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preyer
03-09-2005, 03:50 AM
do you explain it? how does it function?

Zane Curtis
03-09-2005, 06:29 AM
how does magick work in your world?

Short answer: it doesn't. In my novel, magic doesn't work in the sense it generally works in most fantasy stories, because I'm more interested in magic as a psychological phenomenon, rather than as some sort of tangible material force.

To give you an example, I once saw a documentary with an African witch doctor in it. Someone had injured a cow (which eventually died), and it was the witch doctor's job to identify the guilty party, and this was how he did it. He heated a knife in the fire until it was red hot, and to each person in turn he said: "I'm going to press this knife against your leg. If you're guilty, it will burn you, but if you're innocent the magic will protect you."

Now, when he pressed the knife against each man's leg, he did it edge on, so very little of the knife was actually touching the skin. It looked impressive, but the way he did it, nobody was going to get burned. The guilty man was the guy who flinched away from the knife before it touched his skin. This whole performance only worked because, when the witch doctor told them magic would protect them from burns, they actually believed him. The innocent men he tested in this way didn't flinch at all.

To me, that's a lot more interesting than your standard D&D wizard throwing fireballs. I can write convincingly about that sort of magic.

katiemac
03-09-2005, 06:39 AM
That's interesting Zane. There's a whole phenomenon out there like this, going so far as to relate to genius animals.

There was one instance, can't remember when or the horse's name now, but this horse could do math. The owner would ask a question, and he'd tap out the answer. Two plus two equals four, he'd tap four times with his hoof.

Turns out, the horse was just really tuned in to his owner's subconscious encouragement to the horse - body language, facial expression - and just knew when the owner wanted him to stop.

WVWriterGirl
03-09-2005, 06:39 AM
Magic in my current world is deity-derived (i.e., only the dieties wield it). I don't explain it because it's made clear in the three instances it's used in the book.

WVWG

fallenangelwriter
03-09-2005, 07:20 AM
I've spent a lot of time thinking about magic. in each of my stories, magic works differently, and in each has a different source. i'm addicted to inventing new magic systems.


the crucial points, IMHO are to make sure that the magic is self-consistent, somewhat predictable (the reader shouldn't be left thinking "What?"), interestingly explained, defined by laws, and the impact of magic should be taken into account in creating the society. apart from that, anything goes.

In fact, nothing says each story has to be limited to one type of magic.

i have used, in various stories,

magic gained through meditation- someone who understands the universe can alter it. sadly, seeing the world as it really is isn't always healthy.

magic that is a reflection of the power of a god or magiucal race, invoked through pure force of will.

magic is the power of elemental spirits bound in physical form

magic is the shadow world impinging on the real world. everyone has a shadow endowed with magical powers, with their significane to the overall world reflected by the powerof thier shadow.

magic is simply the powerof a wish, the strongest desires being able to shape the world around them

magic is weaving the tapestry of fate- there's a tapestry which describes the entire world, and some people can manipulate it.

magic is the power of the earth itself working through human vessels.

magic is really technology from an alien race

magic is the manifestation of spirits who house themselves in the bodies of wizards.



I don't think there's anythign wrong with the wizard hurling fireballs, but not all of my stories have suuported it, and some are definitely more subtle than others. it all depends on the desired tone of the story.

Zane Curtis
03-09-2005, 07:20 AM
There was one instance, can't remember when or the horse's name now, but this horse could do math. The owner would ask a question, and he'd tap out the answer. Two plus two equals four, he'd tap four times with his hoof.

Yes, that's another one I've heard of before. There's also the whole phenomenon of cold reading. (You can google that if you're interested in this subject.) It raises a whole lot of interesting questions about deception and self-deception. There's lots of dramatic potential in this, which, as a writer, I don't mind at all.

katiemac
03-09-2005, 07:52 AM
Zane,

Did a quick search on Google and clicked the first link. I've never come across that specific term before, but the idea reminds me of a time where I had my fortune told. Everyone said this particular woman was really amazing, but in actuality (like the horse) all she did was watch for facial expressions and keener interest to develop her theories on your life.

Neat stuff.

preyer
03-09-2005, 09:26 AM
these 'mentalists' are great con-men, their 'magick' based purely on the odds, profiling, the willingness of the sucker to be duped, and observation. i'm sure there are other factors i'm not thinking of off hand. i think if you recorded your conversation with one you'd find more often than not you unwittingly told the 'fortune-teller' everything about yourself and they just told it back to you.

in stories, though, is describing how magick works preferable nowadaze?

azbikergirl
03-09-2005, 06:12 PM
Magic in my story is really the manipulation of 'chi' energy. It takes a great deal of concentration, skill and energy, and most of the magic users focus their spells through special gems with particular properties. This enables them to 'store' magic in gems, or simply use the gems to assist with the magic they are casting. Quality varies from gem to gem, just as with diamonds and such, so some gems are considered jewelry grade, others are varying degrees of magic grade. Some will crack into little bits if the energy being focused through them is too strong for their constitution. Others, such as the one that bears my novel's title, are so pure and strong that they will never break.

The ability to use magic is theoretically available to everyone, but the truth of the matter is that not everyone has what it takes (mental acquity, fortitude, etc.).

Ivonia
03-09-2005, 07:19 PM
That's interesting Zane. There's a whole phenomenon out there like this, going so far as to relate to genius animals.

There was one instance, can't remember when or the horse's name now, but this horse could do math. The owner would ask a question, and he'd tap out the answer. Two plus two equals four, he'd tap four times with his hoof.

Turns out, the horse was just really tuned in to his owner's subconscious encouragement to the horse - body language, facial expression - and just knew when the owner wanted him to stop.

Actually, I read about this in my Psychology class, where some farmer claimed that their horse could count (via the tapping the foot). I think it was in Germany in the late 1800's or early 1900's when this took place.

What happened was, someone would ask the horse a math question, then look down on his foot to see him tapping. Then they would look back at the horse when it tapped the right number of times.

The reason why this worked is because the horse eventually caught on that anytime people looked at his hooves, he would tap, and then as soon as he tapped the right number, the people would look back up at him. He would then stop tapping. It was an unconcious thing that happened, whether the people knew it or not (there were skeptics, and they probably didn't know this either).


Regarding the medicine man in Africa with the hot knife test, they did similiar things back in the middle ages (and earlier, around the time of the Romans, but it was the Germanic tribes that did it if I recall my history class).

What they would do, in a case similiar to say, someone killing a cow, is they would do a test on them. Perhaps they'd have the suspects hold onto a hot iron bar, or they'd dunk them in water.

For the iron bar test, if they were innocent, after 3 days, their bandages would be removed and the wounds would be healing properly. But if they were guilty, the wound would be infected and nasty looking.

For the water test, if they were innocent, the body of water would let them sink, to "accept their innocence". If they were guilty, they'd float, meaning that the water "rejected" them (keep in mind this was way back when people didn't have a better justice system).

If you study history, you can see people sure did do crazy things back then (although maybe not as weird as today's stuff).

clotje
03-09-2005, 07:40 PM
these 'mentalists' are great con-men, their 'magick' based purely on the odds, profiling, the willingness of the sucker to be duped, and observation. i'm sure there are other factors i'm not thinking of off hand. i think if you recorded your conversation with one you'd find more often than not you unwittingly told the 'fortune-teller' everything about yourself and they just told it back to you.

in stories, though, is describing how magick works preferable nowadaze?

Actually that is not how mentalists work. Since this is not a magic forum I can lift a tip of the veil....ever heard of hypnosis? The way a mentalist works is this: He speaks to his "target" before the show, hypnotises them, asks them several questions. He wakes them up without them realising that they had been hypnotised. Once they're on stage he baffles every one by saying stuff like: your best friend, when you were five years old, was John Hackensack or whatever. The "target" is completely amazed at the accuracy. Also mentalists use special boards (very, very expensive ones). The ďtargetĒ writes something on them and removes the piece of paper. The board is fixed and the mentalist can see what has been written. The board might be linked to a camera off stage or something. I just thought you might like to know.
Fraudulent fortune tellers however do work like that.

preyer
03-10-2005, 05:25 AM
from skepdic.com

mentalist

"Brilliant scientists and interested laymen who cannot detect how a magician produces a dove from an empty silk handkerchief or conjures an orange under an inverted teacup are not likely to discover the subtle secrets of a mentalist without prolonged study." --Milbourne Christopher, ESP, Seers & Psychics

A mentalist is a performer who uses trickery and deception to create the illusion of having paranormal or supernatural powers.

Mentalists and psychics rely on their subjects' selective thinking. For example, James Randi tells the story of Peter Hurkos, who was astonishing people with his ability to recite intimate details about their homes and their lives. Two of the persons who had their minds read by Hurkos and who were amazed at his accuracy were invited by Randi to watch a tape of the mind readings. It was "discovered by actual count that this so-called psychic had, on the average, been correct in one out of fourteen of his statements.... Selective thinking had led them to dismiss all the apparent misses and the obviously wrong guesses and remember only the 'hits.' They were believers who needed this man to be the genuine article, and in spite of the results of this experiment they are still devoted fans of this charlatan" (Flim-Flam!, 7).

sorry, not a lick about hypnotizing people. :) just educated guesswork and people's ability to not be able to see the forest through the trees.

preyer
03-10-2005, 05:37 AM
that water test was how they used to 'discover' witches, or so the story goes. i'm assuming it had other applications throughout history as well, but discerning witches with the water test is its most known use. i want to say that in old europe, where thousands upon thousands of 'witches' were hunted, maybe out little salem witch hunt look like a sunday tea, they imployed ye olde burning at a stake method, too, but DO NOT quote me on that.

i like the magick crystal method, btw. one short story i had quickly abandonned years ago defined magick as rather a web in which the magician had to know what 'string' to pull to get the desired effect. there was also a kind of 'butterfly effect' going on, too, which went towards explaining someone on the other side of the world's good and bad luck. then i decided no one really wanted to know my take on magick any more than they wanted me to write about a new vampire society, so i dropped it, heh heh.

i am fascinated by these things, though. in particular, cons and frauds, sleight of hand and dirty tricks. were i faster with my hands, i would have been a magician (seriously). anyone who's ever seen david copperfield perform knows what it's like to be amazed. anytime the fox network has one of those 'tricks of magic revealed,' you know where you'll find me rivetted to the t.v..

Zane Curtis
03-10-2005, 05:45 AM
For the iron bar test, if they were innocent, after 3 days, their bandages would be removed and the wounds would be healing properly. But if they were guilty, the wound would be infected and nasty looking.

Echh. Don't get me started. I originally began researching medieval history in Europe because I wanted to write a fantasy set in the usual medieval fantasy world, only I wanted to include lots of authentic detail to make it more vivid and real. But when I learned what medieval society was really like, that went pretty much by the wayside. There was no way I could romanticise that society, or present it sympathetically to a modern audience. These days, I'm a firm supporter of the enlightenment.

The reason why I cite the African witch doctor, is because it's quite different from the western idea of magic. In the west, we take it too literally. We think of magic as something that works (or that ought to work) exactly as advertised. We have lost the sense, if we ever had it, that magic involves subterfuge. The witch doctor was different. He used a trick to achieve the desired result, much as a stage magician would. And the difference is, it worked, because at some level he must have known it was a trick. He must have understood, as I understood, that the physics of the situation means that nobody was going to get burnt. He wasn't even looking for burns, he was waiting to see if someone would flinch.

Our idea of magic isn't like that. We stand in front of the top hat, tap it with the magic wand, and wonder why no rabbits appear, like they appear for the magician. So we conclude that magic isn't real. Even if the magician showed us how it was done, we'd say, "But that's not magic, it's just a trick." Then we sigh and start to daydream about what the world would be like if magic "existed". We go back to the old epics and read them as though they were the simple fables of a people who believed in magic, and totally miss the allusion and symbolism in those works. And yet, to me, it's these metaphorical and symbolic possibilities of fantasy that I find the most interesting. Fantasy is a kind of writing that, freed of the stifling commitment to literary realism, can tell stories through symbols, metaphors, and powerful imagery. That's what I want to do.

The kind of magic I'm most interested in is the kind a story teller uses to spin his tales. The kind of magic that occurs in the stories themselves won't be a whole lot different to that.

katiemac
03-10-2005, 07:31 AM
The basis of magic exists in one's personal psychology.

ZaZ
03-10-2005, 07:32 AM
All the beer and cigarettes are free.

clotje
03-10-2005, 06:38 PM
from skepdic.com

mentalist

sorry, not a lick about hypnotizing people. :) just educated guesswork and people's ability to not be able to see the forest through the trees.

No, obviously not. Mentalists are magicians, like James Randi. It's a big no no for magicians to expose how other magicians work. I happen to know a few magicians/mentalists that is why I know how they do their stuff. If any of them ever read this and realised it was me I'd probably get a bollocking. LOL

James Randi btw is a bit of a fraud himself. He's always debunking fraudulent psychics but when one psychic was able to pass all his tests he just completely ignored that fact. LOL So much for him ever paying out his one million dollar reward, hehehehe


BTW Preyer, I noticed that you described Chaos magic (butterfly effect) which is a real form of magic, not one you invented. If you're interested in real magic you can drop me a pm.

Roger J Carlson
03-10-2005, 08:40 PM
[QUOTE=preyer]these 'mentalists' are great con-men, their 'magick' based purely on the odds, profiling, the willingness of the sucker to be duped, and observation. i'm sure there are other factors i'm not thinking of off hand. i think if you recorded your conversation with one you'd find more often than not you unwittingly told the 'fortune-teller' everything about yourself and they just told it back to you.[QUOTE]

If you want some interesting reading on paranormal investigations and how many mentalists, mediums, and other con men work their "magic", look up Joe Nickell in Amazon. He's written several facinating books on the subject:

Real-Life X-Files: Investigating the Paranormal
The Mystery Chronicles: More Real-Life X-Files
Psychic Sleuths: Esp and Sensational Cases
Also, look here http://www.csicop.org/si/ for the Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Don't get me wrong. I love fantasy. I just like to keep it in fiction where it belongs!

SFEley
03-10-2005, 09:06 PM
Wow, did this thread jump off topic. We were talking about prose fiction, right?

My own feeling is that I'm interested in any magic system an author cares to tell me about, so long as it isn't one more D&D ripoff. Even "systemless" magic, where the characters simply act in a world beyond their ken, appeals to me, but it's a lot harder to pull off.

My own novel, The Day of Clouds, uses a magic system based on a Taoist sort of duality. Eschewing the "light/dark" cliche, my duality instead concentrates on the material and the mental. The predominant culture calls these Truth and Shadow. Truth magic is transformational and permanent: it creates, destroys, or changes things. Shadow magic is ethereal and ephemeral: it's about illusion, divination, and control. Anybody can learn to use Shadow; to use Truth you have to be descended from a line of wizards.

Bringing more of one into the world necessarily brings more of the other. Removing one also expels the other, but it also weakens the world itself. (That's really what the plot of the book is about.) The world, called the Cast Realm, is a mixture of both in balance. There are those who say that the balance itself represents a third form of magic, the really important magic; but that culture lives out on the fringes and isn't taken seriously by anyone.

