by Christopher M. Steiner
I look at this world and see a people who have forgotten something very important about how one is supposed to live. I feel driven to learn or remember as much as possible and to teach others a better way to look at life. However, I am frequently uncertain exactly what it is that I'm supposed to be teaching. My personal reason for writing this paper is to put some of my thoughts in order in a way that should help me on my quest.
I continue to have hope.
I have always looked at things in a different manner than most people. When I search for when I started being different from others, I remember a time when I was about 2 or 3. My family was sitting around the dining room table, eating steak. We sat in our usual positions, Dad to my left, my older brother Dave to my right and Mom across the table from me. I remember seeing this from near the ceiling above the center of the table. I saw myself sitting motionless in my chair. Dad and Dave were talking to each other excitedly, not eating much. Mom leaned forward and said something to the me in the chair, which I couldn't understand. I assumed that she was mad at me for leaving the table before dinner was over, so I returned to my body.
Later, while she was clearing dishes from the table, I asked her if she was mad at me for leaving the table during dinner. She said I hadn't left the table. I tried to explain it to her, but she said I was making it up. I was upset that she wasn't believing me, so I went to my brother and tried to explain it to him. As I finished telling the story to my brother, it suddenly struck me that I was communicating, something that I hadn't been able to do well before. This shocked me so much that I don't remember Dave's answer.
It is said that children think of their parents as gods. Parents know everything and nothing they do can be wrong. This feeling was torn from me at that point. I started questioning in my mind what my parents believed. It wasn't that I thought they were lying to me. If they hadn't seen me hovering over the table that evening, then they must not know everything. There were obviously things I could see that they could not. I started paying attention to other kids and what they could see and do. Gradually, I came upon the realization that kids knew a lot. And as they adjusted to the "real world", they forgot many of the things that I thought were important.
I vowed to myself that I wouldn't forget.
Unfortunately, as time passed I forgot many of the things. There was this constant feeling that there was something else out there, so I kept looking and trying to believe. I became very interested in science fiction and fantasy. Dad read to us from J.R.R. Tolkien and Piers Anthony almost every night. I didn't understand much of it, but it made me want to read it for myself.
I was 7 when Dad bought a trampoline. I spent a lot of time on it, and it helped in making friends. I wasn't very outgoing, mostly being entertained enough by the stories and games I created for myself. Most of the time other kids didn't want to listen to me, saying I was too weird for them. By the time I was 10, I had a close circle of friends that enjoyed playing my games and bouncing on the trampoline, especially when I combined the two. We had a favorite game reminiscent of dodge ball. While one of us was bouncing, the rest of us would stand around the trampoline throwing a 4-square ball at the person bouncing. The bouncing person had a certain number of "lives" and could block the ball with his off hand. Once I created a bunch of super-heroes to pretend to be while we were taking turns on the trampoline, dodging a ball. One of the super-heroes was an energy being called Neon. Neon could produce any color of light, condense it, and manipulate it. It was my turn on the trampoline when the person pretending to be Neon decided to "zap" me with a red beam.
I felt it hit my foot. It wasn't enough to hurt or to really move me, but it surprised me and I crumpled onto the trampoline. (And was promptly beamed by the ball.) This inspired everyone else into a "zapping" war, which died quickly as other people felt the "zaps". Everyone became uncomfortably serious. Not wanting to look like I was out of control and realizing the opportunity for a new game, I told them that I was a magician and I had been slowly teaching them, waiting for them to realize that they had talent. The tension disappeared with the new game as I "instructed" them on how to use Neon's abilities properly. I expected the game to last a day or two. It lasted six more years.
Some of my friends got weirded out and stopped coming over to play. The rest of us made energy structures a regular part of the battle-ball trampoline game. The person on the trampoline wove shields out of energy and tried to deflect the ball with the shields and energy blasts. The people around the trampoline would try to crack the shields with focused energy blasts and trip or shove the person on the trampoline with normal energy blasts. The game changed a little every time as they kept asking me for new magical tricks they could try. I told them everything that made sense to me and spent much of my time actively searching for more. I insisted that they never let themselves think that they couldn't do something. If you didn't believe, then you would stop yourself before you could do anything.
