Magic: what should I do first?

“Alpha waves are one type of brain waves detected either by electroencephalography (EEG) or magnetoencephalography(MEG) and predominantly originate from the occipital lobe during wakeful relaxation with closed eyes. Alpha waves are reduced with open eyes, drowsiness and sleep. Historically, they were thought to represent the activity of the visual cortex in an idle state. More recent papers have argued that they inhibit areas of the cortex not in use, or alternatively that they play an active role in network coordination and communication.[2] Occipital alpha waves during periods of eyes closed are the strongest EEG brain signals.” – Wikipedia

I have included a quotation here about alpha waves because they represent the level of relaxed brain activity used for intuition. As the Silva Method teaches, your intuition works best at the alpha level–as opposed to the beta level of our usual waking world functioning. I can’t reproduce their technique here other than to say that when you count down from ten to one (or something similar) and visualize yourself becoming more and more relaxed, you will tend to be producing alpha waves.

So, in many ways, what one does first is enter into a state of relaxation conducive to visualization and intuition. That’s a given. Many people have found that recorded guided visualizations help them reach an alpha level.

Assuming you can relax, take a step away from your worries and goals, and silence the ever-chattering voice inside your head, the first step is belief.

Some people see belief as a catch-22 trick foisted on the rest of us by those who write books about magic. The so-called “trick” is, if you don’t believe, the magic won’t work, though until you’ve seen evidence of it working, you have no basis for belief. I suggest approaching this issue in a spirit of play. Pretend you’re playing with the techniques rather than trying to prove anything one way or another the first time out. In time, you’ll begin to think, “hmm, this seems to be working.”

Some people, especially those whose focus is ancient ritual magic, say will power comes first. This is not altogether wrong, though I shy away from saying that because in today’s world, I think will power suggests a brute-force, logical approach. I’d rather use the term “intention.” For magic–however you define it–to work, your intention cannot be scattered with distracting thoughts about daily concerns. Your intention should also be highly focused, that is, on a specific result rather than a vague, open-ended result.

Those of us who believe in magic also believe that belief and intention play a large role in the reality we experience, and that includes the results that we see from our goals, hopes, and dreams. That is, your are already using intention and belief subconsciously, so why not use it “properly” for better results.

A generic approach to self improvement

“Properly” means not only using relaxation techniques and focusing your process, but avoiding second-guessing it later. A lot of people “undo” their best of intentions by thinking negative thoughts about them the rest of the day. Stop doing that.

Magic also works better when you can imagine the end result. All of us can see things in our mind’s eye. That’s what we do when we remember people we’ve known and places we used to live. We can see all that quite clearly. In the same way, we can imagine what things will be like when our goals–and our magic–come to pass. If you have visualized yourself moving into a better home, think of that place in your idle time: imagine the yard, the gardens, the front door, the entry hall, and the other rooms. Pretend you are there fixing a meal or watching television. What is is like?

Workable magic is usually very dependent on a relaxed level of mind, a belief in what you’re doing, a well-focused intention, and on the ability to imagine what you are creating.

Malcolm

 

 

Magic: Your Favorite Place of Relaxation

Whether you’re meditating, using affirmations to improve your outlook on life, beginning a shamanic journey, visualizing a friend’s health needs, or listening to the promptings of your inner self (AKA conscience, subconscious mind), many “systems” will suggest that you begin by going to your favorite place of relaxation.

This place can be either real or imagined. Many people choose places associated with quiet and beauty–a mountain meadow, a shimmering pool,a moonlit lake, or even an easy chair in a room filled with books and perhaps a stone fireplace. The idea here, is that over time, you will be able to imagine/visualize this setting as a place of peace and serenity.

I use an imagined mountain cabin in a real place. Once I close my eyes and pretend to be there, my blood pressure goes down, my brainwaves slow, and I find myself in a state of mind where it’s easier to “do” magic.

At the beginning, you may need to monitor your breathing as you slow yourself down and think of this place. You may find that it takes you a while to fully believe you are “in” that visualized spot where you are at one with yourself. With practice, you’ll be able to simply think of it and find yourself in a state of relaxation that facilitates meditation.

