

    BeardTree, of course. Magic is one thing, religion is another; they’re related, but one depends on the will of the mage and the other depends on the will of the Divine.

    KAN, cats are good at that. It’s not accidental that they so often watch things that we can’t see…

    Shadow Rider, excellent. Thank you for this; a quote by Marcus Aurelius is always on topic here.

    Enjoyer, exactly. Exactly.

    Clay, ha! Except that Que Mala, as Spanish-speaking people I know call her, appears to have been a babbling buffoon all along. If anything is needed to explain her antics, the Peter Principle seems quite adequate.

  23. I wonder if the diagram at the start of the chapter was set as an example of invisibility…

  24. Marketa, I recently had a dream where I was seeing trees in vivid beauty, deeper into them…I think it was connected with thoughts about how vision and reality can co-transform each other. Then a firework woke me up and disturbed the dream. But I think I was seeing something real. It’s happened one or two or so times in waking consciousness but then either faded or snapped away. Keep working on it!

  25. Hi JMG,

    I hope all is well at your house with helpful friends and family.

    This a follow-up from last week. I don’t know if that week’s comments are closed.

    Not only here in this blog the last few months, but, I have been hearing lots of people mentioning Hitler. The news media has every reason to lie and, I assume them are all congenital liars anyway. I ordered a translation of Mein Kampf, Ford edition. I HAVE to read it for myself. So, I will read the book straight from the source. The book will arrive in 10 days or so.


    Just as aside, The Republican National Convention, Milwaukee, Wisconsin—starts Sunday evening and closes Thursday evening. I will be watching, big-time.

    💨Northwind Grandma💨🫣
    Dane County, Wisconsin

    💨Northwind Grandma💨.

  26. I wonder if Levi found, what many people have found throughout history, that can you have a relationship with Jesus without necessarily needing the Church. That for me has always been the essential and simple truth and what I think made Christianity so powerful. And assuming you get the “right” Jesus on the other end of the spiritual phone line, I’ve always found him to be incredibly loving, insightful, and kind. I don’t think any mage should dismiss any entity that has that sort of good power, and who is also interested in humanity, despite and perhaps because of all our failings.

  27. Becoming invisible by messing with someone’s mind does seem to be changing consciousness in accordance with will — but there is considerable overlap here with stage magic, isn’t there? I feel like I should explain further, but maybe it’s not necessary.

  28. Greetings all!
    JMG wrote: “As for Schrodinger’s cat, it astonishes me that so few people have noticed the obvious fallacy there; the cat is just as conscious as the experimenter, after all, and so would cause the probability wave to collapse instantly.”
    This is really excellent! May you one day write your understanding or interpretation of Quantum Physics…
    We’ll all learn something.

    JMG also wrote: “Au contraire, the world we think we live in is assembled from the raw material provided by our sense organs, but the patterns according to which the assembly takes place exist solely in our minds. ”
    Also very well and succintly put!
    I tend to call the raw material of our senses Raw Qualia which is then assembled as a Qualia Based World (the so-called material world) and from which we then extract a Qualia Based Knowledge (all of our human knowledge inclusive of science). Hence science is twice removed from the actual basis of ultimate reality, the reality that gives rise to Raw Qualia in the first place. Science is a model of a model of a reality we’ll never know…

    I have a die hard materialist friend who will agree with the above then turn around and say that given quantum physics is so precise, it’s no longer a model of a model of reality, but reality itself…

    It’s very bizarre…
    Indeed, there is a very powerful magical spell binding materialists to the one ring…

  29. ‘Devaputra then asked ‘how is it possible that mental impressions, no matter how strong they may become, appear to be so hard and solid?’ Manjusri said ‘they do appear like that, just as for example in the case of a certain brahmin in the city of Varanasi who meditated his body to be a tiger, as a result the townsmen also saw him as a tiger and fled so that the town became empty’. (Manjusrivikurvanasutra)

    The magician is supposed to meditate that ‘there is a tiger’ rather than ‘I am a tiger’ in case they forget they are human and permanently change into a big cat. Transformation is believed to be one of the innate powers of the human mind, and it can also apply to external objects. All of the miracles demonstrated by Jesus of Nazareth are among the innate powers or siddhas that are known to the saints of India.

  30. Talk of invisibility magic reminds me of a story about Pavel Bazhov, a local writer famous for collecting Urals folklore and using it as material for his literary fairy tales. Though he joined the Bolsheviks during the Civil War, before that he was a member of the Socialist Revolutionaries. He also had the incaution of using the testimony of alleged Trotskyists for some of his work. Naturally enough, in 1937 he lost his party membership and his job, then summoned to an office of the NKVD. After saying goodbye to his family, he duly arrived and waited in the corridor outside the office for an hour or two. Then, as no one called him in, he quietly went back home and stayed indoors for a year, working on his tales and supported by relatives. By the end of the year the people investigating him were themselves exposed as Trotskyists, and so death passed him by.

    It’s possible that Bazhov just got lucky and had enough wit to use it, but I always thought there was some trick to it. Going along with the flow straight to death’s door, avoiding any fuss that would have resulted in greater scrutiny, then leaving before death could remember he was there. A lot of ordinary citizens went in and out of the city’s NKVD headquarters that year, after all.

    “If anything is needed to explain [Kamala Harris’] antics, the Peter Principle seems quite adequate.”

    I’ve seen people who have followed her for longer mention that she was supposedly much more articulate before entering national politics. I attributed this to her now trying to sound nearly presidential and failing badly (which is close enough to your take, I think), but Clay Dennis offers a compelling alternative explanation. 😛

  31. Hi John Michael,

    If it looks like a ritual, has acts like a ritual, and kind of sounds like a ritual, it probably is a magical ritual. That’s how the Anglican mass always looked like to me. If the priest failed to direct that energy appropriately, well it ain’t none of my problem. The word ‘reverence’ springs to mind as being appropriate in this instance.

    So then you find yourself thinking: This is not the mass I was looking for! 😉 Dude, I spend an inordinate amount of my daylight hours out in nature, and it has profoundly altered the consciousness and will. There is a cost there, but that’s cool.

    Hey you got my brain working with this essay and raised a little riddle for ya based on our recent discussion: People nowadays confuse reverence and energy, and end up confusing the concepts! 😉 Dunno.



  32. @Markéta, I think I can provide you some references.
    I don’t know if this has a established name, some people call it: eyeless sight, paroptic vision, Extra-Ocular Vision, and so on —of course, all of it thoroughly debunked by skeptics :). Nonetheless, many people in different countries are capable of actually seeing with their eyes closed (i.e. by non ordinary senses: third eye, astral vision, however you name it), and it is possible to systematically train it to perform it. Names and references I have found:
    Kuda Bux (which inspired a tale, Henry Sugar, by Roald Dahl)
    InfoVision, by Mark Komissarov
    Seeing without eyes is possible. Intuitive Vision and Expanded Intuition; book available on Amazon
    Mind Sight – Training to see without eyes; book by Sean Mcnamara
    Eyeless Sight with Alex Gomez-Marin:
    Learning Intuitive Sight (all free training material) –
    Superhuman – Documentary by Caroline Cory

  33. A couple of months ago, my wife and I were walking through a park and, as happens, there were people walking in the other direction, who we politely greeted. But after one such person passed, and after I gave them a brief look and wave, my consistently observant wife said to me “didn’t you see all his birds?”. The passer-by apparently had a parrot on each shoulder, and was pushing a shopping cart which had a cage with some other tropical birds in it. One of the birds made a noise as we passed – apparently – but I didn’t notice any of it, being somehow lost in thought or just not paying any attention to other people at all even though I was acknowledging them as they passed. This person was very much not invisible, but he was to me, it seems. 🙂

    So I can see how an invisibility spell might work, if it is diverting what your expectations about what you will notice based what you are choosing, consciously or not, to be aware of.

    Before I started learning basic botany and herbalism, I would look at a meadow and see a semi-differentiated mass of greenery with some colour in it, which I could appreciate for its aesthetic value. But now, due to knowing the names of many plants (the names of which are, of course, not absolutely fixed things inherent to the plants), I can identify species right away. I end up seeing a “different story” and it takes some effort to revert to the older way of seeing.

    And this is different of course than looking at the meadow with, say, the “painter’s eye” who may not see the significance of the medicinal aspects of the plants but will instead be better accustomed to telling apart the shapes and colours of the plants in order to represent them, and will see a differently differentiated field than I might. Which is different again to someone who will look at the plants and use their knowledge of them to be able to say something about the nature of the soil underneath.

    I wonder if there aren’t “slow motion” invisibility spells that work this way, by training people to focus on one of these layers in order to hide another.

    Also, when Levi writes in this chapter that when someone “has named a thing with whatever name, he truly transforms that thing into the substance signified by the name he gives it,” it reminds me that, among other things, this is what happens during a blessing.

  34. JMG
    Is your Grail ceremony part of the Druid tradition? Which book of yours would point me to this? I’m looking for alternatives to the Golden Dawn tradition.

    A stunning proof (to me) that magic is a change in consciousness according to will, just occurred this morning. My hesitance to start a new project, using the excuse that it would take too much time, completely evaporated. All I needed to realize was that I wasn’t using my free time very wisely anyway and I had plenty of time for the project. I think this realization occurred because of the Sun trining Saturn.

    When people resist change by saying they don’t have the time, I think they really believe that.

  35. Wonderful post, JMG! Who can resist a post about invisibility? Oddly enough, the first essay that I ever wrote (Grade 2) was on the topic “if I was invisible”. It was pretty misanthropic. It was probably written at a time when I was being bullied, until the day that I had had enough and put a swift end to it. After the schoolyard scuffle, I became ‘invisible’ to the bully ever after… 

    @Patricia Mathews (#4): as soon as I read your comment about ‘invisibility’ via a maid’s uniform, I was immediately reminded of Bonny Prince Charlie (Stuart) spending a considerable amount of time sneaking around the Scottish Islands dressed as a maid to Flora MacDonald while being hunted by government soldiers following the Battle of Culloden. I never thought of the bonny prince as a mage, but there you have it!

  36. Small addendum to my comment about blessing earlier: the way I quoted Levi and elaborated on it made it sound like it was solely the person doing the blessing that brought about any transformations that result, and this ignored the role of the Divine in that act.

