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Measures Of Propensity For Various Magic Techniques


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#1 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 30 November 2018 - 08:15 PM

Giovanni B. Caputo studied the visual effect that I believe to be the base-phenomenon for the black mirror facial reflection-distortion technique (FRDT), published first by Nelson White (a prior close associate of Carroll Runyon) and brought into popular awareness by Donald Michael Kraig. Later, Carroll Runyon published on the technique. I imagine most readers here are familiar with that publication history.

It's unclear whether or not Caputo was familiar with FRDT for magic purposes, but he was certainly familiar with variants of Bloody Mary game, a popular feature of pre-teen slumber parties and summer camps for decades (in parts of Europe it's The Devil Himself that shows up, rather than an angry ghost, etc).

You can read a brief report of Caputo's early work here: https://www.noeton.o...to-research.pdf.

Among the most interesting findings for me and presumably many of us here is that a sizable percentage of untrained individuals with no prior expectations about what should happen experienced visual effects that are comparable to what trained individuals using the FRDT for magic experience.

As a personal side note, I've used and taught the FRDT for years and have always maintained that the visual effect is a tool of magic, not magic in and of itself. That is, getting the visual effect recruits natural vision and perceptual effects, and while those effects can serve useful functions for accomplishing magic effects, making magic with it requires the will and effort that any real act of magic demands. The Caputo findings support the first of those assumptions: anyone can experience the visual effect. And while it's difficult to know for sure if his research subjects experienced any magic effects in their lives after participating in the studies, the literature on the whole after 10+ years of studies suggests that his general research subjects don't reported any after effects. That is, if he was getting reports of that nature, he'd I believe he's publish about it.

Also interestingly, Caputo uses a regular mirror under dim light conditions in his studies. It's a reasonable guess that the percentage of people reporting comparable effects, and/or the intensity of the effects might increase if a black mirror was used. That aside, Caputo's follow up studies aimed at understanding the individual differences that might explain who gets the effect, or who gets more intense effects, and who doesn't in either case.

Caputo turned next to clinical populations and indeed found that persons with certain diagnostic profiles experienced more and more intense mirror effects. You can read one of those studies here: https://www.ncbi.nlm...les/PMC4373638/. With those two sources, the rest of his literature should be easy to find on your own.

Caputo's research on the whole doesn't suggest that there's anything pathological about undiagnosed people who get the mirror effect, but it does indirectly support the hypothesis that many clinically significant symptoms have sub-clinical expressions. For example, hallucinations while driving (especially at night) are fairly common among non-clinical individuals: perceiving that a street sign displayed something other than what it really displayed, thinking a pile of old tires on the side of the road was a little old lady standing there, etc.

So the idea came about that select clinical symptom measurement instruments might serve as an index for predicting who is more or less likely to experience mirror gazing effects, and/or to predict the intensity of the effects. The literature suggest two useful instruments: variants of clinical Dissociation Scales and Depersonalization/Derealization scales, which may at least partially overlap. The most common use of these scales is by general practice M.D. where certain types of psychiatric issues are suspected. They're quick questionnaires that can be completed and scored in the context of a general doctor visit. In that context if someone scores above an established threshold, the M.D. would usually recommend follow up with a psychiatric specialist for diagnostics and treatment if warranted.

At sub-clinical levels, however, I propose that the same measurement instruments might be used as an index of the individual differences that make magic practitioners more or less amenable to certain magic-related practices. Evocation with the FRDT as the easy example, but I don't think their use is limited to that. These measures may also underpin propensity for scrying of other sorts, astral travel/pathwork-style magic, and ritual magic. Given my knowledge of the research literature and personal experience in magic practice and magic training, here's what I predict.

1. Person's scoring on the higher end of the sub-clinical range on the scales are likely to find more, or easier success with the evocation to visible appearance using the FRDT, astral travel and pathworking-type magic, and the sensory experience of magic energy in the ritual magic context (i.e. the act of tracing a pentagram in the air is defined by specific physical sensations). The converse is also predicted: persons scoring lower than that are less likely or will find it more difficult to be successful with the same techniques.

The more speculative hypotheses are:

2. Persons scoring at or slightly above the clinical cutoffs, who would probably not be diagnosed without several other manifestations of disorder...

A... are more likely to express natural (untrained) clairvoyance of all sorts.2

and

B. ...are more likely to succeed at evocation to physical manifestation (from their own perspective).

I'll post versions of these scales that have no copyright restrictions in separate posts, for interested parties to review and complete if they wish.

