Probability Magic(k), Possible Magic(k), and the Big Magics

It was very different when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand; but now the scene was changed.  The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth. – From Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein

The most popular view of magic, the view we all started our lives with regardless of who we are, is that magic involves being able to do what shouldn’t be possible. Usually this involves the big magicks, the stuff that nobody seems powerful enough to do. Things like flying, walking through walls, turning lead to gold, resurrecting the dead, ect. Many of us enter our spiritual path believing that these things are possible, even if we don’t know how to do them. We are then ridiculed for our beliefs by “more experienced” practitioners who are still struggling with the simplest of spells.

When we first start practicing magic, the magic we’re capable of is usually pretty simple. Things like moving small strands of energy, having a precognitive dream, or lighting a candle so some cute girl will notice us. It’s about as far beneath flying through the air on a broom stick while shooting fireballs and winning the lottery as you can get. Of course logically it makes sense that we wouldn’t be doing those  impossible and fantastic things at the very beginning of our magical careers. In the same way it’s unlikely you’ll teach your son how to play catch tonight and have major league recruiters looking at him by the end of the week. However a lot of people get into magic and fall into the trap of believing that these simple feats that you begin with is all that magic is capable of. This myth is than perpetuated by certain people in the community who lack any kind of magical ability and can’t even do these simple spells.

There is a new trend in magic though that tries to write these big magics off as impossible, and instead wants to focus on more useful and practical magic. This trend is being heavily promoted within certain movements such as the New Thought and Chaos Magick movements. It’s also led to a new magical model that is probably best described as probability shift magic. This model isn’t based around magic working in a cause and effect or action and reaction model, but rather as being used to bring about changes in probability.

The big magics of today largely revolve around winning the lottery, having complete mental control over others, flight, physical inter-dimensional travel, time travel, the more difficult forms of manifestation magic such as spontaneous creation, and direct physical attacks.

Over the last few decades though, as more and more people have been writing off big magics as impossible and more and more have been concentrating on practical magic something else has been happening with big magic. More and more things are now starting to be labeled big magic.

Magic that was common among practitioners a hundred years ago, things like physical manifestations during evocations, merging with your HGA, and basic manipulation magic are being labeled as completely impossible, or so nearly impossible that they’re sorts of things that are only usually achieved near the end of ones life after decades of practice. As we’ve become more and more eager to label certain elements of magic fantastic and impossible, more and more elements of magic have become fantastic and impossible. If things continue in this direction, its only a matter of time before more and more simpler elements of magic that may be a bit difficult to pick up, like astral projection, mediumship, and channeling, start being labeled as big magic.

The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible – and achieve it, generation after generation. – Pearl Buck

Argue for your limitations and sure enough they’re yours – Richard Bach, Illusions

Another big issue with labeling things impossible is once you label something impossible you almost guarantee you’ll never be able to do it. It becomes impossible for you. It’s true that even if you think it’s possible for you to fly through the air on a broomstick you may never succeed, you might not even have a good chance at succeeding, but if you believe you’ll never be able to do it you have no chance of ever succeeding at it. You aren’t even going to expend the effort to try to figure out how to fly through the air on a broomstick.

“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.” – W. Clement Stone

There’s also a lot to gain from attempting big magics that has nothing to do with ever succeeding at them. Take the idea of turning lead into gold. This was one of the most popular pursuits in alchemy, and yet if it was ever accomplished it was only accomplished by a select few individuals over the course of hundreds of years. The vast majority of alchemist who spent their lives trying to turn lead into gold never succeeded.

But these same alchemist, while trying to turn lead into gold, through their study, theory, and experiments created a good deal of the foundation for modern Western magical and metaphysical systems, and they were also responsible for many of the scientific advances in Medieval Europe.

