Magic: Plus An Unexpected View of the Occult
By: J. Marlando
I hesitated for quite a long time before starting this article—not because I had too little to write about but because I have such an abundance of material to share. First of all I hold the opinion that the very term “occult” is commonly misunderstood. Mostly it is thought of as being a belief in magic, witchcraft and other “cultish” subjects considered supernatural. Supernatural basically means “outside the natural world” or phenomena that can’t be explained by natural laws. In this typical view quantum physics, in many instances, would have to be considered occult. Non-local communication certainly fits into the classical category of occultism…nevertheless, it is science. And, in this same view religion too fits snuggly into the overview of occultism as it believes in the supernatural-ness of life outside the physical environment we all share from cradle to grave.
Okay, I hope that I have made it clear that I do not scoff at occult concepts or experiences just because they do not belong to the center of so-called civilized cultures. Indeed, I tend to believe the worldviews of very ancient prehistoric people much more than I do the dead-world views of nearly all of today’s geneticists and biologists. I am referring to their existential philosophy of being and nothingness.
Primitive man saw the world filled with life and unseen forces. Indeed, the earliest shamans or “holy/wise persons” we are aware invariably said that they crossed over into the spiritual world during altered states of mind. Our own American Indians were devotedly “spiritual” and they often spoke with the “spirits” of trees, rivers and animals seeking their truths and their wisdoms.
Modernism strives to complete the job that Rene Descartes (1596-1650) started centuries ago—most basically he took God out of nature, out of human experience and placed “him” in a distant unknowable and useable place above time and space. Then Charles Darwin (1809-1882) came along with his theories of evolution which put a snag in Creationism and, for that matter, in religious faith itself. Al this bothered the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) so much that he announced that “God was Dead” and this rather depressing view has been taught in higher education by scholars and other would-be intellectuals ever since.
There are just too many spiritual mysteries in life to pass them off as mumbo jumbo, however. I have personally witnessed the unexplained a few times in my own life such as being out-of-body-during a near death experience. Most science minded folks pass NDEs off as hallucination but of course they have never had an NDE themselves. There are other observations. Some years ago our five year old grandson Ryan was talking about numbers going into infinity and my wife asked him “where in the world” he comes up with such thoughts. And he answered, “I don’t know grandma, I just know things that I haven’t learned yet.”
[As a quick aside if you know of or have experienced any supernatural or unexplained phenomena in your life, please share it with me as I’ve been making a study of the super-natural for many years. You can email me by going through Info Barrel’s “Inbox”or my private email Marlando7@Verizon.net.]
Anyway, if you happen to be a person who has deep doubts—I hope to lift those doubts by the time you finish this article—I remind you that intuition itself has its roots in the activities of the metaphysical. I have a couple of PhD friends who absolutely deny that they are anything but “realists” and yet will boast about something they had intuition about. With this is mind, we will begin.
We will begin with Magic but I am not going to talk about flying carpets or genies in lamps, but instead about magic as it actually unfolds in most of our lives.
We begin with what is known as autogenic technique. This is a form of deep meditation used for the technique of self-hypnosis—the quest is to link the conscious mind with the unconscious mind to control or change physical and mental functions. We know, for example, that some dolphins can actually stop the flow of blood inside their bodies when they do not want to permit the human doctor to take samples. I do not have the slightest idea how dolphins accomplish this task but I know that we people have to use imagination and visualization to, if you will, create the magic.
While I cannot go into all of the truly magical that exists in our lives in the space of this article—I would easily reach book length—I will do my best to give you enough information and examples to expand your view of you and your universe..
For a couple of easy examples of this, we know that athletes who simply imagine themselves playing their sport wonderfully will actually increase their skills on the field. This is called Psycho—Cybernetics. The chances are you’ve heard of the Maxwell Maltz book since it has attracted over 25 million readers. Just briefly, the mental system was first used by American mathematician Norbert Wiener who refined guided missile technology during W.W.II. Maltz, actually a plastic surgeon, wondered why the technology applied to missiles of a constant feedback loop couldn’t work for humans. And so the goal became the issue and not the “path” of reaching it. The idea was to give our brains a mental image of us doing or accomplishing something. If the image is clear enough the brain and nervous system will (automatically) provide the feedback to create the imagined conquest in real life. And so, if the quarterback has imagined himself throwing touchdowns, his brain, not knowing fact from fiction, will actually manifest the reality in actual play.