I could go on, but without the context of a story in front of it, it likely comes across as either boring or silly. I'd much rather you read the book. >8->

preyer
03-10-2005, 11:12 PM
i love 'the skeptical inquirer' magazine. thought about subscribing to it, but it's rather like 'archaeology today' in that i'm only really interested in about every third or fourth issue. the one article i read that really was interesting to me was about a book, several centuries old, that no one could decipher. that was just an interesting premise to me. could be a book of magick, no? or a hoax.

my magick system may not have been original, but it was the one i came up with. the way i figured it, if someone created a bottle of beer, there necessary had to be some kind of an impact. there was a slight (very slight) scientific basis behind it: if i was 'creating' something, i was using atoms, and since there are only a finite amount of atoms to use, those atoms had to come from *somewhere*, which would have an effect. a rough example would be if i used magick to fix my flat tire, that may alter a passerby's bifocals. can you see why i abandonned the 'system'? lol.

zane, i think you can romanticize that society at least to a point where you keep most of the history while making it palatible for most people. people romanticize the old west to no end, and that was just a short while ago, really. hell, if people can romanticize WWII, i reckon anything can be tarted up.

rjc, i'm with you: but, there are a lot of people who believe magick exists, and not the metaphorical kind, but real life spellcasting. isn't prayer a form of invoking magick? put in those terms, most of humanity believes in magick. just a deity for some help. i doubt most gods really want their pets practicing magick without their direction, though, any more than i'd like my shih tzu driving me to the store, heh heh.

magick of the phsychology? like able to lift a bulldozer off your child or slowing your breathing down to three beats a minute, that kind of stuff?

SFEley
03-10-2005, 11:58 PM
i love 'the skeptical inquirer' magazine. thought about subscribing to it, but it's rather like 'archaeology today' in that i'm only really interested in about every third or fourth issue. the one article i read that really was interesting to me was about a book, several centuries old, that no one could decipher. that was just an interesting premise to me. could be a book of magick, no? or a hoax.

You're talking about the Voynich manuscript (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich), and it's almost certainly an extraordinarily clever hoax. I read an article about it in Scientific American (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=0000E3AA-70E1-10CF-AD1983414B7F0000&pageNumber=1&catID=2)last year, in which a psychologist demonstrated that text with some of the statistical features of the Voynich manuscript could be randomly constructed using syllable tables and a Cardan grille.



my magick system may not have been original, but it was the one i came up with. the way i figured it, if someone created a bottle of beer, there necessary had to be some kind of an impact. there was a slight (very slight) scientific basis behind it: if i was 'creating' something, i was using atoms, and since there are only a finite amount of atoms to use, those atoms had to come from *somewhere*, which would have an effect. a rough example would be if i used magick to fix my flat tire, that may alter a passerby's bifocals. can you see why i abandonned the 'system'? lol.

Not really, no. What's wrong with the idea of magic with side effects? I could easily see this figuring into a story -- especially a humorous story, but it could be done seriously as well. What really matters, of course, is how good the story is.

keltora
03-11-2005, 01:08 AM
do you explain it? how does it function?

In one of my worlds, it's genetically inherited by those descended from a race that lived before a serious cataclysm disrupted the world (which was caused by those who wielded it). But it is also physically draining on the user unless they know how to draw "essence" from other sources. And most of those sources are elemental.

In the other series I write, the gods choose who will have the power by marking them in a special way, but in order to use the power they must sacrifice one of the five senses. Which means the mage folk are either blind, deaf, mute, can't taste anything or can't feel. And yes, they have to come up with methods of compensating for the loss of the sense they choose to sacrifice to release the power.

Laura J. Underwood (A Little Bit of Travis Tea--My ATLANTA NIGHTS can poke out your EYE OF ARGON any day!)

DRAGON'S TONGUE forthcoming from Meisha Merlin in the Summer of 2006. Preview a copy at http://www.embiid.net.

clotje
03-11-2005, 01:12 AM
Chaos magick works on the assumption that every act of magick has a side effect. It's not like the law of three that most Wiccans adhere to. (am I getting too technical here for non magicians/witches?)

Chaos magick works like this: say you need rain for your garden and you cast a spell to make it rain. Your garden is watered but because of your act of magic that rain doesn't fall in another area, which also needed the water. Because of this, crops wilt away which in turn will lead to people starving etc. etc. cause and effect.

Law of three is what most wiccans believe. Every act of magick that you use will come back in threefold to you. That's why wiccans tend to talk about white and black magick. White being magick used to help another person (or higher magick) on a spiritual level and black magick being used for personal and material gain (a big no no according to the fluffy wiccans. LOL)

Which is also why they are afraid to use magick against someoneÖtheyíre afraid itís going to come back and bite them in the arse. LOL Canít say I ever noticed any nasty side effect myself. Neither have any of the people I cast spells for. (yes, I do know what I'm talking about and I do believe in magick because it works.)

Richard
03-11-2005, 01:29 AM
Actually that is not how mentalists work. Since this is not a magic forum I can lift a tip of the veil....ever heard of hypnosis? The way a mentalist works is this: He speaks to his "target" before the show, hypnotises them, asks them several questions. He wakes them up without them realising that they had been hypnotised.

Complete rubbish, I'm afraid. Mentalists use much more practical tricks, like asking people before hand, asking their friends, using cold reading to make people think they've received answers they haven't, having their assistants do a bit of checking up for hot reading, or doing very basic tricks like reading the movements of their pencil. They have absolutely no need for anything more dynamic than that; although certainly I'm not surprised that people would claim they'd been hypnotised when sheepishly realising they'd spilled the beans.


James Randi btw is a bit of a fraud himself. He's always debunking fraudulent psychics but when one psychic was able to pass all his tests he just completely ignored that fact. LOL So much for him ever paying out his one million dollar reward, hehehehe

Which psychic? I've seen that claim a lot about various people, and looking them up always reveals that they comprehensively failed to so much as pass the preliminaries.


BTW Preyer, I noticed that you described Chaos magic (butterfly effect) which is a real form of magic

You'll have to pardon my sceptical look at this point.

preyer
03-11-2005, 02:51 AM
i'm skeptical, too, but, hey, if someone believes in wicca, well, there are worse things to believe in, i reckon. i do believe in hypnosis, but only as far as the subject is willing to be hypnotized, which i think is a major premise for its effectiveness, eh? folk like rasputin, well, i think people had the notion he was a magician beforehand and went into any meeting with him under powerful assumptions, greatly fascillitating his odds of 'hypnotizing' a person (at least, the popular version of him has him a great magician, even if the legend doesn't measure up with the facts, necessarily).

i've never heard of chaos magick, but, yeah, my particular version of magick was very close to that, though not quite on the same scale or with such strong implications. i gave it up because i felt it was trite, though the way i wrote certainly had a lot to do with my feelings towards the 'system.' also, it was rather two-fold, and lacking pinpoint focus i thought the idea needed to work and, most importantly, be entertaining. :)

Richard
03-11-2005, 03:26 AM
"i'm skeptical, too, but, hey, if someone believes in wicca, well, there are worse things to believe in, i reckon"

At least you're unlikely to hurt anyone.

And randomly, if someone like Rasputin tells you to cluck like a chicken, I rather doubt you need hypnosis or NLP or Hawaiian Noni Juice to start making like a bucket of KFC. New age philosophy can be quite touching, but a poker up the arse gets results.

Zane Curtis
03-11-2005, 06:23 AM
zane, i think you can romanticize that society at least to a point where you keep most of the history while making it palatible for most people. people romanticize the old west to no end, and that was just a short while ago, really. hell, if people can romanticize WWII, i reckon anything can be tarted up.

Well I could, yes. But beyond a certain point it becomes a question of whether I really want to. If I'm going to invent a fictional fantasy world, then to heck with it -- I'll invent something more in tune with my own moral and ethical points of view. And that's what I've mostly done ever since. One of the manuscripts sitting in my bottom drawer is a story about a corrupt and war-mongering society ruled by wizards that gets overturned by a humanist revolution.

alanna
03-11-2005, 06:52 AM
these 'mentalists' are great con-men, their 'magick' based purely on the odds, profiling, the willingness of the sucker to be duped, and observation. i'm sure there are other factors i'm not thinking of off hand. i think if you recorded your conversation with one you'd find more often than not you unwittingly told the 'fortune-teller' everything about yourself and they just told it back to you.

in stories, though, is describing how magick works preferable nowadaze?

sorry to disagree with you. so yeah, there are a lot of con artists out there faking it, and some are most definitely in the "fortune telling" business. But not all who "fortune tell" are con artists. sorry, i know this is off topic, but i had to defend my people! :) lol

Zane Curtis
03-11-2005, 06:58 AM
my magick system may not have been original, but it was the one i came up with. the way i figured it, if someone created a bottle of beer, there necessary had to be some kind of an impact. there was a slight (very slight) scientific basis behind it: if i was 'creating' something, i was using atoms, and since there are only a finite amount of atoms to use, those atoms had to come from *somewhere*, which would have an effect. a rough example would be if i used magick to fix my flat tire, that may alter a passerby's bifocals. can you see why i abandonned the 'system'? lol.

Oh, I don't know, it sounds pretty good to me. If the wizard in question could choose which mass to sacrifice, then the system could be quite workable. But I agree with SFEley that unexpected side effects can be a good thing. I'm thinking you could bring the law of conservation of energy into the equation. Basically, that would mean you would have to start with a lot more mass than the object you hoped to create, because is it impossible to transform one thing into another with 100% efficiency. The left over mass would be radiated away as waste heat.

Now let's say that to create one small bottle of beer you need a mass equivalent to a medium sized house. That means pretty much most of the mass of the house will be transformed into waste heat and radiated away. How much energy would that be? Well, Einstein tells us that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared -- which is quite a lot. If the transformation was meant to happen pretty much instantaneously, the result would be a rather large nuclear explosion that would devastate a significant portion of your magical kingdom and leave it irradiated for tens of thousands of years.

Hmm. So maybe that's not such a good idea after all.

;)

alanna
03-11-2005, 07:04 AM
clotje-i don't know about you, but i never think of magic in terms of "black" and "white." and if you would like to read something extremely funny that is specific to Pagan humor, may I suggest going to this link?

http://www.turoks.net/Cabana/SignsThatYouMayBeAPagan.htm

if you haven't already seen it-well, it's lmao worthy. the rest of the site is good too, but this is my favorite.

Zane Curtis
03-11-2005, 07:08 AM
sorry to disagree with you. so yeah, there are a lot of con artists out there faking it, and some are most definitely in the "fortune telling" business. But not all who "fortune tell" are con artists. sorry, i know this is off topic, but i had to defend my people! lol

I know someone who does fortune telling, and she takes the whole thing quite seriously. But if you ask me, what she likes best of all are the bucket loads of money she can make from it. She once earned $600 in a single afternoon.

maestrowork
03-11-2005, 09:02 AM
I know someone who does fortune telling, and she takes the whole thing quite seriously. But if you ask me, what she likes best of all are the bucket loads of money she can make from it. She once earned $600 in a single afternoon.

What's wrong with that? I made a bucket load of cash doing IT consulting. ;) If you have the skills and talent, use it for monetary gain, so what? As long as she's not conning you for money.

preyer
03-11-2005, 10:32 AM
obviously, some people and practicioners of it believe in it. my understanding is that the term 'mentalist' connotes some sort of flim-flam artist. also note the word 'artist': these guys can be pretty amazing at what they do. *i* certainly couldn't be one. well, then again, if i'm allowed a 14:1 guess to accurate statement ratio, maybe i could, lol.

i'm with zane-- if you're not hurting anyone, believe what thou wilt, so mete it be. just don't go lighting $40 candles for me, eh? i mean, unless it's going to work (in a positive way, of course :)).

what i liken it to is where i just quit working after nearly 11 years: management had lied so many times, so consistently, and with so much practiced ease that the one time they *were* telling the truth, there was no way of knowing. same with those who practice magick: there are so many con-folk out there, when you run across an earnest one, how are you to know?

zane, see, that's interesting about the practical scientifical part of that magick system, one that i'd surely have missed. i wasn't thinking along those terms, even, more along the lines that my 'web' theory re-arranged atoms and molecules to create the desired effect, something more like chemical reactions. your explanation of it could make it interesting if the horrible effects were downplayed a bit.

they haven't had one here in a few years, but they used to hold huge fortune-telling shows at the arena in dayton (hara arena). for 'entertainment purposes only' it would probably be fun (i've always wanted to sit in on a seance), but those people, i'm sure, truly believed balls of gas and space rocks reflecting light had any kind of bearing on their lives, as if any two 'astrologers' agreed on the same 'star chart' to begin with. i also know people who read their horoscopes religiously (nice dichotomy of terms there, eh?) and believe them to be true, yet some schlub like me asks them what their rising sign is and they're clueless, like i'm making stuff up to make them look like a fool.

clearly, i'm not a believer. and yet i won't touch a ouija board. now, what sense does that make?

i think a humanism movement to overthrow magick is a good premise: i love 'the last daze of...' type of story. science vs. magick. hell, yeah. another thing i'd be interested in seeing in a story is how practitioners of magick reconcile what they do with the bible, which forbids its practice flat-out. that is, if magick were proven real to an individual through its practice, that's fairly indisputable evidence of the existance of the supernatural/preternatural/paranormal, whatever you want to call it, which certainly supports the notion that God, or 'gods', are real, and if real, are they daemons? and if daemons... well, you can follow the logic, no?

rather a curious aside: recently (while i still worked), i was jammed next to a person who i'd never actually gotten to know in the 11 years i worked at delphi (considering i've worked with a thousand people over the years, it's easy to do). so i'm yapping at her and it turns out she grew up and still lived in a farm house, prompting the immediate response from me, 'so tell me a ghost story.' 'how'd you know i'd have a ghost story?' she asked. 'simple. you lived in a farm house. *of course* you've got a ghost story.' had she not, i'd have been surprised. i think that made her think for a minute. her story was pretty lame, too: most farm house ghost story-tellers have pretty good tales. :)

Richard
03-11-2005, 12:26 PM
sorry to disagree with you. so yeah, there are a lot of con artists out there faking it, and some are most definitely in the "fortune telling" business. But not all who "fortune tell" are con artists

No, many are simply self-deluded. There is no evidence whatsoever that fortune telling works. None, nada, zip, zero and zilch. Personal anecdotes are as irrelevant here as in every other field of pseudoscience. Move it into the real world of scientific proof, with a proper, well-designed scientific test that doesn't give the con-artist/inadvertent scammer control of the situation, and these people fail. Miserably. Doesn't have to be Randi's either, although whatever you think of him (and I certainly agree that he can be an ***) his tests are generally pretty well thought out.

I'm still waiting for the name of the psychic who 'beat' him, incidentally.


What's wrong with that? I made a bucket load of cash doing IT consulting. If you have the skills and talent, use it for monetary gain, so what? As long as she's not conning you for money.