Space exploration is another good example of trying for the impossible, and this is one that we as a species eventually accomplished. Whether or not you think space travel is beneficial or worthwhile, it has contributed a lot to humanity and science, and I’m not talking about the information we’ve gained through space exploration. We had to come up with new scientific ideas and theories in order to launch rockets and eventually men into space which have now been incorporated into the collective knowledge of mankind, and we had to engineer and design new technology which has practical applications and uses outside of space travel.

Succeeding at big magic is the goal, but it isn’t always the point. For the last four years I’ve been trying to win the lottery through magic. I actually have reasons for playing the lottery besides just winning it. I enjoy playing it, the 45 minute drive to the lotto store is relaxing, and I don’t spend much on it (on average maybe $10 a month). So it’s not like I’ve centered my life plan around winning.

But for the last four years I’ve been trying to use magic to see if it can make me win the big jackpot. So far I haven’t been successful. But in the pursuit of that jackpot I’ve managed to increase my understanding of prosperity and gambling magic quite a bit. These are subjects I never really looked into before that I now have a much better understanding of. That of course is the obvious benefit. Less obvious though I’ve been drawn into studying predestination and destiny magic, immortality magic, time travel theory, precognition, and I’ve made explorations into specific evocations, astral travels and channels all in attempts to figure out the secret of getting the numbers on my ticket to match the draw numbers. Even if I never manage to win the lottery, by trying to do it I’ve already accumulated a crapload of useful theoretical and practical magical knowledge, most of which I probably wouldn’t have been motivated to explore if I wasn’t trying to win the lottery.

Probability Magic

Probability magic is a new magical model that looks at the universe as a set of probabilities, and magic as being the ability to increase and decrease these probabilities. This is different from traditional magical theory.

Traditional magical theory worked under a cause and effect theory, or action and reaction. In other words the basic idea of magic was that if you do A then B will occur, and so the point of magic was to assign something to the variable B and then figure out what A is. The problem with this model is that there are a lot of variables that affect the operation. Things like the mood of the practitioner, who is present during the operation, where the operation is being performed, the time of day, the position of the stars, and the physical condition of the practitioner can all have huge effects on whether or not a spell succeeds. So just because A worked once doesn’t mean it will always work, and just because A didn’t work this time doesn’t mean it will never work. Some magicians who are able to succeed at a spell very rarely succeed at it while others are able to get the same spell to work almost all of the time and rarely ever fail.

Probability magic tries to fix this model. Probability magic begins by supposing that all things are possible however unlikely (this is supported by mathematics and physics). Next it figures that magic is simply the act of changing these probabilities, and this, not variables which are unaccounted for, is why some magicians can only get a spell to work some of the time. Under the theory of probability magic the spell works every time, but it never brings forth the goal. The spell just makes the goal more likely to happen.

For example, the odds of a roulette wheel coming up black are a little less than 50%. If you cast a gambling spell to make the roulette wheel come up black what you’re really doing is increasing the odds that it will come up black. Now instead of maybe a little less than 50% chance you have a 75% chance that it will come up black on the next spin. This greatly increases your chances of doubling your money if you bet on black, but there is still a 25% chance that the wheel will not come up black and you’ll lose.

Probability magic systems then focus on affecting probability shifts in order to change the likelihood of outcomes. The advantage of this system is that even small changes in probability can have huge rewards. Even if you make it so a roulette wheel only has a 52% chance of coming up black instead of a little less than 50%, with a modest bankroll and a lot of time you can use that change in probability to make a lot of money. If you have a spell that increases your odds of getting offered any job you apply for by 10%, assuming you apply for enough jobs you’ll eventually find yourself in a better job than what you would have achieved based on just your own merits.

The problem with probability magic is that it works very well with things that are likely to happen, but it fails with things that almost never happen. Probability magic theorizes that the difficulty of a spell and its chance of success are both proportionally tied to its odds of occurring naturally. Using probability magic to win at 3 card monty, where you have a 1 in 3 chance of success, is going to be a lot easier than using magic to win at the lottery where you have a 1 in 72 million chance of success. If you double your odds at 3 card monty you’ve gone from winning 33% of the time to winning 66% of the time. You’ve gone from being unlikely to win to being likely to win. On the other hand if you double your chances of winning the lottery you go from a 1 in 72 million chance of success to a 1 in 36 million chance of success, which is still extremely unlikely.

