Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s Monday Magick Newsletter by Jason Miller:
Sometimes when my students have an experience they want to know “Was That A Spirit Or My Own Mind?”.
The answer is not usually that simple, in fact it gets more complicated the deeper you look, so lets peel back the layers one at a time:
LAYER 1: PERCEPTION PROJECTION RATIO
First layer is realizing that every single interaction you have ever had is a mixture of your perception of what really happened and your mental projection upon that experience. Every memory you have of conversations with real people is deeply effected by this. Given that spirits are subtle beings, this ratio should be assumed to be worse than with physical beings.
So the idea that your communication was either a spirit OR your mind generating the experience is a false binary. If the experience you are analyzing was triggered by a conjuration or even a prayer, its not unreasonable to assume that there is some authentic spark there. It’s also reasonable to think that since this is a subtle type of communication that you filled in some gaps.
Improving this ratio is the real work of a Sorcerer/Magician/Witch over the long haul.
LAYER 2: UTILITY, MEANING, OR VERIFIABILITY
Did the experience you had produce something that was actionable? If so does taking that action have low risk and make sense? Then try it out.
Did it leave you with information that is verifiable through non-magical means? If so, then verify it. If not, then treat it as data that you can’t do much with or as suspect information.
Did it express something meaningful to you? Great. Does that meaning disappear if it turned out to be generated by your mind rather than a god or spirit? If yes, why?
Did your experience not meet any of these criteria? Then why do you need to judge it one way or the other?
Sometimes when I say focus on what’s actionable, meaningful, or verifiable students assume that is the proof of valid spirit contact and anything that doesn’t meet this bar is not. This is not the case. You simply do not need to come to a conclusion one way or the other. It’s a thing that happened. If it was useful or meaningful then you should do more stuff like you did to get that. If it wasn’t you don’t need to care about how “real” it was. Plenty of very real physical people say shit that is not useful, meaningful, or actionable. It doesn’t make them less real. Sadly.
LAYER 3: RELIABILITY
Have you ever had a better idea than someone else’s advice? I’m sure you have.
Have you ever misunderstood what someone was saying, but gotten something useful from your interpretation? A lot of people have.
I have had experiences that I am very certain were “authentic communications” from spirits perceived with relative clarity, but which turned out to be bad advice, untrue predictions, or just not helpful in any way. I once threw out 20,000 words of some of the most vivid spirit communications I have ever experiences because in the end I didn’t see how anything communicated would be helpful to know. Predictions made in that text proved to be false over time, so I am glad I did.
I have had some experiences that I still am not sure how much of it was a spirit and how much of it was me that wound up being very useful indeed. You are a spirit.
LAYER 4: THE CONAN RULE
Once we get four layers down, people start to get all wonky and meta about spirits. I’m not trying to get you to push through an illusion or embrace some very high mystery. In fact, I’m trying to do the opposite: get you to think more mechanically and practically and evaluate your communications with spirits in the same way that you evaluate communications with people.
A popular axiom from Lon Milo Duquette is “It’s All In Your Head … You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is“. I have enormous respect for Lon as a magician and even more as a write. That dude can write! But I must confess that I hate this saying. Some people think I would agree because it sounds vaguely Buddhist, but it’s not. Even if you want to boil all of reality down to perception, that doesn’t mean its happening in “YOUR” head. There is a big difference between Solipsism and Buddhism. If you are going to treat spirit communications as “in your head” because “it’s all in your head” then I hope you are prepared to treat everything else that way too.
This is why Buddhists talk about two truths, an ultimate truth where everything including your own self-perception, is illusory; and an relative truth where your face hurts because you really did just get slapped.
When it comes to spirits I like the Conan’s thinking:““I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.” – Robert E Howard, Queen of the Black Coast
If you want to read more thoughts on spirits, spirit skills, and assorted strategies and sorceries, my new book comes out MAY 1st. CONSO
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