  37. As a professional landscaper I experience invisibility quite often.
    Note: get yourself a high viz shirt or a bright orange vest (the opposite spectrum the black clad ninja). You can go into almost anywhere and be almost completely ignored: owing to most people’s learned-automatic assumption that you are “official”, and so in no need of their attention that is focused on “important” bizznez

  38. A ninja or a wizard? I wish… no, computer science all the way despite not negligible shapeshifting talents.
    As for myself, I’ve been always fascinated by the practical aspects of invisibility. What can you actually do with a black $2 t-shirt from Savers that has the word STAFF printed on it? Inquiring minds want to know :))
    Also, I’d like to share one of my favorite Hodja Nasreddin (am I butchering this in English?) stories related to the topic of invisibility.
    Hodja Nasreddin was seen at a remote outpost of customs officials crossing the border again and again on his donkey. He was suspected of smuggling something but never were the customs inspectors able to find anything other than hay in his donkey’s bags. When one of them ran into Nasreddin many years later, at a time when both of them lived in a different country and had left behind the circumstances of their past, he asked Nasreddin what it was that he was surely smuggling so astutely that they were never were able to catch him for it. Nasreddin’s answer was: donkeys.

  39. “Que Mala, as Spanish-speaking people I know call her…..”
    Oh, meOW! ROFL….though she’s not as Mala as certain real life political lady warmongers in high office this century. Well, since I see Harris as an unpopular lightweight, Malita? Thanks for that; and the Marcus Aurelius quote —>my pocket notebook.

  40. Thank you for the succinct summary of the difference between a deity based religion and magic. It brings to mind the verses “thy will be done” and “not my will but yours be done”. The place for the steady application of the will in Christianity is the quest to know God and be filled with the Spirit, what St. Seraphim of Sarov called the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. A secondary place for will and choice is seen in the invitation to “ask and you shall receive”. It also says “whoever is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him” so the result is an human expressing his or her unique individual humanity energized and enlivened by the Spirit of God. Anyway that is the goal and as you often say “results may vary”. There are want to be mages and religionists of all faiths who struggle and fail quite short or are even ridiculous or even dangerous and thoroughly unpleasant. Yes to be human is to stand a good chance of being a hypocrite. Been there myself.

  41. The question of transubstantiation raises the issue of substance, and what the substance of the cosmos truly is, if it’s not fundamentally material. I think Ecosophy Enjoyer answers that pretty well.

    At a recent dinner, overheard some cradle Catholics who effectively reject the typical understanding of the eucharist, on the basis of the fact that the material aspects remain unchanged. One fellow’s daughter told him “I don’t see anything” after the ritual, which he affirmed, finally saying, of the whole thing: “It’s magic!” Which it is. A sort of baffling cognitive dissonance remains, though, for our materialist fundamentalists, even those of a religious persuasion, is that, in the end, it’s only the physical that is real.

    To Free Rain’s point, however: produce a dollar bill, or any other form of currency. It’s just paper and ink, and yet I tell you that families will go hungry tonight because of it, people will be robbed and killed because of it, and people will devote every waking minute of their conscious lives to piling it up. They’re not acting in this way, mind you, for paper and ink, but rather for the myriad ideas swirling around the idea of “money.” Imagine the magician(s) who came up with that one? Talk about telling a mountain to move into the sea…


  42. Quin, I can belatedly tell you that everyone’s prayers should now be directed toward my mom and my kid (and myself, though I am loath to admit it). Dad went to be with Jesus, as my family put it (Dad would argue that he will sleep in the grave until the trumps hail and he is resurrected), back in March. Everyone’s prayers have been remarkably powerful in terms of helping Mom, Kiddo, and me get through this. So thanks for that.

    JMG, in addition to engaging with my local lodge (I’m now Junior Deacon, and see all sorts of powerful stuff going on), I’ve also been irregularly attending a Lutheran church that’s within walking distance of my house and which has an organic farm as part of its outreach. It’s the open communion that brings me back. Something about the bread and wine, body and blood… so thanks, as always, for this blog and this book group!

  43. KAN, ssshhhh! 😉

    Northwind, I live alone these days, but yes, things are going tolerably well. If more people were to read what Hitler wrote, btw, he’d be less of an archetype, and his ideas would be less commonly adopted by those who think they’re opposing him. (A lot of people might also notice that he was a bad writer and not a very clear thinker, for that matter.)

    Peter, for what it’s worth, I suspect that this is the wave of the Christian future, but not until the currently building Second Religiosity is over.

    Phutatorius, sure. Many shamans have been documented to use stage magic, some of it very clever, as part of their healing routines.

    Karim, thanks for this! Yeah, it really is a weird obsession. It’s as though they insisted that you could make a blueprint for a house detailed enough that you could move into the blueprint and it would keep the rain off.

    Tengu, of course — and also everywhere else on earth, wherever we have adequate records of the old mystical traditions. The world really is a much more magical place than our dogmatic materialists want people to believe.

    Daniil, thank you for this! That’s great.

    Chris, hmm! That’s a useful point, and it works both ways — there are people who use reverence in place of energy, and people who use energy in place of reverence. In the right places, they’re both useful.

    Jbucks, good! There’s a fine story about an herbalist who was taking some of his students on a plant walk. They were well trained, so he’d be able to point to a plant and ask them to tell him about it. He did this half a dozen times, and then came to another plant and said, “Okay, what do you see?” They named the plant, its medicinal effects, and so on. He said, “go closer and try again.” This repeated several times. They were only a few feet away from it when the big buck rabbit who was sitting under the plant hopped away. None of them had seen it. That is to say, yes, exactly — and naming, by the way, is a source of blessing, but it’s also a source of invisibility; name the thing you’re looking at “herb” and you don’t see that it could also be named “rabbit”…

    Jon, (1) not exactly, and (2) it’s in a book of mine usefully titled The Ceremony of the Grail. Glad to hear of your successful spell!

    Ron, that’s also a powerful form of invisibility.

    Travis, ha! That’s good to know.

    Clay, well, Daniil thinks you may be right…

    Kirsten, oh, my, that’s funny. That’s a Nasruddin story I hadn’t heard before, so thank you.

    Patricia M, just one of the services I offer.

    BeardTree, in Japanese Buddhism there’s a useful distinction between jiriki, self-power, and tariki, other-power. Both of them are considered valid options in the quest for enlightenment, and different schools focus on one or the other — Zen, for example, is a jiriki denomination, while Pure Land is a tariki denomination. Christianity had that same breadth early on, but the jiriki approach, in the form of the Pelagian school, was declared heretical. From my perspective, Christianity hasn’t really achieved balance since then — though of course your mileage may vary.

    Fra’ Lupo, I think half the problem is that the word “substance” doesn’t mean the same thing it did when that doctrine was formulated. I’ve recently been translating a Latin work by John Dee, which uses the standard Renaissance jargon of substance and accident; if you approach transubstantiation that way, it makes perfect sense that a substance (the essential thing) can be changed while its accidents (all the details apparent to the senses) remain unchanged — but of course very few people know how to think that way any more.

    Monster, delighted to hear it.

    Dobbs, I think I’ve seen this one before. Mum’s the word!

  44. The way many segments of Christianity square the circle with jiriki and tariki is the concept of synergy explained in the following.
    The Eastern Orthodox view of synergism holds that “human beings always have the freedom to choose, in their personal (gnomic) wills, whether to walk with God or turn from Him”, but “what God does is incomparably more important than what we humans do”.
    “To describe the relation between the grace of God and human freedom, Orthodoxy uses the term cooperation or synergy (synergeia); in Paul’s words, ‘We are fellow-workers (synergoi) with God’ (1 Corinthians iii, 9). If we are to achieve full fellowship with God, we cannot do so without God’s help, yet we must also play our own part: we humans as well as God must make our contribution to the common work.”

    The balance of human choice and effort and the grace and action of God as being more jiriki or more tariki varies from Christian group to Christian group as in Buddhism. Perhaps the same variance is found also in other religions as all religions fissure and segment over time. Let freedom ring!

  45. And magic orders also fissure and segment over time. Again “Let freedom ring!”

  46. One of my favorite left-field books of recent decades is by a guy who went by the name of Ninjalicious. It’s called Access All Areas: A Users Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration. Though he has passed on, his website is still maintained as a legacy. Lot’s of great stuff about going places where people don’t want you to, all in the name of exploration: For these kind of things invisibility would be a useful skill!

    Travis #37 wrote: “get yourself a high viz shirt or a bright orange vest (the opposite spectrum the black clad ninja). You can go into almost anywhere and be almost completely ignored: owing to most people’s learned-automatic assumption that you are “official”, and so in no need of their attention that is focused on “important” bizznez”

    This is how a lot of high profile graffiti artists “get up” from what I’ve heard. Also, how some people infiltrate skyscrapers and such to explore.

  47. On transubstantion, as understood in Christianity:

    For us moderns, what anything is, is completely determined by the totality of its properties; “is-ness” is not an independent variable. Thus for us moderns, in order for bread or wine to be body or blood has to involve some change, however slight, in some of the bread or wine’s physical properties. But this is simply a matter of definition, and the definitions of “is” have changed radically over the centuries, both in theory and in practice.

    In Ancient and Medieval logic (from at least Aristotle’s Categories onward) “is-ness” is an independent variable: what a thing is is never entirely determined by any or all of its physical properties. It is the first of Aristotle’s ten independent categories, not a thing derivable from his other nine categories.

    So what happens in transubstantiation, traditionally, is not the slightest change in any of the physical properties of the bread and the wine, but merely a change in the independent variable of what the bread is and what the wine is.

    We just stupidly assume that past generations used fundamental concepts as we use them now, and that what seemed logical to them must seem logical to us; otherwise they were simply “wrong.” Language and thought have not actually worked that way down through the many long centuries. It is we who are wrong when we think that they must be unchanging, or that there must be a single “right” way to reason about the world.

    There is an anthropology of logic and reason out there waiting for some insightful anthropologist to investigate how sharply these things vary over all the many human cultures that are, that have been, and that ever will be.

  48. @JMG, cento per cento, and no argument here. What’s interesting is that such an understanding bridges a major gap, in my view, between practice and the philosophical underpinnings of the work. (Essence…essere…Being, and all that entails, in a technical sense.) Would love to read the whole passage (or work).