It’s difficult to focus on magic, psychic visualizations, and healing yourself and others if you are in a logical frame of mind, worse yet, worried or uptight or feeling driven. Being able to silence our mind’s constant chattering and “go” (mentally) to a real of imagined relaxing place is a signal–almost like a post-hypnotic suggestion–that you are operating at a deeper level of mind than the one you use most of the time in your waking moments.

With practice, many people can slow down their brainwaves and breathing without having to (or visualizing) a relaxing scene. For others, the relaxing scene helps. For those it helps, the place becomes something of a place of power. That is to say, while one is imagining s/he is in this place, s/he can “see” the world in a different way than we do when we’re commuting to work or sitting at a computer. At first, what we “see” may appear to be imaginary, but in time, we discover that it is a mystical connection with “the big picture” and/or psychic impressions about the problem or issue on our minds.

When I began doing magic, I found it easier to start in my imagined favorite place of relaxation. I would spend time there in idleness before doing anything else. Later, I found that I no longer needed that place, that I could feel my relaxation and attunement with my intended plans without stopping by that place.

The place we select, though, is always available to us, as a retreat from the world, as a sanctuary, and as a place of mental power. It’s a powerful spot.

Malcolm

ion

Magic: preliminary ideas

As the future unfolds, I expect much that much of what we now label as magic will no longer be regarded as superstition, wishful thinking, charlatan fabrications, occult (in the negative sense as championed by Hollywood films), or general idiocy, and will be shown to have its basis in quantum-related mental powers that can be proven and replicated and taught to others as easily as the courses in a high school curriculum.

While magic takes practice like any other natural activity–swimming, jogging, hiking–it is at it’s basis very simple. The apparent complexities arise in part because many individuals and groups that support or teach one magical approach or another and use symbols and names for their techniques that are difficult to compare with other approaches.

This is a pet peeve of mine, one that began when I was in high school and discovered–with every book or article I read–that the authors wrote about their system as though no other system existed.

What I wanted was synthesis and evolving knowledge rather than the impression that every system was unique and had no correlation with other systems. It always seemed to me that the neophyte’s life would be so much easier if, say, a book on system ABC said that our technique #1 is similar to system XYZ’s technique #2. I see many symbols and techniques that are similar in purpose and intent that it would be so easy for authors to compare and contrast in a chart in the books’ appendices.

In general, we should take a distinction between mysticism and psychic abilities and other so-called magical techniques. The intent of a mystic is usually direct attunement with the Creator so that s/he will be able to align his/her life and thoughts with the Creator’s ways, means, and intentions. Many mystics regard psychic phenomena as secondary, and sometimes an annoying byproduct, of their primary goals.

When I was young, I clashed with “church fathers” over the benefits of mysticism because–as it seemed to me–the Christian church was against mysticism for everyone but the religion’s founders. We were taught, in part, from the writings of ancient Christian mystics, but scolded if we dared to practice mysticism ourselves. Of course, if a church allows mysticism, it no longer controls the message.

Hollywood, and many occult novelists, have clouded the waters of magic by suggesting that various natural occult principles are “devil worship.” I think the organized church has been a party to this. This makes it difficult to speak of magic in a generic sense as part of every individual’s birthright because they have been brought up too think that expanding their mental capacities is evil.

I approach magic from what has often been called “esoteric Christianity” as well as the mystery schools and Kabalistic ideas about “the big picture.” This puts me at odds with the organized Christian church. If you are a firm believer within one religion or another, this may well be your starting point when you consider magic’s larger ideas. This, I think, is easier and more natural than stepping into the cultural and religious beliefs of another religion from another part of the world.

I tend to think in terms of spirituality rather than religion. This approach makes a person open to whatever enhances his/her development within a universe that is much larger than what we perceive in our day-to-day jobs, hobbies, and interactions with others.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy, magical realism, and paranormal novels and short stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magic and the theme parks

When my daughter was ten years old (give or take), my wife and I took her to see Disney World. She remembered. So this spring, she went back to Disney World and Universal Studios with her husband and two daughters. It was nice to meet them there and watch the reactions of another generation. As before, my brother and his wife were there for this visit.