As a quick aside, I have used this technique in many different ways but the one I am thinking of occurred around ten years ago when a doctor at the veteran’s hospital had to cut into my foot warning me to be prepared for some very heavy duty pain. I immediately looked at a beautiful picture of a forest on the wall and in mind I imagined being there: I cast my image into that lovely forest and experience it by following enchanting paths, inhaling the scent of the fresh forest air and imagining the wonderful isolation of the place Finally the frustrated doctor said to me, “Doesn’t this hurt, you haven’t even flinched.” I didn’t bother to tell her what I had done because most doctors and scientists do not believe in such…magic.
And speaking of belief, it is almost unbelievable to me that by and large the mainstream religions reject or, in the least invalidate their own mystics whom, you might guess, are typically passed off as mere “cultists.”
Christianity basically snubs Christian mysticism, just as Jewish traditionalists do not accept Cabbalistic (Jewish mysticism) beliefs or rituals. As for the fundamental Muslims, the Sufi (Muslim mysticism) are basically outcasts. Mainstream Protestantism, incidentally, typically reject all mysticism while preaching hell, brimstone and a distant god that they fear or, in the other words, if it ain’t in the Bible it ain’t valid.
Interestingly enough the so-called “cults” I’ve referred to—the Cabbalists, Sufi and Christian Mystics are the very ones who wish to spread love and peace in the world while teaching about a god that is in all things and can be experienced by the individual; a god of love and not war, of forgiveness not judgment. These peacemakers include Tibetan Yogis and the Transcendentalists of our own American past like David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson—human beings, like Teresa of Avila, Francis of Assisi and more recently Mother Teresa all in the world but not of it. Most simply, such individuals are not like the politicos in religious garb that preach morality, cast stones and build palace cathedrals but are peace, love and truth seekers…within.
Speaking of living in harmony with the Universe, there is mysterious and magical synchronicity that occurs for us in negative or positive ways as we all travel life’s journey. Talk about “magic!”
Most basically Carl Jung’s description of synchronicity takes us out of Newton’s clockwork universe by transcending the cause and effect rule with an organizing principle of life and living it. That is, it tells us that those meaningful coincidences that happen to us all along our ways are not random accidents but actually caused by our own creative consciousness as it is in unity with universal consciousness (or Mind) itself. A common example of this is that you are home talking to your wife or husband about not hearing from an old friend for years. Then, the phone rings and that old friend (whom you haven’t seen or heard from for ten years or so) is suddenly on the other end of the phone. Is the coincidence a mere lotto hit occurring out of the mechanical world or is this a synchronicity occurring because of your connectedness with the universe? The indication here is Jung’s concept that somehow creates psyche and matter as one. (Note: This is too complex to go deeply into here but I have written a clear and simple InfoBarrel article with title, Why Good and Bad Things Happen to Us that explains synchronicity thoroughly for the interested reader).
Speaking of synchronicity as universal unity, Jeremy W. Hayward tells us that there is phenomenon that occurs from group prayer “which has been clearly demonstrated.” Dr. Randolph Byrd, cardiologist studied around 400 patients who had heart attacks. They were divided into two groups but both given the best of medical treatment. The only difference was that one group was prayed for as well. The prayed for group did so much better than the other group that the “phenomenon of prayer” was made apparent. These results, however, were invalidated by conventional science as so much voodoo but the facts remain just as the magical statics remain…prayer had influenced objective reality.