  49. I should mention, however, this particular method of hiding in plain view is much more effective in the city. There are other methods for the country side.

    I have done quite a bit of roof work in cities. It is amazing how many people will walk by and under and, seemingly, are completely oblivious to me as I squat upon the edge of a building like a gargoyle, peering down upon their very being. Haha!

  50. BeardTree, interesting. Thank you for this.

    Justin, fascinating! That sounds like a website worth reading.

    Robert M, thanks for this. I’m having to explain all this in simple words in the translation I’m working on, so this is helpful.

    Fra’ Lupo, the translation’s mostly done; I’ll post something when it’s available. It’s a fun project.

  51. @Robert #49
    C.S.Lewis in the Narnia book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader may have expressed what you were talking about. The children meet a “retired star”
    “I am a star at rest, my daughter,” answered Ramandu. “When I set for the last time, decrepit and old beyond all that you can reckon, I was carried to this island. I am not so old now as I was then. Every morning a bird brings me a fire-berry from the valleys in the Sun, and each fire-berry takes away a little of my age. And when I have become as young as the child that was born yesterday, then I shall take my rising again (for we are at earth’s eastern rim) and once more tread the great dance.”

    “In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”

    “Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of”

  52. JMG,
    Thank you for the link to your book on the Grail Ceremony. I see that it has a connection to Masonry. I recently attended a Masonic Roadshow and met one person who would find all of this very interesting. I forget the official title for the lodge who put on the roadshow, but it is focused on education and the brothers whom I met might be interested in a ceremony like this.

  53. Ha! Yes and do you know the consciousness of Schrodingers cat occurred to me just after I’d written the post! I’m just a bit dumbfounded that it never had before! Must be a result of all this reading ecosophia Ive been doing…..So let me change the parameters of my question slightly:
    If schrodinger’s cat was in fact a stuffed toy cat, could the mage influence if it turned out to be there or not?

    This led me on to thinking its a wonder that we actually all have such a similar experience of the physical world, that those observers of the car accident actually could at least agree there was an accident at all! I guess naming has a lot to do with it, as a way of forming shared patterns around which we assemble reality (such strong patterns!). Does this mean that we experience mundane physical reality is actually proof of a kind of collective consciousness? Funny that something thought of as ‘out there’ by many could actually be rotated round in such a manner!

  54. @JMG (#52): You’re most welcome!

    @BeardTree (#53): Yes indeed! That retired star, like Lewis himself, knew the metaphysical score!

  55. BeardTree (if I may), I really wish I could enjoy Lewis’s books for children, but even when I was a kid they didn’t appeal to me. It’s sad, because Lewis really was the last of the red-hot Christian Platonists and he put so much of value into all his fiction! Still, I think the problem is that, unlike Tolkien, he never had children of his own, so he never had the chance to learn that allegory is best applied with an eyedropper, not a manure shovel.

    Jon, if my hypothesis is correct, it’s the ritual that should have been the third degree of Craft Masonry, and would have been except for a complex set of historical circumstances. That said, in its present form — and in its last incarnation as the private ritual of an esoteric society in Britain — it had no connection to the Masonic Craft. If the brethren are interested, though, no reason why they shouldn’t give it a try.

    Free Rain, it’s astonished me how few people realize that point about the cat. I’m not sure about the stuffed toy cat; I’ll have to give it a try someday. 😉

  56. Jbucks wrote, “I wonder if there aren’t ‘slow motion’ invisibility spells that work this way, by training people to focus on one of these layers in order to hide another.”

    Oh, indeed there are! Consider the myriad subtleties of reflexive social signalling that must get dutifully memorized and rehearsed in order to pass oneself off as properly Woke. The whole interdependent web of righteous indoctrination spells, which end up refocusing their poor targets’ attention onto nothing but made-up minutiae and grievances, require at minimum four years of higher education to get fully and faithfully conjured. That’s a rather slow-motion invocation. Once the marks have been thoroughly ensorcelled into this new way of so-called “thinking”, they often lose the ability to apply thinking in any of its previous meanings, logic very much included.

    Fortunately, much of the spell-casters’ agendas and intentions can be decoded simply by revealing that they are in fact casting quite potent invisibility spells to distract the populace’s attention from what they would prefer remained well hidden. Of course, there’s always some overlooked little dog they forgot to ensorcel, who then pulls back the curtain, revealing to any trembling, neurotically-genuflecting Wokesters exactly who is pulling their chains and levers. Thank you, Jbucks, for playing Toto in this week’s inspired production of the Flying Monkey Circus — some tales just get richer with each magical retelling!

  57. Many years ago I attended a demonstration of an impossible miracle by a Tibetan holy man that was intended to increase the faith of his devotees. Even though it was right in front of their eyes only three of the ten people present saw anything. The others kept asking when the demonstration would occur.

    Later the holy man explained to me that they had never encountered magic in their previous lives, therefore they lacked the preconditions to encounter it in this one. The three witnesses all experienced the physical symptoms of mild shock including uncontrolled shaking, vomiting and so forth. So my theory is that the subconscious minds of the other seven inserted a false sensory input, in a fraction of second, in order to protect them from a potentially dangerous psychic shock.

    My question is what makes these kind of magical powers, which defy the laws of science, invisible to the human eye? How many other challenging and miraculous things are replaced by our minds with a comforting virtual reality?

  58. Hey JMG

    On the subject of Schrodinger’s cat, Carlo Rovelli did a interesting bit of criticism and also a better solution to it in “Helgoland”. I am afraid I no longer remember it clearly enough to repeat it here though.

  59. Regarding Schrodinger’s cat: what everyone seems to have forgotten is not merely the consciousness the cat, but that Herr Professor Schrodinger originally wrote about the cat as an example of the _absurdity_ of applying quantum mechanics to macroscopic objects.

    Sorta like the Michelson-Morley experiment. All physics classes I have ever taken, all books I have ever read, say that M&M set out to find out whether there was a luminiferous ether and used their experiment to prove there wasn’t. Nope. Read the original paper (circa 1895). They were quite sure there was a luminiferous ether, and were trying to measure its effects. The first time their experiment failed, they were puzzled and disappointed (back in the day, negative results could still be published). They concluded the Earth’s atmosphere must be interfering with the experiment, so decided to repeat it at the top of a mountain, (schlepping a huge stone and a vat of mercury in which to float the stone up a mountain) which also produced negative results (in a different paper).

  60. Thinking about the difference between what something is and *is* , this reminds me of the folkloric notion of knowing somethings (or some beings) true name. The knowing of this bestowing power over the said thing or being. Eg Rumplestiltskin.

  61. And going back to Schrodingers toy cat…in an animate world, perhaps on some levels it matter not whether the cat is a toy or animal..the fallacy stands! 😉

  62. @JBucks,
    I would think the slowest motion invisibility spells would involve the material. Faster motion invisibility spells would affect the higher planes. I know someone who can see auras, but there is someone we both know who apparently has an astral invisibility cloak, because the aura seer says they disappear when he looks for the aura. I don’t see auras, but I feel energy. (What level? I don’t know.) And that person who has an astral invisibility cloak isn’t invisible to whatever it is that I sense.

    @Robert Mathiesen,
    So is knowing the is-ness of something when you have gnosis of it?

    I saw the image at the start of the chapter as a stylized Wheel of Fortune. T for Tau, resurrection. Alpha and Omega (for beginning and ending), Rho as a symbol of resistance (so the material). Shin (the Hebrew letter at the top) means change. The wand on the right for Fire. The sword on the left for Air (with lunar crescents as the guard, so there is probably something solar on the wand, but my book doesn’t show it clearly). The candle in the cup (boat?) representing the soul in the body.
    I think the internal part represents the mage (and his ability to be invisible). I would think non-Adepts would have four bars, rather than three bars and the chalice. The mage recognizes that his body is just his body, not him. His body is the chalice. The rest of the mage can turn round the wheel (transmuting) independently of his body.

  63. Tengu, that’s an excellent point, and I think you’re quite correct — people are very good at seeing what they believe they’re going to see, even if that involves editing their experiences drastically. I know for a fact that a lot of people screen out “spooky” stuff, as it’s possible to do an end run around that sometimes and the results can include complete emotional meltdowns. In the meantime, of course, this makes things much easier for operative mages, who can cause all sorts of changes in consciousness in accordance with will, and have people go out of their way not to notice that anything out of the ordinary is going on.

    J.L.Mc12, hmm! I’ll keep that in mind.

    Anon, that’s a good point, and of course you’re quite correct. The history of science is constantly being edited to make it look as though science is progressing step by step in the right direction, instead of stumbling into one blind alley after another and then laboriously backtracking. The latter, of course, is a far more accurate description, but it doesn’t help prop up the claim of today’s scientists to exclusive knowledge of truth.

    Free Rain, good! Yes, that’s connected, at least as I see it.

    Dobbs, no, I hadn’t heard of it. They’re drawing entirely on pop-culture occultists on the avant-garde end of things, and going out of their way to avoid the very large number of us who are doing a more traditional kind of occultism: no surprises there. No doubt some people will learn something or other useful from it.

  64. @JMG,
    Related to transmutation, but going way back to the beginning of book club (so if this is better for a Magic Monday, I can repost there).
    When we were first working through the Trumps, we discussed Ain/Ain Soph/Ain Soph Aur. At the time, I envisioned them as “outside” the Cabala Tree, surrounding it.
    Now I am trying to understand Awen and Annwn.
    Is Awen on a Plane all by itself? (And so when part of it transmutes to Annwn, Annwn is on a lower Plane?)
    (So like when Hall described the Four Trees as nested concentric circles, Awen would be the outermost circle?) (which I know is a very imperfect metaphor, but gosh, these ineffable concepts are hard to figure out)

  65. JMG, do you find Charles williams novels realistic in portrayal of magic? Or at least not hallucinatory? Genius to divide our conditioning to biology, society, and self!

  66. Random, the material in the Dolmen Arch system doesn’t really fit that well into the standard model of the planes, because it postulates an initial duality, Awen and Annwn, rather than an initial unity. That said, you could probably work with either of the metaphors you’ve sketched out here.