Belief as an Energy Field
Consider the hypothesis that reality is an unstable matrix. It is coherent in and of itself, but it is easily influenced by a certain type of energy. Humankind (and possibly all life) generates this energy, and Belief shapes the pattern that this energy forms.
When I say Belief, I do not mean religion or when someone says, "I believe the program works." I mean the type of belief one has when someone else fires a gun at their chest that they are going to be in a lot of pain. The gun may have been loaded with blanks, but if the person was uninformed, they knew that they were going to be hit by a bullet. They Believed in the bullet.
Now consider what happens if you change what people Believe. The energy field they produce is altered and the matrix of reality changes, altering what is real, right? Well, it's not as easy as that. First of all, a person can change what they think they believe in easily, but it is very hard to for them to change what they really Believe. Secondly, what happens if two people Believe opposite things? Obviously both can't exist, so the person who has the weaker Belief gets disappointed.
Like water, reality naturally moves to the point of least resistance.
However, you rarely have such a clear cut struggle. Belief, like any other energy field, fades away the further it gets from it's source, but never completely disappears. The sum total of the peripheral effects of all of the Belief fields on the planet, combined with the influence of the original reality matrix, also effects the outcome.
So what can be achieved by changing one's Beliefs? The first thing that comes to mind is the saying that both optimists and pessimists are right. If you Believe an event will turn out well, the point of least resistance moves a little towards things turning out well. And vice versa. It becomes more useful to someone the less they are observed. Most people will not strongly Disbelieve something they did not witness, so there is less pressure on the point of least resistance and it will be easier to move.
Sounds like an outrageous concept, right? It's nearly impossible to prove and goes counter to what almost everyone else knows about the nature of reality. So what? It may be complete nonsense, but it is still useful. The person being shot at with blanks is going to feel the bullet, or at least what his mind thinks the bullet should feel like, for the first tenth of a second. Muscles will contract and his blood pressure will increase. Adrenaline will be released into his system. If he is not healthy, he may suffer permanent damage just from the belief that he was going to be shot. If he had loaded the blanks into the gun himself, and really believed that there was no bullet, none of this would have happened to him. This effect of a person's belief altering his world goes down to the smallest part of their lives. When a person fumbles for a pen and knows they are going to drop it, their grasps are more frantic and less likely to actually catch the pen.
On a more commonly known level: A trusted doctor gives several patients a placebo (usually a sugar pill) and tells them that this will make them get better. 35% of them do. Just the patients' Belief in the doctor or the medicine healed them. This is a strong enough effect to be considered valuable to the medical community. Patients that do not need medication are frequently given placebos just for this 35% chance of improvement.
There are many concepts like this in the realm of magic. The general rule is: It doesn't matter if it is true or not. If it produces results, then it is a valid tool.
Auras, Weather Control
My friends wanted more than just the trampoline game. They wanted to know how to control the weather and how to see auras. Internally I balked. I had never considered how to do such a thing. Externally, I looked at them like I was judging how good they were. I instead started explaining the concept of probability control. I explained that everything has a percentage chance to happen. The subconscious mind knows better than the conscious mind what this percentage is. The subconscious mind also knows ways to alter this percentage that the conscious mind cannot understand. If a person should develop a link between their conscious and subconscious minds, they should be able to adjust the probability of an outcome. Most people do this unintentionally and call it luck.
Bear in mind that I had forgotten much, and a good part of me considered this all just a game. I was just expanding on an idea I had working in the back of my mind, saying what felt most like the truth. I found out years later that there are people who spend much of their lives trying to learn probability control. They call it chaos magic.
My friends weren't very satisfied, and pressed the part about seeing auras. I remembered something I read about seeing auras in a graphic novel. Essentially it was: You are seeing auras all the time, but your mind is editing them out, much the same way it edits out bugs and dirt on the windshield when you're driving a car. (pause) Have you ever been thinking about something hard enough that you stop seeing with your eyes? You just stare off into space until someone waves their hand in front of your face. While you're in this state, your sight is unmodified, and you should be seeing auras. The trick is to come back from this state slowly, notice the auras, and tell your mind to stop editing them out.