Then, I'm interested in feedback and opinions about the existing science and my predictions, and for anyone who feels comfortable sharing, I'm interest in individuals' scores and relevant history of magic practices.
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#2 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 30 November 2018 - 08:25 PM

The Dissociative Experiences Scale can be found here:

https://www.hebpsy.n...eKcvt6dBZpS.pdf

The Depersonalization scale can be downloaded as a Word doc from this link:

http://www.goodmedic...zation,%20t.DOC

I've clicked both links and found them to be safe.
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#3 Spida

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Posted 30 November 2018 - 09:14 PM

I used to do this occasionally with my LCD Monitor when it was off. It's in the perfect place so that when I sit on my bed it's a few feet away, and just about eye level.

If I relaxed my gaze eventually the reflection of me would morph, or be altered in various ways although many times not in a positive way, and it could often render ghastly transformations.

It's enough to give you goosebumps, and send shivers/chills up your spine; create a dark and eerie mood/presence, but I eventually lost interest; it was mostly an activity of opportunity or perhaps merely indulged because of somethig I read, I don't remember.

The altered states are more my cup of tea, and we all only have so much time to engage in selective activites so that's my main focus, but the black mirror experiments absolutely produced effects, not sure what I make of them though, exactly.
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#4 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 01 December 2018 - 01:37 AM

Spida, you got what the thread was about, right? If you did then you should understand that your history is uninteresting in this thread without your measures. Did you do them?
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#5 Spida

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Posted 01 December 2018 - 10:40 AM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 01 December 2018 - 01:37 AM, said:

Spida, you got what the thread was about, right? If you did then you should understand that your history is uninteresting in this thread without your measures. Did you do them?


No Mr. Laughlin I did not - my apologies - as I did not assimilate a sufficient quantity of the original post to facilitate contemplation, and ultimately completion of the measurement scales being referred.

My initial comment was made on a whim, basically, with the FRDT serving as primary catalyst. I agree that it is uninteresting, or more precisely, irrelevant, with respect to the focal point of your topic.

Good luck with further more comprehensive responses of which I may/may not be included.
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#6 Imperial Arts

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 04:57 PM

I got a score of "1" on the DES, the first link.
https://www.lulu.com...ibutorId=588142

http://www.lulu.com/...t-22253942.html

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#7 Imperial Arts

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 05:17 PM

Not to further derail your examination of these clinical scales, but the idea of a natural aptitude for some of the techniques common in magic has been a fascinating thing for some time. I figure that if tall people make decent basketball players and large people make decent football players, given proper coaching, the same might exist for people doing spells.

Simple experiments come to mind, something like a human rat maze that only a skilled diviner could navigate in the allotted time, or a puzzle whose key could only be unraveled through the same. Whenever I sit down to think about it, the gut reaction comes to me that the real rat maze is life, and that the tests of magic spells and divinations are a day to day thing that doesn't have the same means of measurement, as a clinical trial, an issue which we have beaten as close to death as possible.

The earliest "records" of the FRDT that I can recall appear in Hippolytus vs. Heretics in relation to the oracles of the underworld. The ancient Greeks, some few hundred years prior to Hippolytus, were supposedly having people spend weeks in dark isolation fed gods-know-what and were finally ushered into a chamber to gaze into a dark pool from whence the deceased appear. This process is described as being conducted by a trick, a glass floor showing actors below, although so far no such secret rooms have been discovered despite the oracle being examined at Ephyra. The stronger possibility, in my opinion, is that the oracles were operated using the FRDT.


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#8 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 07:14 PM

View PostImperial Arts, on 02 December 2018 - 05:17 PM, said:

Whenever I sit down to think about it, the gut reaction comes to me that the real rat maze is life, and that the tests of magic spells and divinations are a day to day thing that doesn't have the same means of measurement, as a clinical trial, an issue which we have beaten as close to death as possible.

Indeed. Real life is impossible to model with sufficient control for true experimentation, which in general is why research questions have to be quite narrow, and comprehensive theories have to be cobbled together from many many individual studies, carefully integrated into a coherent picture of the thing in question. It's also why cutting edge science is inherently more an intuitive art demanding of high-level craft than most people realize. Asking poignant questions requires deep insight, born in part my knowledge or prior research, but that alone isn't enough. And then, designing studies that are capable of answering the meaningful questions... that skill depends more than expertise: it take uncommon creativity as well.

Caputo's studies are informative of some things, though not everything that might be of interest to us here. His basic findings established that pretty much anyone can get visual effects that are comparable to what occultists describe from use of FRDT. He hasn't addressed it as such, but the finding are there and it just takes an occultist's perspective to interpret it in those terms. That's important enough from my perspective to recommend the studies to anyone who would pursue magic mirror work.