Another magical demonstration in our brick and mortar world is remote viewing. Experiments have been conducted by The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research program where one person is taken to a random spot—say out in the country—while another is left in isolation in the laboratory. The person’s objective is to open his mind and observe the location in much detail. Hayward tells us that “…beyond any reasonable doubt that remote viewing is a legitimately observable and repeatable phenomenon that demands to be taken notice by science.” Mainstream science and other scholars simply scoff at the entire idea, however and that scoffing echoes throughout society. Nevertheless, that the operators at the laboratory simply made lucky guesses or came to the conclusions by chance are less than 2 in a hundred thousand million.
Intellectuals and scientific minded scholars simply call the idea of remote viewing absurd and a world of others shake their heads agreeing but…why then has both the CIA and the old KGB both conducted studies and experiments of the phenomenon and both, it is said, had relative success.
Telepathy (often called “mental telepathy”) is something else that is poked fun at by those in the arena of so-called mainstream scholars, scientists and other intellectuals. Nevertheless, studies reveal that at least fifty percent of us have consciously experienced the magic of picking up the thoughts of other persons. (I have personally had one occasion when my mind and the other person’s mind was actually in absolute oneness or unity. I will never forget the experience for the rest of my life and can only shake my head at those who say that telepathy is mere imagination or a conjuring of one’s own thinking. What I offer is that telepathy is NOT picking up another’s thoughts but rather experiencing the phenomenon of merging one’s own psyche with someone else’s. (I cannot help to believe that this “merged state” is what, for example, electrons are naturally in that permit them to communicate simultaneously at vast distances apart).
Once we people discovered and saw “magic” in everything. Now it is fashionable to deny that “magic” is in anything. Take Clairvoyance for example. Clairvoyance is the result of psychic ability. There are all kinds of psychics—there are those that communicate with the dead to those who forecast the future—forecasting the future is known as precognition!
Most people who live in the center of society either doubt or absolutely deny that Clairvoyance actually exists as the very concept corrupts their view of so-called objective reality. Yet, police departments worldwide have used the “mysterious magic” of the clairvoyant to help solve the most serious cases.
Certainly psychic abilities have played major roles in our entire history. They were called prophets, seers, astrologers, oracles, diviners, medicine people and shamans. Nevertheless, it has only been a couple of centuries since stark denial of the validity of parapsychology has occurred in European and American cultures. The advent of materialism snaking its way into societies and into private life along with the sudden shock of Darwinism simply diminished so-called civilization’s believe in psychic and spiritual phenomenon. As a result the world of the reductionist evolved and the dead-world view became paramount. Yet, even spiritualism has prevailed into our times and probably will forever.
Spiritualism is at root level communicating with the deceased. What has raised most doubts in its validity is the vast numbers of charlatans, thieves, imposters and tricksters that have claimed to be “spiritualists.” Mediums as we know them in the Western World began in the U.S. on March 31, 1848. A Mrs. Fox asked neighbors to come to her house and witness strange noises that happened every time her daughters—age 12 and 15—were present. (The historian Colin Wilson points out the irony that after centuries of silence, the “spirits” decided to awaken and become known).
While even I do not believe that entities from the spirit world enter our world creaking open doors, rattling chains or playing somber, invisible violins—I do believe that certain people have the special magic to communicate with the conscious-energy of the deceased. I have had experiences with psychics who were either masters of intuition or actually saw and listened to spirits in the room. Indeed, one psychic told me that “both” my fathers were in the room, how could he have known I had a step father? He told me that my grandmother was there saying that I was still the apple of her eye. She spoke those very words to me a thousand times during her life.
The skeptic can of course say these were mere coincidences constructed from the spiritualist’s book of risks. After all, “the apple of the eye” is a fairly common saying. Nevertheless, most people have experienced some mystical experience in their lives (although some are not as willing to talk about them as I am) but a voice from nowhere, a visitation of a deceased person in a dream or even in some room of the house; the spirit of a stranger casually coming into and fading out of reality. Why aren’t such fascinating events publicized more? For one reason most everyone has been indoctrinated to deny such phenomena. In our culture only crazy people are thought to see ghosts or apparitions, hear voices, believe in magic and so forth. There was once people who were hanged and burned at the state for believing in unseen things by a vicious religious group accusing them of being possessed by devils. How’s that for paradox?