Comparatively though the odds of winning the lottery aren’t that bad. After all people win the lottery all the time. The odds of you naturally being able to fly through the air on a broomstick are astronomically lower than winning the lottery. That lottery probability shift is a cakewalk compared to broom flight.

To me this is a big problem with probability magic. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I think of magic, when I think of myself as a magician, and when I think about what I want to ultimately do with magic, it’s not making things a little bit more likely to happen and making myself slightly more lucky. I want to fly on broomsticks while raining fiery death upon my enemies! And I don’t really see the point in continuing to be a magician if I’m not working towards those sorts of goals.

I’m not saying that we should dismiss probability magic entirely. There have been a lot of advances made to magical theory over the past several decades due to the work that was done inside of probability magic, and it definitely has some very useful practical applications that can also increase our quality of life. I’m definitely all for incorporating the theories and practices of probability magic that work into my personal practice, and I’d like to see the work in probability magic continue. However I think it’s a bad idea to completely dismiss the older cause and effect model of magic in favor of probability magic and to give up attempting the big magics in an effort to concentrate on magic more likely to succeed. When we, as magicians, shift our focus like that we become really good at doing the smaller, easier spells, but we make it impossible for ourselves to ever achieve the phenomenal. We’ve traded away the heavens for small bits of the Earth.

22 Responses to Probability Magic(k), Possible Magic(k), and the Big Magics

  1. Simon Tomasi says:

    Interesting food for thought. Thanks for posting this (I’ve recently discovered your excellent blog). I’m too am firmly of the belief that big magic is possible and hope one day to achieve it (or like you learn a lot along the way).

  2. It’s kind of ironic to see chaos magicians dismissing “big magick” in favor of probability magick. In my experience chaos theory is in fact the bridge between the two.

    According to chaos theory, any system that is made up of a large number of interrelated degrees of freedom (that is, functional units that influence rather than control each other’s behavior) has a very large number of critical points. At those points small pushes can accomplish sweeping changes.

    Every natural system seems to be best described by this aspect of chaos theory – weather, ecosystems, social structures, even individual human minds. While the probability shifts magicians work with are small, the key to the big stuff is casting a spell that in some way knows exactly where to push. The classic example is that a butterfly flapping its wings can set in motion air currents that can produce a hurricane. So can a magician, even if the raw probability shift he or she can conjure is small.

    As an example of what you could accomplish with perfect knowledge of the critical points in a system, recall the Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day.” Murray’s character had no ability to influence probabilities at all – he had just experienced the same day so many times that he knew the exact outcome of even his smallest actions.

    As a more practical magical example, in Agrippa’s planetary magick you see the division between the Intelligence and the Spirit of each planet. For practical magick you need to summon both – the spirit creates the probability shift itself, but the intelligence directs it to the point in the system where it will have the greatest possible effect. This synergy lets you produce some pretty big magick, far beyond what the naysayers will tell you can’t be done.

    • Rob says:

      Well I don’t think most people understand how the butterfly effect really works, which has really created a whole new scientific fallacy, the butterfly fallacy. Most people assume that the butterfly effect means that a change in any small, inconsequential variable in a complex system will, given enough time, cause sweeping changes within the system, which isn’t the case. The butterfly effect refers to very specific variables that have the potential to snowball over a long period of time, not all variables within the system. Ergo a butterfly flapping its wings will almost certainly have no effect on weather patterns, and going back in time and killing a creature 10,000 years ago will almost certainly have no discernible effect on modern day life and the history of the world.