My friends were satisfied with this, and we practiced these techniques for a few weeks. I started figuring out things to mention about weather control. First one has to be able to control the wind. Probability control works to a certain extent, but wind is too random to control that way. (It never hurts to give that touch to any magic one does, though.) To control the wind, one must understand the pattern of the wind. Wind currents don't all flow in the same direction, they roll around and between each other, moving more often like someone exhaling smoke than like water currents. Visualizing the pattern is the hard part. The best way I have found is to find a grassy field and watch the ripples of the grass as the wind blows and try to visualize the patterns of force needed to produce those movements. The exact pattern isn't needed, just the style, but more understanding leads to better control. When you have this, visualize a pattern that the wind could be moving in, applying a little probability control and a little energy manipulation. These steps almost always allow someone to control wind for at least a short time.
Controlling storms is similar, but requires either patience or good timing to find the right patterns to study. Storms aren't just caused by storm clouds, the entire atmosphere changes. Pay attention to what the lull before the storm feels like and how it comes about. Pay attention to how the atmosphere changes as the storm leaves. Altering atmospheric conditions is harder than calling in a breeze, but the steps are the same. Will it to happen and Believe in yourself.
A quicker way to alter the weather is to do direct manipulation of clouds, although this never produces as nice of a result. I first taught this to my friends when we were exhausted and laying on the trampoline. First pick a small cloud and focus on it. Visualize the cloud scattering and dissolving away. It may take a while, but some results should be seen in a few minutes. Eventually the cloud should go away completely. After practicing this for a while, then try working around the edge of a cloud and, instead of dispersing it, twist the edges off in a clockwise pattern. If done successfully, it will cause that cloud to rain.
Now, I was beginning to get concerned when some of the things my friends did were appearing to work. I started practicing the things they were doing to see if they were faking it or not. Wind control proved to be fairly easy, but what little I was trying in front of my friends could have been coincidence. I wanted the magic to work enough that I was beginning to doubt my own sanity. Half of me clung to the events where my magic seemed to work, the other half clung to the belief that they were coincidences.
Then one day, I stood up from not really watching TV. My mind had been wandering enough that I realized that I was no longer even listening to what was going on. I glanced down at my arm and nearly screamed. Instead of my arm, I saw very clearly blue, white, and black bubbling light. It surrounded my arm and about 2 inches out from it. Part of my mind shouted joyfully, "I've seen my aura!" The other part of my mind said that I had finally snapped. I ran upstairs to my room and firmly played games on my Commodore 64. I had almost forgotten about the aura I had seen when I lost the game. I growled in anger and frustration at the computer, and felt a red ball of energy come from my chest and slam into the keyboard.
The computer turned off.
I quickly went over to it and flipped the power switch off and then back on. The computer came on again, but was much slower than before. Now I had proof that I was manipulating energy and could look forward to studying magic as much as my friends. Sort of. Both events were short enough and caused me enough stress that I could, at times, deny that they had happened at all. I started living two lives. Some of the time I was wielding magic, pushing my limits of control and understanding, trying to discover what new wonders were out there. The rest of the time I was a frustrated high-school student, scared that I was losing my mind.
Manipulation of Energy and Perception
Energy manipulation is either the hardest or the easiest skill I teach people, depending on the person. The actual manipulation of energy is exactly as easy as you think it would be. The problem is being able to feel the energy you're manipulating so you have feedback and don't doubt yourself. This is something that I still have trouble teaching.
Essentially, it comes down to paying attention to your body. Every feeling that your body sends to your brain has a meaning. A great amount of information is given to you every second, much more than you can consciously process. However, you can for example, focus all of your attention on the spot between your eyes. Pay attention to every signal that area of skin is sending out. Now, take the index finger of your dominant hand and bring it slowly towards that spot. I can't say for certain, but many of the people I teach can feel their finger when it comes within an inch of that spot.
The spot between your eyes is one of the most energy sensitive spots on the body. Other main ones are the palms and the back of your neck. (Ever have that feeling on the back of your neck that means someone's staring at you?)
Once you know what you're looking for, your hands are the safest spots to play with. Try visualizing a warm, red energy flowing from the shoulder of your dominant hand, down your arm, and out your index finger. Hold your opposite hand in front of your index finger and see if you can feel anything. The feeling isn't going to be like, "Ouch! My palm is burning!" It's going to be subtle, like when a single hair brushes across your cheek. Maybe less. If you do sense something, congratulations! You've just consciously manipulated energy. With practice and experimentation, you will be able to produce stronger flows of energy and be able to control the direction and shape it flows in. The main thing to remember once you've reached this stage is to not limit yourself and to not tense up. If you tense up, you cut off the flow of energy as if you were squeezing a garden hose.