$600 buys you a lot of Scandisk. Okay, fixing Windows can be something of a black art too, with no shortage of mumbo or jumbo, but at least you know the guy can just format the system and sort the damn problem somehow...


clearly, i'm not a believer. and yet i won't touch a ouija board. now, what sense does that make?

Plenty, if you know the words 'ideomotor effect'. I wouldn't touch a ouija board either, not out of any fear of mysterious dark energies, but because their continued existence is quite frankly embarassing.

Velleity
03-11-2005, 12:49 PM
In the book I'm working on, magic is a shameless melange of (doubtless misunderstood and badly digested) concepts from quantum mechanics -- some Theory of Relativity, a generous handful of Copenhagen Interpretation, a dollop of information theory, a dash of the implicate order for spice. But since I'm writing a technofantasy in which genetic engineering is a significant plot point, I have to have some sort of a scientific-ish groundwork.

I explain as little of this as I can get away with. In the next draft, I'll see if I can get away with even less.

Not everybody can work magic. Of those who can, it takes a special kind of mind to be able to manipulate it consciously. (This probably comes from the story of the man who could debug machine code by thumbing through the program the way one might thumb through a flipbook to make the pictures move.)

Also, it's not called magic any more. It's mentalism, because that sounds more scientific.

But it *is* real magic. Weird things happen that nobody can explain, yet that (hopefully) clearly follow internal laws. Though greatly devalued, it can occasionally work miracles that science cannot duplicate. It also freed the world from the technology used to enslave it... although not without a cost of its own.

Something tells me I won't be inventing a D&D style 'magic system' any time soon...

Velleity
03-11-2005, 01:00 PM
clearly, i'm not a believer. and yet i won't touch a ouija board. now, what sense does that make?

And I've never had my tarot cards read (despite my writing fantasy and my fondness for Jung) after the woman who was supposed to do so broke her hand before she got the chance.

I'm fully aware it's just coincidence. But -- yeah, I'll respect my brain's pattern recognition on this one, just the same.

clotje
03-11-2005, 01:06 PM
Hi Alanna, thanks for the link I'll have a look at it a bit later. No I don't think about magick as black and white either. I just use it in which ever way I see fit (I've used it to break people's bones as well as sending them some cash or love, depending on whether or not they were friends. LOL). Are you Wiccan, Druid, Pagan or a witch?



Hi Richard, Sorry but I can and have hurt people in the past with my believe in magick. And I do believe in it because it's real, my spells produce tangible effects in the "real" world. You don't have to believe me of course, a journalist I met on the internet didn't believe me either, very sceptical like yourself. She had asked me to do some spells a few months ago, because she wanted to see if anything would really happen. Last night I spoke to her on MSN. The spells worked (of course) and she told me that she would make sure that she'd stay on my good side. LOL

Also you might want to check out Gordon Smith, the psychic barber, who is actually working together with Glasgow University to prove that he is not a con man. He is subjecting, under lab conditions, to their tests and is passing them. So, maybe not all of us are deluded, he.





On the subject of fortune telling I'd like to tell you a little story which happened to me years ago. I went to a lady who predicted accurately my future. She told me I was getting a divorce (yes, I was in the middle of one and no, I was still wearing my wedding band) She told me I was moving to New York, which I did. She told me Iíd be in a recording studio and yes, I was in a recording studio six months down the line. And no, I am not a professional singer. She also told me stuff about my motherís childhood which proofed to be correct when I asked my mum about it. Now, this lady did NOT ask for any payment. She told me to donate money to my favourite charity. So how can you explain that? No one can explain that with cold reading techniques.



Preyer, an ouija board is not a device to conjure up spirits. It works because you are moving the glass subconsciously. I canít remember the scientific term but there is one. Itís like automatic writing. So there is nothing to be afraid of, unless youíre afraid of your subconscious. (although the deep dark recesses of our minds can be very very frightening LOL)

Richard
03-11-2005, 02:08 PM
Also you might want to check out Gordon Smith, the psychic barber, who is actually working together with GlasgowUniversity to prove that he is not a con man. He is subjecting, under lab conditions, to their tests and is passing them. So, maybe not all of us are deluded, he.

The words 'lab conditions' mean absolutely nothing on their own. Scientists who don't know what they're looking for are easily fooled - moreso, in fact, because they believe they're above it. It's the tests themselves that matter, who's doing it, and and how they're being carried out. I've heard of Mr. Smith and read a genuinely banal reading he posted about a year ago, but still haven't seen any evidence of anyone other than that testimonials of an apparently cheerleading psychic investigation society and a Physics professor who crops up just about every time he's mentioned. The only part of his website containing even a scrap of proof consists of nothing but a link to a book by the former and a quote from the latter.

Either way, it shows that at least one of the two has a vested interest in his success. That doesn't rule out anything they find, of course, but it does beg a few questions. Specifically, where can I find the test protocols? Where can I find the results? Most importantly: where can I find the magicians and other professional observers who kept a professional eye on it to check for trickery (intentional or otherwise)?

(EDIT: I just found a link to their work (http://www.sspr.co.uk/) , and was distinctly unimpressed. Scientifically, note the use of 'This allows responses to be analysed where no psychic factor from a medium is at work', and its underlying assumption of the power of psychic ability rather than investigating its validity. Not a surprise given the source, of course, but I'm afraid it'll take more than that to convince this skeptic...)

Speaking of magicians, I note that you again haven't provided the name of the psychic who beat Randi. Come on, don't keep us all in suspense!


So how can you explain that? No one can explain that with cold reading techniques.

Obviously, I can't explain it. For all I know, it never happened, or the lady who predicted your future knew your wife from elsewhere, or asked you to donate money to charity so that you'd immediately reply "Oh, but I must give you something for your trouble..." Maybe she had a book out, or was using the old 'first hit's for free' routine. Maybe she was a good fairy from planet Krypton. Sadly, anecdotes are fundementally worthless as evidence, which is exactly why these people would rather smother themselves in pig droppings than put themselves in front of a camera they don't control.


"She had asked me to do some spells a few months ago, because she wanted to see if anything would really happen. Last night I spoke to her on MSN."

Last night? Gosh, how convenient.


I canít remember the scientific term but there is one.

Ideomotor effect. As used above.

katiemac
03-11-2005, 05:38 PM
Richard, I'm curious. Is fantasy your regular genre?

Richard
03-11-2005, 05:49 PM
Not really. I tend to prefer writing humour/drama mixes that amuse me at the time, in whatever setting they suit, rather than specific genres. A good story, by and large, is a good story. Had a few fantasy pieces here and there though.

(And in case you're wondering, if I'm reading a fantasy book, I couldn't care less if the mages pull magic out of the sky, cast fireballs by sacrificing bunny rabbits or just yell 'Bang!' and run away in the confusion. Whatever fits. It's fiction. Only commenting on the 'real world magic' bit based on a fair amount of debunking experience and passionate belief that con artists like fortune tellers and mediums who make their fortunes from preying on peoples' memories should be fired out of a cannon into space)

fallenangelwriter
03-11-2005, 07:37 PM
I'd like to defend fortune telling.

I use a tarot deck regularly, and it works. of course, i understand that it's not really magic, but still, fortune telling has its practical applications.

whileI don't belive that fortune telling can actaully predict the future, attempting to read my own fortune has helped me many a time. why? i find it helps me think.

reading the tarot deck is like a brainstorming session. i get out the cards and try to connect their symbolic meanigns to my current situation. following the guidelines of the reading, i assign a meaning to each card. it's open to enough interpretation that the "result" i get comes not from the cards but form my own mind. usually by the time i'm done with a reading, i've looked at my problems in a whole enw way, i've come up with several new ideas, and i'm closer to figuring out what i really want.

Nateskate
03-11-2005, 07:40 PM
Very interesting question. What is most fascinating is what people really believe, and whether or not your "belief" has anything to do with your story. And if so, how do you reconcile it.

Technically an atheist can have a god in his fantasy, and as Tolkien did, a Christian has wizards. Well, Tolkien's Wizards weren't classical wizards, they were Istari which were a type of lesser angel.

In my own story, you have two types of power-
1) Intrisinic- if your nature is to fly, it isn't magic. If your nature is to transform yourself, it isn't magic. You are doing what comes naturally. And so, some beings are intrinsicaly magical from a purely mortal perspective, because it is impossible for us to duplicate it.

2) Imputed powers- it doesn't come from you, but is given to you. It may be conditional, meaning that you have to do something to acquire it. But then again, this opens up a can of worms, "What is its source".

Oh, boy, this can go in a thousand different directions. From the time I was young, I questioned where things came from. "How can someone know the future?"....etc.

Lets just say that in my story, I answer this question, and what it boils down to is that it is never intrinsic to my version of humanity. The question, which becomes pivotal, is "What in the world am I tapping into?" Which becomes a part of the entire drama.

Because in my fantasy, the H= my equivalent of humans, are pawns in a bigger war. T= the creatures whose intrinsic natures are magical, and there is yet a third source of power which none of them fully understand. S= the third source of power.

What's at stake is the world of H. And they are very much like humans at every level, especially in terms that ignorance never equals bliss, but leads to ruination. H are born into a world, completely oblivious to a war that is raging in another realm that has spilled into their own world.

They don't understand the rules of power, which also includes protection for their world, which is putting it at risk. If they learn the rules, becoming the players, they have power to turn the tables on the beings that are using them, planning their anhilation, making the pawns the players, and the players the pawns. So, you have this constant tension between realms.

As the story progresses there are wars on three fronts. T vs T, H vs H, T vs H, and the one factor that neither of them fully comprehend, the influence of S.

H has power, but it is never magic. Their power is in wisdom and understanding. In a sense, they don't create power. Rather their power is influence, either opening the floodgates of evil against them, or the floodgates of good to benefit them. Understanding how to avoid empowering the evil T (Their are good T) and how to empower the good (T), as well as to figure out how to tap into the power that "S" makes available, is this complex maze.

In that T, and S act independently, H never ever has the power of "craft", in that they can do spells independently, although they are led to believe they can (in a puppet on a string sense, where the puppet is never really making anything happen), which is a lure of the evil T use to entice the H.

Actually through the attempts to acquire power, the foolish H are empowering the very ones that want to destroy them. So, the game is learning the rules. And obviously, what makes this dramatic is the fact that most H are absolute fools, and so there is a footrace between the wise H and the foolish H.

Honestly, I hope this doesn't make sense, because then I'm not ruining the plot of my story for those who will want to read it.

Roger J Carlson
03-11-2005, 08:12 PM
another thing i'd be interested in seeing in a story is how practitioners of magick reconcile what they do with the bible, which forbids its practice flat-out. that is, if magick were proven real to an individual through its practice, that's fairly indisputable evidence of the existance of the supernatural/preternatural/paranormal, whatever you want to call it, which certainly supports the notion that God, or 'gods', are real, and if real, are they daemons? and if daemons... well, you can follow the logic, no?

Well, this assumes that magic MUST be a calling to higher powers to produce an effect. In my story, magic is essentially the science of the world. Magic can be preformed by nearly everyone by manipulating the life-force thingy (I call it 'the mana').

Magical talents are grouped into three broad categories: Chantry, Alchemy, and Sorcery. Sorcery is roughly equivalent to Physics (the application of forces), Alchemy is roughly equivalent to Chemistry (the application of electron interactions) and Chantry is roughly equivalent to Biology (the application biological processes).

Ordinary people can perform simple spells of all three types. A housewife can enchant a mouse from its hole, caramelize sugar, or spell a candle alight. More complex spells, however, require specialists: enchanters, alchemists, and sorcerers.

But by a curious corollary, the more one specialized in a field, the less able he or she is able to perform spells of another. A master alchemist is virtually unable to perform the spells of sorcery and so forth.

This led to a class of tradespeople who package and sell specialized spells, which can triggered by nearly anyone.

Wizardry is not a category, but a synthesis of all three magics. It is a law unto itself. Wizards are strongly talented in all of the magics and can perform spells from any category, singly or in combination.

In this world, magic and religion co-exist quite nicely, since they really have nothing to do with the other.

Roger J Carlson
03-11-2005, 08:17 PM
(And in case you're wondering, if I'm reading a fantasy book, I couldn't care less if the mages pull magic out of the sky, cast fireballs by throwing sacrificing bunny rabbits or just yell 'Bang!' and run away in the confusion. Whatever fits. It's fiction. Only commenting on the 'real world magic' bit based on a fair amount of debunking experience and passionate belief that con artists like fortune tellers and mediums who make their fortunes from preying on peoples' memories should be fired out of a cannon into space)

I have to agree, Richard. I'm a real-world skeptic and fictional believer.

Richard
03-11-2005, 08:38 PM
I use a tarot deck regularly, and it works. of course, i understand that it's not really magic, but still, fortune telling has its practical applications. whileI don't belive that fortune telling can actaully predict the future, attempting to read my own fortune has helped me many a time. why? i find it helps me think.

And that's perfectly fine. Nobody's being conned by it, you know exactly what you're doing, and if it helps you brainstorm, it's serving a valid purpose as well as being a bit of fun. No problem with that at all.

(Fun thing for everyone else to try: Get a fortune teller to perform two tarot card readings in series on the same subject, shuffling the deck in the middle, and then get them to explain why the mystic forces of the universe didn't serve up the same hand twice.)

alanna
03-11-2005, 11:53 PM
I know someone who does fortune telling, and she takes the whole thing quite seriously. But if you ask me, what she likes best of all are the bucket loads of money she can make from it. She once earned $600 in a single afternoon.

I do tarot card readings, and I have never once charged money for them. At this point, I don't ever intend to. But cudos to her for making a living doing something she loves. She reads, we write. I don't see that much of a difference when it comes down to the basics.

Richard
03-12-2005, 12:01 AM
We tell people it's fiction.

Roger J Carlson
03-12-2005, 12:16 AM
We also don't expect people to live their lives based on our fiction.

preyer
03-12-2005, 01:45 AM
right, good point. were it for 'entertainment purposes only' that would be one thing, but when people begin making poor decisions based on them, that's something else entirely.

i'm a fairly reasonable person. i know there's no real validity to a ouija board. ne'er-the-less, they scare me for some reason. i have no real explanation for it other than it's just a phobia. too, though i'm not a particularly superstitious person, you'll not find me walking under any ladders or breaking any mirrors, while at the same time ignore other superstitions. why pick and choose? good question. wish i had an answer, lol.

rc, that's a good point, too, in that what i wrote and you commented on illustrates the fact that yesterday's magick is today's technology. maybe tomorrow, what we consider to be magick will be commonplace nuts-and-bolts kind of stuff. i think it might be pretty easy to define magick in modern scientific terms and corrolate it to the supernatural. i have no idea why so many people claim that they leave their bodies at death and watch the scene from above, though. all we've got there is anecdotal 'research.' and while deja-vu may have a scientific basis, having experienced it, dare i say in almost a seeing-into-the-future kind of way, it's going to be impossible for any amount of nay-saying to convince me what i know happened didn't actually happen.

so, while i'm skeptical, too, i have to admit there's a very slim gray area there.

i'm curious, though: how do you cast a spell on someone? and, honestly, how much of a spell is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

alanna
03-12-2005, 03:17 AM
clotje wrote: Hi Alanna, thanks for the link I'll have a look at it a bit later. No I don't think about magick as black and white either. I just use it in which ever way I see fit (I've used it to break people's bones as well as sending them some cash or love, depending on whether or not they were friends. LOL). Are you Wiccan, Druid, Pagan or a witch?


