Practical Information Magic

In the comments to my last post, Ater asks how I would go about doing practical information magic.  What, in other words, makes it different from energy work.  Ater writes:

What I’m really interested in is how one would go about doing direct/mental magic in the Information model? Why do you consider this model more useful than the others? For example, if I wanted a new camera I would sit down, relax and raise energy. I’d form this energy into a ball between my hands and I would visualize the camera I wanted inside the ball and so on. Then I would just tell the energy ball (or thoughtform) to go on its merry way and get me that camera. That’s pretty simple and straightforward. How would you go about casting this spell using the Info model?

The glib answer to your question is, you just did.   What did you imagine you were doing when you “told” the ball to do something?

The longer answer is, you have a point: my first book is not so specific about how the information model works out in practicalities.  My second book is better at that.

To see how it works, imagine that your spell failed.  You didn’t get the camera you wanted?  From an energy model perspective, the failure may have been in not raising “enough energy.”  That’s where you’d be inclined to look, if you were trained in the energy model.

From the information model perspective, you’d be more inclined to look at how you conveyed the desire.  Were you clear?  Was the channel clear?

The energy model cannot explain why we must be in a certain state of consciousness, or why we must use symbols.  But the information model can.  The state of consciousness is our channel of communication; it must be clear.  The symbols are our language; they must be shared.  Moreover, the Communicant is very good at reading us: if we don’t fully and completely want what we’re asking for, we’re less likely to get it.  None of that can be explained with the energy model.

Another place the energy model totally falls down is explaining divination.  The closest people come is talk about cards “absorbing energy” and “vibrating,” all of which strikes me as rather contrived when the obvious nature of the cards is that they’re symbols interacting in a symbol system to communicate information (well, more accurately, meaning — but that’s my next book).

The symbol of energy is a fine and dandy one.  If I wanted a camera, I’d probably do something rather similar to what you did.  But I’d think of it very, very differently.  The important bits would not be the ball of energy for me, but the symbol I used to describe the camera and my actual, real need or desire for the camera.  And if the spell didn’t work, I’d treat it as a failure in communication, not as a failure in mechanics.  (And if the spell did work, I’d say “thank you,” as one does when someone gives you something you want)

I don’t want to replace energy work or argue that those who use it are somehow not doing real magic.  I just want to point out that the information model shifts our focus to other areas of our work that we too often ignore, and it includes the energy paradigm as well.

You also mentioned that “everything is a symbol” is pretty obvious to you.  After all, you said, Aphrodite is clearly a symbol of love.  But the point I’m making is, you’re a symbol too.  Not just gods, but people, life situations, cars, music, and socks — all are symbols.  They’re all information we understand by placing into symbolic frameworks of meaning, and they all can be affected by a greater or lesser degree by magic therefore.  I don’t deny the existence of an external world: but we experience it only through symbols.  For all intents and purposes, our experience of reality is one of symbol.

I hope that clarified.  My second book goes into a bit more depth, I think, on the symbolic nature of things and stuff.  And I’m really glad that you read my book and disagreed with me.  One of my main goals is to get people talking and thinking critically about magic, not just rehashing the same old ideas.

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5 Responses to “Practical Information Magic”

  1. Thank you for the in-depth reply!

    I think I see where our disagreement might be. When you talk about a spell failing, you assume that a person working within an Energy model is a one-dimensional or one-minded person. I’ve never met anyone who used that model and thought that magic was all about raising enough energy. To be a successful magician (no matter what paradigm you’re working in) you have to have some basic skills like concentration, visualization, trance induction, etc. (This is just in general…I’ve had magic work without any of these, but they do improve chances of success.) So I would think anyone working with any model would probably assume that it was a combination of factors that led to the failure, and not just something that was model-specific. Basically, power is in the magician, and everything else is just there help him/her express that power. (I’ve seen this idea catch on in folk magic, as well. I belong to a hoodoo forum and pretty much everyone there agrees that while herbs and stones and oils have power, the spell caster must also have power to activate them properly.)

    As far as divination, I’ve never been interested in that subject, so I can’t really say. ;) But once again, people aren’t one-dimensional. Magic is not a religion that has strict rules. Each magician is an individual and probably more eclectic in their approach to magic than not.

    As far as communication, isn’t that what all spellcasting is about at it’s core? The desire to make changes in the world though our will by communicating our desires to the Universe (or god, or our subconscious mind, etc. etc.)?

    I do like the idea that everything is a symbol, but it’s a very slippery idea because it really doesn’t explain much of anything! Just like saying everything is energy or everything is Spirit. If you use the Info model, you’re manipulating symbols. If you use the energy model, you’re manipulating energy. If you use the spirit model, you’re manipulating spirits. It seems like all these models are really talking about the same thing…just with different wording!

    Basically, what I’m saying is that no one model/paradigm of reality can explain everything that a person experiences in their lifetime. I think you said something similar to that in Postmodern Magic. So when talking about the Energy model, of course it doesn’t explain everything. I don’t think it even tries to. But it can still be a useful tool for some practitioners.

    So, for the record, when I hear someone say “Everything is energy!” or “Everything is Spirit!” I do roll my eyes. But if they said “Energy/spirit/symbol is a useful concept in my magic” I wouldn’t have a problem with that. So when you say “Everything is a symbol!”, guess what my eyes are doing? ;)

    I’ve thought about getting your second book, but even though I am a writer, I have zero interest in linguistics. It bores me to tears! So it probably isn’t my cup of tea.

    • pomomagic Says:

      I’m not sure that we really disagree. I don’t regard all those who use the energy model to be single-minded, but the model you prefer does, subtly or not, influence the way you regard reality — this is true in magic and in life. And it seems that much of what you’ve said above agrees with most of the stuff I’ve said; you even agree that magic is, at its root, an act of communication.

      I’m sorry you imagine my second book would bore you. It’s certainly not going to appeal to everyone.

  2. Yes, I do think we agree more than we disagree. ;)

    Having said that, I just came up with an argument that shows that the energy model is indeed pretty self-contained when it comes to practical magic at least.

    The question of a failed spell. The energy model would have the practitioner ask these questions:

    1. Did I raise enough energy? (The one you already mentioned.)
    2. Did I program the energy accurately? (I think this goes hand-in-hand with what you were saying about clear communication.)
    3. Did I direct the energy properly? (This would also have to do with communication.)

    As far as divination:

    Since each tarot card (or rune or whatever) has its own vibration, the cards would line up with the vibrations that correspond to the probable future or the vibration of the situation that’s being asked about.

    Of course, I’m not a firm believer in any model, so I’m just playing the devil’s advocate here.

    As far as books, I did like your first book very much, so if you write something similar to that in the future, I’d be first in line!

  3. Freysson Says:

    On Divination. I would point out that none of the divinatory symbols are terribly clear/unambiguous. If I may suggest, they are symbols which point the magician in a way that allows them to make sense not just of the spread, but of the spread and the situation. They do not have meaning in themselves but only in context of the reader, the querant, the situation and the spread and all are connected. They become like seeds around which the crystals of information grow until they can be seen. Personally, I think they draw information from the subconscious through teh preconscious allowing us to know what we don’t know that we know, but that is just my model. I would be interested in your reactions.

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