There are many types of energy that can be perceived this way, and they have different uses. Some things to which I pay attention when trying to generate or identify an energy are: color, temperature, texture, speed, and sometimes emotion. Colors mean a lot to people and carry much personal significance. Temperature can tell you about the current state of the energy in question. A common thing I do when healing is remove hot energy and replace it with energy that is similar but cool. Texture can tell you most directly what the energy is useful for. If touching the energy makes your hand itch or hurt, you can be fairly certain that it is destructive. Speed is more for active use. Some energies travel slowly through the body and some travel fast. If you try to push an energy at the wrong speed, it doesn't cooperate well.
Let me give you an example of identifying an energy. Mike held out his staff and asked me to look at it. The first thing I noticed was that it felt heavier than it was, an indication that a large amount of energy had been placed in the staff. When I touched the staff, it felt hot, angry and corrosive. Red and gray energy circled restlessly inside the staff. I told him the impressions I got. He told me that his family had just been robbed and that he was pacing the house, shaking his staff and putting his frustration into it.
Visualization is the most important aspect of energy control. You're working in tandem with your subconscious mind, and creating an image in your mind is the best way to communicate with it. The more detail you put into the visualization, the more real it feels to you, the more likely the visualized result will happen. Don't fret too much if you can't make a visualization work in your mind. I frequently use this to judge how my magic is working. If I try to visualize something and the image forms wrong or weaker than I wanted, I search for a possible cause. Sometimes it's because something's in the way, sometimes it's because I don't have the energy to do what I'm trying. Sometimes the basic concept is flawed and it won't work no matter how hard I try.
Manipulation of energy does not need to remain within your personal space or whatever you touch. One of my more common tricks I do while driving my car. I tap other drivers on the chest if it looks like they aren't going to stop for a light or intersection. I try to send along with the tap an awareness of my presence. Usually they look at me. They always stop.
Questions and Doubt
It is about this point in my life, and in the writing of this paper, that I began to question myself. I try to be a good person and follow God's will, but sometimes I am unsure what that is. I feel like I'm on an important quest, and I've lost my instructions. Just why, exactly, I am supposed to be teaching? And whom? For that matter, what am I supposed to be teaching? Magic? But isn't magic evil?
I teach because it feels right to me. I feel most at peace with myself when I am opening someone's mind or sharing an exploration into new ideas. I work magic for similar reasons. I can't conceive of an existence where I couldn't gather energy from the air, or feel the presence of cars, or look in someone's body and tell it to heal. It is part of my nature.
Magic doesn't feel evil to me, but the Church says it is. So what should I do? What I did was start searching for a new religion. I looked at several versions of the bible, and some literature on different religions. It was taking too much time, so I started talking to people from different religious groups. None of them seemed to say anything coherent that was important to me.
I was sitting around a campfire with two of my friends when it occurred to me that it would be easiest to simply ask the gods directly, if they were there. So, I projected mentally, as loud as I could, "Give me a reason to worship you." The first thing that responded was this huge, powerful, dark entity claiming the name Cthulu. It said simply, "Use My Power."
I shouted out loud, "No!" and mentally, "Get away from me!" Startled, my friends asked what was wrong, but I was spending all of my energy pushing the thing away and putting shields between me and it. It felt dominatingly angry and possessive, not at all the type of thing I wanted to associate with. It's presence even near my mind made me feel sick.
I spent most of that week constantly telling the thing I wanted nothing to do with it. About a month after it went away, other entities claiming to be gods approached me. The first wave of them tried to give me gifts or abilities. I told all of them that bribing me would make me lose my respect for them and I would not worship something I did not respect. The second wave came more slowly, and I was getting better at noticing when they were around and what type of personalities they had. We talked about how the world should work and what should be expected of a follower. I wasn't very satisfied with any of them. The closest one was a spirit that felt the same as I did on almost every subject we talked about. When I asked him what he could do for me, he thought, "I could make you warm." I asked, "Make me warm?" He replied, "Well, technically you would be my first follower." I told him I would think about it.