    Celadon, no, not really. Williams has magic causing direct effects in the material world — for example, the shuffling of the true cards causing a windstorm in The Greater Trumps — and if that can be done, well, let’s just say I’ve never seen it happen.

  67. @JMG,
    I understand an initial duality much better than an initial unity. I just somehow missed that it was an initial duality in Dolman Arch. It is hard to break out of some of the tracks in space…
    Thank you!

  68. @RandomActsOfKarma (#65) asked: “So is knowing the is-ness of something when you have gnosis of it?”

    Since (as I wrote) the definitions of “is” have changed radically over the centuries, both in theory and in practice, nothing in our every-day world has an unchanging, inherent “is-ness” of its own that persists through all of history and across all cultures. But this may just be a quibble about words (“is-ness” and also “gnosis”) that doesn’t really answer your real question.

    All I can offer in answer to what I suppose may be your real question is the memory of my own uninvited hours-long experience of what some call “gnosis,” almost 70 years ago, when I was just 13 years old, a science geek, and a militant atheistic materialist. During those hours my whole being suddenly became a single organ of perception able to perceive every time and every place, all times and all places, simultaneously, to recognize it/them as a single living, conscious, sentient totality that was entirely beyond the power of human language to describe with even a tiny bit of accuracy, that was beyond the power of human logic and reason to think about. During those hours nothing had a unique “is-ness” of its own; nor did it have a “not is-ness” of its own either. Everything lay far beyond the distinction, even, that we make in every-day life between “it is” and “it is not,” “it exists” and “it does not exist.”

    Does this help at all? Or does it just add to your puzzlement? If the latter, I’m sorry. It is, alas! the best answer I can give from my own limited experience of the reality that lies behind what passes as real in our every-day lives, but is not at all real. (Our human bodies, our human nervous and endocrine systems, have evolved to be “just barely good enough” for us to survive and reproduce, not nearly for us to understand or truly to know. The latter, if it is not granted as an unearned gift, can be achieved only by nearly superhuman effort.)

  69. Hello Mr. Greer,

    You mentioned turning invisible in the sense of directing people’s attention away from you. I have to ask then, does that work in reverse? Can one use magic to make themselves the center of attention? If so, do you think people in positions of influence such as politicians use this? I ask because it seems like having the ability to make yourself the center of everyone else’s thoughts seems like a super power that someone would have figured out how to exploit by now.

  70. With respect to transmutation and transubstantiation, there are a couple of interesting short pieces by Sergius Bulgakov, published in a single volume (Holy Grail and the Eucharist ) by Lindisfarne Books in 1997 (with various introductions and afterwords, including one by Caitlin Matthews).

    In the essay on the Eucharist, Bulkgakov counters the Aristotelian/Thomistic account of accident and substance, and transubstantiation, with an Orthodox account in terms of what he calls transmutation. To very much simplify his account, it uses the model of the Incarnation. In daily life, what Jesus are was transmuted into his body, and thus divinized. In the Eucharist, that transmutation occurs outside the physical body of Jesus, throughout time.

    This is preceded by an essay on the Holy Grail, which also takes an incarnationary/transmutational approach to the Grail, which for Bulgakov is not, ultimately a cup, but the material world itself, which is (has been, or has been being) transmuted into a mode of divine presence (“the Earth itself and hence the human universe is the Grail wherein Christ lives forever”).

    Although the essays both root themselves in a pre-philosophized, early church understanding of the Incarnation and the Eucharist, they also contain a much more neoplatonic and theurgical understanding of what the world is, and how it works, including reflections on such topics as energetic as distinct from physical bodies.

    Although in principle the Orthodox and Western (Catholic/Protestant) worlds are distinct, it’s interesting to see the continuing, subterranean currents, especially esoteric currents, that flow between them.

  71. The discussions of the Cat being an active agent reminded me of an internet meme of an enraged cat biting and clawing it’s way out of a box, declaring ” S*ck it Schrodinger!!”

  72. In the realm of directly changing the material is deity based “magic” or miracles different than the Dion Fortune style magic? A close friend of mine whom I have known since the 1980’s had a physical healing. I witnessed it and have seen the before and after medical records. She had a heart murmur, mitral valve prolapse and pulmonary stenosis (narrowing of the arteries to the lungs, resulting in a small level of endurance and over all weakness for lack of good oxygenation when under stress of vigorous exercise) She had discovered this problem when she went out for the swim team and couldn’t develop endurance. She went on the diving team instead. She was told she would eventually need a valve replacement. One night she was being prayed for a foot problem by her mother at a prayer meeting. Her mother had only given thanks for her daughter when she felt the power of the Spirit, looked up from the feet and said, “The Lord is healing your heart!” My friend covered her face and sobbed “I know,I know!” For she had electric fingers massaging her heart area. Afterwards an ultra scan of her heart was done and when the technician saw the results he jumped up and down in excitement and asked my friend if she knew of a good church. The mitral valve prolapse and stenosis wasn’t there and her heart was whole and healthy. She had been told by doctors not to have any more children after her first two to make sure she would live to raise them. A heart specialist was on call during her first two births. The healing happened and she went on to have three more children. At one point winning a five thousand prize for winning a fitness contest. She would go to the “boot camp” Saturday morning exercise sessions at a fitness center and come home refreshed. Her heart murmur was also gone.

  73. Random, you’re most welcome.

    Stephen, good heavens, yes. It’s far easier than making yourself invisible; most celebrities, and even some very minor figures, have figured it out on a rule-of-thumb basis. Haven’t you met the kind of person who always somehow ends up as the focus of every gathering? They’re doing it.

    LeGrand, hmm! Interesting.

    Marlena, Schrodinger’s cat has plenty of great memes…

    BeardTree, most religions have a tolerably good stack of miracles like that to their credit. I don’t know of a mage who can do that — which is simply to say that there are things that deities can do that human beings can’t. (Big surprise…)

  74. The four latin words seem to describe a magical ritual:
    Est: It is
    Sit: It may be
    Esto: It will be
    Fiat: Let it be or maybe, It is done.

    For me, at least, this implies a polarity of active and passive, the same as YHVH where Yod acts on Heh to produce Vav. Fiat must be the second Heh.
    I’m seeing the necessity of polarity in everything now. That makes sense because the Tree of Life has an active and a passive pillar. The astral light is both active and passive. The magician wills or focuses onto the light and it produces what the magician wants. Then it becomes active and magnetic.

  75. You wrote that Levi saw Jesus as the mage of mages. The Gospel accounts of his various material miracles if they happen as they are described are attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit, a deity working in him and with him. I have seen a number of instant physical healings over the years – far less than I would like – but quite real enough to show me the miracles Jesus is described as doing are quite possible with the Holy Spirit. A man I trust described to me a miracle of multiplication of fish for a feast on a mission trip in Mexico. Again these operations of the Spirit are not under our control but are gifts given spontaneously or in gracious answer to prayer. They are more apt to happen around and through those who walk closely with the Lord, but they can be gifts given unexpectedly to ordinary believers or even those who are far from close to God. Angelic intervention physically halted a suicide attempt by a friend of mine. When he shared what happened months afterwards with another friend. She pulled out her journal and showed him that during a prayer meeting at the time he was trying to commit suicide she had exclaimed that he was in danger and that the group needed to pray that God would send an angel to rescue him. A pair of invisible hands pulled his foot off the accelerator and forced the other to hit the brake stopping his car just short of the train crossing his path. Again all this is so real but less common than I would like so I remain content with the loving life and presence of the Lord within.

  76. @ Robert Mathiesen,
    It does help, and it does add to my puzzlement, which means it is good meditation fodder. 🙂 It seems to have some alignment with my current understanding of spiritual alchemy, which is awareness before discernment (distinction) before understanding. Much to ponder…
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  77. LeGrand (#74), I’m familiar a bit with Bulgakov (I believe he’s something of a touchstone among the modern proponents of apokatastasis), but not familiar with that work. Sounds very interesting, especially the part on the grail.

    I suspect this and other Orthodox understandings share some of Maximus the Confessor’s incarnational metaphysics as expressed in Ambiguum 7: “For the Word of God and God wills always and in all things to accomplish the mystery of his embodiment.” (Maximus and some of those other early saints seem to share a mode of thinking that draws on Pseudo-Dionysius, which is heaving informed by Neoplatonism, particularly Proclus…although they could all sit down with Iamblichus and be largely in agreement on many philosophical terms, if not views.)

    There’s also perhaps an argument to be made that Aristotle is, in his own way, a Platonist…


  78. “Haven’t you met the kind of person who always somehow ends up as the focus of every gathering? They’re doing it.”

    Absolutely! Which Mouseketeer did it best? That sort of in-your-faceness that is so annoying to me….

  79. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, both are positive modes, but if I recall correctly, wasn’t it you who pointed out long ago that all tools can be misused? Some Deities can become quite jealous of icons, yup.

    Transmutation is a funny working. What I’ve observed, and I’m very curious as to your opinion, but meaning can be attached to a something (whatever it may be), when the truth of the matter is that the facts suggest that the meaning no longer fits. There’s a very glaring political example which comes to mind, but I see no point in stating it out loud.

    Clarity of vision is equally a tool, with limits and costs. 😉



  80. Re everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact, everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

    When fighter planes make strafing runs while you’re working in the fields, as happened to my mother during WW2, it’s pretty tough to call the event anything but fact or truth. When she was on the run with her parents and sisters to escape from increasingly dangerous fighting, they sheltered briefly with a family that they had long known, that was thought to be in a relatively safe area. A few minutes after they bade their farewell, a bomb hit the house killing everyone inside except for one girl. What do you call something like this?

    But still, maybe Marcus Aurelius had a point. So, Orwell again: He wrote in one of his essays that he used to read socialist pamphlets, being a socialist himself. So maybe in those tracts we have an example of opinion being given.

    Then, in one of his ocean passages, Orwell saw a ship quartermaster take from a dining table a piece of custard pie. This when the dining room had just emptied. He said that this incident taught him more than could any socialist writing.

    Orwell didn’t see a theft, he saw an example of a person of lower social class, who couldn’t afford custard pie, someone entrusted with the steering of a ship, with the lives of passengers in his hands, most of whom were of a higher class than the quartermaster and who made a lot more money, and an example of pay not remotely commensurate to skill and responsibility. Maybe, OTOH, an officer of the boat would have seen a firing offense. So, maybe an example of perspective.

