Would you say the results of ritual magick can be predicted? Can you perform the exact same spell twice and achieve an identical outcome? Is manifestation the consequence of skill or mere chance? Consider these questions carefully. At first glance, they may seem relatively simple to answer, and practising magicians will all too easily be biased toward an affirmative response. Not long ago, I would have said with full confidence that magick can be easily predicted - outcomes precisely calculated - and that intuitive knowledge of its mechanics is how manifestation may be made efficient. However, now I stand firm in my theory that ritual is simply a roll of the dice and that the steps we take in ritual construction do nothing more than stack probability in one’s favour.
New discoveries are accompanied by new insights. In my latest breakthrough, I have found that ritual results are unpredictable, the outcome random, and in the vast majority of cases a matter of mere chance. To most practitioners of magick, this may seem unsavoury. I however, have found this to be one of the greatest enlightenments in my search for answers. I have said for a long time that Magick is a science, and more so, one that we can objectively illustrate. This was only half of the whole picture. Let me explain.
Presoteric was formed on the idea that Magick is both verifiable and mundane. In the past, we have demonstrated the simplicity of the psychologically-mediated magickal process and its consequences regarding occult ritual. Yet, while we have painstakingly put the pieces of the hardest puzzle together in the attempt to scientifically explain magick, there is one major aspect we have found difficulty explaining. This is the Subjective Element. While we can outline the general objective principles upon which all magick is based - from the implementation of associative stimuli to their consequent psychological manifestation - what we have not been able to demonstrably explain is the nature of the Subjective Element itself.
Simply put, magick incorporates two main concepts. The objective and the subjective. The objective aspect of magick encompasses the foundational principles and underlying mechanics for its operation. All magick is a psychological process that relies on intentionally using psychological techniques and processes to manifest a result. This happens through a working and intentional relationship between the conscious and subconscious mind. The systematic mechanism of the ritual process throughout its phases possesses a universally applicable outline. The unknown variable in the general ritual equation, however, is the stimuli and variables required for these processes to become functional. These stimuli encompass the subjective aspect of magick.
If you think of magick like a machine, every single machine has to be built in an identical manner in order to function as intended. The objective aspect of magick is the machine itself, while the subjective is the fuel and materials which power the machine’s output. The subjective includes every potential variable within life and magickal practice. While every ritual uses the same psychological mechanics in order to function, each stimulus used in these rituals (including the person performing the ritual) is solely applicable to the practitioner at hand. The reason for this is because of individual subconscious makeup. Due to the inevitable psychological differences which exist between two given individuals, an immense amount of variation is created. Each person has different associations to the same stimuli, and this variation directly influences one’s magickal results. This is where my new discovery comes in.
While watching one of my favourite childhood movies, Jurassic Park, I was inspired by Jeff Goldblum’s character, Ian Malcolm (a mathematician specializing in chaos theory). After listening to his explanation of the Butterfly Effect in the famous car scene, I decided to do my own research into chaos theory. Following this research, several insights became glaringly obvious. I realised that chaos theory covers the entirety of the second aspect to magick. The subjective aspect of magick is chaotic in nature.
However, before I can explain how chaos theory applies to magick, it is important to outline what exactly chaos theory is. Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics which focuses on the behaviour of complex dynamic systems, most of which are highly sensitive to initial conditions. Without going into too much detail, chaos theory illustrates that the more complex a system is, the more unpredictable it becomes. The butterfly effect is a common example used to explain chaos theory: A butterfly flaps its wings in China, and through a vast series of consequent alterations, this brush of air becomes a tidal wave which strikes the New York coast. In a sense, it theorises that events that are seemingly unconnected and inconsequential do in fact have a rather large role to play in how results and outcomes play out.
Most think that small actions or decisions have little impact on the world around them. Yet at the same time, every single thing you have ever done in your life is only possible because of a single night of conception. If you hadn’t been born, how many things would be different? People, experiences, events, etc. Life is a complex system with an immense number of variables. When you consider not only these variables, but the odds involved in their particular arrangement, it becomes clear how precise an input must be in order to produce an exact result. Take planet earth as an example. In order for humans to exist, we needed to have an ecosystem capable of sustaining long-term evolution and adaptation, from single celled organisms and bacteria to multi-celled sentient beings. In order for that to exist, the planet had to be within a very small zone of proximity to the sun, neither too close nor too distant. This also required the universe itself to be in a precise state of expansion, neither too accelerated nor too slow. The odds of human life are so unlikely and so precise that even a single change in any one of those variables results in no life at all. This gives us insight into not only how chaotic the universe is, but how amazing it is for life to exist in the first place.
I have adopted the theory that the more variables a system has, the more unpredictable and chaotic that system is. Chaos theory involves the recognition that all of our lives are unpredictable, interspersed with randomness and chance. Your mere existence is only possible because every single person before you decided to have children. If even a single variable before your conception was different, it is very possible you may never have existed. Chaos theory is simply the understanding that even the smallest of actions may have enormous consequences. In this sense, chaos theory is the gate to understanding consequence.
But how does this relate to magick? Well, when we look at only the objective aspects of magick, we see a rather simple system. The conscious mind impresses upon the subconscious, and then as a result our behaviour changes to manifest a result. The complexity of this system is in the gaps. The objective system alone isn’t enough. It needs stimuli in order to operate, and this is subjective in nature. Look at even the most basic occult ritual. Every single component in that ritual - symbols, materials, robes, location, incantations; even the magician performing the ritual and the events that take place afterwards - are all variables. Delving further, each one of those variables has their own set of variable conditions, all which work together and interrelate. The human variable in magick is among the most complex.
Since we are a variable in our rituals, the complexity of the matter blossoms exponentially. It encompasses our mood, emotions, thoughts, what we ate that day, our current ideas and philosophies. The living organism, the individual, is constantly changing with every passing second; the variable at hand in a state of continual fluctuation. In this sense, it is impossible to perform the same ritual twice, as at least one variable will be different. Let’s say you do a money ritual. The conditions in which that money will arise can be different each time; the ritual factors are ever-changing. One of the fundamental principles in chaos theory is that if a complex sensitive system and its variables are changed even in the smallest degree, it can cause a vastly different outcome. Magick is no different, as all of its variables are constantly changing. The same ritual may manifest in an infinite variety of ways.
So, what does this tell us about magick? Does this mean magick is totally random? Well, not quite. While we can confidently say that specific outcomes are unpredictable, it is possible to predict vague outcomes. It is the difference between determining a child’s birth month and the exact time of delivery. One possesses a much larger margin of error. By extension, we can use our understanding of magick and our own minds to make vague approximations with some degree of accuracy. However, the more specific our estimations, the more likely they will be wrong.
Because the magickal process entails an inherently random and unpredictable path to manifestation (all of its variables constantly changing), it becomes next to impossible to execute an absolutely precise ritual. We can say with strong confidence that ritual magick is, in a sense, a matter of rolling the dice. What magicians accomplish by studying themselves and occult practices is to increase their odds of achieving desired results. It is for this reason that so many find it difficult to become efficient in magickal practice. Our minds cannot fathom true randomness and probability is often an unintuitive abstraction. Magick is a numbers game, and the more we stack the odds in our favour the better. The more variables we can correctly use, the more we stack those odds. Yet, it is impossible to fully master magick as no human can master probability-based process with this many variables. Magick is a chaotic and complex system in its totality. Its mechanism may be simple and objective, but the gaps that need to be filled in order to run that system are so subjective and chaotic that all we can do is attempt to roll a good number in hopes of the jackpot.
Written By Darren Taylor
Edited by John Cody