A few weeks later, my Mom asked me to come to a Midnight Mass. I agreed reluctantly. As soon as I set foot inside the church, I did my best to not simply stop and let my jaw hang open. Before me I felt a spirit more powerful than any other one I had spoken to in the past year. It reminded me of the first dark spirit I had met, but this one was beautiful and benevolent. I asked it, "Who are you?" His reply was, "I was always here."
I spent the rest of the mass talking to God. I opened with something to the effect of, "Magic is part of me, and I cannot get rid of it. If you are to accept me, you also have to accept my magic." From there, our conversation stopped resembling English. He agreed that it was part of my life, and that I needed to accept it as well. We discussed my drive for magic and it's reasons. I wish I could remember more of that conversation. I remember coming close to English again with a thought like, "One is supposed to turn towards God instead of magic to solve their problems." I argued that I needed to feel like I was trying my best before asking for help. I wanted to pull my own weight. Somehow, we agreed that this was right for me, and that if I ever did get into real trouble, I would call upon Him first. I also stated that I did not want a master-servant relationship. I would prefer to be friends. I think he was happy to hear that.
This still leaves me wondering why I'm so driven to teach magic.
When I work magic, I use parts of my mind that I would not normally use in day to day life. I pay at least as much attention to what my mind is seeing and feeling as to my eyes and body. I feel different to myself. Focused and aware. And when I'm done, I frequently can't remember a large amount of the fine details. I do remember things like, when I was working on healing my girlfriend's kidneys, that I found delicate and intricate structures already there that were assisting them, but I can't remember what they looked like. I remember that they appeared white, thin, and in motion, but I couldn't hope to draw them.
In the moments when I'm not working magic, I fear that all of these beliefs I've developed are signs of someone losing their grasp on sanity. Weather control doesn't always work, and most of the things I do still could be considered coincidence or psychological manipulation. There are instances in my life where I produced an unquestionable physical effect, but I was in that peculiar state of mind at the time. And in most cases, I've told the story enough times that I wonder if the details are accurate or if I just made them up. When I think about it, the stories are all still accurate to every detail, so the fears are unfounded. But they're still there.
In one of the moments when I was almost certain that I was losing my sanity, I met someone by the name of Max. Max had heard that I believed in magic and wanted to talk about it. I drove out to his place and we went for a walk in the woods. He was nervous, telling me about what he heard about me and what he thought he could do. Now, I have always disliked when people asked me for "proof" that I could work magic. It was a sign that they had a closed mind and wouldn't listen to what I was trying to say. Nevertheless, I found myself asking Max to prove that he could control the wind.
A look appeared on his face that looked exactly like the one I think I have when people ask me that question. He raised his arms slowly and waited. Tension built for a while, then he dropped his arms and said that sometimes it didn't work as well as he would like. Then a breeze picked up exactly the direction Max had been facing, and got stronger.
I smiled and relaxed. I apologized for putting him through that, and told him about my fears that I was going insane. He told me that he was having much the same fears himself. We discussed our theories on how various aspects of magic worked. I taught him about Belief and probability. He taught me about structures and applying concepts from computer programs. Eventually we decided that if we were insane, then both of us had lost our sanity in exactly the same fashion. This being highly improbable, we concluded that we were probably sane. While this helped both of us on the emotional level, I still had to work out something intellectual. Without that, I would slowly forget the importance of the talk with Max, and I would begin questioning my sanity again.
And I did, eventually. For a while, I thought that I was sane some of the time, and not others. But I found it a useful kind of insanity. At the very least, it relieved stress, and I picked up some interesting friends when I claimed not to be sane. (Most of them have proven to be extremely worthwhile people to know.) There were moments that I found it very useful to be able to change how I felt and thought. For example, doing a meditation ritual before a philosophy Final proved to be extremely helpful.
So, am I sane? It took me a couple of years to work that out to my satisfaction. The conclusion I came up with was that it does not matter whether I am sane or not.
Assume I am not sane and none of this magic works. My particular form of insanity is not dangerous to myself or others. I have no delusions that lead me to commit crimes. I hear voices, but they do not tell me to do things. I retain a sense of morals and an honor code that is probably higher than most people my age. When I do present my ability to work magic, I am not harming anyone. I provide entertainment. I get people to think new ways sometimes, allowing them to appreciate their world in a new light. And sometimes, I give psychological help to someone who is injured or upset. At worst I would be classified, "Mostly Harmless."