  81. @jon g #78
    Something about your comment on the active and passive pillar of the Tree of Life crossed wires with the ongoing commentary about divine will vs my-will. And it gave a new depth to my most recent message from the iChing, so thanks! The reading started with 53-Development with lines 3,5,6 marked so that it would transmute into the second hexagram, the receptive earth, receiver of the solar logos. The message of overall was of patience, doing only what was necessary to succeed as a sort of lieutenant to the divine will.

    From iChing online by Stefan stenudd which I use a lot as my interpretive guide to the hexagrams.

    First, Wood/ wind over the mountain

    ‘This hexagram is made up of Sun (wood, penetration) above, i.e., without, and Kên (mountain, stillness) below, i.e., within. A tree on a mountain develops slowly according to the law of its being and consequently stands firmly rooted. This gives the idea of a development that proceeds gradually, step by step. The attributes of the trigrams also point to this: within is tranquillity, which guards against precipitate actions, and without is penetration, which makes development and progress possible.’ Transforms into

    The Image
    The earth’s condition is receptive devotion.
    Thus the superior man who has breadth of character Carries the outer world.

    Nature’s richness lies in its power to nourish all living things; its greatness lies in its power to give then beauty and splendor. Thus it prospers all that lives. IT is the Creative that begets things, but they are brought to birth by the Receptive. Applied to human affairs, therefore, what the hexagram indicated is action in conformity with the situation. The person in questions not in an independent position, but is acting as an assistant. This means that he must achieve something. It is not his task to try to lead — that would only make him lose the way-but to let himself be led. If he knows how to meet fate with an attitude of acceptance, he is sure to find the right guidance. The superior man lets himself be guided; he does not go ahead blindly, but learns from the situation what is demanded of him and then follows this intimation from fate.
    In the vein of historical figures with some prowess at invisibility, I think of the song ‘Up the Provos’.

    Glad to be reading this with y’all and sharing space w folks who see the transmutation magic all around us

  82. @JMG,
    A couple of questions/requests:

    1. Could you comment on Levi’s statement that “…Mages do not need ceremonies or invocations, they need only abstain from eating at the same table as the condemned, and if they are forced to sit at that table, they should neither accept nor offer him salt.” (pg. 334)

    I found this link
    “As a preservative, salt is contrary to the nature of Demons, who are intent upon corrupting and destroying.”

    In the modern context I take Levi’s statement as not to associate with one whom the mage is condemning and literally avoid any exchange of salt. In the context of modern life in the Untied Corporate Plantations of America that would mean the majority of our preservative filled “food”.

    Also relevant is the traditional bread and salt greeting:

    2. Levi compares mages vs. sorcerers. He is detailed when describing sorcerer’s actions as comparable to “actual poisonings of the astral light”. I get the sense in this chapter that mages are morality neutral. Example is the learned man rebuked the wife that spurned him (pg. 334). The wife was guilty but the mage accrues strong karma for his rebuke, it is not just “enchanting even those who would do him harm, through his forgiveness.” (pg. 333).

    What I’m trying to ask is what is your take on what Levi is saying when it comes to mages vs. sorcerers?

    My sense is that it is not mages = good and sorcerers = bad (though the acts required by sorcerers to get the same results as mages moves them into the bad column) but that mages “know the rules” or the way of the universe and live accordingly. By “knowing the rules” my example is the enchantment through forgiveness Levi mentions.

    You mentioned before the path of a mage is one of study and self-knowledge and not using shortcuts taken by sorcerers, so my guess is that if someone takes the path of a mage, then the mage lives in a universe in which the mage will tend to make a “good” choice over a “bad” one (but the mage is still human and does not preclude mistaken or wrong actions).

  83. @Smith (#84):

    Yes, to be sure, the material world is objective enough, and it can easily kill you. Eventually it will kill you, no matter who you are.

    What is always and everywhere subjective is how you perceive and conceptualize your own death as you die — and how you talk about your own death, too, if your dying gives you a chance to speak. The same goes for the deaths of others in your life. And more broadly, it goes for everything you experience, not just death.

    This is true even among people who speak the same language. It is true in spades across among people who speak different unrelated languages, say, English and Nuu-chah-nulth. (These two languages are about as different from one another in their grammar as any two languages on earth. To put it in layman’s terms, Nuu-chah-nulth doesn’t have distinct classes of nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and so forth, in its grammar. Yet the people who speak it deal with the real world as competently as we do.)

  84. “…the world we think we live in is assembled from the raw material provided by our sense organs, but the patterns according to which the assembly takes place exist solely in our minds. A good many of them are biologically hardwired, having been selected by countless generations of evolutionary pressure because they were slightly more helpful to survival than the available alternatives. Many of the others are culturally determined, absorbed in early childhood as part of the model of the world that every culture teaches to its new members. The remainder are the product of personal experience…”

    There is a fine line to walk here, which I’m glad to see you carefully treading…

    The concept that “the world” is MUMBO (‘Made Up Miraculously By Ourselves’) and that there is no ROT (‘Reality out There’) – to use terms coined by Ian McGilchrist – has a dark and solipsistic side.

    Which is the idea that the world is all, and only, about me.

    Personally, I find it important to assume – and I realise that “assuming” is as secure as I can be on this score – that the “raw material” you refer to, includes gazillions of “beings”, “agents” or “consciousnesses”, which are not me. At least not “me” as currently incarnated in this one tiny and specific portion of the material universe which “I” can reliably move with my thoughts and my will – this body.

    There is a whole universe of “something” ELSE or “someone” ELSE which my senses can run up against, and detect the existence of, at the same time as my “motors” cannot budge in the slightest – at least, I really hope this is the case.

    Because, somehow, it matters little to me to admit that my mind has to make up models and maps which may be more or less useful, but can never hope to be complete or accurate, but it would matter a great deal if I were compelled to admit that there is no one here at all but little me, lost in THIS one little mental model, all of which I have, somehow, made up for myself to experience in my terrible loneness.

  85. Jon, excellent. Yes, the reference to the Tetragrammaton is deliberate on Lévi’s part.

    BeardTree, I’m not sure why you keep on circling back to this point. Obviously Lévi disagreed with your analysis; you’re not likely to convince him at this late date, you know, and I’ve already mentioned that I differentiate between magic and miracles. Perhaps you can reflect on this and explain why you need to keep hammering on the point that miracles exist.

    Phutatorius, exactly.

    Chris, of course. There’s a spell of naming involved, and if two parties of sorcerers are trying two different spells of naming — with competing names like “sharp as a tack” and “senile old fool,” just to come up with a random example 😉 — it can turn into quite a donnybrook.

    Smith, I think you’ve answered your own question.

    Scotty, (1) one additional factor is that the mage is using mutually understood nonverbal signals to communicate something to the condemned person and everyone else. (2) Lévi explains this in quite some detail earlier in the book. A mage understands what he is doing and why; a sorcerer is just doing things by rote because he knows they get some kind of effect.

    Scotlyn, exactly. There is an objectively real world — that’s why there’s such a thing as biology, which hardwires some of our perceptual patterns, and also such a thing as culture, which structures other such patterns. (Note also that the existence of biology implies the existence of other living things, and the existence of culture implies the existence of other persons to share it or differ from it.) It’s just that our minds have only the most limited, secondhand access to that objectively real world. I note also that any of us can be killed stone cold dead by something we never had the chance to perceive, much less interpret in terms of our chosen worldview!

  86. On second thoughts, I realise that you have not made the claim that there IS no ROT (reality out there), just that we are not equipped to know anything much about it.

    However there are many, many people arguing that our capacity to generate MUMBO (make [it] up miraculously by ourselves), somehow means that it is all – and ONLY – in our heads. And that is the version which I really do find myself resistant to (in both senses of that word).

  87. “hammering on the point miracles exist” Oh, it’s my nature to do so, but I will cease and desist.

  88. Archdruid, what does Levi mean by ‘…the psychal medium of the woman is like a man, and that of the man like a woman.’ ?
    His explanation of the werewolf dream seems quite accurate. What he doesn’t mention is that wolves have an extraordinary sense of smell, a vast spectrum of emotive impressions that relate to everything, including things that are miles away and carried on the wind.

  89. Dear JMG,

    A while back I asked you what to do about my being invisible, something that comes naturally to me, instead of having had to learn it as in this week’s chapter.

    Now I would like to turn the tables and ask instead about those who fail to see “invisible” persons: what makes them blind?

    There is a simple experiment I do: I cross the Dutch border into Belgium or middle Germany (but not the North!), and there I am, suddenly not invisible anymore. People will not be startled, or at least not as often, when I appear next to them. Cashiers will see me at the supermarket, waiters at the restaurant; people will realize when I would like a word, and give me some attention, instead of continuing their business as if no one was standing there waiting.

    My hypothesis is twofold: maybe there is something about the Dutch that makes them blind, and Max Weber would have something to say about it. Maybe it is something Protestant, and the Heart of Christ burn so hot in their psyche that they cannot see a more mellow Catholic.

    Or on the other hand, maybe it is something of the “unenchanted” people, which Catholics and Lutherans are not sufficiently yet. Maybe modernity has ripped them so far apart from any sense of community, and they are so fully atomized that they cannot see clearly people who are less atomized than them.

    Since you practice “voluntary invisibility”, what kind of people will notice you, and what kind won’t?

  90. Scotlyn, the opposite of one bad idea is pretty consistently another bad idea, and so MUMBO is just as bad as its opposite, which I think should be called JUMBO, Just Undergoing Mastication By Omnipotence — i.e., the notion that we’re caught helplessly in the jaws of an all-powerful cosmos we did nothing to create or shape.

    BeardTree, thank you. I don’t at all mind you making a point, but please don’t belabor it until you reduce it to a fine paste.

    Tengu, it’s the same point I’ve made in discussing polarity theory — the body of life force of most men is receptive and thus symbolically feminine, and in most women it is active and thus symbolically masculine.

    Disc_writes, that’s utterly fascinating. When I practiced invisibility — it’s been a while — the people who were easiest to affect were either (a) drunk, (b) busy, or (c) self-satisfied and confident. I don’t know Dutch people well enough to guess which, if any, of these might apply.

