Consciousness isn’t special

Posted on February 14, 2012
Filed Under identity | 4 Comments

Mike made another post on his blog (can you tell I like this guy’s work?) and it prompted some thoughts. He notes that consciousness isn’t special and I agree. In Magical Identity, I discuss at some length why consciousness isn’t special. Consciousness is the apprehension of our activities and the application of a rational explanation for why those activities occur. It’s basically a filtered awareness and explanation of what we do and why we do it.

That said, what makes consciousness important for magical work is the fact that we can experienced altered states of conscious awareness, and while consciousness is a ultimately a filter, it nonetheless is also what provides a sense of self-awareness and an ability to question and examine what we are doing.

Situating consciousness in the proper context is useful because then we know its limitations as well as what it can do within those limitations. That understanding allows us to apply it toward our magical processes at just the right place to use it effectively, while also enabling us to be skeptical of it, as it is ultimately a very subjective experience.

 

 

Comments

4 comments
DarkArckana
DarkArckana

It depends on what one means by consciousness. If you're referring only to the left-brained faculties of language based thinking, I think that's only 1/2 of what consciousness entails. The other half, the one most productive for Magikal practice from my experience, is the "visual perceptual" thinking. This is right-brained thinking. You can attain a conscious right-brained state and just like the conscious left-brained state, the conscious right-brained state can be refined and be more precise, thorough and on point. There is a method to do this in the book "The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards Ph.D. (1999 edition)

Mike Sententia
Mike Sententia

As I've thought more about consciousness, and talked with more people about it, I'm realizing there are really two things. One is conscious thought -- the ideas and images going through your head. The other is state of consciousness -- the parts of your mind that are paying attention, and in what way they're paying attention (drunk vs. sober, tired verse alert, etc.)

I think each one has a place in magick. State of consciousness is essentially my "mental posture," so it'll probably be central to a lot of projects. Conscious thought can send instructions to your unconscious, or your mental muscles, given the right state of consciousness.

And yet, I still feel like consciousness is overrated in a lot of of models of reality. The idea that conscious thought alone could determine outcomes gets you a lot of sweat and concentration, but not a lot of effective magick. And the idea that conscious observation influences quantum particles stems from a misunderstanding of "observation," which in quantum physics simply means one particle interacting with another particle.

I guess what I'm saying is, consciousness needs to have a place in the model, but it's one moving part among many. It doesn't directly cause things, but instead is correlated with a lot of things your mind does, which, through a long chain of causes stretching over a lot of different moving parts, can cause change in the world.

You can probably tell, this isn't exactly a fully developed view of consciousness or magick. But I like what you're saying, and it made me think of this, so I thought I'd post. Thanks for the post.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

@DarkArckana Not sure where you got the idea I was referring to left or right side brain activity. I definitely think its more than just left or right sided.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

@Mike Sententia Like you I think consciousness is overrated. It has its place in magical work, and indeed in life, but there's a lot more to it than just consciousness as I discuss in my upcoming book Magical Identity.