If at any point this starts to read like a gushing self help manual from someone who took one trip too many and likes the sound of his own voice too much then please feel free to hunt me down and slap me stupid. That said – it may be worth doing a bit of soul searching en route. So what’s Magick anyway? Well robes and rituals aside – although I’ve always fancied myself sporting the head of Horus (the wife is an unadventurous soul who disagrees) it can effectively be defined as the power to alter the physical world through the harnessing or manipulations of energy – or as Aleister Crowley – top nutter and mischievous windbag put it ‘the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.’ Now reading a bit of old Al’s musings is always a winner, although sieving symbolic truths and windows on clarity from a load of self important drivel does begin to wear thin after a while, but his interpretations of the dynamics of male and female energy within the disciplines of magick, the suppressions of the surface self and the path to mystical truth are fascinating if identical at core to most other routes to spiritual understanding. But this is neither about Aleister Crowley, about the art of knocking up a quality pentagram or closing the circle of power with the blood of an elderly goat called Norman. It’s about the magic we generate and interact with in every conscious second of our life.
Or is that sub conscious. Or the ability to build enough of a bridge between the conscious and the subconscious to open oneself to the relationship between observing and reacting to situations. The obvious linear answer that conventional perspectives and traditional physics throw up is that observation is a passive state of witness that has no intrinsic physical value in itself. But when the edges of physics began to fray and warped to the extremes of micro and macro, scientific thinking itself began to adapt to indisputable realities and Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle that formed one of the bedrocks of quantum mechanics was unleashed on the world with one critical aspect. The observation effect. This states that the observation of a physical phenomena whether by precision instruments or by consciousness itself has a fundamental effect on the phenomena actually being observed, and in some quantum cases, only observation could create reality. A particle can be in 2 places at once until it is actually observed and only at that point does it cross the line into certainty.
This works on a far more basic level. As Descartes quipped – ‘ Cogito ergo sum’ – ‘I think therefore I am’. You can extrapolate that to nothing exists until I have perceived it. While that may sound like idle semantics, the reality is that consciousness is the universe’s brain – the one known aspect of the physical universe that is aware of itself, examines itself and can effect knowing change on itself. Basically consciousness is the universe holding up a mirror to itself. And at that point of understanding – its’ time to chuck ourselves through the looking glass. One man’s synchronicity is another man’s coincidence. One man’s butterfly effect of positivity is another man’s simple smile. And one man’s 3 dimensions is another man’s playground of possibility.
So what makes a coincidence synchronicity anyway? Jung had all kinds of fascinating theories about the underlying framework of ‘acausal connecting principles’ and their role in mapping the collective unconscious, but it effectively comes straight back down to perception and the energy that perception injects into the external coincidence. So let’s say that I’m a filmmaker and at the age of 46, I bump into someone I was at school with in London when we were 9, somewhere in the outer reaches of the Mongolian plateau. I never liked him much, I’m pretty far up my own arse, I’m doing a documentary on the psychoactive properties of yak’s milk and while we’re shooting the breeze of awkward politeness, he mentions he’s an actor. At that point, I can continue edging away from him further into no-man’s land and hope that a dust storm eventually cloaks me, or I can decide to perceive this as so stunningly random, that there must be something in it worth pursuing and investigating further. In the first case, we have flat coincidence, and universal critical abuse when my documentary is rubbished by one of the yaks who claims his views were misrepresented. But in the second, we have a new partnership, born out of curiously loaded cosmic dice where we connect, discuss creative goals and work on a project together that wins the prestigious Golden Pebble at the Torquay Film Festival , launches both our careers into the stratosphere and opens up creative angles neither of us would have seen without the other. I marry his sister, he marries my father in a civil ceremony, and the entire direction of our lives can be traced back to that windswept moment in the Mongolian badlands.
The power of being open to what the universe throws up skids sharply into focus and reminds me of the deeply religious soul who when his town floods and George Bush is otherwise engaged, prays from the depths of his soul for God to save him. A boat swings by and throws him a line but he refuses it, determined to wait for good ole Yaweh to flex his holy muscles. A helicopter flies overhead and offers to winch him up, but again, he stakes everything on his faith. Anyway – he predictably dies shortly thereafter, and on his way through the pearly gates, he noises up God good and proper. ‘For fuck’s sake you pompous old git’ he says, ‘I ‘ve spent my life repressing all my human instincts, moralising others, touching small boys in a borderline manner, and subconsciously despising women and pretty much every other non white male group. Then, when I finally need you, you forsake me.’ God stroked his beard thoughtfully and said. ‘You fucking idiot, I sent you a boat and a helicopter. I may work in mysterious ways, but even a 3 year old chimp would have made that connection’. How we choose to read situations and how open we are to the universe taking a mysterious yet never explicit hand is what defines our embrace of opportunity and ultimately shapes our identity. The determinism we are surrounded by, the consumerist comfort we are coddled by and the rationalism we are quietly guided by, all muffle the sound of the universe creaking into action, but if we can see beyond and trust ourselves enough to take a chance on the unlikely simply because it is so unlikely, coincidence suddenly becomes meaningful coincidence, and that meaning breathes a new virtue into our daily lives. And before long – you’re creating your own synchronicities as action begets action and the spiral quickens
Turning a coincidence into a synchronicity is magick in action, but it’s only the start. To wheel out another classic – ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you’ and leaving the bit that follows it deftly to one side’, we have possibly the most primal example of the butterfly effect in action. Rather than strutting the urban beat with head slung low and hood jacked up high and radiating a silent menace in the classic self defeating trap for the disaffected, locking on to positivity, channelling it, feeling it, using it and then radiating it outwards is one of the most labour unintensive and spectacularly fulfilling processes that a person can undergo.