Personally, I have never used magic for harm. The only reason I can think of for doing so would be if their were no other choice and it was in self-defense or defense of someone I love. In terms of teh second question- I'm currently studying ot be a Druidess. I started out as Christian, discovered Wicca, and went from there. Along the way I've picked up herbal knowledge (Scott Cunningham is my friend), learned to read tarot cards (which I will discuss later in this post), and,well, other things. Why druidry? Simple answer-the trees. I love the trees.

Richard wrote: No, many are simply self-deluded. There is no evidence whatsoever that fortune telling works. None, nada, zip, zero and zilch. Personal anecdotes are as irrelevant here as in every other field of pseudoscience. Move it into the real world of scientific proof, with a proper, well-designed scientific test that doesn't give the con-artist/inadvertent scammer control of the situation, and these people fail. Miserably.

Richard- I can't speak for other methods of "fortune telling" from personal experiance, but I can tell you what I know about tarot. Tarot cards, as I read them and have seen them read by other non-con artists, are best (or at least mostly) used to help clarify a problem in the mind of the inquirer. Often they will put things in a new light, or tell you things that you either refused to or couldn't see. Often they will give you a possible outcome to the situation, in terms of what will happen if you contiue on the path you are on at that moment. However, I am a firm beleiver in the fact that you can change this outcome if you so wish. I knwo it's cliche, but nothing is set in stone. In terms of scientific proof- prove that anything faith-related exists. Scientifically, faith in a higher being is irrational. Many people deem it so, and that is their choice. For those who choose to beleive- whether in a deity or a tarot card reading- that is their choice as well. No one is telling you that you have to change your views- we're just telling you ours.

and, finally, preyer wrote: i'm curious, though: how do you cast a spell on someone? and, honestly, how much of a spell is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

casting spells on people, in my opinion, can be as simple as sayinig, "you'll do fine on that test, stop worrying!", while adding a confident smile, or as complex in making a sachet full of herbs to give to that person to carry around. There are countless ways to cast a spell, and all of them are equally valid. Asking how a person casts a spell is kind of like asking how a person writes a story- every one will give you a different answer. In terms of how much is a self-fufilling prophecy- I honestly couldn't say. Probably at least part of it. But I can say that spells can create or fix situations that no amount of suggestion could. I don't know if this helps at all, but if you have any questions you can feel free to e-mail me. You know, provided you aren't going to use up the space in my inbox to condemn me to a hell that I don't believe exists. :)

-alanna

Richard
03-12-2005, 03:18 AM
"i have to admit there's a very slim gray area there."

A lot of the time, it's just like gambler's luck. People note the hits and forget the misses. For example, have you ever picked up a phone while thinking of someone, only to find that it was magically the person you were thinking of? Impressive, until you start thinking about how many times you've picked it up and that hasn't happened. It's all about the subject's perception of it. Ditto with deja vu. How many people specifically notice a black cat /not/ walking in front of them twice?

People want to believe. Period. I'm a skeptic. I make no secret of that. Being a skeptic doesn't mean you have a closed mind - it just means that you want more than blind faith. If I came on here and started saying I could fly, you'd think I was insane - and with good reason. An athlete can't claim to be able to run 100m in a matter of seconds; they have to prove it. Say you can do almost anything, and people ask you to prove it.

Psychics want to do absolutely anything but. Gee. I wonder why?

Let's flip this on its side. If I say I can fill an ashtray with water and empty it without touching or tipping it in any way, that seems like a pretty ridiculous claim too. Of course, I can. I just put a glass over it, with four lit matches on the corners. It's a trick. It's an old trick. By telling you it, I immediately destroy the prestige I earned by doing the impossible. Far from being a guy who knows a cool trick, I'm just that guy who did the thing with the glass. And probably a dick for ruining it for everyone else.

The Magician's Code says that you shouldn't reveal your tricks in order to keep them secret, but the absolute biggest reason is that people don't want to know the truth. Doesn't matter if it's lighting a candle using its smoke or giving them messages from beyond the grave - they're after the fantasy. Tell someone the secret behind something and rather than thinking "My god! It's so simple!", the first thought is "But there must be more to it than that!"

Usually, not really. Just ask anyone who bothered watching agic's Greatest Secrets of A Man Pretending To Get Into A Box And Be Set On Fire, But Really He Didn't Finally Revealed a few years back.

It's not the lies that make debunking interesting - it's the truths. It doesn't matter if you're pointing out to astrology fans that the zodiac had several symbols cut out of it to make a nice round number to talk about, or that the popular image of Jesus Christ is based on Greek portraits of Zeus or that the tarot...and this is pretty important to this discussion...was originally used as playing cards, and only picked up its huge, uncanny spiritual angle centuries later. There's no magic in them. None. Tarot is enticing because of its stories and the general look and the mysterious nature of it, but in practice? There's no magic in it. They're just cards. You may as well throw chicken gizzards around and enjoy a nice lunch in the process.

Heck, you could read as much into a standard deck. See what you can draw from the King of Hearts, always drawn with his own sword stuck through his bonce. Beats having everyone confidently quoting that Death really doesn't mean Death, but really just change, doesn't it?

(Admittedly, not as much fun as saying 'Nah, that's just what they say on TV. You're /screwed/")

People often ask what the point of debunking this stuff is, or claim that it's just harmless fun, but sorry, it's not. It's dangerous, not because of any fairy-tale dark forces, but because it can cripple even the strongest, most intelligent person in a literal heartbeat.

Blind faith in this stuff is the tool that helps ******* mediums rape loving parents' memories at their time of greatest grief, persuades the sick and dying to have guys like John of God rubbing chicken bits over their stomachs instead of seeng a doctor for surgery, and often cruelist of all, stops people from saying the things they needed to say to their loved ones while they were still alive. This is not fun and games. Believe it yourself if you want - it's not our place as skeptics to tell that you can't - but expect a blazing fight when trying to bring the message to other people. Our job's not to tell you what to think; it's to urge you to look with your own eyes before jumping in. The tricks are well documented. In most cases, you can work them out in seconds if you're not desperate to believe in them. Most of them sound utterly ludicrous when you simply say them without all the added hype.

Nobody can say for sure what happens after you die, or that there's no swami somewhere in the Amazon who really can't conjure up fire from his fingertips - but all skeptics, by their very nature, are united on one key concept: It's right now that matters. It's the only time we know without a shadow of a doubt that we've got.

Change our world view; show us that the world is even better than it seems, and we're as ecstatic as anyone else. It happens. We love it when it happens. Really. Prove us wrong and we'll cheer you from the rooftops for it.

But note the key word: Prove. Words aren't enough. We don't, and can't automatically take what every Tom, Dick and Kreskin says on faith. In short, where psychic fans say 'You can't prove it's not true', we say 'Put up or shut up'. And I'm sorry to say, we're almost invariably right to do so.

alanna
03-12-2005, 03:33 AM
Richard wrote:" It's not the lies that make debunking interesting - it's the truths. It doesn't matter if you're pointing out to astrology fans that the zodiac had several symbols cut out of it to make a nice round number to talk about, or that the popular image of Jesus Christ is based on Greek portraits of Zeus or that the tarot...and this is pretty important to this discussion...was originally used as playing cards, and only picked up its huge, uncanny spiritual angle centuries later. There's no magic in them. None. Tarot is enticing because of its stories and the general look and the mysterious nature of it, but in practice? There's no magic in it. They're just cards. You may as well throw chicken gizzards around and enjoy a nice lunch in the process.

Heck, you could read as much into a standard deck."

lol- some people do use standard decks. and i use my deck for playing cards (usually go fish- with the cards we can make very funny personal ads. for instance- lonely grumpy man with beard seeks fellow eight to pout with.) I know that they were orginially paying cards, and that doesn't change a thing in my mind. Things change in signifigance. For example: the cross was orgininally representative of the elements in pagan religions, and the pentacle was originally representative of teh five points of Christ on the cross. They've changed- that doesn't make their present meaning different. (Just in case you were wondering-they've reversed. The pentacle now symbolizes the elements in balance)

-alanna

Richard
03-12-2005, 03:36 AM
Tarot cards, as I read them and have seen them read by other non-con artists, are best (or at least mostly) used to help clarify a problem in the mind of the inquirer. Often they will put things in a new light, or tell you things that you either refused to or couldn't see.

So can a chat with a friend. The cards are just props. The magic comes from the much more amazing ability of two human beings to connect; not a handful of nicely printed bits of paper, a lucky rabbit's foot, or a sack of voodoo gris-gris.


In terms of scientific proof- prove that anything faith-related exists.

You can't. By contrast, you can't prove that anything faith-related doesn't exist. All that someone or something failing a test means is that they failed to do it at that time. Or fifty times. Or five million. A cynic might ask why it is that churches are always running roof repair funds, when you'd think that'd be the one part of the place they wouldn't have to worry about - but it wouldn't prove that there's no God.

However, in most cases, there ARE valid tests for results. And the last thing that almost any professional practioner of any even vaguely supernatural ability ever want to do is submit to them.

Richard
03-12-2005, 03:44 AM
Sorry, I'd reply to that one more specifically, but I'm busy giggling at the thought of "Death, Immortal, seeks SWF for fun and sensitive moments. Are you my skullbunny? Call now for the time for your life." ;)

alanna
03-12-2005, 04:50 AM
You can't. By contrast, you can't prove that anything faith-related doesn't exist. All that someone or something failing a test means is that they failed to do it at that time. Or fifty times. Or five million. A cynic might ask why it is that churches are always running roof repair funds, when you'd think that'd be the one part of the place they wouldn't have to worry about - but it wouldn't prove that there's no God.

However, in most cases, there ARE valid tests for results. And the last thing that almost any professional practioner of any even vaguely supernatural ability ever want to do is submit to them.

what tests are these? i'm honestly curious.

now, to be honest, I love this little chat. But I don't think it belongs in a writing forum, if we're mainly going on about hypothetical/theoretical/philosophical things. Might I suggest that this portion of the discussion be moved to the "anything not related to writing" forum, so that the remainder of this thread can be focused on magic in fantasy/sci-fi books? tell me what you guys think.

-alanna

-alanna

Richard
03-12-2005, 05:17 AM
"what tests are these? i'm honestly curious."

Put simply, test to see if people can demonstrate their claims. If someone thinks they can predict the future, get them to tell you next week's lottery numbers. If they think they can dowse, a few covered pipes can do it. Removing a tumour via ancient healing techniques? Double check with Ye Olde X-Ray. Spiritual growth and/or enlightenment is so nebulous that even people who claim to offer it usually can't vocalise exactly what they supposedly do - be it via blessings, affirmations or lucky charms - but anything which promises a result is by its very nature testable. Did it work?

Like him or not, Randi has a pretty decent collection of how-tos on the most common routines - his book Flim-Flam is pretty old now, but the information is still applicable. The trick is ensuring there's no way of cheating, that double-blind systems are in place to prevent data corruption (for instance, if I choose which covered bucket is full of water, you might notice my eyes flicking when you move to it) and most importantly, that both sides know exactly what constitutes a success or a failure before, during and after the test.

alanna
03-12-2005, 06:45 AM
richard- ah. well then, i would like to say that i have passed one of these said tests with tarot cards. I have read several skeptic's cards, and they all thought it would be crap. then I wound up telling them the problem that as most important to them at the time (with no prior knowledge of it, or them telling me anything. I tend to read cards the best when i know the least about the situation, so I am not conciously trying to interpret the cards a certain way). On top of this, I told them their take on the problem, and gave them suggestions on how to start dealing with it. All but one agreed that what the cards said was true and had helped them. The one who didn't-well, I told him (among other things) that he would be starting a career he had never considered before. I later learned that he wanted to be a musician at that time. About six months later, he joined the army. Go figure. Are these adequate "tests?"

-alanna

preyer
03-12-2005, 11:11 AM
seeing as how i know where the thread actually is, i vote for keeping it here. i think anyone reading the latter portion of the discussion can still derive some knowledge for their own fiction and how their own magickal systems work, fact being the basis behind a lot of 'fiction.' though i agree the tone may have changed, i think the opinions expressed are still appropos, albeit more tenuous than the first page's results directed squarely at the question. so, if you wanna move the thread, that's cool, but i think it still has some validity here in that learning about two divergent points of view is learning, which is only good for the writer, eh? there are still some psychology and scientific terms being bandied about which might spur some interest along a different path to make a person's fictional magick system more rounded.

anyway, i love learning how the trick works. at the same time, exposing the man behind the curtain removes pretty much all of the awe, my curiosity always, always, always gets the better of me. the same thing applies to music for me: a great song is never as great once i know how to play it, for some reason, just as knowing the tricks-of-the-trade for writing illustrates how prit near most professional authors follow a pattern. i disagree to a minour extent with the poster who said 'ignorance doesn't bring happiness.' fairly easy to argue: watch the world news for a week and ask yourself, 'now that i'm less ignorant of what's happening in the world, am i happier as a result?' probably not. i'm not making a case for being stoopid (although i'm sure there are more than a few who'd disagree with that, lol), just that being in-the-know a lot of times is, well, quite the bummer. imagine having unlimited knowledge, imagine the content of all human knowledge is in your head... does that sound fun? sounds like a sure-fire recipe for unsanity to me.

several years ago i watched a programme debunking religious myths and superstitions and cons. oh, man, i love those shows the most. anyway, one segment focused on a small group of indians (from india) around a vishnu (? the elephant god) statue. the statue wasn't huge or anything, but its great claim to fame was the fact that it 'drank' milk. basically, someone would touch a saucer of milk under its trunk and the milk would start disappearing. in reality, the milk was running down to the base of the statue via a scientific principle known as... as... well, it had the word 'tensile' in it, but i forget the second part of it. completely scientific debunkery there, evidenced when a western cynic replaced vishnu with a statue of mickey mouse. when mickey 'drank' the milk, one guy just up and walked off in utter disgust. do ya reckon he felt any better just having had his illusions shattered? lol. probably not.

remember a few years back when 'they' discovered joseph's ossuary, i believe it was? man, what a furvor that created. but, people just ate it up. front page news. and just last year, a story for a minute in the mainstream was about real-life 'hobbits,' a humanoid skeleton predating lucy having been discovered. that's the way it goes, eh? you're right, r, people lap up the fantasy. remember how people were wailing in the streets when princess di died? then the relative slumber mother theresa's death caused a very short while later? even when the pope wanted to canonize theresa against pretty much all of the rules of sainthood didn't cause much of a stir (i was in rome at the time, and even there it was kinda like 'eh, whatever.' you'd think it would be huge even outside the boundaries of the roman catholic church, but i guess people have other things to worry about).

getting statues and paintings to cry salty tears or blood is a centuries old trick. i'd seen a guy duplicate it on a talk show, but he wouldn't reveal how it was done. the point is, you can show someone how it's done in the comfort of their own living room, and that has not a hide, hair or lick to do with their continual belief in said con. you can prove scientifically beyond any shadow of a doubt how it is the saint's corpse under glass is so well-preserved lo these five hundred years, yet to a believer, none of that matters. being willfully ignorant makes them happy. i've said it for years (basically because i like how it sounds), 'people believe whatever fantasy makes them happy.'

i'd say do a tarot reading for me, but since i'm a pretty open kind of guy, anyone could give me a 'reading' based on my posts. can you do a reading over the nut? if so, are you willing to do one for a complete stranger to these boards? not to put any pressure on ya, but i think richard especially might be curious to 'witness' a test if i, rather a cynical person myself, offers up the test subject.

i think it's interesting that in a fantasy, there doesn't seem to be any conmen who claim to use magick, but really are just flim-flammers hoping not to get caught. that might make for an interesting read, putting in 'real' magick versus the cons. already i envision an evangelist of some type, 'healing' people, doing readings, etc., all of which are nonsense, perhaps until some magick guild tracks him down, unhappy with him to the extent they're willing to ultimately kill him if he doesn't stop his trickery. of course, it would be the confidence man's games versus the pompous aristrocratic magicians' spells. that could work, eh? do i smell the stench of a new WIP? lol.