Gringott’s at Universal Studios in Orlando – Malcolm R. Campbell photo

At my age, walking through theme parks for four days is hard on the legs and ankles and dangerous when one is hit by parents wielding strollers and run into by people gawking at the sights rather than watching where they are going. In spite of the sun screen, it’s hard to avoid getting sunburned.

On this trip, my wife and I enjoyed the nostalgia of the carousels. When it comes to riding in a car on rails combined with 3-D animation, life-sized automaton characters, and the design of the rooms, I thought the most creative ride at Universal Studios was the tour of Gringott’s Bank in Diagon Alley. The train ride to Hogwarts was also fun.

Unlike the children, I see the theme parks as huge, money making enterprises that play on the popularity of films to bring people into crowded attractions where the time spent waiting in lines is the longest part of the experience. Plus, I cannot help but note that the exit to every ride and attraction leads out through a gift shop. I see this for what it is.

I also see it has an experience that, for the children–and the children within each of us–can re-ignite the magical experiences of the films, and also create a few new memories. Anything that reminds us of the magic has my stamp of approval in spite of the commercialization of it. Parents need to hold the reins on spending, of course, but allowing the children time to let their imaginations run free is a wonderful gift.

The magic is certainly well-orchestrated by the parks, but it is nonetheless very real to all who believe,

Malcolm

I use magic in most of my novels and short stories, most recently “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman,”

Magic: Initial Considerations

After yesterday’s post, a Facebook friend said he saw a similarity between my comments about magic and religious faith. That’s a correct observation.

Many people who study magic or what might be called esoteric principles are, in fact, strong and committed believers in either spirituality or an organized religion. They see their studies as an extension of their religious faith instead of a replacement for it.

The reason many of us use the phrase “the god of your heart” is because we know that before you come to the study of esoteric ideas and techniques, that you may well be a strong believer of an organized religion. Magic is not intended to change that or supplant that.

When using magical/psychic techniques, many people also include the phrase “if it’s the best for all concerned.” This is one way of admitting that none of us can know what “the cosmic” (God, the Creator) has in mind for a particular situation. It’s best to work in harmony with that rather than in opposition to that.

One thing that becomes clear when using the powers of one’s mind is that meditation does not counteract what you are doing and thinking the rest of the day. Let’s say that you spend 15 to 20 minutes every morning thinking positive thoughts about your attunement with the universe and a similar amount of time meditating every evening. This is a great start. However, if you spend large portions of the rest of the day in combative, worry-filled, negative, and overtly cynical states of mind, you are undoing everything you put in motion with your meditations. You have to live the positive, non-doubting confidence of your meditation 24/7.

Hoodoo practitioners often then say that when you cast a spell, don’t look back. Why? Because looking back suggests you don’t have full confidence in the spell and have to check on it. The same can be said for multiple forms of magic as well as prayer. If you pray for something and then pray for the same thing again, what are you doing? You’re saying you don’t believe your first prayer was effective, so you’re going to try a second prayer. The universe heard you the first time. There is no need to doubt it.

One of the greatest negatives when attempting magic is logic. Most of us are trained (or brainwashed) to use logic to understand the world. However, logic and magic do not necessarily bring you the same kinds of information. People who are learning to use their innate psychic abilities can be derailed by logic.

Let’s suppose somebody tells you their husband is late arriving home from work and wonders if you can use your evolving senses to discover where he is. The best way to go here is to immediately relax, slow your brainwaves via biofeedback or self-hypnosis techniques, and “look” for the person. This process will be much more difficult if you allow yourself to think about all the logical reasons the man is late: his boss kept him late, his car wouldn’t start, he had a early evening work-related event to attend and forgot to tell you about it, he was in a wreck on the freeway or his car broke down. Once you ponder all of those scenarios, it is difficult to keep your mind open to clues about what actually happened.

The world operates on logic. It’s difficult to set that aside and try an approach that’s not based on logic. This doesn’t mean logic doesn’t work. It does mean that logic can easily derail the novice practitioner of magic.

