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February 10th, 2022
Fringey & Sympathetic
In 1889, a man by the name of James George Frazer wrote a book called "The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion",
in which people have credited him for coining the term "sympathetic magic."
In this book, he states: "If we analyze the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two:
first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue
to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the
Law of Contact or Contagion. From the first of these principles, namely the Law of Similarity, the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires
merely by imitating it: from the second he infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once
in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not."
This concept is roughly how people have come to understand "correspondences"; as a way to generate the ability to empower or pull energy or substance,
life-force, etc from or into a person, place, or thing. It is also the concept that has been taken and built upon by many others throughout history,
mostly in regard to manifestation.
If you're unfamiliar with what correspondence is, it is mainly understood as those traits given merit in conjunction with the main focus.
For example, a feather may be associated with air, which is associated with thought because it's airy or light -much like thoughts, or with freedom because
feathers are what birds use to take flight -a freeing concept- having the ability to fly above the trappings of the modern world. A rock might be given
a correspondence of weight, solidity, and might be used to hold down an idea or give a particular spell strength. Fire can be used to fertilize a focus
or to destroy one, but it's seen transformative qualities associated with it as such.
Taking things further, these concepts are frequently compartmentalized, so that one thing might be associated as a good omen by some, but condemned by
others as a baddie. Such concepts often emerge within cultural and religious stereotypes, and as I discuss in my "There and Back Again: The Archetype of
Spooky in a Land of Not-So-Far Away" article on fairytales, used as a tool for memorization. Just as in all things, this too has the possibility to be
used by those who don't have your best interest at heart, in the ways of propaganda and manipulation. This is not only a very confusing and frustrating
situation but can be dangerous on many levels when people use these ideologies as a means to determine "right" from "wrong".
Take colors for example. In most fairytales, those who look different are often demonized. Wicked witches in the stories are seen to have black hair or
are described as being an old person and called "hags". Folks who live in the forest are portrayed as being dangerous. Physical deformities are portrayed
as being grotesque, and characters of the dominant culture are seen as being innocent, frequently victimized by minorities. Blackbirds, black clothing,
nighttime, anything "dark", have become associated by a majority of people with things of evil, while others find them a symbol of power, protection, and secrets.
Roses are seen as being a thing of beauty more often than a symbol of protection.
The forest itself, instead of a place of origins, connection, and natural beauty, has been stigmatized as a place of danger.
To try on sympathetic magic, just think about what objects you associate with certain feelings or experiences. Think of 3 things and write those down.
You can even break them down further if you feel the need to do so. Look at what you have written down, and think about something that when these
symbols are mixed together, the combination of such may come to represent. Your association is the correspondence. Could that representation become an
expression of an outcome you would like to achieve? If so, that's the will to manifest.
When you use correspondences combined with feelings (connections), will (desire and intent), and focus, it becomes sympathetic magic.
The feelings and memories that one person relates to an object may trigger an entirely different feeling or memory in someone else.
This is why there is no "one true" magic. Everyone brings a little something different to the table. Some may be able to create a powerful
talismanic charm because their connections and understandings create a specific energy that may be more potent than someone else's in that regard.
Some people have more concentration in matters concerning particular symbols or elements.
Where animals are concerned, the concentration is referred to as a "familiar".
The general public balls any of these magical ideas into one concept; calling it fringe, quackery, and pseudoscience, but each one of these terms
has a specific definition. It depends on the practice involved, the methods used, and who you ask -but again, cultural norms and correspondences
play out, and what is different often gets thrown in the loony basket, demonized and portrayed as something that can't be trusted, or as
altogether false, because it steps outside of what is the current and acceptable norm.
Science shows proof based on what experimentation shows, using a specified and accepted outline.
Sometimes, what is viable or useful or what some consider to be "real" falls outside of those lines.
By definition, if there isn't enough substantiated proof, then something is considered to be "fringe" because its workings still exist on the outside
of what modern science can currently explain. It doesn't mean it's no good, it just means that not enough data has been collected to prove a particular
idea or system is or isn't valid from a scientific point of testing. I consider the term "pseudoscience" to be used rather loosely by a lot of folks when
regarding "fringe" ideas and techniques. The term pseudoscience applies to someone who tries to prove something as having scientific merit when in
actuality it doesn't; not because they mean to intentionally cause harm, but because they have put together a bunch of
loose ends without having conclusive experience.