Richard
03-12-2005, 02:33 PM
"Are these adequate "tests?""

Afraid not. Nowhere near specific enough. Fortune telling in all its forms relies on one key thing: the fortunes are so vague that people can apply them to their own situation. Most people secretly wish they had a more exciting career, so finding out that he wanted to be a musician is a tenuous link at best (although saying 'In six months, you will quit your job, join the army, fly to Iraq, be injured by a shell and have a kidney transplant from Britney Spears' would be impressive). There's nothing to stop 'their' take on the problem really being yours, along with any advice you give. Either way, neither success nor failure in that kind of informal test means anything - and even if it did, personal anecdotes are by nature useless. People remember the successes, not the failures - a lucky guess taking on a million times more statistical relevance than it actually has. That's why scientific testing is so important.

(And of course, if you feel like trying to win a million bucks from it, head to http://www.randi.org. They're always looking for new Challenge Applicants, and while they can be fairly acerbic - especially Kramer - it's certainly a good place to start finding out about double-blind testing and other things you can do to test the cards properly)

"i think richard especially might be curious to 'witness' a test if i, rather a cynical person myself, offers up the test subject."

No thanks. Have one done if you want to see how it comes out, sure, but I've seen loads of them and had a couple done for me as experiments over the years. There's nothing particularly interesting about the process save the technique.

"getting statues and paintings to cry salty tears or blood is a centuries old trick. i'd seen a guy duplicate it on a talk show, but he wouldn't reveal how it was done"

There was a priest back in the 1940s who did it with a squirt gun. Most normally though, the con artist just paints it on - gelatinous substances rather than water though, to make sure it looks wet and doesn't just dry up.

"one guy just up and walked off in utter disgust. do ya reckon he felt any better just having had his illusions shattered? lol. probably not."

Nope. And I bet you something else - he walked away without his faith even remotely shaken, and is still probably angry at the scientists for trying.

katiemac
03-12-2005, 08:46 PM
I have to agree, Richard. I'm a real-world skeptic and fictional believer.

Right. I find this so interesting. There are some people who are very straight-forward with what they read, whether it only be one type of genre, but there are quite a few people who want to stick to strict, real-life events and involvement. I find it great that people cross-genre and style all the time, especially when they look for a fictional great story outside of their real-world tastes.

fallenangelwriter
03-12-2005, 09:35 PM
And that's perfectly fine. Nobody's being conned by it, you know exactly what you're doing, and if it helps you brainstorm, it's serving a valid purpose as well as being a bit of fun. No problem with that at all.

(Fun thing for everyone else to try: Get a fortune teller to perform two tarot card readings in series on the same subject, shuffling the deck in the middle, and then get them to explain why the mystic forces of the universe didn't serve up the same hand twice.)

That's simple enough to explain. were I a fortune, i would say, "Each reading reveals enw aspects to the truth. the entire universe cannot be revealed in one set of cards. each reading, though different, is equally valid." or i could say that each reading was a possible futurer, or even that the first reading had influenced thigns neough to result in a new reading the second time.

Alanna- I don't know the circumstancses of your readings, but i would venture aq guess at the reason why those you read for believed.

the meaning i tarot cards seems to me to beentirely supplied by the querent or interrogator. there are multiple accepted meanings for each card, and their interactions and real-world significane are never entirely clear. the one being read for chooses to belive what seems to make the most sense, which is why the reading works. whatever cards you revealed, and whatever you said about them, the querent would interpret in terms of his own life.

ake the card "death". it can symbolize either death or change. is there Aanyone for whom this card wuld not be currewntly relevant?

by the way, to revive the discussion of magic systems i recommend two books:

The Flying Sorcerers by Larry Niven

and the Cluster trilogy by Piers Anthony

In the Cluster trilogy, tarot symbolism plays a large role, and tarot readings several times help the protagonists. they even have speical decks which are actually little computers which determine teh cards to dislay based on your unconscious wishes. very interesting.

the Flying Sorcerers is about the coming a man human from a space-faring society told from the eyes of extremely superstitious natives. the questions about magic and technology raised are serious, although the book overall is quite funny.

alanna
03-14-2005, 01:06 AM
"the meaning i tarot cards seems to me to beentirely supplied by the querent or interrogator. there are multiple accepted meanings for each card, and their interactions and real-world significane are never entirely clear. the one being read for chooses to belive what seems to make the most sense, which is why the reading works. whatever cards you revealed, and whatever you said about them, the querent would interpret in terms of his own life.

ake the card "death". it can symbolize either death or change. is there Aanyone for whom this card wuld not be currewntly relevant?"


A card is usually not just interpreted by itself - instead it is interpreted in the context of the other cards, and based on its positions. To be perfectly honest,the way I see it is that the purpose of the cards is not to "tell" you your future, but to help you solve a problem in your life- give you a different perspecitive, a suggestion, or even just set your mind on a different track. So, yes, the querent is the one who applies the reading to their life. There is nothing "false" about this.

In terms of the future, specifics are (almost) impossible to give, because at any point you can make a choice that changes that future. I realize this may sound like "bluffing", "making excuses," and may even be taken so far as to be taken as "proof" that this is all a hoax. To me itis somthing I know as the truth.

In terms of an online reading, I have never done one. I know people who have done some via the net, or even phone, but I do not. The reason (for those of you who wish to hear it) is this: At the start of every reading I have the querent shuffle the cards while either thinking of their question or clearing their mind. This is so that the cards can "get to know them." Then I have the querent pick the ten cards I will use in the spread. Obviously, this cannot be done for long-distance readings, and I do not know what the effect would be.

So, on that note, I'm going to go write...if I can stop my mind whirling enough to focus, that is...

<<<is sick, so apologizes if her previous post has been nonsensical...:)

-alanna

Richard
03-14-2005, 01:08 AM
In terms of the future, specifics are (almost) impossible to give, because at any point you can make a choice that changes that future. I realize this may sound like "bluffing", "making excuses," and may even be taken so far as to be taken as "proof" that this is all a hoax.

No, but it is proof that it's utterly, utterly pointless to do. "Here is your future, unless it's not. If it's not, well, the universe is fickle. Sorry."

Roger J Carlson
03-14-2005, 01:29 AM
"what tests are these? i'm honestly curious."

Like him or not, Randi has a pretty decent collection of how-tos on the most common routines - his book Flim-Flam is pretty old now, but the information is still applicable.

Another book is "Missing Pieces: How to Investigate Ghosts, UFOs, Psychics, and Other Mysteries" co-authored by Joe Nickell and Robert Baker. Blurb:"This complete handbook features usable techniques for getting at the truth behind paranormal claims."

If you are honestly interested in the types of tests that skeptics find acceptable, this is a good book.

alanna
03-14-2005, 01:57 AM
No, but it is proof that it's utterly, utterly pointless to do. "Here is your future, unless it's not. If it's not, well, the universe is fickle. Sorry."

each to their own- I don't think it's pointless. Far from it, in fact. Tarot cards have helped me personally as well as many people I know. And how many times do I have to say it- tarot cards are not about the future, they are about helping you understand yourself and others better, they are about helping and in many cases healing. That is not pointless.

Richard
03-14-2005, 02:06 AM
No, it's psychology. With props.

alanna
03-14-2005, 02:14 AM
::sigh:: Richard-yes. psychology is part of it. only part.

fallenangelwriter
03-15-2005, 03:39 AM
Alanna-


We seem to be mostly in agreement. As you know, i don't belive that tarot is valueless. the hoax is when magical powers are attributed to deck.

our central point of contention, i suspect, is the origin of the information. we both agree that meaning is supplied by the querent. the comment about context and idividual cards is irrelevent, the point being that a given spread of cards could be interpreted hundreds of sdifferent ways.

i would agree with you entirely, if not for your statement that the cards "get to know" someone and that the given spread that appears have special significance. it is my firm belief that the given cards drawn are completely random, but that does not reduce the usefulness of it as a tool. just as each spread has multiple interpretations, multi-ple spreads can ahve the same interpretation, and in fact are likely to if the interpretation is merely what the person subconsciously belived all along.

alanna
03-15-2005, 03:53 AM
Alanna-


We seem to be mostly in agreement. As you know, i don't belive that tarot is valueless. the hoax is when magical powers are attributed to deck.

our central point of contention, i suspect, is the origin of the information. we both agree that meaning is supplied by the querent. the comment about context and idividual cards is irrelevent, the point being that a given spread of cards could be interpreted hundreds of sdifferent ways.

i would agree with you entirely, if not for your statement that the cards "get to know" someone and that the given spread that appears have special significance. it is my firm belief that the given cards drawn are completely random, but that does not reduce the usefulness of it as a tool. just as each spread has multiple interpretations, multi-ple spreads can ahve the same interpretation, and in fact are likely to if the interpretation is merely what the person subconsciously belived all along.

:)

In terms of the cards "getting to know" someone, that could well be just me and my way of reading the cards. I work a bit with energy, so I'm used to thinking of things this way. All I know for sure is that it works. And I am in slight disagreement with you in that the cards chosen are random. Although some cards have similar meanings, each one has a different spin, and the pictures on the cards suggest different things. The cards are not conciously chosen, but neither are they random.
I do, however, beleive that different spreads can get the same interpretation-although, the more cards in the spread the more detailed that interpretation is likely to be. And I wouldn't call it "merely what the person subconciously beleived,"- sometimes those subconcious thoughts are the hardest to deal with!

and yes, the interpretation of how the reading fits into the person's life does come mostly from the querent. However, the cards provide a new, often objective and uncoated, point of view to the situation. They tell the querent what they need to hear to heal and move on-whether it's what they want to hear or not! lol, my cards can be very...blunt, sometimes. :)

anyways, I'm starting to ramble, so there i will stop.

-alanna

fallenangelwriter
03-15-2005, 11:33 PM
Alanna- this arugment is growing pointless. we each have our own beliefs, and i don't think we will sway each other. rather than hijack this thread further, i will briefly restate my opinion and let it rest.

ignoring the irrelevant qwuesitons of specific cards and their relationships, and what is "mere" or not, there is only one thign we dispute. WHY tarot work.

I don't find, as Rich does Tarot to be pointless. tarot cards are rich in symbolism, ideas, metaphors for life, and so on. i do think that tarot cards can help people. we agree there. i simply don't find it necessary to believe in "energy" or any kind of supernatural forces to credit them. the point i am trying to make by referring to it "merely" reflecting subconscious thoughts and the meaning being supllied by the querent is NOT to belittle what i think is a valuable practice, but to point out that no magic or special power of any kind needs to be contained in the cards themselves.

preyer
03-16-2005, 01:14 AM
so, basically, it's your argument that tarot cards are basically another set of vague opinions randomly derived from a shuffle of cards? i can agree to that. i think the problem is while that may be true, the people plunking down lots of money for a reading desperately want to believe in some supernatural or cosmic force governing their lives and the fault is in not explaining to them what tarot cards actually do, which is to fascillitate the person's imagination to resolve a problem (or words to that effect), but in the medium or whatever not discouraging their faith-based beliefs in what's essentially a very mundane 'power.' i'm sure that in the right context, tarot readings, tea leaf divination, and throwing leaves in the air has helped people in the same sense speed-reading a self-help book can help a person, and there's nothing wrong with it if it stops there. attaching a supernatural element to random chance, however, while charging money (indeed, a *lot* of money sometimes, and then encouraging further visits/unnecessary charges for items) is a flat-out con to me.

sure, if you know how to interpret the cards and throw a little showmanship in there, that's worth something. if it helps, great, if it doesn't, well, as long as you're not pretending to be the mouthpiece of God, what do you expect? preying on people's faith, that's where it's wrong.

Richard
03-16-2005, 02:12 AM
Random question to tarot followers:

Do you believe that a polygraph machine is magical? Serious question.

alanna
03-16-2005, 03:57 AM
[QUOTE=fallenangelwriter]Alanna- this arugment is growing pointless. we each have our own beliefs, and i don't think we will sway each other. rather than hijack this thread further, i will briefly restate my opinion and let it rest.

[QUOTE]

cudos-that's pretty much why i suggested we move it. see my above posts for my pov-i don't have time to type it all out again, lol.

preyer wrote- "sure, if you know how to interpret the cards and throw a little showmanship in there, that's worth something. if it helps, great, if it doesn't, well, as long as you're not pretending to be the mouthpiece of God, what do you expect? preying on people's faith, that's where it's wrong."

agreed-about the preying on people's faith part. I always tell people before the reading what the cards will do, and what they won't, so that they can take them at face value. fair's fair.

richard wrote- "Random question to tarot followers:

Do you believe that a polygraph machine is magical? Serious question."

?????? polygraph machine??? no- that's a scientific instrument that records heart rates. Magic, well...it can't really be explained by science completely...or logic/mentalthought processes for that matter...

lol, I live with it all the time in my heart, mind, surroundings, etc., and I don't understand it!

so, no.

HConn
03-16-2005, 05:20 AM
Where's the moderator? This thread should have been bumped to Take it Outside a page and a half ago.

You guys should wander over there and start a thread if you want to restart the conversation.

So, what about Harry Potter? Where does the magic in those books come from?

:)

Pthom
03-16-2005, 06:55 AM
Where's the moderator? This thread should have been bumped to Take it Outside a page and a half ago.Nah. We're mostly civil on this board and the discussion has its merits as regards SF/F. However, I am here, like a vapor, watching and mostly smirking. Just be careful, people, that the conversation stays civil, or I will consider HConn's suggestion.