Quite often, the magical “answer” to a question you might have will seem like it’s “simply” your imagination. I urge you to explore that and see if your are coming to know things you have no logical reason to know. I have found, for example, that when I embark on a shamanic journey, that what begins with my imagination usually morphs into something that is actually true. You may need to experiment with this for a while to develop your confidence in the reality of the moment–that is, to see the difference between that you are pretending to see and what you are actually seeing.

Magic is so different than the beliefs we have been given since childhood and from the mainstream “truths” about how the world works, that it requires a strongly alternative mindset to accomplish. The first step is learning that the truths you’ve been taught from childhood are not the whole story.

Malcolm

 

 

 

Try Magic: What have you got to lose?

If you’ve read this blog and/or my books for a while, you know that I don’t doubt the reality of magic. Magic is–or should be–an optional subset of mysticism, that is to say, a direct communion with the god of your heart. I have always thought magic worked better within the context of one’s belief system rather than as an end in itself.

When some people read books filled with promises–like “The Secret” they are often inspired to try what they otherwise might not try. Sometimes they succeed. They’re more likely to succeed right after reading the book because they are attuned to the idea that all things are possible. So, before doubts enter into their thoughts, they often see things happen that they might never have expected prior to reading the book.

Magic, and by that, I don’t mean the sleight of hand and illusions of stage magicians, is always part of a larger system of thought, a way of looking at the world that isn’t confined to the limitations of every-day logic. For example, the hoodoo practices I talk about in my Florida Folk Magic novels are part of the culture in which they thrive. One can’t extract the spells and modes of thinking from the culture and expect them to work.

The same could be said about magic within the “old religion” (true witchcraft rather than Wicca), Hawai’ian mysticism (Huna), the practices of shamans in multiple cultures, Celtic (Druid) worldviews, and others. The first problem many people have after they finish a book or a weekend retreat or a class on magic and/or psychic techniques is merging their new knowledge into their own culture.

If you live in, say, Orlando, Florida, it’s difficult to merge, for example, Huna practices into your daily life because Hawai’ian mysticism is not the world view of most people living in Orlando. So, whatever you have learned, you will be at a disadvantage unless you can shield yourself from the mainstream worldview where you live and work.

Magic need to be culturally dependent, that is, it can be eclectic and not an integral part of a specific culture. While the tenants of this magic don’t synchronize well with what most of one’s friends and colleagues believe in, they are easier to pursue than those that are part of a minority group or culture. Nonetheless, the magic is still part of an altered way of looking at truth and the world and the “big picture” and cannot be separated from it. I have found this an easier route than, say, following hoodoo or Huna or Native American belief systems. There is nothing wrong with those systems other than the fact that (for me) I’m not attuned to those cultures. So, my approach is based on my own culture instead of somebody else’s culture.

You can find magic and mysticism at The Rosicrucian Order and The Silva Method that aren’t based on the cultures and rituals of marginalized groups. These are, so to speak, somewhat generic. Or, if you’re looking for inspiration, perhaps you’ll find if at Duirweigh Studios or in the books by Joseph Campbell. These are all routes to magic.

One of the best books–which you can find free on the Internet–about magic is James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh. Really, this old book says it all. For magic to work in your life, your worldview–whether “generic” or based on a particular culture–must accept the tenants and practices of the magic. Seriously, the magic and everything that surrounds it must be part of your life.

When it comes down to the nitty gritty, magic won’t work if you don’t think it will work, or if you have doubts about it. That’s a tall order because we’re expected to believe before we have any proof. I know, that’s not logical, so you must set logic aside before you practice magic. And don’t rush it.

–Malcolm

Sunday Clatterings: magic to tennis to spring

When stuff falls on the floor, it (the stuff) clatters. This is what happens when people try to spring forward into daylight savings time when they first wake up. Florida’s trying to stay on daylight savings time. I’d rather see the whole country standardize on standard time instead of the “extra sunshine” nonsense. I love the sound of clocks hitting the floor: doesn’t everyone?

