Sleight of Mind

by Peter Carroll

The following texts are out of Pete Carroll's forthcoming book "Liber Kaos, The Psychonomicon" (Weiser).

The conscious mind is a maelstrom of fleeting thoughts, images, sensations, feelings, conflicting desires and doubts; barely able to confine its attention to a single clear objective for a microsecond before secondary thoughts begin to adulterate it and provoke yet further trains of mental discourse. If you do not believe this then attempt to confine your conscious attention to the dot at the end of this sentence without involving yourself in any other form of thinking, including thinking about the dot.

Sleight of Mind means using the more stable thoughts, feelings, sensations and images stored in the subconscious or unconscious parts of the mind to launch or receive aetheric patterns. Tricks have to be used here, because if those things in the subconscious are brought into the focus of the conscious they will not be magically effective. On the other hand, they have to be released or activated somehow at a level just below conscious awareness for in their normal memory storage mode, which is an abstract code, they are not magically effective either.

Thus the magician has to occupy his conscious mind with something which somehow activates his intent in his subconscious without consciously reminding him of what it is. This is basic Sleight of Mind. Though this seem paradoxical or impossible, there are many tricks in the lore of magic which make it easier in practice. Some consideration will be given to Sleight of Mind in each five classical magical operations.

Sleight of Mind in Enchantment

Most traditional magical spells demand that the operator confine his attention to some abstract or analogical representation of what he wants to achieve. For example, to cause dissention amongst one's foe, one might name a number of stones with their names, or better still some abstract form of their names, and then whilst hysterically angry, batter the stones together. The hysterical anger functions partly to block conscious thought and add force to the subconscious desire. What many conventional texts fail to mention is that during the magical act one must avoid consciously thinking or fantasising about desired result. Thus the anger should be stimulated by some means other than thinking of one's foes, and if one wishes to shout something out during the battering of the stones it should be a consciously unintelligible statement. Even the desire read backwards may suffice. It is possible to use an inhibitory rather than an ecstatic means of preventing thought and channelling power to the subconscious. In this case the magician attempts to limit his conscious attention entirely to the performance of the enchantment by yoga type exercises and sensory deprivation to still the mind. This is usually a more difficult approach to enchantment for most magicians.

If, in the above example, the battered stones are subsequently placed in a pouch as a talisman to reinforce the original spell, then the magician must also avoid consciously thinking about whatever it represents whenever he subsequently attempts to "charge" it again.

All the spells which work are variants of this basic technique and work by the same basic mechanism. Baroque systems of symbol and correspondance are generally unnecessary. Effective spells can be created simply by modifying written, drawn, modelled or spoken representations of desire until they become consciously unintelligible. The subconscious will, of course, always know what the resulting sigil, diagram, artifact or mantra is actually for. Excellent results are often obtained by magicians who make up a collection of spells over a period and then perform them at a later date having consciously forgotten what they were for.

Sleight of Mind in Divination

There are three elements to be considered in divination; the target, the means of obtaining information about it and the interpretation of the information. It is essential that the target does not enter the field of conscious awareness during the obtaining of information about it, or the result will merely consist of ordinary thoughts, fantasies and guesses. Similarly the method of obtaining the information should preclude the interference of conscious thought. There are two basic methods for achieving this, sortiledge and hallucination.

Sortilege procedures involve shuffling cards, rolling dice, casting bones or sticks or coins and similar methods. The principle here is that minute movements initiated by the subconscious will provide a mechanism by which the subconscious can communicate its psychic knowledge. Hallucinatory methods work in a similar fashion, the operator will gaze for example into a black mirror or a chalice of water and wait for his subconscious to reveal its psychic knowledge by optical hallucination. Other senses can also be used. For example a mixture of the four basic tastes can be imbibed to see which of the tastes predominates for any question, a previous attribution of, for example, sweet to yes, salt to probably, sour to probably not, and bitter to no, having been previously established. Whichever method is used, it is important that the subconscious is thoroughly informed of the target and that no conscious deliberation take place during the divination. One effective hallucinatory technique is to write the name of the target or better still draw an abstract sigil representing it, on the back of a black mirror. Any visions experienced whilst gazing blankly into it should be recorded by a machine or scribe. The interpretation can then safely be made in full conscious awareness afterwards, much as a spell is deliberately planned beforehand.

Careful observation will confirm that virtually all spontaneous parapsychological events occur through some form of sleight of mind. It is invariably something hovering just below the threshold of awareness that initiated an unusual event or gave one a curious half sensed feeling that something was about to happen just before it did. The magician seeks to exploid this effect deliberately, but in doing so he must avoid doing it deliberately as it were. Conscious lust of result destroys magical effect, so trickery must be employed to annul it and to activate the subconscious.