Kate StAmour
03-16-2005, 08:45 AM
*Ahem* From a Sicilian Witch who basically grew up at psychic fairs and new age gatherings:

A clairvoyant can read a blank deck, stones, or nothing at all to get their information. The better/more connected the clairvoyant, the more accurate the information. Any psychic worth their salt will also tell you that you can do what they do if you train yourself to "plug in." While it is easier for some people, all are capable.

Think of things this way:
-We are made up of vibrating atoms (we are ultimately energy); between those atoms exists space, the "force" that binds everything together. Isn't it reasonable to believe that just as you can understand your own thoughts, the thoughts of another (one technically a part of you and "the collective unconscious"-- to borrow a term) are easily understood?

Kate StAmour
03-16-2005, 08:52 AM
clotje-i don't know about you, but i never think of magic in terms of "black" and "white." and if you would like to read something extremely funny that is specific to Pagan humor, may I suggest going to this link?

http://www.turoks.net/Cabana/SignsThatYouMayBeAPagan.htm

if you haven't already seen it-well, it's lmao worthy. the rest of the site is good too, but this is my favorite.

I also suggest you (and anyone intersted in researching magickal practices that are non-dualistic) read some: Z. Budapest, Shekhinah Mountainwater, and Starhawk. *Caution* Z is not for the sensitive.

Kate StAmour
03-16-2005, 09:03 AM
No, many are simply self-deluded. There is no evidence whatsoever that fortune telling works. None, nada, zip, zero and zilch. Personal anecdotes are as irrelevant here as in every other field of pseudoscience. Move it into the real world of scientific proof, with a proper, well-designed scientific test that doesn't give the con-artist/inadvertent scammer control of the situation, and these people fail.

There is absolutely no proof that a hysterectomy is an effective treatment for endometriosis, yet physicianís--scientists-- continue to recommend them.

There is absolutely no proof as to how most medications relating to psych disorders work, yet scientists continue to prescribe and recommend them because a few malleable scientific tests show positive results.

There is absolutely no conclusive proof that testing cosmetic products, or foods, or anything, on rabbits or other animals will yield data that illustrates exactly what will occur in humans under similar circumstances, yet scientists continue to use such data and present it as fact.

Donít get me wrong; I see your point and where you want to go with things. And hey, philosophers have debated these issues for ages. Ultimately though, when you are looking into researching for a book, you have to decide what you can effectively get a reader to swallow.

Richard
03-16-2005, 12:12 PM
There is absolutely no proof that a hysterectomy is an effective treatment for endometriosis, yet physicianís--scientists-- continue to recommend them.

There's actual proof that polygraph tests are completely useless, but policemen continue to use them*. There's actual proof that torture is completely useless**, but dictators continue to inflict it on their prisoners. There's actual proof that pummelling the base of the foot with a mini jackhammer can't even conceivably cure what 'ails ya, but my doctor still has brochures for practitioners on its desk. Hell, there's actual proof that urine is sterile, and that you're not going to catch anything from a toilet seat beyond a slight chill, but don't they sell one hell of a lot of paper toilet seat covers?

Some people will always defend what they believe, whether it's a matter of faith or science, and both sides can be equally wrong. There's no argument there.

The difference is that with the scientific model, all of this kind of stuff is open to debate, and most importantly, to change. Science as a whole, as opposed to individual scientists, works and develops by admitting to its mistakes and building on them. Faith, as you can see here, takes the exact other approach, of answering 'You can't explain it' or more usually, 'You shouldn't question it, It Just Works'.

That's pointless. We've got the tests, and they're not hard to do - and crucially, under conditions designed to prevent trickery, spiritualism fails. It doesn't matter if science has its own bunk (it does, and expect plenty more rules of the universe to change in your lifetime), because that's not what's being tested at the time. Taking that tack is just deflecting the blame from failure, and the absolute most common reaction from a just tested spiritualist (dowser, mind-reader, psychic, or whatever).

(* You can be trained not to register a blip on them, and many personality types, notably sociopaths who don't care about lying, are often naturally immune. I mention this one specifically, because it's actually a pretty close relation of tarot and other reading techniques - dressed up in rituals, aimed at working in the suspect/querant's mind, and producing spooky results that you can read anything into and claim the knowledge high ground for. The only practical difference is that everybody involved knows that it's 'just a machine'.)

(** People will tell you anything they think you want to hear just to get you to stop, so you have no way of knowing if it's true or not. That's been tested many times. If you want to get a forced confession, it's effective, but not as a means of truthsaying.)

preyer
03-16-2005, 02:27 PM
it's difficult to trust statistics, too. the current number of people they say die from second-hand smoke a year is 53,000 (i assume those are u.s. numbers). but, i also know how these statistics can be altered to favour a particular point of view. we went through the exact same thing back when they decided to raise speed limits to 65 mph about twelve years ago or so. the then national highway safety guy skewed all his 'results' to read what he wanted. it's difficult to trust even authorities on the subject. religicos will often debate tooth-and-nail about carbon dating's validity, and on the surface they've got a good argument. under the surface, however, a lot of these arguments are flat-out fabrications or distortions of the truth.

i say that so a piece of fiction using 'real' magick, i think, should be very well thought out in terms of knowing where their magick begins and ends and when psychology takes over. if i'm writing a modern fantasy about mediums in a world where shape-shifting is impossible, were werewolves and vampires are fictional characters in themselves, whether you're a cynic or a believer is very likely to show through. i don't see richard writing a story anytime soon where a clairvoyant is actually drawing energy from a supernatural (for lack of a better term-- i'm sure many who believe consider these 'powers' as completely natural, or 'ultra-natural'). also, scientificallizing with the results already proven before the first lick of in-depth research has began isn't bound to bear any hard re-defining of people's basic beliefs, eh? that is, were i able to prove at least theoretically how magick *could* work, hard-core cynics aren't going to buy it.

as an aside, while it's true religion has often censored science, that's largely overblown. okay, galileo was imprisoned (in a luxury suite-- oo), mostly due to political reasons within the vatican, but it's often overlooked that he was also astrologer to the pope. think about that: astrologer to the pope. wow. the point is, organized religion has done plenty to further scientific investigation... usually as long as it doesn't disprove any of their tenets, i think. there's a political side that's often gotten scientists in trouble, not merely the fact they were trying to expand human knowledge. that wasn't always the case, of course, but the truth has been rather spun to illustrate, in particular, rome's anti-scientific crusade which simply doesn't go to the extent common misperceptions gives it credit for. it's another case of 'what's on the surface must be true.'

it's rather interesting to consider the modern 'vampire.' i've read and watched on t.v. how some of these people truly believe they're a real vampire. nevermind that sunlight has yet to explode them like a spiffy 'blade' special effect, they'll come up with some reasoning to show how that one single part of being a vampire that doesn't relate to them was always just a myth.

i think if you're going to go with a very true-to-life approach to modern 'magick', treading lightly and doing tons of research will be better than professing to know the truth (in fiction, that is. naturally, everyone has their own version of what truth really is). of course, it's probably dramatically enticing to have, say, the disbeliever discover magick actually exists or have a scientist discover natural loopholes mediums exploit. having a medium who believes discover she's an accidental fraud isn't nearly as interesting, eh? the latter may make for an interesting side character or having her lose her faith and rediscovering it. either way, i think you're dealing heavily with both science and psychology, where this subject seems to definitely have a good tug-of-war going on.

where does potter's magick come from? well, rowling wouldn't ever be so foolish as to give her version of it beyond 'there's good magick, and there's bad magick.' (that's not a quote, i've never actually finished one of her books, not being the least bit impressed with them, sorry. :)) religious people might argue those powers are satan-inspired, that God wouldn't give those powers to mortals. you could also argue that God supposedly *has* given mortals special powers in the past, as evidenced by the rule (conveniently rather ignored now) that to be a saint there has to three verified miracles attributed to the candidate. but what of the unadultered magick in harry's world? Godly or satanic? good question. off-hand, i'd say satanic eventho the heroes (you know, those kids who run around lying and defying authority at every turn) use the powers ostensibly for good. the implication that since they attend the say class and use the same spells the source of power comes from a single place. also, there're supposedly a lot of 'satanic' spells in the books the kids use. how true that is i have no idea, but everything taking as a whole seems to lend a lot of credence to satan being the giver of powers. i mean, is there a church at hogwarts? someone who really wants to avoid that debate might suggest that the magick is simply nature. sure, and controlled by midi-chlorians, i bet. :)

Richard
03-16-2005, 03:21 PM
they'll come up with some reasoning to show how that one single part of being a vampire that doesn't relate to them was always just a myth.

Generally, they seem to favour the idea of 'psionic' vampires and other such nonsense to get past that. Although in fairness, the sunlight thing is a fairly modern element of the story anyway. Odd that it's always vampires and werewolves though - you never seem to get people thinking they're Snegurochka or Rusalka.


where does potter's magick come from?

It comes from JK Rowling wanting to write a book about a boy wizard at Wizard School. It doesn't need any more explanation, because it's fiction. Nor did The Worst Witch a couple of decades ago. Should she choose to have Harry sacrificing goats and ordering readers to go and kill their parents for the glory of his dark master, it might become relevant.


i don't see richard writing a story anytime soon where a clairvoyant is actually drawing energy from a supernatural (for lack of a better term-- i'm sure many who believe consider these 'powers' as completely natural, or 'ultra-natural')

Why not? If it would make a good story, it'd make a good story. Plenty of people liked Ghost.


also, scientificallizing with the results already proven before the first lick of in-depth research has began isn't bound to bear any hard re-defining of people's basic beliefs, eh? that is, were i able to prove at least theoretically how magick *could* work, hard-core cynics aren't going to buy it.

Why not? Solar power, tides... there's plenty of natural phenomena that have proven to have valid scientific bases, as well as elements of disciplines (like alchemy, even if it was itself focused on the hunt for the philosopher's stone, or herbalism) that have wound up contributing to the real world.

However, most of the time what you get is meaningless terms like 'energy' or 'vortex', the entire proof hinging on the existence of something that can't be detected or proven (the existence of angels, for instance).

This is however why the skeptic community works as it does - you can't prove that something doesn't happen, you can only prove that it didn't happen AT THAT TIME. It's why the door's always open to any spiritual types who want to actually prove they can do what they can claim, rather than simply talk about it. In short, it's about put-up-or-shut-up, pure and simple. If it can be proved, it can be proved. Everyone's happy.

preyer
03-16-2005, 04:01 PM
'Why not? Solar power, tides... there's plenty of natural phenomena that have proven to have valid scientific bases, as well as elements of disciplines (like alchemy, even if it was itself focused on the hunt for the philosopher's stone, or herbalism) that have wound up contributing to the real world.

'However, most of the time what you get is meaningless terms like 'energy' or 'vortex...' i think you answered your own question there, but to clarify, would you buy into a 'scientific' theory that has magick explained as thought waves moving the space between atoms? i mean, from a realistic standpoint, without a shred of imperical evidence, would you believe something like that? i might buy into a pretty outstanding fictional version, suspending my belief and all, but i might as well believe that the lining up of the planets influences the molecules in my personal life to give some pre-ordained or destiny-like result.

as a scientific theory you might consider it, but my reference was from a writing standpoint; it would require the reader to be so knowledgable about a lot of things. chapters of explanation would render the point of an earnest scientific theory of magick in fiction destructive to the story. i think that's exactly why terms like 'energy' and 'vortex' are bandied about, because the average writer without excellent scientific understanding probably shouldn't go in-depth with 'proving' magick, and even if they could, is it worth understanding for the reader to that degree?

would you write a story about the supernatural? you know, being a skeptic, maybe you just would at that. :) could you manage to keep your skepticism out of it?

rowling, apparently, does make the source of magick relevant by her supposed use of real satanic spells in her books. that's at least the popular notion with certain people, but if true, that's pretty good justification for going down that path, don't you think? i don't know about anyone else, but children and satanic spells are probably two things best kept apart. i'm assuming there's a modicum of credence to the claim, else there'd be very little indeed to jump on her back and point out some of the other things she's accused of. true, it shouldn't be a point: then again, she shouldn't have made it one. her bad.

i've looked this over so many times and done a few deletions, but i'm so tired i'm not sure if it makes any sense, heh heh.

Richard
03-16-2005, 04:24 PM
rowling, apparently, does make the source of magick relevant by her supposed use of real satanic spells in her books

I only read the first one and a half, not being a fan, but all her spells seemed to be shouting something in Latinesque. This sounds as likely as rational people listening to Jack Chick (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp). And bear in mind that making a fireball in D&D originally involved hurling lumps of bat ****.


i think you answered your own question there, but to clarify, would you buy into a 'scientific' theory that has magick explained as thought waves moving the space between atoms? i mean, from a realistic standpoint, without a shred of imperical evidence, would you believe something like that?

When you start getting into theoretical physics, I'm afraid I'd have to admit a fair amount of ignorance - vibrating atoms, quantum teleportation and the like are - pun not intended - lightyears outside my expertise as a professional knowitall.

In general however, that kind of experiment sounds like it's dealing with spotting an effect, then tracing it back to the cause. Most proper scientists are going to detect the actual things first, then do the experiments and theory to work out where to go from there.

In doing so, they might find that their initial assumptions were off - that they weren't thought waves, but just some new type of radiation or whatever, but at least there's scope to develop and build on the theory, rather than regarding it as finished once the ink is dry on the thesis.


would you write a story about the supernatural? you know, being a skeptic, maybe you just would at that. could you manage to keep your skepticism out of it?

Sure, and yes. If I wrote a world where magic worked, then I'd have no problem having people speaking to the dead, walking on water or reanimated zombies using Jay throwing style with tarot cards. I repeat: it's fiction.

HConn
03-16-2005, 09:53 PM
My apologies to Pthom. I didn't mean to question his attentiveness.

Pthom
03-16-2005, 11:29 PM
I repeat: it's fiction.And this is something we shouldn't ever forget in this forum.

Roger J Carlson
03-16-2005, 11:29 PM
Think of things this way:
-We are made up of vibrating atoms (we are ultimately energy); between those atoms exists space, the "force" that binds everything together. Isn't it reasonable to believe that just as you can understand your own thoughts, the thoughts of another (one technically a part of you and "the collective unconscious"-- to borrow a term) are easily understood?

First of all, I'm not certain we CAN understand our own thoughts. Do you know how the mind works? How neurons passing electrical energy between each other result in a "me" that is sitting at this desk typing this post? I don't understand it. No one does. The whole basis of psychology is the belief that we don't know our own thoughts.

Secondly, I would also point out that is it specious reasoning to apply quantum physics to the "real" world (that is the macro level that you and I perceive). You can only use them in their own context. Quantum physics only work at the sub atomic level. Just because a particle can exist in two places at the same time or that an electon can jump from one energy level (that is orbit of the nucleus) to another without passing through the intervening gap, does not mean that it can happen at the macro level. In other words, just because matter is mostly "empty space" does not mean I can pass my hand through this desk.