The day before the hard freeze.
  • Several days ago, I was convinced spring had arrived. Rain had jump-started this year’s crop of weeds in the yard. The buds on the Japanese Magnolia were about to zap into full bloom. Then we had a hard freeze and flowers everywhere got ruined. Then it rained again. At least we’re not living in East Glacier or Browning, Montana where February was a record snowy month.
  • Better vision today after going back to the ophthalmologist Wednesday so he could use his lase to get rid of the cloudiness in my right eye and, while I was there, touch up a few missed spots in my left eye.
  • For reasons unknown, everyone’s eyes glaze over on Facebook whenever I mention I’ve been watching tennis and/or that I’m happy that the Williams sisters won their matches at the tournament in Indian Wells, California. I guess most people don’t like tennis or are unaware that the Williams sisters have dominated women’s tennis for a quarter of a century. I thought I’d mention this in today’s post so your eyes would glaze over, too.
  • I pre-ordered my Scots language copy of the first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane. Amazon was proud of itself for saving me 5 cents because pre-orders lock in the price; then they had to apologize for delivering it late. It was supposed to arrive on the 8th and it’s still not here. If th’ book isnae ‘ere by Tuesday, a’m aff tae speil bagpipes in th’ amazon affice.
  • It’s comfort food week compliments of my wife’s dentist. He extracted a compacted molar several weeks ago. Things seemed to be going well with her gum healing up until the bone spurs appeared. (Think of chewing food with a cactus in your mouth.) So, we were back to the dentist two days ago so he could make another incision and grind down the spurs. That means soft food: mac & cheese, ravioli, ice cream.
  • I’ve been thinking about Angi Sullins’ comment in the introduction to her book Doorways and Dreams. She (and I agree) doesn’t see real magic as the stuff out of Harry Potter. Instead she says that it’s a “more-ness shimmering behind our everyday reality.” It shimmers in our dreams and meditations and sometimes in things one sees out of the corner of his eye. I figure that has long as it’s there, it’s a practical energy we can use to better understand and create the reality going on around us. If you’ve read my books, you’ve seen how it works.
  • If you like mystery/thrillers, see my review of Jane Harper’s Force of Nature. If you like satire, see my latest Jock Stewart post about hoodoo workers hexing Congress.

Have a great week.

–Malcolm

Where did I get the name for my previous blog?

In 2004, I self-published the first edition of my contemporary fantasy novel The Sun Singer. The second edition, from a small publisher, came out in 2010. When that edition went out of print, I self-published the current edition in 2015.

The story is about a young man named Robert Adams who travels to a look-alike version of Glacier National Park, Montana, where he finds a raging battle in progress between the evil king and a rebel group. While Robert has had some psychic skills for many years, he buried then as deep in his mind as possible because he stopped trusting them. Now, to survive the battles and find his way home to our world, he must rely on them once again.

The Sun Singer is a hero’s journey novel, that is to say, a story about a person who undertakes a journey and comes back from it forever changed. Oddly enough, I began dreaming about this story when I was in junior high school. On a visit to see my grandparents in Illinois, we visited Allerton Park, now owned by the University of Illinois, which serves as a convention center and nature preserve with a collection of outdoor statuary including The Sun Singer. It was almost as thought my seeing that statue created the connection to a story I was destined to write.

In some ways, I am the Sun Singer. Each of us is, when you consider the fact that our life’s journey seems to be intended to transform us into the very best we can be. With that in mind, it seemed fitting to name original blog “The Sun Singer’s Travels.” It was about the hero’s journey, my own journey through my published books, and–through its writing posts–the journeys each of us take when we write a novel or short story. A few months ago, I merged that blog into this one to reduce the amount of time it took to keep two blogs active and up to date.

The sequel to The Sun Singer, Sarabande, is a heroine’s journey novel in which a young woman comes from the look-alike world into our world to search for Robert Adams. She doesn’t have an easy time of it. Even though I’m no longer using the original blog name, I’m still focused on the same kinds of ideas and subject matter.

I’m very definitely a child of the new age, a long time student of magic, and a strong believer that each of us is much more powerful and complex than we appear. The challenge is finding out how and why that is so and then creating a world that mirrors our highest goals.