      Your system understands the nature of the butterfly effect and actually takes into account the fact that only certain variables have the potential to snowball, and it attempts to locate and affect those variables to create the outcome. I think most magicians who work with the butterfly effect don’t understand this though, and they end up believing any minor variable, such as slight changes in behavior and inconsequential choices, will create sweeping changes in their life and even in the future history of the world (in fact I’ve seen a lot of magical theory that works off of this fallacy). This results in them working with variables which have no potential to snowball and ultimately giving up after they continually fail to find success.

      I also wonder how well the butterfly effect would work in systems specifically designed to break any kind of butterfly effect. For example millions of dollars have been invested into the design of lottery machines and the systems through which they are operated in order to remove bias and make sure the chosen numbers are completely random, completely unpredictable, and will not be modified by changes in outside variables. Assuming the systems work like they have been designed to, there shouldn’t be a snowball variable to affect, only the actual odds of winning the lottery.

      I also think manipulating specific butterfly effect variables may start to fall apart with very unlikely events. Take for instance the idea of all of the air molecules in a room naturally moving to one side creating an empty space that doesn’t become a vacuum on the other side of the room which suffocates anyone standing there. From what we know of science, it’s possible for this scenario to occur. However it’s so improbable that the odds are it has never occurred in the entire history of the universe, and most likely never will. With an event like this, even if you knew what the snowball variables were, the probability shifts would still have to be astronomical to make this a likely occurrence.

      For the most part though I agree with you about targeting specific snowball variables for small probability shifts in order to create large scale change. Used correctly not only should your model work in most instances, but it should have some very useful practical applications.

  3. Yes, most people don’t get the butterfly effect and chaos theory at all. I blame “Jurassic Park,” frankly. Michael Crichton’s explanation of chaos theory in the novel was laughable – it implied essentially that every point in every system is a critical point, when a very important part of chaos theory is that in addition to critical points such systems also have points of stability at which any change will be down-regulated and have no effect.

    In my experience a lottery like Powerball is pretty much immune to any sort of butterfly-effect type manipulation. Many years ago my wife worked as a computer operator at one of the companies that ran the lottery, and they go through an unbelievable number of checks and double-checks every time they do a drawing to make sure that no pattern in the numbers is emerging. That’s bad news for winning the Powerball with a spell, but good news for experimental magicians. As the result is purely random, the degree to which you can shift the numbers is a measure of the raw probability shift that your magical techniques can produce.

    The trouble with air molecules moving to one side of a room is not just the odds of it happening, but also that the individual molecules can’t be treated as degrees of freedom under those circumstances. The molecules themselves aren’t interrelated enough and in such a simple system there are no feedback mechanisms capable of producing butterfly effect-like changes. In order to use magick on the atmosphere you have to be dealing with a system large enough to produce weather patterns, because it is at the level of those patterns that interrelated degrees of freedom emerge.

    • Rob says:

      To be fair to Crichton, that view of chaos theory had already been perpetuated by less popular science fiction authors prior to Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park was just the first really popular novel to include it.

      I think with the lottery you have to move away from probability shifts and start looking at other ways to manipulate the outcome. I’m still hopeful about precognition, although I have some hypotheses that the randomness of the lottery may actually break precognition and even time travel. I’m also looking into the idea of predestination magic, in other words the idea that our lives more or less are driven towards a set path and set points, and that even if you physically made it so that you would win the lottery it still won’t work because that would change your life in a way that clashes with your actual destiny. Under that model if I can figure out a way to properly manipulate a destiny I should be able to make it so that it is my destiny to win the lottery and then I would be guaranteed that everything else in the universe would work out so that would happen.