Furthermore, "space" is not a "force". There are 4 known forces: weak nuclear, strong nuclear, electromagnetic, and gravity. The "weak" force only works in the nucleus of an atom. The "strong" force works between the nucleus and the electrons. The "electromagnetic force" works between atoms. And gravity works between large masses of matter.

It is incorrect to apply any of the forces outside of their domains. Here's what I mean. There is actually a gravitational attraction between me and my desk. However, the attraction is so weak, it cannot be measured. But, there is definitely a measureable attraction between me and the earth (sigh, it's getting less, but still needs work). That's the domain where it belongs. It's silly to talk about the stong nucleur force within the nucleus of an atom. Within that domain, the weak force is so much stronger that it overwhelms it.

So just because there is a force between atoms that "binds everything together" (actually the strong nuclear force), does not mean that we can use it at our level.

alanna
03-17-2005, 06:58 AM
*Ahem* From a Sicilian Witch who basically grew up at psychic fairs and new age gatherings:

A clairvoyant can read a blank deck, stones, or nothing at all to get their information. The better/more connected the clairvoyant, the more accurate the information. Any psychic worth their salt will also tell you that you can do what they do if you train yourself to "plug in." While it is easier for some people, all are capable.

Think of things this way:
-We are made up of vibrating atoms (we are ultimately energy); between those atoms exists space, the "force" that binds everything together. Isn't it reasonable to believe that just as you can understand your own thoughts, the thoughts of another (one technically a part of you and "the collective unconscious"-- to borrow a term) are easily understood?

i don't think i've ever "heard" it stated that clearly or nicely. thanks!


I also suggest you (and anyone intersted in researching magickal practices that are non-dualistic) read some: Z. Budapest, Shekhinah Mountainwater, and Starhawk. *Caution* Z is not for the sensitive.

yipee!! more books! I've actually been wanting to read Starhawk for a while, but I'm currently working though "Drawing Down the Moon" and a Druidry book, so I've got my reading list filled for at least a couple of weeks (I want to go read them slowly, and I have regular reading I have to do also...finish Don Quixote...re-read "The Fountainhead so that I can write the essay...) . But, I'm taking down names for later!

preyer
03-17-2005, 02:41 PM
kind of funny you mention gravity, as that was part of what i'd deleted. :)

when you impose a hard-science take on how magick works, i think you're asking for trouble. even if your theory is great, those who understand it are going to be few and far between, those who don't care will be bored with it, and you'll find a lot of readers who can either prove you wrong or don't buy into the whole spiel because they misremember how chemical bonds happen from their high-school chemistry class forty years ago.

to attach a scientific validity to most fantasy i don't see as usually being a smart move unless you're some incredibly gifted writer with a rock-solid theory and can express that for all to understand. otherwise, like it's been said, it's only fiction and you don't really need to go there. it's tempting, too, when you've got a modicum of scientific learning and come across something you think you can apply and kind of show off and impress the reader. and you might impress them on some level, but it's possible to misinform, too, and to me that's a writing crime, heh heh. this may be a real risk for fantasy writers who (and feel free to disagree with me here) sometimes have a tendacy to overwrite in the first place.

whitehound
03-19-2005, 07:39 AM
What with all these people on the list talking about this or that person's theory about what "mentalists" do, or what they think some friend of theirs who does readings *might* do, I thought it might be a nice idea if someone who actually *is* a psychic reader commented - yes?

No, I don't make it up. Yes, I am reading what is actually on the cards. Yes, there is a degree of subjectivity involved in interpreting the cards, and sometimes when the cards could mean four or five different things, clues from what the person has already told me, or from their body language, will help me to narrow it down: but in that case I actually say to them "This could mean this, this, this, this or this but on the basis of what you told me earlier, I think the third option is most likely."

Far from hypnotizing gullible people into believing some "Barnum statement" guff, I frequently have to argue with clients who fool themselves and say "Yes, yes, I know what the cards mean, how wonderful, they must be referring to such-and-such" and I'm saying "No, I really do think that's stretching it far too far, I really *don't* think we can make the cards fit that."

Yes, sometimes there are things in the cards which could fit lots of situations - fairly generic statements like "be careful or you will suffer a health or financial loss" and so on - but they can be alarmingly accurate in ways which really do not seem to be coincidence, *even when the client disagrees*.

E.g. my assistant Dee did a reading about two years ago in which he told the client that the cards indicated either that he was a personality divided in himself, or that he was divided from his family. The client insisted that this definitely wasn't true, and Dee just said "I'm sorry, but that's what the cards say: I can't change it." Two weeks later the guy came back in and said "Since you read for me, I've found out that I was adopted."

About six months ago I did one where we got cards indicating mysterious or spiritual forces linked to family anxieties. The client insisted that this wasn't right, that she couldn't think of anything it might refer to etc. etc. so strongly that I decided it must be a dud reading, reshuffled and started again. Half an hour later she just happened to mention that she is psychically sensitive to her family and can always tell when something bad happens to them, and this is a source of great stress...

My late boyfriend Norman was what's called a psychic diagnostician - someone who can tell what's wrong with someone, as opposed to making them better (though he was OK at that too). He was not only the best I've met but the best I've heard of, anywhere, ever.

Typical example. One of my fellow students on a course I was on had been suffering from abdominal pains. He had had polyps removed from his gut before and was now having tests for cancer of the colon. He was very scared, so I told Norman the guy's name and asked what was wrong with him. Nothing else - just the name and the fact that he had an unspecified medical problem. Norman, who did not know the guy at all, replied firmly "That's kidneys."

He certainly didn't pick this up as any subliminal clue from me, since I didn't think that that was right, and at that point I actually argued with him and told him the doctors all thought it was colo-rectal cancer. But he stuck to his guns and insisted it was a kidney problem and yes: in the event, it was kidney-stones, with refered pain. This was not an isolated example. There was e.g. the guy hundreds of miles away, whom Norman had never met or spoken to, who was supposed to have carpal tunnel syndrome, and Norman said no it was arthritis, and we all said he was wrong because the guy had had his wrists X-rayed and they were clear, and it was only after Norman's death that the problem was traced to arthritis in the spine...

[This is going to be a very long post, but what the hell.]

I do have a friend who is a great sceptic, who used to do Tarot and psychic readings himself when he was a teenager and is now convinced that he was only picking up subliminal clues etc.. So I suggested we test his hypothesis and see if he could do what Norman did. I suggested that I should write down the names of some people known to me but not to him, tell him nothing about them except their names, not myself be present while he was reading so he couldn't pick up any clues from me, and we would see if he could pick up accurate information to go with the names. But he wimped out and wouldn't do it, in case the results disturbed his belief in his lack of belief...

I am only erratically and occasionally clairvoyant, so I don't do clairvoyant readings for money: but when the talent is working, I can assure you I am not telling people "You feel dissatisfied with your current job" or any other vague Barnum statement. It's "You were at a party at New Year, and there was a little boy toddler there with blonde curly hair, and you ended up spending most of the evening talking to him because he was the most interesting person at the party" (which was all spot on except his hair wasn't so curly as I saw it).

And no, it's not an easy way to get rich - if you're doing it right, it's an extremely difficult and stressful way to scrabble a living of about £5,000 per annum if you're lucky. It's basically doing most of the things a psychologist does for less than a fifth of the pay, and IMO anyone who charges noticeably more than the minimum they need to live on is suspect.

[Making $600 in a weekend doing readings may sound like money for jam but the lady had probably had to pay $400 for the use of premises/table, plus her fares and food, and in fact made a gain of about $150 for 14 hours of extremely hard work and as much as 12 hours travelling there and back. That's certainly how it works in Britain.]

Of course you do get charlatans, especially when money comes into it. Part of the problem is that hardly anybody can just read to order, spot on, every time, and yet once there are large sums of money involved people feel pressurized to come up with the goods every time and not say "Sorry, I know you just paid me £100 and came 300 miles to see me but I'm just not on form today." Plus the whole thing is very subjective and a lot of readers can't tell when they stop true-seeing and start imagining - especially when they feel under pressure to come up with something.

I used to know a medium (I won't give her name) who definitely had real talent - when she was on form she could give you names and dates and so on that she definitely couldn't have known by mundane means. But she could seldom hold a trance for more than ten minutes and when she was losing it you could always tell, because she herself had major-league "abandonment issues" and so she would get this soppy voice on and say "So-and-so wants you to know he *really loves you*" and you knew that that was her neurosis talking and not the putative spirit.

A mutual friend decided to test this medium out so she invented an entirely imaginary character called Dorothy, and built up a life-story for Dorothy, silently inside her head, and thought about her hard, and the medium duly said "Dorothy wants you to know she really loves you." So she was a good telepath, but only an intermittent medium!

And there's always signal-degradation. Many years ago an aquaintance decided to test my abilities by imagining a picture (from the other end of a 'phone-line and several hundred miles away - no postural clues!) and seeing if I could pick it up. She imagined the legendary tree that bore the golden apples of the sun - and I saw and described one single real yellowy-green apple.

As to how it works... bear in mind that a lot of neuroscientists now believe that (as one reportedly put it at a conference on artificial intelligence about 18 months ago) the brain is just a sort of mobile 'phone, a travelling receiver, and the mind is elsewhere. Bear in mind the Pam Reynolds case in the 1990s, where a patient who had an aneurism next to her brain-stem was put into cryogenic suspension before beginning the operation, and not brought out of it until after the operation was finished, and was definitely flat-lining throughout the whole op., and yet could describe who did what and who said what and where they stood and what went wrong and what they did about it. Bear in mind that what psychics such as myself think we know about the universe, about astral travel etc. is fairly compatible with modern physics and ideas about multiple extra dimensions.

I believe

a) that "the astral" is just one (or more) of the other dimensions physics tells us about.

b) that we don't "go into astral" - we are in it all the time, just as we are always in length and width and depth and time, and that "going into astral" just means turning your awareness in a direction you don't normally look

c) that living beings are a synthesis of physical matter in the first four dimensions with energy existing in some of the other dimensions, and the energy doesn't go away when the matter does - it just seeks new matter to attach itself to

d) that the substance/appearance/form of the other/astral dimensions is malleable to mental forces, and matter is also malleable but much less so, and fluffy New Age-y people who insist that we create our own reality and cause everything that happens to ourselves etc. are forgetting that it's a *consensus* reality, and we can't just decide to change the laws of physics or fate unless most of the other beings in the universe buy into it too and do so all at the same time

e) that there are spirit beings which are basically entities which exist in the other dimensions, and which do not normally attach to matter bodies

f) that you can also *make* spirit entities which thereafter have independent existence (aka Thought Forms)

g) that what we call gods and angels and demons are a combination of a pre-existing core concept and of the personified Thought Forms we attach to that concept

h) that that doesn't make them less real than the rest of us, because we are *all* Thought Forms who originally sculpted ourselves and each other out of some sort of amorphous soul-matter, analogous to the way in which planets accrete out of dust clouds

i) that Tarot etc. works because so many people have used it and believed it over the centuries that it has become a Thought Form, a sort of single-function god, which responds when you do the reading

j) that spells work because they combine a Thought Form, created by the minds of all the other people who ever did the spell, with the will of the person doing it now; that they are a way of putting your thumb on the scales and altering the consensus universe just a wee bit while nobody is looking; and that they therefore won't usually result in very large or dramatic effects (you can cause somebody you haven't seen for ten years and who lives on the far side of the world to decide to come back to the old country for a holiday and look you up: you can't make a bus sprout wings).

k) that small begets large and the whole is more than the sum of its parts, so all the minds of the sailors on board a ship create a Thought Form which is the ship's soul, and once that soul has been formed it influences the minds of future sailors on that ship, as well as being modified by them; all the humans and other animals within a country create the soul of a country which influences its inhabitants ditto; countries generate the Earth Mother; little gods beget bigger gods (so e.g. Pan and Loki and Coyote feed into one bigger Trickster) and that what Christians call God and pagans call the Goddess is the land-soul of the universe

l) that science will one day be able to stick a wire into all of this and measure it

Which, therefore, is also how magic works in the world I'm writing about... :)

preyer
03-19-2005, 12:00 PM
interesting reply. :)

alanna
03-19-2005, 07:55 PM
whitehound-cudos on your reply. :) :Clap: :snoopy: :PartySmil

whitehound
03-20-2005, 04:39 AM
Thanks. There's an awful lot of people who think they are being "scientific" by rejecting out of hand anything which doesn't fit in with what they understand to be science's official view of the world - a position which is called "scientism" because it turns belief in science into a sort of mindless cult rather than an analytical tool. But true scientists observe what happens and if it doesn't fit with pre-existing theory they modify the theory - they don't throw out the observation.

Plus, they are lagging behind the times anyway! Belief in a separate soul existing "somewhere else" is the new up-and-coming thing in neuroscience, at least as respectable as the latest theories about cosmology. Partly this is due to the afore-mentioned Pam Reynolds case - before her, it was always possible that patients who had NDEs, and could describe medical procedures which happened while they were technically dead, had had the experience just before or just after flat-lining, rather than during it. But within the detection-abilities of modern medicine, Ms Reynolds was quite definitely completely brain-dead throughout the operation which she afterwards described.

Partly it's because neuroscience has noticed that head injuries do not normally knock out pinpoint memories (one quarter of a remembered image, two words from a conversation) as you would expect would be the case if memory was stored in the video-tape-like way we had previously imagined. Rather, they either take out a whole category of memory (such as the ability to recognize faces), or they produce a general degradation of memory across the board.

This suggests either that memory is stored in some way analogous to a hologram, and/or that it is stored somewhere other than the brain, and what is damaged by head-injuries is the filing and retrieval system rather than the memory itself. The experience of Ms. Reynolds tends to support the second hypothesis.

I had an interesting experience with this myself a few years ago. A very good friend of mine called Eric died in 1996, and a couple of years ago a guy came into my shop who had known Eric, but had not known that he was dead. He saw I had a photo' of Eric there and began talking about him, and he found out from me that Eric was dead.

Now, this man was severely brain-damaged - he was a recovering alcoholic and he also had a visible, huge dent in his head where his skull had been smashed. When he learned about Eric's death he said to me "Oh, has he died? Are you sure?"

He then repeated this every few minutes for an hour or more. Conventional wisdom would say his memory was damaged and he forgot what he had been told and was constantly being surprized by it, so that Eric's death was new to him each time. But what was striking was that only once did his intonation vary, and in all other instances - at least ten times - he repeated the question with the *exact same wording and intonation.* It looked and sounded as if he had had the thought and formulated the question only once, and his brain then kept skipping back to that moment like a stuck gramaphone record. If mind/memory is indeed stored elsewhere, and the brain is some sort of receiver set, then the mechanism which kept his physical brain running in synch with his mind had broken and left it going round and round in a loop.

fallenangelwriter
03-20-2005, 09:32 AM
I view with extreme doubt your statement that dualism isb ebing embraced by neurologists. if you could give a source...?


also, there are many ways to explain that kind of memory failure without requiring a separate memory storage.

whitehound
03-20-2005, 06:31 PM
The specific comment that "This" [holding his hands either side of his head] "is a mobile 'phone" was a quote told to me by one of my Tarot clients who was an expert on Artificial Intelligence, and had just come from a multi-disciplinary conference at which a neuroscientist had made this remark (and finished it with "but we don't like to admit it publicly because it's embarrassing"). As soon as he left I thought "Damn, I should have got more details" and I waited for weeks to see if he would come back but he never did - he was Greek and probably went back to Greece.