–Malcolm

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New Year, New Look, New URL

For the new year, I’ve changed the WordPress Theme for this blog’s look and feel as well as the URL:  https://malcolmsroundtable.com/

I used the previous theme for quite a few years and was especially fond of it. Who knows, maybe I’ll return to it some day. But for now, a clean slate for 2018.

The picture is all about magic, though I can’t promise my novels or blog posts will float in the air in a cloud of blue smoke. Being more consistent than usual, I’m using the same picture here as I do on my Conjure Woman’s Cat website.

The magic on this blog comes from my novels, at present the Florida Folk Magic series published by Thomas-Jacob Publishing in Florida. Already released are Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman. I’ve promised my publisher the third book in the series by Spring.

You’ll also find magic in posts here that relate to life itself, the idea being that we’re all on a hero’s journey or a heroine’s journey in an attempt to become the best that we can be. Life transforms us. There’s a synchronicity to it that tends to put in our path the very things we need whether they’re experiences, people, epiphanies about the cosmos, the environment and our stewardship of it, or even books, music and songs.

As an author, I can’t help but talk about books, writing techniques, and publishing. Sometimes you’ll find a review of a book I enjoyed, or a tip about making stories and novels better, or an occasional feature called “Book Bits” that lists links to reviews, author interviews, and publishing news.

While I’ll often mention other books and authors from Thomas-Jacob Publishing, I don’t review my colleague’s books here or on Amazon or GoodReads because doing so just doesn’t look right. They don’t review my books either. But all of us talk a lot about the books we like for the same reason a NASCAR driver talks about a new engine: we can’t help it.

One thing you won’t find here very often is politics because, as I see on the news and on Facebook, that’s hard to discuss without getting into a shouting match. I don’t think those shouting matches make things better. Nonetheless, my old-school reporter character Jock Stewart (from my novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire) will occasionally contribute a satirical news story post about real or imagined events that probably have political overtones. (Authors really don’t have as much control over their characters as readers believe, so I’m innocent here when Jock writes what he writes.)

I really don’t think the New Year gives us a clean slate any more than any other day, but this seemed like a good moment for some shameless self-promotion about this blog and its new look. As always, I appreciate all of you who stop by and read my posts and hope that your journey through 2018 is everything you desire.

–Malcolm

 

 

Briefly Noted: ‘Old Style Conjure’ by Starr Casas

Those who know Mama Starr Casas from her Old Style Conjure website, need no introduction to this practical guidebook published in September. Like her website commentaries, it’s blunt, practical, based on the culture she grew up in, and overviews works (spells) and approaches in an easy to understand manner. The book reminds us that conjure (hoodoo, rootwork) is directly linked to African American ancestors, the Christian Bible, and common sense approaches to magic based on the materials at hand in a typical Southern household.

Conjure workers are usually Christian. I like Casas’ statement, “If you remove the Bible from Old Style Conjure work then what you are doing really isn’t Conjure work! It then becomes something else. If you can hold the greatest Conjure book ever written in your hands and learn the power from it; why in the world would you let anyone stop you?” She also doesn’t agree with people who mix hoodoo with other forms of magic in a roll-your-own approach.

Publisher’s Description:

Conjure, hoodoo, rootwork―these are all names for southern American folk magic. Conjure first emerged in the days of slavery and plantations and is widely considered among the most potent forms of magic. Its popularity continues to increase, both in the United States and worldwide. This book is a guide to using conjure to achieve love, success, safety, prosperity, and spiritual fulfillment. Author Starr Casas, a hereditary master of the art, introduces readers to the history and philosophy of conjure and provides practical information for using it. Featuring Casas’s own rituals, spells, and home recipes, the book provides useful information suitable for novices and seasoned practitioners alike.

In its pages, you’ll learn about:

  • Bone reading
  • Candle burning
  • Conjure bags
  • Building your own conjure altar

Research or Practical Use

This book is readable and should be very helpful to those who are interested in folk magic as an avocation, want to try out spell work themselves, or are fascinated by the history and culture of hoodoo. Students of magic will also enjoy the inspirational forward by Orion Foxwood.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of two hoodoo novels, “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman.”