Issues | Reviews | Special Features | Albion Moonlight | Blacklight | Heathen Poetry
About Obsidian | Contact Us | Interviews | Articles
by Cysylltiwr Stormmarchog
You get what you pay for.
Free advice is worth what you pay for it.
Two identical cars are manufactured in the same plant in the United States. One is priced lower and sold as a Chevrolet. The other is priced higher and sold as a Toyota. More cars are sold at the higher price. Two identical jackets are manufactured in the same factory in Malaysia. One is priced lower and sold in a department store. The other is priced higher and sold in a boutique. More jackets are sold at the higher price.
The preceding items illustrate something market researchers have known for decades: the average American believes that, in general, the more something costs, the better and more valuable it must be. In fact, there's a suspicion that if an item is priced too low, there must be something wrong with it.1 Logic and reason dictate that everything has a value that can usually be measured in dollars.2 The result, as you might expect, is that each year Americans pay millions of dollars more than they need to for their purchases. The logic that seemed so reasonable on a gut level failed because the underlying belief is only partially correct. Neither the Chevrolet nor the Toyota mentioned earlier costs as much as a Volvo, which is indeed a better car, an observation that confirms the underlying belief. Yet there is no difference between the Chevrolet and the Toyota, other than the name and the price, an observation that contradicts the underlying belief. From this we can see that logic and reason are only as accurate as the underlying belief, and thus have their limits.
Belief, however, is not the only thing that limits the effectiveness of logic and reason. Our senses also limit the effectiveness of logic and reason. When thousands of people saw a statue of the Virgin Mary located in Ireland move about on its own, for thousands of people the only reasonable explanation had to be that a miracle was happening. Upon investigation, the statue was found to be nothing more than an ordinary non-moving statue that just happened to have the exact lighting needed to cause an optical illusion of movement.3
Even in science, that bastion of logic and reason, there are entire fields of study where logic and reason break down. They can't tell us what the universe was like before, or even during, the Big Bang when the present universe was created, nor are they powerful enough to take us to the very lowest subatomic levels. And they are completely silent about what happens to us after death.
If logic and reason have their limitations in the mundane world, they fail miserably when applied to the spiritual or magical world. For example, when we start with the belief mentioned earlier that value can be measured in dollars, and then apply mundane logic and reason, we would conclude that the best teacher of spiritual or magical subjects would be the one who charged the most for lessons and consultations.
In actuality, the best teachers charge nothing, while those who charge anything for lessons or consultations are immediately suspect. Spirituality and the ability to practice magic are part of the birthright freely given to all human beings. Every person already has within herself everything that is required to successfully practice magic. Yes, a good teacher can help someone advance, but a teacher is a luxury, not a necessity. And in fact a good teacher will be recompensed for providing instruction and consultations. The recompense such a person gets for helping others advance spiritually and magically is spiritual in nature, being part of the teacher's own advancement. I would no more expect to see a real teacher charging for lessons or consultations then I would expect to see a Christian missionary charge the natives for doing his or her duty to "spread the word,"...and for the same reason.4
Logic and reason can be quite powerful tools. They do, after all, underlie four centuries of scientific advancement. Like any tool, however, they have their limitations. In Air Exercise One, we will look at a source of magical information that logic and reason would deny exists: coincidence. Every one of us has stories of chance meetings, missed planes, presents that sparked a lifelong interest, overheard conversations, phone calls from someone we were thinking about at that very moment, and the like that changed the direction of our lives. Science tells us that such coincidences are just random events with no deeper meaning. The problem with such a glib answer is that decades ago, the mathematicians who study random numbers discovered the intriguing fact that it is next to impossible to generate numbers that are truly random. In fact, the modern branch of mathematics known as chaos theory5 has shown us that most of the phenomena we used to think were random actually display a complex but real structure. True randomness, some would say, may not even exist. Such rarity of true randomness supports the increasingly accepted idea that everything in the universe is interconnected by an underlying, very complex structure.
The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung coined the term "synchronicity" to describe such meaningful coincidences. His studies led him to conclude that synchronicity is actually quite common, and probably represents a natural phenomenon similar to the principle of cause and effect. With synchronicity, however, the chain of cause and effect links is not evident, thus may appear not to exist.
In Air Exercise Two, we will look at a second source of magical information that logic and reason would tell us does not exist. We will examine a method for tapping into the universal source of energy that keeps everything functioning, and for reading the information that is inherent in the structure of that energy.
This is a sample of The Wheel from issue No. 3 of Obsidian.
All material ©1995-2007 Obsidian Magazine. All rights reserved.