  91. Dear JMG, thank you. Just thank you – and may you be blessed if welcome.

    Dear Celadon, thank you for your response. It reminded me of a slowly developing concept of mine differing from (usually more or less static) models of perception: that we are living in a world of creation, being created, creative and creating. And a quote from “The Shack”: “If anything matters, thank everything matters.” (I am aware there are certain limits to this claim; but it seems very useful for me nevertheless.) I would like to write more about this concept – but it is yet to be developed more fully; now the ideas are in their initial stages without me being able to express them very clearly.

    Dear Eduardo, thank you for the books you mentioned. I am going to save the names and hopefully read through them in due time.

  92. The invisibility topic in this week’s discussion is quite fascinating. One variant I’ve not seen mentioned yet is something I’ve been practicing for many decades: The Invisibility Game. This is based on an article I read many years ago in a cycling publication which in summary said: As a cyclist, do everything reasonably possible to make yourself visible (bright clothing, lighting, and so forth) BUT ALWAYS ride as if you are invisible! When you do that, you tend to give the other vehicles a lot more distance and make far fewer assumptions about whether they will pull out in front of you or otherwise endanger you. Through many years of riding bicycles and motorcycles, The Invisibility Game has served me very well.

  93. I don‘t have any personal experience with Schrödinger‘s Cat, but can confirm that Schrödinger‘s Pendulum exists… 😉

    A little while back, when putting questions with a „preferred“ answer to my pendulum, I experimented with not looking at said pendulum until it was clearly swinging, and to only check then whether it was a yes or no (the idea being that I might be less prone to influencing the answer that way).

    I quickly gave up on this experiment again, though: As long as i looked away, the pendulum would either not move at all, or show some very small and inconclusive movements – but in almost all cases, the moment I started looking at it, it immediately swung out into a clear yes or no.

    So it looks like Schrödinger was onto something there! Althogh it’s a shame he opted for the (scientifically non-offensive) cat in his example instead of the obviously more realistic pendulum… 😉


  94. @AliceEm,
    Glad it was helpful! Whenever I use the I Ching, the answer is difficult to understand. May I ask how long it took you to understand the I Ching?
    I am also enjoying your Substack. I hadn’t heard of Natural Asset Companies. I have much to catch up on.

  95. Wow, we get to watch as a long complex series of invisibility spells play out in the political environment here in the US. This time, it’s not about the doddering old fool’s invisible set of new clothes, although that’s fascinating to watch as well. In this case, I’m referring to the assassination attempt that was just carried out on Donald Trump at a Pennsylvania rally. The gunman was obviously working his own invisibility magic to pass unnoticed at the event until he could open fire at the podium, but that’s the least of the spells enshrouding this power play.

    The deep state running the current administration has been slowing leaking more and more stories about Trump being taken out of the race. They were hoping to use lawfare to deliver the coup de grace, but, when it became apparent that was not going to work, they started floating assassination trial balloons. The most glaring was when their arms-length operatives declared that the SCOTUS ruling on presidential immunity had somehow given Biden permission to legally order Trump’s assassination. A screeching dog whistle aimed at those disturbed enough to be driven crazy by its high-pitched squealing. And it worked! All with a veneer of plausible deniability, of course.

    Plausible deniability is the name of their game. Everyone may see what they’re doing, but no one will quite be able to affix blame to them — that’s a form of invisibility too. So many spells are being hurled back and forth to see if any of them might actually stick on the wall. We’ve definitely entered the stage of total desperation by the failing powers that be, or should that be powers that once were? With élites panicking this badly, the US could be plunged directly into open insurgency, without even having to wait to endure a fraudulent election. As all their previous threadbare cloaks of invisibility are disintegrating all around them, I would not put it past the powers that once were to convince themselves that they’re competent enough to weave the one true cloak that will save them. One way or another, our flailing élites will cause the whole rickety edifice of their power to come collapsing down on their own heads. The question is how many of the rest of us will also get crushed in their deranged fervor?

  96. Hi John Michael,

    Those are some ugly practices, and most practitioners of those workings barely comprehend that the energy reflects back upon them. Quite a sad state of affairs, and if they’d had better training, they wouldn’t make such rookie mistakes.

    As an amusing observation, both workings take quite a lot of energy, more than I’d care to invest, however, when a person is actually a senile old fool, the energy required to maintain that ‘senile old fool’ working is markedly reduced. 🙂

    The old timers used to say, more as a warning than an instruction: “Throw enough mud, and some of it will stick” The thing about throwing mud, is that one’s hands quickly get dirty. Please correct me, but you may call this the raspberry jam principle?

    Dude, the vibe is ugly out there. It needn’t be that way.



  97. Robert Mathiesen, what you say about subjectivity in life and death is very true. Examples abound. The spawn of working class parents who gets a college degree and goes to work in an office might be seen by them as a great success story.

    OTOH parents in the PMC class may not see an undergraduate degree at all as a notable achievement without also a high paying career. Are the offspring employed by a Wall Street firm? Are they pulling in million dollar bonuses? Are they well known, highly compensated writers or pundits?

    Or, heaven forfend, did they defy expectation and forgo college? Are they employed in a building trade and have to shower when they get home? Do they drive a pickup truck? Are they an acute embarrassment to the socially ambitious parents?

    This thing about language is fascinating. Have you heard of the Piraha people in the Amazon? I hear that their tonal language has no past or present or future tense, no words for color, no words for numbers and can be either spoken or whistled or hummed.

    So the question; does language channel thought and perception and perspective? I read somewhere that what you can say in one language you can say in any other. Is this actually true? You wonder. I’m not a linguist so I don’t know. But this is the age of people who take offense at every opportunity. Say the wrong word and face life wrecking cancellation. How much in this realm of studies is made to comport to modern academic values and how much is dispassionate research?

  98. Oh, good gods! Now I know where the Trump rally was taking place — Butler, PA, right outside of Pittsburgh. Why am I not at all surprised? With all of the orchestrated hate campaigns and boss-rule dog whistles inflicted on Pittsburgh’s populace through its completely controlled media and pretend grass-roots community activism, this assassination attempt is par for the course.

    I and several friends of mine who have been targeted by the Burgh’s bosses’ hate campaigns now cross the streets very carefully and agree that riding a bike in Pittsburgh would be a death wish for any of us. If any of the head-bobbing, programmed automatons snarlingly enforcing all the endless boss-rule edicts could convince themselves for even a second that they had enough plausible deniability to get away with running us over, they would not hesitate. Most liveable city? Uhhh… yeah, I’m so sure… if yinz happen to be a demon, I guess it might be. Or maybe just a jagoff.

    So we’re back to invisibility and its low-calorie, lighter version, plausible deniability. When Pittsburgh manipulated its voting results in the 2020 election to deliver Pennsylvania over to the Democrats, I left a phone message for a bureaucrat friend who had been talking about getting out of the Burgh for several years. I told her that she might want to exit quickly before the sword of Damocles came crashing down, and the city got the payback it so richly deserved. She hasn’t talked to me since… again, par for the course! No disloyalty will be tolerated. What on earth makes any of these fools think that their weak invisibility spells of plausible deniability will provide them any lasting protection? Goodies in this lifetime? Yeah, maybe. But Karma? Ooh, yikes!

    So now we have Pittsburgh, madly spinning webs of implausible deniability, since that assassination attempt took place way (Way, WAY!!!) out in Butler, not anywhere near yinz favorite city, I tell you! Look at the map guys; that rally was in a Pittsburgh bedroom-community, any way you slice it. With all the hypocrisy, deniability, and corruption that keeps this city ticking, everybody is required to agree to make no mention of, and pretend that they somehow can’t see, all of the poorly-shrouded deceptions that keep this pay-to-play nightmare from collapsing. Meanwhile, those of us who refuse to prop up the lies become the targets of their vociferous hate campaigns, n’at.

    Colluding with and propping up pathetically weak invisibility spells by falsely posturing instead that they’re impenetrably potent is just an act of cowardice by a petrified populace. Somehow I don’t think that pretend consensus will protect the Burgh in any way from its impending comeuppance. Had Trump, for any reason, wanted to overlook Pittsburgh’s kingmaking overreach in the previous election, they’ve now gone and guaranteed that they will remain squarely and most unforgettably in his sights. Yinz guys went to so much trouble to cast so many invisibility spells that they’re all interfering with each other and backfiring on you. Pittsburgh is truly a case study in magic going horribly, horribly awry!

    What happens when political assassination attempts boomerang back on their casters? This has finally turned fascinatingly interesting… will yinz pass that popcorn dahn already?

  99. @jon g #98
    Since I became attentive to them about fifteen years ago, first with tarot, divinitory tech has always been really responsive to me. Like I meet a new person and become curious and friendly about her and offer to read her cards and she’s all blown away about how relevant it seems, and this is pretty consistent, also usually if I read for myself I clearly see my circumstances reflected in the cards or the hexagram/image/judgement. But I have a very difficult time using divinitory tech in a question/answer form. I learned how to do the stick counting from a very capable lecture on YouTube. Like it wasn’t made for YouTube it was a public speaking event and the guy (I’m pretty sure this was it cause the slides def the ones I had screenshots for tho I didn’t relisten now ) went through why the coins statistically do not produce the same effect as counting sticks and how to count , and I had a pack of bamboo skewers I found in an old house whose purpose I had wondered about for a while and put them in a nice bag that I found with a sound healing hertz fork at a goodwill. And later added one yarrow stalk as the 50th stalk. anyway I always feel like the provenance of the divinitory tech is important. On tarot I no longer look at any sort of book ‘what this means’ but on iChing I do. Sometimes I have a feeling of when a line will be marked or I have a thought about meaning of a read flash in while I’m counting but I think the commentary on the iChing site I referenced is good and then I sometimes cross it with the site ‘Mothering Change’. Reading the transition between the original hexagram and what would come if the marked lines shifted to their complement Yang or yin is important to me. I would have fun to talk about it more with a human I met on this forum. If you would like to cause that maybe DM me on Substack and I’ll make a zoom meetup. But yeah, I don’t often perceive the readings as answers. More like a way of thinking about the quality of the current time in my work.
    While natural asset companies did not end up to be the structure that will hold the ecosystem service and turn them into collateral, apparently the carbon market as a whole works more or less this way. Someone I know who works following carbon market stuff for a long time was showing me howso. Insurance getting involved as the next layer.