The accepted definition of pseudoscience is "consisting of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are
incompatible with the scientific method." It's also known as "hot-footing", meaning they're so eager and excited to show off an idea or concept,
that they forego the necessary requirements, often finding half facts to prove to other people it's valid and accepted, under the guise of being scientific.
It's kind of like when people use the terms "origin" and "ancient" when describing a particular magical system.
A lot of people will assume that something is better, just because it's old; assuming that something ancient must have been thoroughly studied.
That kind of thing.
Of course, any idea or practice that is novel or weird or unusual that is currently being investigated is "fringe", meaning it's connected,
albeit not completely connected or not completely understood. Like fringe on a jacket, a fringe concept has discernable features and fragments of
a known and solid or accepted thing. It's still kind of shaggy. It's rough around the edges. It's "incomplete" to known science.
This is why it's important when explaining methods and tools used in a query or system, that it is stated that the method "is believed may"
be having a particular outcome, instead of "proven to have an outcome". Of course, again, this "proof" may be personal.
I think it's good to remain a skeptic because I know that a lot of what is considered to be, say -ghosts, demons, and hauntings- are the result of something
completely explainable. Many things can be equated to the scientific and measurable, like electrical fields causing changes in emotional states,
association and belief causing mass hysteria, and so forth.
Not that those experiences aren't "para" normal, but that it does have a level of scientific explanation behind them. I don't doubt when someone tells me
they received messages from a deceased loved one, but I do not trust modern ghost-hunting equipment as being 100% reliable, even though it is portrayed as such.
There is a large margin of error in the types of equipment used in ghost-hunting, not to mention that many people who are investigating phenomena are in it
for the views and subsequent cash, with money as an incentive to deceive. This hurts those who are using methods to investigate scientifically.
When people start not to trust one person because they are found to be lying, they also tend to distrust the things they're into as well, and then you
get the whole "guilty by association" thing. Some people take this as an opportunity to wage a whole other level of propaganda...
but that's an entirely different article for another time.
So, the term fringe is the experimentation, such as the use of devices and new methods to find out why we have ghosts and other various and currently
unexplainable phenomena. The term quackery is used when someone purposefully deceives by trying to convince people otherwise, to support an agenda;
usually, that agenda is for funding and profit. Quackery is defined as "dishonest practices and claims to have special knowledge and skill in some field,
typically medicine." In this regard, the keyword here is dishonesty, so by definition, a "quack" is someone that knows that what they're promoting
is false, but continues to do it anyway.
A lot of people may have experiences where they have themselves been personally convinced of the efficacy of a particular practice having merit.
This means that over time, they have had experiences that they consider to be "personal fact" because over and over, they have the same outcome or results.
The word "fact" in this sense is again relative because what one person experiences may not be within the scope of another to experience it.
Some people have a sense of knowing where an object came from by touching it, while others don't have the ability to pick up on those subtle
vibrations that emit memory. Some people can see and talk to ghosts, whereas others can't. Some investigators have a knack for hunches,
some people can learn 30 languages whereas some aren't "wired" in that way. Everyone is different, and everyone has a certain thing they
are better at than someone else. Some of these things can be scientifically proven, while others aren't as easy to measure.
Science focuses on what can be proven by a majority of outcomes substantiated by visible data. Much of what is still considered "fringe"
is dubbed so because it cannot be measured or viewed by current scientific testing. Technology is always evolving.
Perhaps tomorrow, we'll read an article or see on the news that somebody developed a technique that can measure paranormal activity,
but keep in mind when they do, just yesterday, it was "fringe". ;)
My majik is based within personal experience. I then take those experiences and throw them under the lens of scientific data, meaning, I want
to see if there is a scientific explanation for what I have experienced. Many times, people find strands of scientific proof that their experience
is "like" a thing that science has proven to be "factual", but unfortunately without a full spectrum of understanding in that field, the connections
may be speculative, at best. AKA Fringe.
This is where "faith" frequently intersects and butts heads with "science", and where many and varied theories emerge.