There are dangers inherent in the development of the sleight of mind technique for enchantment and divination. It is easy to become obsessed with what might or might not lurk just below the threshold of consciousness waiting to be triggered by a stray analogical thought. Thus a feeling of omnipotence can begin to develop, particularly if the magician starts to misinterpret divination as enchantment and comes to feel that everything going on around him is the result of his subconscious desires. The final madness begins when one starts interpreting even the disasters which befall one as expressions of what one must really have wanted. Paranoia can also become a vicious downward spiral. Those who harbour subconscious fears of things going wrong, or going against them, will find it remarkably easy to actually make things go badly for themselves with even a small degree of expertise at sleight of mind. The only defence against pitfalls is to adhere to the formal techniques of enchantment and divination, to ignore random results where possible, or to accept them with laughter, and as a general principle to think positive at all times, for such thoughts will permeate down to the subconscious.

Sleight of Mind in Evocation

There are three elements involved in evocation, the implantation of the entity in the subconscious, the empowerment of the entity and the direction of the entity to various tasks. The implantation can be effected either by an extended effort of fantasy and imagination or by a more formal ritual in which the entity is visualised exercising the general types of power which the magician wishes it to have. The empowerment, which can form the climax to a ritual, consists of the magician confining his attention to the material basis of the entity, or some sigil, mantra, glyph or other abstract or analogical representation of it, whilst in full gnosis. Sexual gnosis is often used here as the symbolism of creating a being, albeit a non material one, is particularly appropriate; although, for reasons to be discussed in the sex magic section, it is generally unwise to empower entities with destructive capabilities in this manner. When directing an entity to perform a particular task it is usually more effective to use sleight of mind techniques rather than consciously meaningful commands. For example the magician can make the desired command into a mantra or sigil and recite or visualise these onto the material basis or visualised image of the entity.

Evoked entities should never be allowed to exceed the powers that the magician built into them, nor should the magician attempt to add extra capabilities to existing entities without careful consideration of the consequences. Evoked entities are the magicians servitors, he is their master, if he starts accepting advice from them the results can be disastrous. Four entities are usually sufficient. One for execution of complex enchantments, one for divinations where simple techniques may not suffice, one for magical defense, and also attack if necessary, and perhaps a fourth for works of Octarine Magic.

Sleight of Mind in Invocation

Invocation is a three stage process. Firstly the magician consciously identifies with what is traditionally called a god-form, secondly he enters gnosis and thirdly the magicians subconsciousness manifests the powers of the god-form. A successful invocation means nothing less than full "possession" by the god-form. With practice the first stage of conscious identification can be abbreviated greatly to the point where it may only be necessary to concentrate momentarily on a well used god-form. God-forms may usefully be thought of as archetypal manifestations of basic human drives present in all individuals and available via aetheric resonance from the acts and thoughts of all other humans. The pagans were sensible enough to build the whole of human psychology into most of their pantheons and to develop archetypal images to represent all of the various selves that the human organism is composed of. It is for this reason that classical pagan sybolism is so often used by magicians. However there is always a perfectly adequate amount of sex, violence, love, intellectual brilliance, death and everything else going on in the world at any time for the magician to establish aetheric resonance with, if he wishes to work in a more free form manner.

Basically two forms of subconscious activity have to be brought into play simultaneously for a successful invocation. The emotions must be selectively aroused to add power. This often begins consciously by an effort of deliberate simulation during the conscious identification phase and then forms a vital part of the gnosis phase, but it must develop its own momentum during the possession phase when the conscious lets the subconscious take over. The other subconscious faculty required appears to be located in the normally rather quiet right cerebral hemisphere. This must be induced to channel up the genius of whatever is invoked and to give it form and expression. The only certain technique here is to carefully prepare the ritual so that all the necessary physical materials and mental ideas and beliefs are available and then throw yourself wholeheartedly into it with a supreme effort of method acting. Fake it till you make it, as comprehensively as possible, until you get more out than you appear to be putting in. I am not satisfied by an invocation unless I am surprised by the result. Basically one is calling the gods, the archetypal forces, up out of oneself and from the collective aetheric of the human race and only if they exceed one's expectations should the operation be regarded as successful. One of the most important sleight of mind tricks in invocation hinges on the curious relationship of ritual to belief. My fellow humans, it is my unfortunate duty to point out that we have greater propensity to believe what we do, than to do what we believe. All philosophy is biography; force someone to perform military or religious rituals and they will come to believe that they are a soldier or a religious devotee. Our beliefs are largely formed by what we find ourselves doing. The magician, however, exploids this mechanism to his advantage. He starts with an idea of what he wants to believe and then selects a ritual and a god-form in which he acts as though such beliefs are true. By performing them he alters his belief deliberately. Perhaps it would be better to say that he provides himself with a range of beliefs which he can invoke selectively to enable himself as circumstances demand. He should be capable of the actions which stem from the beliefs that he is a superb lover, a courageous and efficient warrior, an intellectual genius, a brilliant businessman, is supremely likable and charismatic and indeed anything else which might be useful.