  100. @Smith (#101):

    You can certainly talk in your own native language about anything you happen to run into in the course of your life.. And quitte a number of those things will happen to many people speaking many different native languages. But what these people say in their native languages will not show any sort of simple 1:1 correspondence in their grammars, their vocabularies, and their world-views implicated in their native languages.

    An English speaker, feeling cold, will say “I’m cold.” A Russian speaker, standing near him, will say Russian words that translate literally “To me it is cold.” which is not quite the same thing: the temperature is the same, but the way of expressing their perception of that temperature is slightly different. The English sentence is focused on the speaker, the Russian sentence on the ambiance. This is just a trivial example, chosen for ease of understanding.

    Russian does not have the grammar to distinguish, in general, between “a book” and “the book.” Nor does Russian speakers feel that this lack causes them any problems or difficulties in life. Russian, moreover, does not have verb tenses corresponding to English verb tenses like “will have been doing” or ” would have done”; nor does it miss having them.

    English, in turn, does not have verb forms to express the very, very different meanings of Russian “Ya chital” and “Ya prochital,” but must translate both those forms of the verb “chitat’,” “to read,” as “I read” (English past tense).

    And English and Russian are both Indo-European languages, cousins to one another and descendants of one and the same ancestral language spoken many thousands of years ago. (Language is always changing, though slowly. Ten thousand years from now, if a community of English speakers survives, their future English will be completely incomprehensible to us, and our current English equally incomprehensible to them.)

    And, of course, the differences between unrelated languages are much, much greater than those between English and Russian, “cousin” languages that they are.

    On another note, I have indeed heard of the Piraha and their language. When last I paid attention to it, there was only one single linguist who had written about what he found when he went to the Piraha and learned their language. And his results were so strikingly unexpected that many linguists wanted to reserve judgement on them until more people could investigate that language. Whether that has happened yet, I do not know.

    Me, I think that such an “strange” language (as Piraha is said to be) is certainly a real possiblity, and I would cite some papers by the anthropological linguist Benjaman Lee Whorf in support of that view. (See now also the detailed and favorable examination of Whorf’s theories by Penny Lee, The Whorf Theory Complex [1996].) His views are highly relevant to what we are discussing here.) But, as our host sometimes says about this or that question in magic, It would take a whole book to go into that in sufficient detail.

  101. “So the question; does language channel thought and perception and perspective?”


    “I read somewhere that what you can say in one language you can say in any other. Is this actually true?” It is false. Practically the first thing the professor taught in Philosophy 101 is that English has no exact translation for the Greek word Arete.

    Also Modern English wouldn’t be such a grab bag if it hadn’t had the habit of assimilating other useful words from any source.

    “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

    ― James D. Nicoll

  102. Smith, re: does language channel thought and perception and perspective?

    Michael Polanyi is worth reading on tacit knowledge – the idea that we can know more than we can say/explain. The idea that what you can say in one language you can say in any other ignores the possibility that what one particular person says in one language may not mean the same to them as to another person who speaks the same language (even holding age, class, gender, background, etc. constant as far as possible). The problem is that the ‘you’ in ‘what you can say’ is the impersonal you and so leaves out the individual personality and its quirks. And then there are all the things which are unsaid.

    An example, in Iris Hanika’s novel Treffen sich Zwei [subject of my master’s thesis ;-)], in the midst of a first coming together scene between the two protagonists in a bar, the author inserted in italics the words Verweile doch! [But wait!] amidst the description of their first kiss. This passed me by the first time, but what I later learned is that this was a reference to Goethe’s Faust, and that the next part of the line in Faust is “du bist so schön” [you are so beautiful]. Thus the connotations for someone who was familiar with Faust would have been augmented by something that was not it the text and hence not expressed in the language per se. The technical term for this particular example is intertextuality – which expresses the connectedness of texts. In English language the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer provide a lot of these intertexts, so much so that many are recognised by readers from texts other than the original which they might not have read.

    And all that is without considering the old adage that the past is a different country.

  103. OK, this comment is off topic, I know it. Trunp and some of his followers have been shooted in a political act in campaign for POTUS election. Any thoughts about it? I don’t like Trump, but I condemn this terrorist act.

  104. Onshinjutsu, the art of concealment, isn’t a method that I’ve studied but hensojutsu, the art of disguise, is one of my long term hobbies. My most developed persona is an alcoholic homeless man, which has got me out of trouble a number of times in the rougher parts of town. On one occasion I encountered an old friend and I said ‘hey, it’s me’, but he just couldn’t hear me. I put my face up close to his but he couldn’t recognise my features. It’s not as esoteric and advanced as the art of concealment but the art of disguise can nevertheless equip its students with some degree of invisibility.

  105. @Smith #101 and @Robert Mathiesen #104 re: the Piraha

    The Piraha came up in a few of my undergraduate Linguistics classes, and since then I’ve run into them in a few places. This blog post by Stone Age Herbalist includes a section on the Piraha that focuses more on their apparently also anomalous “religious” beliefs, but that touches on some of the linguistic oddities as well, and includes references to the book written by the anthropologist/linguist who has spent the most time with them:


  106. Geriatric candidates.
    Day of Saturn, hour of Mars.
    An injury to the right ear (CF Picatrix).
    Can’t make this stuff up.

    Axé and may the Divine Light shine with you all.

  107. @Jeff Russell (#109):

    Thanks for the reference to that very interesting blog post.

  108. Sorry to go off topic, but I think the USA just dodged a bullet there… knock on wood… I support RFK Jr., but this is terrible.

    I can’t help but think about the recent chart for the Mars-Uranus-Algol conjunction cast on your patreon, JMG. That is for Aug. 15, but I suspect the influence of the conjunction starts before that…

    If I may quote, “Trouble can be expected with Mars and Uranus conjunct the traditionally baleful fixed star Algol.”

    So it seems that it is starting up. With the conjunction happending tomorrow… “A natural disaster, large-scale accident, or localized disease outbreak can be expected in the days or weeks following this conjunction. The chart for the conjunction, however, includes a surprisingly large number of positive aspects and very little connection between the conjunction and other planets, so the long term consequences of the disaster will be relatively modest or even benign.”

    I guess the dust from this hasn’t quite settled yet… but know that I wish everyone here safety and protection, and that I pray for peace and reconciliation within our country. This divisiveness has gotten way out of control.

    Peace to all.

  109. Jeff Russell, Robert Mathiesen, Siliconguy, KAN, and others, after reading your posts a thought occurred to me, maybe it’s just as much thinking that channels language as it is language that channels thinking.

    If in Piraha or maybe Commanche society it’s just not the done thing to think in certain ways, then language develops to accommodate the ways that people actually do think.

    The Commanche and Piraha are empiricists? No concern for abstractions? So be it, language doesn’t develop words for ideas they don’t use. They like simplicity in all things? Good, no recursion then. I mean, why complicate matters?

    Interesting that, as much as they reject outsider ways, Piraha men apparently learn Portuguese to enable them to deal with outsiders. But Portuguese comes loaded with rules and vocabulary and concepts not found in Piraha. So, the obvious question, did Piraha men learn things like recursion? Did they learn what was meant by the color ‘orange’? Or did they apply Piraha rules to Portuguese?

    Apparently recursion, numbers, colors etc never made their way into Piraha language unlike other societies which have languages full of linguistic borrowings. Well, to each their own then.

    Or maybe Piraha represents an earlier step in the evolution of language, a linguistic living fossil of sorts.

  110. It’s ironic that the enlightened rationalists believe that transformation is impossible, except when its men transforming into women/feminized eunuchs! But, that’s a massive tangent.

    As for invisibility, that reminds me of a mutant from the X-Men comics: Forget-Me-Not. In most respects, he seems utterly ordinary, but he has a unique power: no one remembers him! He’s difficult to notice, and even if you do, you’ll forget him quickly; even if you had a whole conversation, it’ll go out of your head. It’s a lonely life, with only Professor X able to stay in regular contact with him due to his psychic powers. But this seemingly simple trick is actually enormously powerful, since it works on everyone, no matter how intelligent or mighty. He can slip past the most powerful entities and meddle with events completely unnoticed! I won’t spoil the whole thing, but it’s a really fascinating story, quite different from the usual comic superpower fare, and thought-provoking. Simply put, Forget-Me-Not is the ultimate unsung hero.

    As for The Force and similar, I don’t see it as taunting, so much as occult reality seeping through Western blinders and barriers, finding expression through safe outlets (but it’s just fiction! etc). As much as I’m a Star Wars fan (not the Disney kind), I have to admit it’s a hodgepodge of existing influences, such as Kurosawa films, the Dune novels, and occult teachings.

    Last but not least, Trump literally dodged a bullet, and this does not bode well for the US. For all the escalation of the past decade (and there’s been alot), the recent assassination attempt is a different ballpark.

  111. As a translator from Japanese into English for many years, I think that it is not so much that what you can say is different in different languages. Rather, it is that what you will say or strongly tend to is different. Different languages make it easier to say some things than others. There are differences in emphasis and omission that can be overcome but often won’t be. Japanese and Chinese give less information about time in their verbs and add in it with other words, if so chosen. “I come” vs. “I come yesterday” vs. “I come tomorrow”. (Those sound goofy in English but are perfectly fine in Chinese and somewhat in Japanese too.)
    Where Germanic languages (including English) use a verb and an adverb (usually a word that is also a preposition, such as up or down or out), Japanese most often uses two verbs. So “eat up” in English could be “eat put away” or “eat cut” in Japanese. I wonder what the subtle impacts of such usually ignored phrasing is.
    Schroedinger’s cat: Has anyone ever run the double slit experiment with a cat as the only observer? More broadly, has anyone experimented to see what kind of consciousness an observer needs to have. Microbes must not have enough consciousness or experiments demonstrating wave behavior would only be possible in a clean room, if even there.

  112. Hi Jessica, though I’m most fluent and literate in English, it’s not my mother tongue. The first language I learned has no written version and therefore no literature, it’s the peasant lingo in the particular corner of Europe where my parents came from. Plus I learned some French in high school where I took it as an elective (and since forgotten most of it through lack of use). Anyway, that’s my linguistic context, but the point is that I know what you mean because I ran into it in day-to-day life.

