Thursday, September 30, 2004

Science, Magick and Spirit (Eleven Days)

  • Image courtesy of
  • Eleven Days, and Goddess willing, I will be able to talk before I explode! I was not meant to keep secrets. If you have a secret, don’t tell me—it will not be a secret long!

    Miracles are not contrary to nature; only to what we know of nature.
    St. Augustine

    When I first started to deal with spirituality in AA and in Wicca, one of my fears was that I was abandoning the sane, rational scientific view of the world for an irrational, superstitious worldview. It did not seem possible to me that both worldviews, the spiritual and the rational, could coexist. It turns out that I was wrong and I was right about my fears.

    I was right in that I do think that most Wiccans (I am firmly in this category now) are relatively credulous and do not apply rigorous rational skepticism to new ideas and incidents they encounter. For example, this past weekend at WitchStock, Jewel did a Tarot reading for me and at the end I was in shock because she was so accurate. I never sat down and said, okay she knows the cards well, she knows me well, she knows Lisa, so maybe she used that knowledge to construct a reading. I’m not saying that is what she did, I am simply observing that I never used any of my highly vaunted critical thinking skills to analyze what happened.

    Some of the things I encounter in Witchcraft just feel fraudulent. They practically scream “Bullshit!!” One of the things that helps me recognize them is that they usually have price tags attached.

    But I was wrong overall, to assume that a spiritual and a scientific worldview could not coexist. In fact, my scientific worldview is a part of what feeds my spiritual worldview today. I find quantum physics and biology to be replete with data that fits my spiritual ideas. Notice, I did not say that I had to change those scientific views to fit my spiritual views, in fact I feel that the scientific information I have actually changes my spiritual views. The grave danger here is that I don’t have a formal background in science, so who knows, possibly my ignorance causes me to fundamentally misunderstand those fields. Fortunately I am both egotistical and arrogant enough to believe that this is not the case.

    So why can’t science see the spiritual? Why can’t spiritual things be measured, theorized and quantitated? If magick exists, it must be observable, right?

    I have three thoughts on this; the first being that good old St. Augustine, when he wasn’t coercing Pagans to convert, had a point. The problem may not be that magick and spirit do not exist, only that we don’t understand how they exist from a scientific standpoint. After all, it still can be demonstrated with perfectly sound math that man will never fly. The problem is not that the math is not sound, the issue is that it is the wrong theory to apply to that specific problem.

    My second thought, closely related to the first, is that science cannot find or examine that which it denies exists. Science had never tried, in a rigorous manner, to investigate this stuff. Science has clung to a material worldview which does not have room for spirituality. To use a scientific metaphor, it is like the denial that the world is round—after all, if you look, you can see that it is obviously flat. Centuries ago people did not look for a round world, and because they did not seek that data, they remained ignorant of it.

    A final idea is this: maybe we don’t see magick and spirit because they are fundamental to nature. They are ingrained in everything. Nothing exists without them. In this idea, it truly is a case of not seeing the trees for the woods. Physics tells me energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed. I also gather that in the end, everything material is really made of energy. If energy can make a desk and a laptop computer, why can’t it also make magick and spirit?

    The truth is out there.

    Eleven days. Man, I can’t wait!

    Good Morning Goddess Brigit, my name is Andy and I am an alcoholic. I have been kept sober since Imbolc 2001 by Your grace and Your grace alone. I’d like to thank You for one more day. Today is a good day to be sober. Please be with me today, all day long, and help me to stay sober all day long. Show me Your will for me and grant me the power to carry that out. Thy will, not mine, be done. Be welcome in me and to me; body, heart, mind and soul. Thank You, Blessed Be.