The problem arises when those unsubstantiated theories, are stated as an absolute or quantifiable fact, at the risk of causing harm.
We're human. We're all adventurers, learning about our world. We all have personal experiences and we're all different.
As humans, we trial and error. Problems arise when one person says that a thing is or isn't so, without having experienced it themselves.
At the beginning of my website, I make this claim: "What we offer is real majik. It is not simple or generic and comes from the benefit of our own
experiences, skills, and creativity. It is raw, powerful and like none other...and that is a fact. I can say this confidently because it is a
tradition of my own design in which I have created, operated, and taught for almost 40 years."
Because I use scientific theories to explain how what I consider "real" magic works, a few words may stand out as "red flags" to someone trying to
identify what is "quack" and what isn't. Those words being "real" and "fact" and the term "like none other." It's the other words within the context
that most people could misinterpret, or because I have the tendency to explain things in a weird way that may sound confusing sometimes.
I want my readers to know how serious I am about what I do and that I (as well as some others) have had powerful results when using this tradition
because at the base of it all, I want them to know I am reliable, not right or wrong;
I just want folks to know how long I have been teaching my craft to others and that I have personally had effective and liberating results
of having practiced it. It is personal and witness merit, but it isn't "scientific" in regard to having proven specific scientific data to back it up.
I don't do it for the money, after all, most of the stuff on my website is for free and personal use.
I do it because I have been in uncomfortable situations before too, and I feel that my way can help people.
I do it because I want to see people do better for themselves, and if society lives better, we all have more resources
within to live better, as do our future generations.
So, basically, it's like "hey guys! I found this really cool way to do what many consider to be magical, and it's helped me and my friends out,
and I want to share, because if I do, and it works for you too, we all might be able to make a more comfortable future for ourselves which means
less waste, less burden, less stress and more creativity, and reliable healthy and affordable resources!"
Yes, it is very specific, but it's why I do it.
It is my personal experience (as well as others whom I've taught) that tell me that my methods work, and having over 40 years is a pretty
damn good Petrie dish if you ask me. I say it's "real" because the experiences and results are very real for those of us who have employed them.
I say it's "real", implying that there are some other methods that "aren't" -because there are a lot of people out there selling things to people without
having a lot of experience and people get hurt when using those ideas. A lot of these ideas out there are watered down, misused, and assumed to be accurate,
like when someone told the general public that it was perfectly good practice to pick Belladonna and hang it above the bed or stuff it in a pillowcase to
cause "stress relief" and "pleasant dreams". Belladonna is a nicer name for Deadly Nightshade, and it can kill you.
But there it was...some unchecked neo-witchy, throwing some pseudo-magic upon a highly respected and often read publication's "add a spell" section.
This happens a LOT. Sure, Belladonna can relieve stress, when it is prescribed by medical professionals who know what they are doing.
It may also kill you if you go pick it and stuff it in your pillowcase.
I not only worry about the ill effects someone may receive by trying something they read or saw on the internet but about the stigmatization we
all receive when some of this stuff backfires. It makes all of us look bad, and that is dangerous as well.
So, when I use the word "real", I am implying that I know what I am doing based on experience. The trend in social media seems to be that because everyone
wants to sell a product now and quick, they resort to going to websites and copying what others have written down and then pass that off as their own
personal experience. That's not "real" in my opinion, but rather con-artistry and scam. This is why I am confident in using the word "real" in regard to
my majik. Some other people do have real systems as well, not just me.
The word "fact" is used in regard to my "personal fact", meaning this is what I have proven to myself and others through experience.
"Like none other", yes. A statement of "fact" because I did indeed over the course of many decades, formulate not only a system of majik but
an entire vocabulary that works within it.
Another statement I make is that "witches are born, not made." I guess I shouldn't state that as a "fact", but the word "fact" can also be subjective.
In my experience, there is a noticable difference in the quality of the magical work in regard to those born with certain abilities compared with
those who are trying to emulate them. I consider "witch" to be a term of inheritance, or being genetically predisposed, and magician or magical
practitioner or magic-user to describe those who are not "naturally wired" a witch. Some people take that as a slam or rude, and I guess it could be
perceived that way, although that isn't my intent at all. Being born a witch is not sprinkling fairy dust and always snapping fingers and having something
appear. As a matter of fact, it is an extremely painful experience for most of us, especially when we're children, dealing with a world that seeks to
disempower and call us liars. Witchcraft has never been considered an aesthetic until recently, and although some of the styles are cute,
it confuses a lot of people, and it is the real witches, those who can't just change their style and be done with it, that have to clean up the
messes left behind by those who just wanted to "try on" our lives.