    But I figured that knowing two or three languages doesn’t make me a linguist. Even so I doubted the assertion that what you say in one language you can say in any other. I say this because I ran into words that were very hard to translate so that my parents could understand.

    Plus it didn’t help that they had five years of schooling, had zero time for abstract notions, and for that matter were ’empiricists’ for lack of a better term. And don’t bother them with nonsense like university, which they and their ethnic compadres looked on a a silly frivolity for people looking to put on airs. My parents and especially my mother took a lot of crap from relatives and friends for acquiescing and letting me go. And so that’s the cultural context.

  113. @JMG

    >the people who were easiest to affect were either (a) drunk, (b) busy, or (c) self-satisfied and confident. I don’t know Dutch people well enough to guess which, if any, of these might apply.

    Busy, self-satisfied and confident describes the Dutch pretty well. These are all Protestant traits, too.

    On another note: I have been re-reading the Odyssey. Ulysses is invisible or otherwise transformed for most of the poem: with the Pheacians, with Polyphemus, at home in Ithaca in disguise. Scylla misses him because the gods make him invisible. Kyrkes turns his mates into swines, but he hides his true self from the magician and prevails.

    Indeed the high points of the Odyssey are when Ulysses is revealed for who he really is: the scene with the dog Argos, the dinner at the Pheacians, the fight against the suitors, the dialogue with Penelope, the servant Eurycleia, the meeting with the father Laertes. There he shows his humanity and depth of feelings. For the rest of the story he comes off like a con artist, and often not a particularly clever one.

    I am not sure what interpretation to give it, though. It is always Athena who, directly or indirectly, helps Ulysses hide his identity. Athena is the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. So is this what wisdom is about? Hiding your identity?

    Or is it a nihilistic take on reason? Reason is then just disguise and make-believe; Athena can only offer illusions? Polyphemos had an eye, yet was blind and only understood after he lost his sight. Ulysses was always there for the suitors to see, yet they only understood when it was too late. The dog Argos does not have intellect, yet he sees Ulysses for what he is, while Eumaeus the swineherd does not. Did Homer mean that rationality is an inferior way of seeing the world?

    Or does it mean that true reason is not limited to the intellect, to the things that we can see, but rather involves a more intimate relationship with the world? Like Pirsig’s quality. Or in a more Christian slant, that rationalism and faith without each other lead to a dead end?

    So the common man only sees what is apparent, but the true mage or wise man can see deeper levels of reality?

    So back to the Dutch experiment: are rationalists more blind to people under invisibility spells?

  114. Mr Greer,

    Early Buddhist literature is replete with accounts of monks with mastery over the capacity to disappear and reappear, make multiple copies of themselves, walk on water, dive into the earth, walk through walls, levitate, etc etc. The binding theory behind it all is: “Mind precedes all things, mind is their chief, they’re all mind made”. From this perspective, it seems that the “objective world” is the detrius and debris of old mind activity being re-cognised, re-acted and recomposed by new mind activity. It follows naturally that mastery over the mind leads to mastery over matter. But it’s a cul de sac developmentally as it takes a huge amount of training as an adult to move a rock around by mind alone when a baby with his arm can do it from day 5. As you’ve pointed out in the past, the fact that an ordinary fellow can will his arms to move to pick up a rock and move it about in his palm is an act of (rudimentary) magic.

    Don’t you think it’s a better investment to master the mind so that it wills always from intentions of goodwill and contentment? A mage who can pick up a rock with naught but goodwill is a Mage indeed.

    Having said that, the historical Buddha didn’t have the trenchant prejudice against the development of psychic powers (the Buddhist word for magical powers) that modern and medieval teachers have and had. He taught it’s perfectly possible to have psychic powers and get fully enlightened at the same time and even recommended it for those with the potential to do both!

  115. @JMG: That’s a great story about the herbalists and the unseen rabbit, I can relate to that! More generally the unity of focus the herbalists had on the plant at the expense of seeing the rabbit makes me realize some of the downsides of something in a different domain: will training. A focused will means by definition that you’re not focusing on anything else; which is an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. Everything, it seems, has a cost. Invisibility spells of this sort do seem to springboard in a similar way from the Law of Limits.

    @Christophe: Glad to be of service! 🙂 These are indeed useful techniques to be aware of.

    @RandomActsOfKarma: That example makes sense, too; maybe these can work at different speeds regardless of plane. There are some upper planes things which would take time to change (as in advertising) if what is being made visible or invisible is a concept or similar.

  116. Speaking of the world created by our minds: I have tinnitus. It’s a noise with no objective source in the outside world, but it’s constantly in my ears. Of course this means that Western medicine has no fracking idea how to cure it.

  117. Mr Greer,

    What do you think about how occult practices can be used to strengthen the real power of organised non-violent movements? Can mastery over the astral light be used strategically together with all we have learned about non-violent resistance to make such organised movements a real political force, one that can be feasibly proposed as a real and competitive alternative to bombs and bullets? This is a question that has haunted Chinese culture since colonisation of the East began. Why did Eastern martial arts and strategy fail against the Western powers? Does the East simply have to outdo the West in industrial knowhow? Or is there a better way that honours the wisdom of the ancients?

  118. Apologies for the off-topic post, but I read on Magic Monday you asking about a source for “Very interesting that John Crowley was a friend and colleague of Ioan Petru Culianu” and looking for it I found this:

    The conference’s featured author, science fiction writer John Crowley, had asked Culianu to be the Special Scholar Guest. Crowley had read Culianu’s Eros and Magic in the Renaissance and had been eager to meet its author. The book was dense and difficult, but it captured Crowley’s imagination. “He suggested a kind of mass hypnosis was possible, by means the Renaissance called magical but we call psychological, through the use of erotically charged images,” Crowley said. The two had met a year earlier, becoming close friends. “I never had such an intense, sudden friendship in my life,” Crowley said. For Culianu, who secretly wanted most of all to be a fantasy writer, the conference was a great inspiration. Participants in his conference sessions felt the same way about him. Conference organizer Jennifer Stevenson said chat Culianu “hit you with such an impact, he made the world seem somehow much richer and more mysterious than you ever imagined.”

  119. Talk about invisibility! A prime example is the classical Dark Horse Candidate who nobody ever thought of, but suddenly appears from nowhere with all the earmarks of the incumbent’s heir apparent.

    @Kfish – I have had tinnitus for a long time, and used to think it was somebody running a motor nearby. Then – I can no longer hear the music I love, except in a live performance in a hall with a hearing loop, but I have a head full of memories of of my favorites anyone, all ones full of Romantic sturm und drang and, yes, even Teutonic Bombast – and Tchaikovsky’s magnificent celebration of running Napoleon’s forces out of Russia, complete with cannon. Then, on the 4th of July when I realized what sounded like brittle things breaking against my windows were fireworks, and my ears registered something thumping in the background, I was treated to an entire concert of patriotic standards – in my head – complete with fireworks and the cannon. The biggest problem was turning it off so I could go to sleep!

  120. I have tinnitus as well. At least when they tell you it’s all in your head they are actually correct.

    I’ve heard that there was some success in treating with an hearing aid tuned to remove all incoming sound at the frequency of your individual tinnitus. (Mine is at 7.8 kHz) the theory was that your brain is replacing the sound it thinks should be there but isn’t due to the notch the developed in your reception. I haven’t heard how the research is going though.

  121. Bryan, that’s a very nice piece of simple, useful magic — thank you.

    Christophe, nah, I think they blew it and they know it. I note that just over the last few days Trump has moved ahead in nearly all the battleground states, and the image of him raising his fist is on track to become one of the chief icons of 21st century America. It’s gonna be a wild ride…

    Chris, yep. Sure, the mud will stick, but to whom?

    Chuaquin, hang onto your hat. This is going to get very weird.

    Tengu, excellent! I find that when not dealing with people who know me, I can use some very simple means to change how people respond to me — a piece of clothing, a detail of posture, a choice of words. It’s useful stuff for a mage.

    Fra’ Lupo, yep.

    Eagle Fang, I don’t think we’re done with it yet.

    Disc_writes, I’ll keep that in mind if I ever visit the Netherlands…

    Jinasiri, goodwill and contentment are not always useful. I find it better to focus on self-knowledge and self-mastery, so that anything that’s needed will be in reach.

    Jbucks, good! That’s why will training isn’t the only thing you do while learning occultism.

    Jinasiri, mixing politics and spirituality is always a bad idea. It inevitably turns toxic and self-defeating. Asia is rising, and within a century will again be the center of the global economy and of human culture generally; my hope is that the Asian powers will keep their spiritual traditions intact while that happens — but we’ll see.

    Anonymous, thank you for this!

    Phutatorius, from louche playboy to vessel for archetypal energies. Hang onto your hat.

  122. Mr. Greer & Chris at fernglade..
    Yes, ugliness and mud reminds me of a quote by the Emperor Clauvius.. not long before his poisoning at the hands of his last wife, Agrippinilla – as spoken by the Great Derek Jacobi in the old BBC series – that goes: “Let ALL the Things that Squirm and Crawl in the Mud.. HATCH OUT!”

    Oh boy! Betcha that – had he been alive today .. to see the latest of western empirical intrigues – he would’ve given a hearty fist pump to the Orange HeyZeus! What a time to be, ur .. alive..

  123. Last Saturday, some people saw Secret Service agents swarm to protect a wounded candidate. My brother saw a wounded candidate rally the Secret Service agents, and lead them to safety. It’s all a matter of perspective!

  124. Mr Greer,

    Thanks for the replies. Always much appreciated.

    I think contentment as being happy with with what is sufficient materially (while not rejecting ethical and sustainable abundance should it happen to come along) together with discontent in relation to one’s development of wholesome qualities in order to maximise spiritual abundance is a good path to follow.

    As for goodwill, universal goodwill has no disadvantages so long as it is combined with wise selectivity in who we associate with. No need to be a nice-doormat for others’ silliness, after all.

    Is mixing spirituality and politics always toxic? I think there have been a number of figures in history that have demonstrated otherwise. The historical Buddha and Gandhi being two. It is definitely a difficult balance to get right, but when done we’ll the fruits for the many are great. Otherwise we leave a dangerous spiritual vacuum in the political sphere which gets filled with zombies.

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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