I came across this article about a new theory regarding the nature of dark matter. I recommend giving it a read, in part because I think it is good for all of us non-physics types to appreciate how much of the ‘basic’ cosmology we were taught as fact is still under debate. Even things that many of us comfortably treat as real (like black holes) might be artifacts of a mathematical model and the phenomena they explain might be better explained by another model; we just haven’t got all the data in to settle the issues.
So, while I want to talk about the dark fluid model here because I think it might prove a useful way to think about what goes on in magical work, I also want to make clear that I’m not claiming that magic exploits quantum physics or anything like that (talk about the data not being in!), just that this pattern described in quantum physics might also be useful in conceptualizing magical work. Maybe that philosophical distinction doesn’t mean much to a lot of people, but I think it matters.
Let me start with a long quote from the article that describes how dark matter might exist as a superfluid, neither a particle nor an atom as we conceive of them within our ‘baryonic’ environment.
“Bose-Einstein condensates are best understood as a mixture of two components: one that is superfluid and one that isn’t. The two components behave very differently. The superfluid one exhibits long-range quantum effects, no viscosity, and unexpected correlations over large distance scales; it is as if it was made of much larger particles than its actual tiny constituents. The other normal component behaves like the fluids we are used to; it sticks to containers and to itself – it has a viscosity. The ratio between the two components depends on the condensate’s temperature: the higher the temperature, the more dominant the normal component.
We are used to thinking that quantum physics dominates only the microscopic realm. But the more physicists have learned about quantum theory, the more it has become clear that this isn’t so. Bose-Einstein condensates are one of the best-studied substances that allow quantum effects to spread widely through a medium. In theory, quantum behaviour can span arbitrarily large distances, provided it isn’t disturbed too much.
In a warm and noisy environment such as Earth, fragile quantum effects are quickly destroyed. That is why we don’t normally observe the stranger aspects of quantum physics, such as the ability of particles to behave like waves. But initiate quantum behaviour in a cool, quiet place and it will last. A cool, quiet place like, for example, outer space. There, quantum effects might stretch across vast distances.”
Now, think about magical work. I am starting to work out a longer discussion about the nature of central pillar work, rather than left and right hand work, and one of the things that I am struck by is the importance of developing a strong connection to the solar, to a way of engaging with the subtle plane using vibrational, visceral, techniques that generate resonance.
What happens when we don’t do this? Well, we plunge noisy elements into this vibrational plane, cooling and fracturing it into a raucus tangle of spirits, images, fantasies, etc. We plunge ourselves into the world of hungry ghosts, increasingly more muted repetitions of past pleasures, and thoughtless exaggerations of our own expectations.
In other words, it is all well and good to talk about collapsing the wave form in a magical working, but you also need to ask yourself how you are liberating the wave form, how you are re-enlivening your connection to the wave form from which the work derives.
Which is why I take genuine praise to be a powerful part of any spiritual practice, but that praise must synchronize itself with the inchoate vibrations of creation, not drive them into rigid forms. It must loosen rather than entangle. It must separate itself from a lust for results and foreknowledge and plunge into playing with these forces, continuing and riffing of them, occasionally stumbling in and out of missteps that collapse the rhythm back into rigid forms.
Which I think also bears on something Andrew suggested in a comment to my last post:
“In teaching, one of my favorite colleagues used to say that there’s the content, there’s the student, and there’s the teacher. And the student is often focused on the student-teacher relationship, because the teacher has a relationship with the content; but the teacher’s job is to help the student develop his/her own relationship with the content.”
There is definitely a way to engage with this material in a way that is about getting more people to engage with the substance, the vibration, on their own terms but there is a also a way of engaging with this material that encourages people to fall into the stuck, jammed up, broken world.