You go to buy a train ticket or something utterly forgettable with your mind buried deep inside your own daily issues and briefly look up at the person on the other side of the counter. Looks like a miserable fucker. So what do you do – push on through expressionless, or take millisecond to flash a vibrant smile that will cut straight through their depressing grind and elevate their energy to another level. Who knows what might happen – it may stop them topping themselves, end up in a pregnancy, or less dramatic but just as universally important – they may start smiling at other people passing by their counter and trigger a chain reaction of positivity and a renewed faith in humanity. Or they may get battered for smiling at the wrong person…but that is exactly the kind of nihilistic idiocy that a general elevation in the vibe we put out can start to triumph over.
We have immense untapped power to use the energy we throw out into the world to shape external reality. Smiling is just to scratch the surface, but the fact remains that whatever you put out there and the confidence you back it with does have a ripple effect of empowerment. Confidence itself makes the impossible a reality. Just look at that complete nutter Frank Abagnale who managed to bullshit his way into 8 different identities including an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer while convincing the FBI man who’d tracked him down that they were on the same side and the culprit had just flown the coop. And all this while cashing 2.5 million in forged cheques and all before the age of 21. You just don’t get away with that kind of thing unless you are radiating absolute and total certainty – and it’s amazing what you can actually pull off by training your mind to be unshakably confident. Things fall into place, doors swing open and you begin to chart your own destiny in the face of all reasonable logic.
Not sure what to make of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). There’s certain cult elements about it that are unsettling, but the concept of using the steps of thought, language and then behaviour to transform the external situation is a fascinating one. First step is to train and sharpen your thought processes into a honed bolt of energy, before using specific and targeted language to crystallise those thoughts into an expressed and physical state. The idea being that thinking it and saying it will imbue the final action with a certainty and directness that will guide its trajectory. It is a documented way of practising ways to get the maximum results from a seed of thought, and entirely depends on the power of a channelled mind, used efficiently, to wreak it’s will on any situation. Now if this is all starting to sound like some surgical smile Californian life coaching fountain of drivel – bottom line is that there is some truth to all of that nauseating plastic crap about empowerment. Being sickly and overpriced and having a ridiculous phraseology doesn’t make it wrong. But energy is out there to be manipulated and harnessed. There are always centres of both mental and physical energy wherever we look, and it is up to us if we want to be active or passive within that framework. Even within the random mutations of chaos theory, we find the attractors that somehow seem to be the galactic centre of any algorithm or equation. Fractals aren’t just the hippy aesthetic – they are visual representations of feedback equations, and in particular, chaotic equations.. Looking within any fractal, at whatever scale (they mirror patterns on a range of scales – focus in on one pattern – and fractal re representations within it will start to unfold) there are always centres that the equation feedback loops seem to gravitate to and orbit around and those are represented in the spiral centres of so many fractals.
Human energy works in exactly the same way. There is a wide ranging and chaotic set of initial conditions within each of us and hat will lie at the centre of our individual feedback loop and how our personal fractals evolve is up to us. Same goes for wider society – and it is up to us whether we want to be the defining central attractors or somewhere anonymously in orbit. Whether you can bend spoons or summon a cloaked spirit remains almost irrelevant, because that isn’t really what genuine magick is all about. Affecting external realities depends entirely on the side of your spirit you choose to channel and while negativity and cynicism are a soft landing for the masses – the raw, existential impact of positivity, confidence and an openness to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune carve out a chaotic yet controlled path that harnesses so many of the mysterious synergies between consciousness and the physical universe. The links between inner space and outer space – consciousness and the universe are undeniable if as yet undefined. But make no fucking mistake – living a 3 dimensional life will ultimately leave you with a 1 dimensional legacy. Opening the channels to mystery and the wandering bolts of universal energy open up potential and possibility to a higher appreciation and interaction of what it means to be alive in the all too short one off chance we have at this cosmic game of blind chess. And it all starts with a smile and a synchronicity.