All I can say is that it was an AI conference in Edinburgh about 18 months ago. I probably could find out where and when, and which neuroscientists were at it, as I have a friend who is an AI student here.

The general remarks about the nature of memory come from articles in the scientific press which were being reported about six months ago. I don't have time to search for a reference as I am packing to move house, but if you looked up memory, brain-damage, holographic storage etc. I'm sure you could Google it.

The rest comes from a symposium on NDEs which I attended at the National Museum in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, where four or five top neurosurgeons and cardiologists from around the world described their own experiences and research on patients' NDEs and discussed the latest thinking on this. I would have to ask the museum for a listing of their past events to give you the exact dates and names.

Although the exact reference to a mobile 'phone handset ws not made at this conference, one of the neurosurgeons described current thinking among some neuroscientists as being that the brain was like a TV-set, picking up and translating programs which originate elsewhere. This confirms that this idea is being quite widely discussed (unless, of course, it was *the same guy* who attended the AI conference and made the remark about mobile 'phones, which I know not).

And of course, the point is not whether or not there are alternative explanations for the memory-storage thing - there are alternative explanations for nearly everything. The point is that, rightly or wrongly, the idea that memory is stored elsewhere is a current topic of scientific debate and an opinion being held by experts in the field (doesn't matter whether it's many experts or a handful, so long as it's not just one lone obvious nutter), so it is also a perfectly legitimate position to take in an SF story.

It's like the Big Bang and steady-state debate - we might now think that the steady-state boys were barking up the wrong tree but you wouldn't therefore reclassify an SF story based around steady-state as being fantasy just because you prefer the Big Bang theory - now would you?

whitehound
03-21-2005, 02:18 AM
PS re the above - the neuroscientist at the AI conference was there because he was an expert on the nature of intelligence, therefore presumably primarily an academic. The chap who made the remarks about TV sets at the symposium was a neuro*surgeon*, therefore almost certainly not the same person.

When combined with press reports about the nature of memory, which refered to neuroscientists (plural afaik) considering the possibility that memory was stored elsewhere, that means that this opinion (that a significant number of neuroscientists are viewing the brain as a receiver-set) was brought to my attention independently three times within a year or two, coming from three different branches of neuroscience - a fair indication, I think, that it is being widely discussed.

That has no particular bearing on whether it's *right* or not, of course - but it does make it definitely a legitimate subject for SF.

whitehound
03-21-2005, 04:32 AM
PPS - I found you an article by Sheldrake on the external memory/TV-set theory at http://www.stuartwilde.com/Learn/SW_learn_Mind_Memory_Archetype.htm The owner of the website this is sitting on seems somewhat flakey even by my standards, but although Sheldrake himself is a bit left of field he is legitimately part of the scientific community, and probably less of a looper than, say, Freud, who is still taken deadly-seriously.

I found the original quote I had written in an e-mail to a friend on the night of 20th/21st January 2004, concerning the conversation at the AI conference, viz:

'Today I read Tarot for a guy who is doing a PhD on artificial intelligence. He said he was recently at an AI conference at which a neurologist rather embarassedly said the neurologists were increasingly suspecting that "memory isn't between my hands", holding his hands either side of his head, but rather that "this [the content of his head] is a modem" and memory resides Out There somewhere.'

Sparhawk
03-24-2005, 11:22 PM
In most of my writings magic (Sorcery) is based on the ability to manipulate the elemets of air, earth, water , fire and energy.

My sorcery is based on the practicioners ability to command these elemental forces of nature and harness theor powers for personal bidding.

My favorite authors (Moorcock and Eddings) have Sorcery based on pacts with higher beings whether they be Elementals or Gods. Worshiping of a particular God gives that worshiper limited mystical ability, or a soul pact with a god of some type.

IN my novel HYBRID, and second book FORCED VENGEANCE the main character has the ability to harness bio electrical energy from the planets naturally occuring energy fields and magnetic lines of force that exist on the earth. Again, manipulating a naturally occuring force of nature.

I've always looked at Sorcery as the control of the elements that compromise our world. While I acknowledge that it can also extend (and often does) into the manipulation of the Supernatural and Spiritual World, I have never attempted to create a character or story utilizing those potentials.

I hope this was of some use in answering your question.

NicoleJLeBoeuf
03-25-2005, 12:10 AM
On-topic response: Depends on the story, but in the urban fantasy YA novel I'm currently working on (or maybe rural fantasy, as it takes place in a tiny made-up town off an I-10 exit in Alabama), much of the plot hinges on a sort of "dramatized for fiction" version of Wiccan magic. The main character's big sister is a Wiccan witch, whose spells the main character copycats and abuses. Hilarity ensues. Or something.

On-tangent response: A friend of mine, also a Wiccan, studying psychology, sells Tarot readings in the summers here in Boulder. Before accepting money, she makes sure her clients understand that she's not telling the future, that the reading is to be understood as a form of consultation/brainstorming/second opinion on whatever they're currently working on, should not be assumed to take the place of the work of a licensed therapist since she isn't one yet, yadda yadda yadda. And if after the reading and interpretation the client is completely like, "Sorry, that rings no bells at all for me," she doesn't charge. She's very much concerned that the clients only pay if they find her reading to be of value to them. Of course, people who don't find Tarot readings remotely valueable tend not to stop at her table anyway.

(I'm not going to enter into any arguments over whether she's self-deluded, or conning people, or whether she'd pass any Randi tests. Totally irrelevant. Tarot has value to her, it has value to the majority her clients, and if that gives anyone here a bellyache, they sell stuff at your local pharmacy to help you out with that. ;))

Somone once came up to her all belligerent-like and said, "You're a fortune teller? Great! Tell me when Jesus is coming back!" She thought about this and replied, "Well, I assume from your question that you're a Christian. If you have faith, then Jesus is already here, 'cause He's in your heart." The heckler kinda lit up and said, "Yeah... that makes sense," and wandered away. I suppose that just goes to show that yes, it does help to have some basic psychology skills.

Oh--another Tarot anecdote. Friend of mine doing a seminar on divination spread a deck out on the table and said, "This is a random number generator." For those who interpret random happenings as little hints from the Universe, Tarot and I Ching and rune-casting can be seen as ways to invite the Universe to converse with us. Or one's Higher Consciousness, if one believes that ones unconscious mind somehow influences random chance. Whatever. It works for me.

fallenangelwriter
03-26-2005, 07:52 PM
Tarot works fine without invoking any communion with "the Universe"

NicoleJLeBoeuf
03-26-2005, 10:06 PM
Tarot works fine without invoking any communion with "the Universe"And the sun rises just fine even if the Denver-area Pagans don't gather at Red Rocks Amphitheater before dawn on Winter Solstice to drum it up. That doesn't stop us from enjoying the ritual and its significance in our varying religious beliefs.

Like I said in my last post: the Universe/Higher Self stuff? It works for me. Nothing about "it works for me" should be construed as a claim that it works for everyone else. I'm just throwing another point of view into the conversation.

preyer
03-27-2005, 12:11 AM
how do you use that to your literary advantage, if any? to me, it would seem that people who come in for a tarot reading often have a story to tell, don't they? it would seem tough not to incorporate some of their stories into a fictional thing, but, i mean, there's a trust there that the readee is placing in you. maybe it's not a legal issue, like a patient/doctor confidentiality, but still these people assume you're not going to misappropriate their lives, no?

whitehound
04-01-2005, 01:15 PM
Personally, I will discuss cases with friends who have a professional interest - but shorn of identifying details unless there's a particular nedd-to-know (such as working with a herbalist to produce a treatment-plan for a cleint's problems). It never occurred to me to incorporate any client into a story, although I suppose I might some time do so in the very general sense in which they expand one's experience of human behaviour. This is true for anyone who works with people's problems, surely?

Apropos previous queries, there is an article at http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/162/4/823 which I think demonstrates conclusively that, whilst the belief that the mind can climb out of the brain and keep on going is not mainstream, it *is* a matter of serious current scientific debate.

zizban
04-01-2005, 08:17 PM
When using magic in my books, I go by Steven Brust's Rule of Magic: Don't tell how it works, show how it works.

fallenangelwriter
04-02-2005, 09:13 AM
I do both.


and to do either, one must first KNOW how it works.

whitehound
04-02-2005, 03:04 PM
Yes quite - it's very annoying when writers don't think through how a magical (or technological) system works before they write it. Then you end up with a mere plot device, with limitations or abilities which vary from situation to situation according to what the writer found convenient.

Much as I adore Terry Pratchett, and I do, he is rather prone to this sort of thing (I suspect because he writes odd bits of stories out of order and then stitches them together months later): so that, for example, you may be told on one page that a particular spell cannot be used on anything which was once alive - and three pages later someone applies that spell successfully to a pumpkin!

Roger J Carlson
04-04-2005, 06:40 PM
I do both.
and to do either, one must first KNOW how it works.I'm struggling with this right now. As I posted earlier, the magic in my world is "scientifically" based in that the people of this world used the scientific method to develop their system of magic. That means that I had to come up with a rational system.

It is important to the development of my main character to show how she masters all of the forms of magic. To do this, I need to do more than just show the magic happening. At the same time, I need to resist the temptation to lecture. (As a college instructor, this is almost overpowering!) My beta readers have told me that these parts are the most boring, so I have to cut them, and I'm in the process of doing just that. (Even though I bleed with every cut word.)

It's a challenge, but I'm working on it.

zizban
04-04-2005, 07:18 PM
I sometimes think of describing magic like math: you start with the basics and work your way up. A starting mage may have to learn the basic magic rules before moving up in complexity. No one tries to learn math by starting out with a quantum physics book.

fallenangelwriter
04-04-2005, 10:00 PM
Tamora Peirce's Circle fo Magic series and many of Mercedes Lackey's books have excellent descriptrions of magic. rather than give long lectures, she simply describes what the characters are doing as they do it.

both give their magic users special "sight" which allowsd them to see magic itself, and describe them almost physically manipulating energy. there are references to drawing on power, weaving, melding, hammering, and so on, with the spells being given life through physical metaphors.

i found it very effective.

whitehound
07-17-2005, 07:39 AM
bump

Specialfae
02-08-2013, 06:27 AM
In my opinion - back to the topic of whether to explain it or not - is that it depends on the story line. Other than that, it's so open to possibilities. IMO if droning on about the intricate works would bore the reader to death it's a no. Sometimes you want to let the reader figure it out, connect the dots, because that's part of the appeal/pull of the story.

Even the comment "it has to make sense" isn't always necessarily true. Sometimes you want it to make the reader go "WTH??"... for awhile, as long as there is an epiphany moment

Some even see the 'normal' traits of non human races as magical.

That's why I love it, it's so limitless as long as it pulls the reader in and makes them forget there are words on a page.

jjdebenedictis
02-08-2013, 07:21 AM
Necro thread! Break out the dancing skellies!

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d86/jen_deben/1349473286475.gif

katci13
02-08-2013, 07:28 AM
When using magic in my books, I go by Steven Brust's Rule of Magic: Don't tell how it works, show how it works.

Quoting this old post. It's perfect.

Who cares how it works? I just want to see what it does.

suestrong315
02-10-2013, 08:46 PM
I read through a few of the responses and started thinking about the magic in my story.

It's not something taught down the ranks (Elder wizard teaches aspiring wizard) it's delivered to the characters through an essence. And not everyone can do the same things, or manipulate their power the same way. Yes, they are of a physical nature Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, Electricity, Telepathy, Telekinesis etc. but I'd hope the way I described it, allowed my characters to consume it and work with it, that it didn't just turn into the run-of-the-mill magic tricks. I wanted the physical magical aspect though. I wanted someone to fight with fire against someone who fights with ice.

Roxxsmom
02-11-2013, 12:48 AM
That's interesting Zane. There's a whole phenomenon out there like this, going so far as to relate to genius animals.

There was one instance, can't remember when or the horse's name now, but this horse could do math. The owner would ask a question, and he'd tap out the answer. Two plus two equals four, he'd tap four times with his hoof.

Turns out, the horse was just really tuned in to his owner's subconscious encouragement to the horse - body language, facial expression - and just knew when the owner wanted him to stop.

I believe the horse was named "Clever Hans." :) It's a great example of how "smart" animals are at reading our cues, even if they can't do math.

JustinlDew
02-13-2013, 07:08 AM
Basically the magic system in my universe is a based on mathematics, the runes that are used to "turn" the math into a construct and then the compartmentalization to turn in the construct into a trigger word, normally in latin, that is mentally "tied" to a spell that is ready to be used.

Most mages are not taught the math and physics behind a spell unless they want to go into warding or enchantment.

Usually a construct is composed of one rune for each of the senses, and a sixth rune tied to the caster's energy.

It is not uncommon for a young child with above average abilities to unconciouslly tap into this force, resulting in untrained magic such as a stuffed animal coming to life or fuses in their room to blow.

When a spell is ready to be used it is channeled through a focus, normally a wand, but in could be an athame, a ring, or even something that you have a very tight emotional bond with.

The focus, combined with the trigger word, are crucial in making sure a trained magician doesn't melt his brain and ensuring proper control over a mage's abilities.

Magic has been harnassed for many things in my universe. Basically they discovered magic where we humans discovered nuclear energy.

Tezzirax
02-13-2013, 10:56 PM
In my book, The Final Warden, magic is primordial and sorcery is in its infancy. Magic comes in many forms: people with unique innate abilities (gifts), prayer-like Rituals which tap into the spirits of the gods to achieve a fixed effect, enchanted items, and sorcerous spell casting which harnesses and guides raw magic and repurposes it to achieve a focused effect.

In the last case, only those who are blessed with a spirit enabled to do so can tap into the magic, but it can be learned or granted through a divine will. To channel or focus the magic to a task, the spellcaster must employ a range of forces; vocal tones that form elemental forces, gestures that provide impetus and direction, water to control the mind or senses, complex diagrams for subtle and precise manipulation of location in the physical realm...and all requires exercising precise mental control.

If the sorceror draws too much magic for the task, they must release it back carefully or suffer any number of painful results, up to and including death.

Magic is a force of life. For a sorceror to twist magic towards corruption comes with its own set of risks.

Slow Typist
02-17-2013, 02:38 AM
There are some useful online resources for novelists on designing magical systems. See http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=260107.

Personally, I haven't made a final decision on exactly how the magical system in my novel is going to work. Broadly speaking, however, it'll be a 'soft' magic system, as defined by Brandon Sanderson in this essay: http://brandonsanderson.com/article/40/Sandersons-First-Law.