Mastery of sleight of mind in invocation brings with it some dangers. The main thing is to avoid is excessive identification with any particular form which seems to yield good results. If a particular invoked form seems to be dominating a magicians entire existence, it is essential that he try something else as well, preferably something quite different, as an alternative. Otherwise he faces a long-term narrowing of his humanity which may well prove effective in the short term, but which leads inexorably to sterility and failure. The magician should also be aware of god-forms which begin to exceed the purposes for which they were invoked. There are many selves within us, we are all cases of multiple personality though generally unafflicted with the amnesia which is the hallmark of clinical manifestations of this condition. Sanity is a state in which our component selves love and trust each other and are prepared to let each other assume control as circumstances demand. If a particular self, enhanced by invocation, begins to seriously encroach on the functions of the other selves, it is a sign that something is going wrong, the basic self-love which binds the selves together is breaking down and demons will arise as a result. A demon is a god acting out of turn.

Sleight of Mind in Illumination

Only those forms of illumination which lead to useful behaviour changes deserve to be known as such. When I hear the word "spirituality", I tend to reach for a loaded wand. Most professionally spiritual people are vile and untrustworthy when off duty, simply because their beliefs conflict with basic drives and only manage to distort their natural behaviour temporarily. The demons then come screaming up out of the cellar at unexpected moments.

When selecting objectives for illumination, the magician should choose forms of self improvement which can be precisely specified and measured and which effect changes of behaviour in his entire existence. Invocation is the main tool in illumination, although enchantment where spells are cast upon oneselves and divination to seek objectives for illumination may also find some application. Evocation can sometimes be used with care, but there is no point in simply creating an entity that is the repository of what one wishes were true for oneself in general. This is a frequent mistake in religion. Forms of worship which create only entities in the subconscious are inferior to more wholehearted worship, which, at its best, is pure invocation. The Jesuits "Imitation of Christ" is more effective than merely praying to Jesus for example.

Illumination proceeds in the same general manner as invocation, except that the magician is striving to effect specific changes to his everyday behaviour, rather than to create enhanced facilities that can be drawn upon for particular purposes. The basic technique remains the same, the required beliefs are identified and then implanted in the subconscious by ritual or other acts. Such acts force the subconscious acquisition of the beliefs they imply.

Modest and realistic objectives are preferable to grandiose schemes in illumination. One modifies the behaviour and beliefs of others by beginning with only the most trivial demands. The same applies to oneselves. The magician should beware of implanting beliefs whose expression cannot be sustained by the human body or the environment. For example it is possible to implant the belief that flight can be achieved without an aircraft. However it has rarely proved possible to implant this belief deeply enough to ensure that such flights were not of exceedingly short duration. Nevertheless such feats as fire-walking and obliviousness to extreme pain are sometimes achieved by this mechanism.

The sleight of mind which implants belief through ritual action is more powerful than any other weapon that humanity possesses, yet its influence is so pervasive that we seldom notice it. It makes religions, wars, cults and cultures possible. It has killed countless millions and created our personal and social realities. Those who understand how to use it on others can be messiahs or dictators, depending on their degree of personal myopia. Those who understand how to apply it to themselves have a jewel beyond price if they use it wisely; otherwise they tend to rapidly invoke their own Nemesis with it.

Sleight of Mind in Demonology

A surprise addition.
"Liber Boomerang"

A god ignored is a demon born.

Think you to hypertrophy some selves at the expense of others?

That which is denied gains power, and seeks strange and unexpected forms of manifestation.

Deny Death and other forms of Suicide will arise.

Deny Sex and bizzarre forms of its expression will torment you.

Deny Love and absurd sentimentalities will disable you.

Deny Aggression only to stare eventually at the bloody Knife in your shaking hand.

Deny honest Fear and Desire only to create senseless neuroticism and avarice.

Deny Laughter and the world laughs at you.

Deny Magic only to become a confused robot, inexplicable even unto yourself.

* Origin: ChaosBox: Nothing is true -> all is permitted... (2:243/2)