But if I am sane, then the good I can do with the healing and perception skills I can teach is worth exploring for it's own sake. The amount of impact I can make on the world, just by talking about it to whomever I can, is worth taking the chance that I am indeed sane. Therefore I choose to believe that I am sane so that it will not interfere with my growth.
Why am I driven to teach magic? My first response is because I can. But that doesn't feel quite right. I teach magic because I do magic. Magic is a large part of my life, and when I interact with someone I like, I want to share it with them. I have many noble causes like learning and teaching others to heal with magic so people will be healthier and happier. But it comes down to the fact that I enjoy magic in it's use and the implications it has.
Magic is fun, and it attracts the type of people that I like. I've had a multitude of stimulating conversations with people on the validity of the magical viewpoint. When I'm working magic, or even talking about it, I see patterns of beauty in the world that I would never have seen otherwise. Magic adds a whole new dimension to my life, and it takes away nothing.
And finally, what was it, exactly, that I vowed to remember? Some of it I explained when I talked about Belief, but mainly it was to never close your mind. Pay attention to everything, never stop learning, and never stop enjoying it. Everything about life can teach you something, if nothing more than the rewards of appreciating the beauty of the world around you.
I saw a person in Hudson Health Center who was complaining about a pain in her abdomen. The nurse asked her if it was a sharp or a dull pain, and the woman said, "I'm not sick, I just hurt!" The nurse kept asking questions, but that was the only response the woman would give. When the doctor came in and tried to ask similar questions, the woman screamed, "You're the doctor, you figure it out!"
I, who am used to being able to tell a specific muscle fiber to relax when it is cramping, was so shocked at this woman's inability to perceive her own body that I just sat there thinking, "How can you not know?"
What I saw that was missing from the majority of the world was simple awareness. As people grow older, they begin to ignore things that they have seen before. Streets they drive through every day become nothing more than a series of stoplights. Grass becomes a green carpet that they try not to walk on, because they might step on something and have to actually pay attention to it. The dishes they use lose their beauty and become simple tools of eating. And after a point, they feel like they've worked enough, and they should be able to just coast through the rest of their life.
From what I've seen, most people become jaded with the world and with each other. They stop looking at the dandelions growing in cracks in the sidewalk. They stop taking the time to smile at each other and look for a bit of goodness. After all, when it comes down to it, what's important in life is your perception of it. Magic tends to open people's eyes, even if only for a little while. Magic is the medium I use to remind people that living their lives is more important than simply surviving, and I am happy with it.
I forget the date. Heavy rains were flooding the Mississippi and lives were being lost. I spent several days studying the Weather Channel on TV so I could intelligently try to help the situation. It occurred to me that if I bent the Gulf Stream southward, some of the rain clouds would not hit the troubled areas.
I lay back on my couch and closed my eyes. I imagined myself expanding until I could look across North America and see the (surprisingly flat) air currents I wanted to change. I pressed with my Will on the entirety of the Gulf Stream, trying to push it southward. I began to get a headache, so I stopped. I formed clear wedges of force with my mind and tried to redirect it near where it started to enter the United States. The Gulf Stream tore through the wedges like they were made of fog. I looked to the sun, and tried to manipulate the heat and pressure of certain patches of air to coax the Gulf Stream into moving. The Gulf Stream moved a little, but not enough to make a difference. Then it occurred to me to try everything at once. I formed the wedges again, but this time picturing them made of sheets of steel, set up a pattern of low and high pressure areas, and shoved on the Gulf Stream with all of the strength I could summon.
I woke up an hour later begging for some aspirin to kill the headache.
I was not finished, though. After I ate and my head cleared, I sat down on the couch again and closed my eyes. This time I imagined myself flying to a spot over the Mississippi. There I saw three other figures, flying as I was. One was more transparent than the others, and he sent to us that he could not remain for long but he would be back soon. A simple plan of action was presented by someone and no one disagreed. Together we pushed upward on the rain cloud that was approaching, until it was high enough to pass over the state entirely.
And around the Mississippi, there were a few unexpected days when it didn't rain.