Yes, I know the word magical doesn’t usually have a k in it, but the letter k is frequently included to indicate that the word magickal doesn’t refer to stage magic or common tricks, but to deeper phenomena that we can’t but try to explain away.
I’m thinking about magick and how we define it because I recently completed a class at Cherry Hill Seminary called Why Magickal Thinking Isn’t Crazy. It was taught by York Dobyns, a Ph.D. in physics at Princeton. It was a 4 week Foundations course, kind of an introduction, so I was able to follow it without trouble. We studied anomalies like distance viewing and dowsing, and actually did some experiments ourselves. It reminded me of a series of experiments I was involved in when I was in graduate school.
The person leading the research was a visiting professor, a biologist who developed an interest in what was then called parapsychology. He recruited some of us and divided us into three groups. We all worked individually, but one group was taught visualization techniques, one relaxation techniques, and another group was taught both. There may have been a forth control group, I don’t know. I was among those who were taught both relaxation and visualization techniques.
I would sit in a chair with only the researcher in the room in the lab at school. In a room down the hall, a projector would automatically select one of two slides and project it against the wall when a remote control button was pressed in my room. No one was in the room with the projector and researcher had no idea which of the two sildes would be selected, although he selected the slides for the experiment.
My task was to relax and, when I was ready, to signal the remote control. Then I had to see the slide that was being projected in the empty, closed room down the hall. I would draw what I saw and then describe it – or I may have described it first and then drawn, I can’t remember. My responses were later given to a panel of judges along with both slides to judge if I had experienced what is now called distance viewing. I saw the projected slide later. I never saw the slide that was not projected.
This was 32 years ago and I forget some of the details. But what I do remember still amazes me. Not only did I frequently describe and draw central elements of the slide that was being projected, but sometimes I included key elements from the slide that was not projected as well!
I couldn’t tell them apart, and had no idea I was doing that. I also confused everything by immediately describing something key to the slide and then elaborating on it in a way that made some kind of sense to my mind, but was totally off the wall. Clearly my imagination was hard at work making things up.
Two brief examples: In one case, I saw a horse first, and then immediately a whole barnyard, including chickens and a pig. The slide was actually just a photo of the head of a horse sticking out of a stall. There was no barnyard, no other animals in the photo. I have to wonder if somehow I sensed it was a horse’s head and that didn’t make sense to me, so my mind created a whole scene that seemed logical.
This does seem strange, doesn’t it?
The second example was even more creative on my part. I saw a pair of legs from the knees down. I then went on to describe patent leather shoes on the feet of the legs, and the little girl they belonged to sitting on a fence. The real slide was a jumble of images, rather like something by Hieronymus Bosch, but the one thing that stood out at the very top of the painting was a pair of running legs from the knees down.
The last example I’ll share was one where all I got was a sensation of jagged edges, kind of shaped like mountain tops, but coiled in a circle.I didn’t elaborate at all, just went for my first major sensation. The slide was of a scaled dragon, all coiled up and asleep.
The judges decided that something was definitely going on and gave me high scores.
So is magick simply phenomena that science can’t explain – yet?
Want to try it yourself?
Ok, get really relaxed. When you are ready try to see the picture I have linked to this blog. Write down the first 3 things that come to your mind. Don’t go for details, just general sensations. When you have done this, and not before, click on the link and see the photo.
So did you get something? Was it generally close to the image? If so, is this distance viewing, telepathy (after all, I picked the picture you were focused on), or a freak coincidence? If your impression of the picture was totally off or you got nothing, are you shut down in any areas of you life that might influence this? Did you try this experiment to disprove its possibility? Comments are welcome here.
And if you want to begin to understand all this, and the science that explores it, take one of Dobyn’s classes at Cherry Hill. He should be teaching either this summer or Fall 2012. The class will open doors of perception for you. Are you ready?