  4. […] awesome and enigmatic Rob touches on the unintended benefits of ‘net-setting’ in his fascinating perspective on magical probability: Basically, if you engineer your magical […]

  5. function or fashion says:

    People who adhere strongly to the probability model get deleted from my blogroll rather quickly. I’m not a wizened sorcerer teleporting from place to place but I’ve had enough big magickal successes, including lottery ones, to know that the core of magick has nothing to do with nudging probability and a lot to do with the calm, cool acceptance of the desired result as an inevitable given. The probability model seems like an excuse for failure more often than not. A smile and a bit of vainglorious gladhanding confidence will get the same results as any magickian that embraces the probability model and is way easier and more fun.

  6. Alex Ku says:

    “the calm, cool acceptance of the desired result as an inevitable given”

    That made me think of something. Does anyone else feel that magic (traditional) is something awfully akin to narrative? Because the few successes i’ve had related a lot to this. Either i’ve got things to happen through telling a story or i’ve felt something similar to telling a story while doing it (thus that calm, cool acceptance of the desired result as inevitable). Also i think that being able to make something happen or not relates a lot to how verosimile that something is, at least for you. Does this make sense?

    • Rob says:

      That makes perfect sense. Faith has a huge effect on the success of a magical operation, and in the same way doubt tends to work against magical operations. You, your body, mind, and soul, is a magical tool. It’s really the only necessary and most important tool. Like any other tool you use, the condition of that tool is going to affect the magical operation. When your mind is focused and you believe in yourself and your abilities you’re going to have a lot more success than when you doubt yourself and your abilities.

  7. Ruthann Stice says:

    Rob come to this forum and share your knowledge, please.

    http://www.witchschool.com/forum

    • Rob says:

      Thank you for your interest in me. I’ll look at your site but I usually don’t post in web forums because, for a variety of reasons, I usually have a negative experience. I’m much more comfortable and happy using my blog, the comment sections, and my email to reach out to the magical community online, and to be honest most of my online spiritual time is spent maintaining my blog.

  8. A W says:

    They just touched on this subject on strategic sorcery, unfortunately he was on the other side of the topic from, well actually most of us in the comments thread here. Talking about how it is a bad thing to have impossible, improbable (I think it was improbable but it may be more complex than that) or vague goals. In my experience these often give you better long term results than an exactly mapped and reasonable goal, case in point I have off and on for three years worked on getting rid of the need for sleep, in the process I have arrived at more than two dozen key theoretical aspects to the core of my magick theory, as well as both directly and indirectly a vast number of practical techniques and spells.

    I think that people put limits on what they think magick can do for two reasons, first because they have been worn down by failure every time they get their hopes up, and second they fail to realize that magick is a vast interlocking series of arts, sciences and related fields, not just what they are aware of, and therefore they have only to find the correct techniques to achieve their goals. As Hubert J. Farnsworth said, “Nothing is impossible so long as you can imagine it!”

    • Rob says:

      I actually loved Cubert’s response so much I still remember enjoying it :)

      I saw Mr Miller’s video blog about the subject. I’m not sure what his real views on the subject are since he has shown a more open mind in some of his past blogs and has even admitted to trying to win the lottery through magic. Of course I understand that its not really material that would be very compatible with a magical course. He sells a basic course on magic to the general public which is very popular because it consistently achieves results. Big magics meanwhile are things that only a handful of people ever accomplish because they are incredibly difficult to do. Even if there was a system to teach those techniques, the difficulty means that it wouldn’t produce consistent results, and therefor it would not be very valuable to the general public.

      As for your not sleeping experiment, psionic vampires usually have difficulty sleeping and suffer from insomnia. It’s because they’re taking in outside energy which replenishes them in place of sleep. The people I’ve seen who have been able to go long periods of time without sleep have always used an exterior source for energy. Vampirism of course is not recommended, but I’ve seen magicians who have done it by pulling energy off of nature and the world around them and magicians who have done it by being empowered by a powerful spirit.

      However every time I’ve personally known a magician whose done this there have always been some very bad side effects. Many times their mental state deteriorates and they start to go crazy, they may lose some intelligence, they’re prone to mood swings and have more difficulty controlling their emotions, and their magical abilities may begin to suffer because of it. Usually the problems get very bad after a month or two and they go back to a normal sleep schedule.