I appreciate the notions, but folks really need to keep in mind that media distorts the truth, and sometimes can have an underlying agenda to either
profit from or propagandize. Because there isn't any scientific absolute in its regard when something is "fringe", the door is left wide open for
interpretation. This is great for investigative and evolving points of view but also sucks when people try to discredit you because they're afraid
of something new or want to steal an idea for themselves.
Much of what we work with does employ this concept of "sympathetic magic", however, it is not a "law of attraction" kind of thing that I personally
endorse or practice. I personally find a lot of fault with the new translation of Frazer's work, as it tends to make some folks feel as though they
are experiencing bad things in life because they are bad people, which cannot be further from the truth.
Sometimes, bad things happen to good people because we have big hearts. We want to help...and too frequently we put ourselves out on a limb or in
harm's way to fix something. We also have a tendency to see what's inside of a person's character, sometimes ignoring the fact that what they show
the world is how they want to be seen. I tell folks what someone shows you is your business because it's what they offer you;
What lies beneath is their business alone.
"Energy" has become a generic term used to describe a lot of different things, much of which is misused or misconstrued.
As a catch-all kind of phrase, people see or hear the word energy and associate it to quackery because much magic and new-agey kind of
stuff got watered-down and scammy by dabblers.
There is obviously a lot of confusion when folks look for "facts" in regard to the metaphysical. There are just so many different avenues, ideas,
and beliefs because the meta or beyond what is normal or physical or standard has a lot of different values, practices, and perceptions.
Magic/Majik, is spiritual and has to do with our personal associations with the great all that is within and around all of us every day.
Many refer to this "all" as "god", and that's perfectly reasonable to me, even as an atheist because it is none of my business what others believe
or what experiences have led someone to define their connections as such. It becomes my business when that intricate and beautifully personal point
of view and experience is manipulated as a way to commit acts of violence and corruption and try to hurt, block, and condemn, myself and those I love.
At the root of all of this, I'm a mom and a teacher.
I like to know what I'm getting, and not be deceived by ill-mannered or ill-intended folks.
I'm a student and always learning. I'm an explorer, always excited about new things and new treasures I may find along the way.
I feel, experience, associate and employ my experiences as a means to manifest good stuff in my life and in the lives of those I care about.
There is some scientific data that back up many things like what I do, but nothing specifically at what I do, which is why I say I'm fringey.
I constantly put myself in a Petrie dish, and am the first person to admit when I am wrong -if indeed, I am.
I take all things into consideration and enjoy very much when folks are like "hey Ari, you know, that's cool and everything, but...have you
considered [enter constructive criticism here]." I love that. It makes great conversation and helps keep things under the lens.
1) Never trust anyone completely. You never know what someone's true motives are, and that can change over time.
2) Sympathy is the ability to associate based on feelings, but never trust something so completely that it becomes blind faith...
because that my friend, is dangerous.
3) Always research. Do this for yourself. Ask many questions, get many answers, and then formulate an opinion or make a choice
based on all of the data you collect.
4) When in doubt, don't. If you doubt it's because your brain or feelings are saying "no". It means more research is required or your
gut instinct is throwing up warning flares. Trust that.
5) Avoid trending and bandwagons. They are short-lived, often contain half-truths, and are unsustainable.
6) Avoid "cancel culture". Nobody is perfect. People often use this tactic now to eliminate competition.
7) Weird is wonderful! The strange and unusual create new things. I myself, am strange and unusual. ;)
8) Don't let anyone tell you that "it's all in your head". Your brain processes and translates the data that your sensitive human equipment pick up.
Maybe you have more sensitive equipment than they do. ;)
9) Take constructive criticism as a means to keep an open mind and inspire creative conversation.
You never know, it may help you "build a better mousetrap".
10) Stay fringey. It keeps the science on its toes.
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