For handy reference, here are the baseline reports among Caputo subjects:

Quote

These included huge deformations of one’s own face (reported by 66% of individuals), a monstrous face (48%), an unknown person (28%), an archetypal face (28%), a face of a parent or relative (18%), and an animal face (18%).

So for us, the findings means that FRDT effects aren't magic in and of themselves, and it doesn't take magic training of any sort to get those basic effects: 5-7 minutes of gazing at a regular mirror in dim lighting conditions is really all it takes for most people to get some level of the canonical effects. As I mentioned before, a black mirror, especially in flicker candle light should reasonably enhance the effects. It might be worth experimenting with both techniques to see if that's true for any given practitioner.

And where positive magical results seem to stem from work with the FRDT are experienced, we here should want to know what exactly differentiates the magic use of the technique from what the subjects in the Caputo studies experience. I'm interested in suggestions about that.

My ideas primarily include the potential effects of intention and expectation, which are probably too closely related to separate.

Another idea that stems from my personal experience with the technique is that, while not reasonably a function of intentional magic given the findings, the experience may be somewhat magical, so to speak. When I work with the FRDT, the experience includes distinctive feelings of otherworldliness. Incidentally, I also associate similar feelings with aspects of ritual magic the way I practice it. I'd be interested in knowing if that rings true for non-magicians as well.
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#9 voidgazing

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Posted 02 December 2018 - 11:17 PM

FWIW, I think you're quite right about the effects not being magic in and of themselves.

FRDT is fallin off a log for me.

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#10 Imperial Arts

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 09:10 AM

View PostR. Eugene Laughlin, on 02 December 2018 - 07:14 PM, said:

And where positive magical results seem to stem from work with the FRDT are experienced, we here should want to know what exactly differentiates the magic use of the technique from what the subjects in the Caputo studies experience. I'm interested in suggestions about that.

Would there be a comparison drawn between the difference between stumbling around in the dark and daring to enter a haunted house? A person might not see any ghosts, but it's an experience that goes beyond what would otherwise be trespassing and some kind of temporary manic enthusiasm.

I used to see it with the whale people. Every log becomes a whale. They see what they want to see, when they're in the spirit of their yacht holidays and island tourism. Anywhere else, and it's just water and shoreline, commuter ferry traffic, but "on holiday" it becomes a whale watch adventure.

As far as I'm aware, Caputo's people weren't asking those faces and monsters to teach them how to play guitar or learn anything of importance, much less anything that could be verified external to the experiment.

The experience of seeing faces is, as you have repeatedly shown, just a trick of the way the eyes work and how the brain processes the information given from them. I think it is disreputable for anyone to claim that the visions of faces and so on produced this way are actually the faces of the dead. It is a suggestion trick and helps maybe in the grief process, and who cares, everything done to move the dead along is expensive as hell, and the counseling stuff is just part of the funeral and mourning that gets dressed up in the modern world as mental health or in this case as necromancy.

But I think that's precisely what the Aztecs did, and whatever other pre-Columbian culture whose square basalt mirror I have seen, was intended to accomplish. The idea was that you could face the dead, once again. For me, this sort of thing happens in dreams on occasion, and it is enough, but some people seek out the necromancer and need some further kind of consolation.

It is "smoke and mirrors," literally, to say that this kind of technique represents any kind of spirit communication at all, but the dead seem to be the thing people have sought since forever with these things, and since the reflective media is already shaped like yourself, family relations are an easy fit.

I knew one person who did this massive forty day ritual, some archaic but simple rite for mirror magic in which a spirit would be called to him as a familiar. He expected to have some kind of Jetsons TV Facetime experience with his steel mirror. Instead, his wife conceived a child. A few years later, he tried the whole thing again, all the proper invocations, and again almost immediately after he became a parent again. Since he is well known to me, I can say that the parenting stuff has been an enormously positive experience in his life that led him to a deeper understanding of himself and his capabilities, much more than whatever Gene Simmons in the mirror might have to say about it. He never did get Facetime with whoeverthebub, but he got the kind of things he was wanting to extract from it, and ultimately the Facetime is not the goal, but rather the stuff you want the face in the mirror to tell you.

You could maybe argue that *whatever* kind of stuff you expect or attribute to spirit - knowledge or power or effect of any sort - comes from the natural course of events, but it doesn't really matter if you don't get something from the spirit in some fashion or another. I don't care how it appears or with what frequency, if you haven't got something out of the deal then it was all just Bloody Mary.

Edited by Imperial Arts, 03 December 2018 - 09:13 AM.

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#11 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 03 December 2018 - 03:10 PM

Mean Dissociation Score = 4

D&D Scale: Endorsed = 8; Average Frequency = 0.3; Average Duration = 1.25; Total Score = 10
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