  9. daedralord says:

    Very nice blog entry! I enjoy reading your blog posts. Very interesting food for thought. This one in particular drew my attention. I worked an experiment on the lottery and had some very nice results. I did not win the jackpot but the results were amazing and very marked. I made a simple servitor through the earth element. Made within a ceremonial magic context, used opening by watchtower, charged elemental weapons etc. Though I don’t know in what manner the ritual structure helped as opposed to a simpler method of servitor construction – testing this currently.

    Anyhow, the servitor had a timeframe in which to work because I was playing it safe at that time did not want it to exist too long and get out of hand. Out of 16 draws during activity, I had won 14 times. We have a pick 6 lottery system. I mean constantly winning time after time does count as a marked result. I constantly had 4 out of 6 numbers and twice 3 out of 6 (quick picks). A very marked effect. I repeated the technique with later experiments and did get repeat results to a degree, though less than the first time. We even tried a group working for extra strenght and while one person did seem to have marked results it never quite got off the ground. Except one time when I saw the entity in a dream and it revealed numbers to me. Unfortunately, when I woke up I could barely remember all the numbers! I ended up having only three correct! I do think it inspired me to experiment further though.

    I do have to wonder, how did the servitor affect the lottery? Did it simply influence probability? Or could it somehow influence lottery balls. If an earth elemental can somehow cause a physical manipulation would it be possible to bypass probability and chance altogether and simply influence the lottery in such a manner? It is an interesting thing to think about.

    • Rob says:

      Thank you.

      Affecting the probability of the lottery balls seems like the most difficult method to me. The odds of winning are astronomical, and the system is specifically designed for randomization with many different checks.

      Personally I’ve been looking at precognition, since you can always tell what yesterday’s lottery numbers were with 100% accuracy :) What I’m wondering though is if taking information from the future and putting it into the past would cause the lotto numbers to be re-randomized.

      The other idea that I’ve been working on is the idea of predestination. It’s a personal theory that our lives are set on specific paths, and we can’t normally make major alterations to that path. So a prosperity spell to win $100 is completely doable since that normally wouldn’t cause our lives to change all that much at all. However a spell to win 1 million becomes impossible, unless you’re a billionare, because that would significantly change our lives.

      The basic theory is that instead of trying to win the lottery, the spell should attempt to change how our lives our destined. If it was our destiny to win the lottery, then we’d have a 100% chance of winning. So far I haven’t had much success with this theory, but I think that maybe we not only have to change our own destiny, but also the destiny of all of the people around us who would be effected by the lottery win.

  10. lin says:

    hey guys, have you seen these magicians selling lottery spells on ebay? what do you think of those?

  11. AfrikanPrince says:

    Hey Rob,
    I really hope you come back to your blog soon! I love your stuff. This has to be like the fifth time I’ve read this particular article. Can you do big magics? Telekinesis wouldn’t be considered big magics would it? How would a magician even work towards pulling off powerful magic as described? Is teleportation within that scope?

  12. I agree with this article wholeheartedly. I have been trying to figure out why a lot of my magick isn’t working, and when I am reading about it I get ‘probability’ this, and ‘unlikely’ that. It’s like…what point is there to magick except to be able to make something happen by extraordinary means when all physical means have failed? Isn’t that the point? For example, a spell to completely change/turnaround what seems to be a hopeless situation? I guess some kind of miracle would be needed, one could say. Well isn’t that the point? To be able to make miracles happen? Make stuff happen that you couldn’t ordinarily conceive any other way? Perhaps these are ramblings of a lost neophyte, but what gives?

  13. Jeff says:

    Where do I start to learn probability magic . There are things I’ve seen n done that defy normal mathematical possibilities and I’m aeaech ing for a grasp in how or why. Can u help?

  14. What a wondeful read, thank you!

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