In regard to all this I believe that it is safe to say that we have all wondered, at least once, why we just can’t know for certain if there is life after death. The philosopher Dostoevsky believed that without all our uncertainties…we would lose our freedom.
A question is, were the “spirits” really “unknown” until March of 1848?
Organized religion weaved into civilization has made it a point to deny any form of spiritualism primarily saying it was of the devil—a form of spiritualism in itself---but indigenous peoples expected to confront not only human spirits but spirits of animals and even plants. Young Indian children were actually taught to go “vision seeking.” This was a spiritual quest, taught by elders whose teachings included fasting for the youth and the telling of ancestral lore. The idea was that the boy would confront the spirit of living things and learn from them. So contacting the spirits probably goes back to those prehistoric times long before our kind separated itself from the invisible or spiritual world.
As a quick aside, here is a story told by a youth who succeeded in his vision seeking:
*The loon flew out into the lake and brought me a fish to eat
and told me that I would have good luck in hunting and
fishing: that I would live to a good old age; and that I would
never be wounded by a shotgun or rifle. This bird who had
blessed me was the kind that one rarely has a chance of
shooting. From that time on the loon was my guardian
Most so-called civilized people scoff at such reports yet fully accept the concept of angels and guardian angels….even Arch angels and bad or fallen angels. Indeed, Judaism teaches that every blade of grass has its guardian angel and that thought pleases me.
Perhaps the most incredible of psychic phenomenon is the “magic” of psychokinesis. Psychokinesis is the power to affect things outside ourselves by thought alone. One of the most famous of all modern people to accomplish this was a talented man by the name of Uri Geller. Publicly he was known for bending spoons and keys by mental prowess alone but under the philosophical department of California an experiment was conducted: Geller was handed a bean sprout. He closed his hand over the bean sprout and when he opened it—around 30 seconds later—there was no longer a sprout but a whole, solid mung bean.
“Psychokinesis,” however, unlike other psychic phenomenon can be easily proven. Indeed, it is, if you will, proven every day. I’ll repeat a story from Dr. Paul Pearsall’s, “Super Joy.”
The patient suffered from really terrible allergies and nothing had worked to relieve much less stop them. Then a doctor tried a new medicine delivered by a pharmaceutical company. Soon enough the doctor received a call from his patients who told him that his eyes had stopped
Itching, his swelling was down and he was breathing well. The next day the man came in for his regular shot saying how his sinuses were drained, his eyes were dry and his lungs had opened up.
The doctor, however, decided to do an experiment to double check the validity of the patience positiveresponse. Instead of giving him the shot he gave him the day before he gave him a simply saline solution. “This seemed to work wonders for you,” the doctor said, “call me at once and let me know how good you feel.”
The patient called but in a panic. “Doctor,” he said, “It didn’t work like the first shot, I can hardly breathe. I am crushed, I thought sure that stuff would work for me.”
“Don’t worry,” the doctor replied, “I gave you a placebo, a false injection to see if the drug worked or if you faith in the drug works, so it is worth the slight risks of the side effects from the real drug and giving you some of this new medication for every day of the month. Come right in right now.”
As the doctor hung up the phone, he immediately called the drug company saying, “Send me more of that new antiallergenic drug. It works like magic.”
“You said a mouthful, Doc,” answered the drug company’s representative. “We never sent any actual drug to doctors in your part of the country. All we sent you was placebo, just a saline solution. If it worked, it’s magic all right.”
This true story makes two incredible points. First, Dr. Pearsall adds this: “…The potential of the human system to write its own prescription drawn from the internal pharmacy to the joy response psychochemicals is a magic of healing. The placebo ‘effect’ is not an effect of the placebo, because by definition the placebo has no active ingredient to cause an effect of its own. Instead, the Placebo is the catalyst for an internal implosion of healthy and healing chemicals drawn from the body’s ability to protect and cure itself.
As a quick aside, when I was in the hospital with an extremely, deadly illness and the doctors gave my at best only days to live, my wife insisted that the doctor did NOT tell me how serious my condition was but to tell me (constantly) that I was healing and getting better. The doctor did and that was well over five years ago. You see, sick as I was, I simply believed him!
Both the above stories lead to another unexpected conclusion. When the doctor gave his patient the antiallergenic drug the first time, he was convinced that the drug was real and could work its magic. And so, his belief seems to also have somehow affected the miraculous placebo effect since when he believed that he was giving a placebo it did not work (for his patient) at all. There is just so much magic that goes on around us every day that, when we permit ourselves to think about it with opened mindedness, we begin to see it as opposed to looking at it without truly seeing it. And once this begins happening we begin experiencing the very magic of it all.
Certainly there are cults that are dangerous and destructive and a wide spread population of spiritualists and other psychic performers who are dishonest and dishonorable in our world. There are also religions, charities and other so-called humane organizations ever as bad as the worse cults with their “bad” priests, “Charlatan ministers” and “thieving gurus;” just like there are lying politicians, crooked cops and greed-orientated doctors. In other words, there are dishonest evil doers in all walks of life. This does not mean every palmist is a phony, every astrologer is a con artist or that all magic is mere illusion.
The great holy man Black Elk once said, “The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything that power moves. To the American Indian as all indigenous people on the planet power meant the spiritual power of the divinities; divinities that dwelled everywhere. This same simple and beautiful realization has been enjoyed by the mystics of all times. As for this kind of spirituality, remember that as far back as we are able to trace our kind’s behaviors even the most primitive believed in and accepted the spirit world and the hereafter. Such knowledge is apparently in our collective unconscious; not as subjective gibberish but as objective knowing and so not as faith but as fact.
When we think of magic, there is also magic of a yet another kind—our human achievements: So much of our technology today is performing electronic magic. For example, there is what might best be described as “electric” skin for amputees; a glove filled with sensors that communicate directly with the nervous system. There is soon going to be (computer) games that players control with their thoughts as opposed to their hands. Just toss on an electronic cap and good to go. And speaking of “magic” caps, I just read recently that in Switzerland that a robot that has been built that a paraplegic can control with thought alone—this has been demonstrated by a paralyzed man sending mental commands to a computer in his room which transmitted to another computer that moved a small robot that was actually miles away. If that isn’t tech-magic, I don’t know what is.
There is a negative magic that is on the horizon too, however: Already the military is looking into mind controlled weapons and even for advanced tools of the assassins. China already has a drone that is controlled by the mind of an operator and, upon the date that I am writing this, American is only a few steps behind. (Since I am not very deep into technology I know very little of what is going on but when I think about the little I do know I am amazed at what the minds of humans have conceived of and constructed since the electric toaster came around).
We just live in a magical universe. What, for example, is more magical than a 95 or 100pound mother lifting a car or truck off her child without struggle or hesitation—this has happened numerous times. The tree outside my window is magical the way that it knows exactly when to shed its leaves and conform to the miraculous changes of the season. There is magic after all every time a tiny sprout comes up from beneath the earth equipped with its DNA to grow into a weed, a rose or an ear of corn. How can anyone take such incredible magic for granted?
And, even with all this in mind, what about the most magical things of all?
There is still nothing more healing than a kind word, a hug, some encouragement and other acts of love. Well, there is simply magic…everywhere in our universe.
References and Suggested Further Reading
Dougal-Roney, Serena * Where Science & Magic Meet *Element
King, Ursula, * Christian Mystics *Simon Schuster
Meyer, Marvin & Richard Smith* Ancient Christian Magic *HarperSanFrancisco
Mishlove, Jeffrey *Roots of Consciousness *Council Oak Books
Pearsall, Paul * Super Joy *Bantam Books
Peat, David, F * Synchronicity * Bantam Books
Scholem, Gershom * Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism * Schcken Books
Wilson, Colin * The Occult *Barnes & Noble
*The story of the "loon" was taken from The Way of the Spirit--Time/Life Books