Growth in Consciousness Linked to the Paranormal
The defining statement for the Visionary Fiction Alliance, What is Visionary Fiction?, highlights growth in consciousness as central to the development of theme and character in any VF story. That same article notes that VF authors “oftentimes use reincarnation, dreams, visions, paranormal events, psychic abilities, and other metaphysical plot devices” to illustrate and effect that transformative goal.
So, by definition, VF links growth in consciousness to the “far side,” the paranormal. While this stance might be controversial or even far-fetched to some, those of us who create VF regard it as one of the essential steps up in consciousness required to ensure human survival given the current challenging environment. What today are paranormal abilities must evolve sufficiently to become tomorrow’s normal.
As I and other VF authors have discovered, writing VF with the assumption that paranormal elements (ESP, telepathy, reincarnation, remote viewing, etc.) are already mainstream (Michael Gurian’s The Miracle: A Visionary Novel of 2003 is good example), can trigger the reader to visualize an environment where such phenomena abound; and, as many have come to understand, imagination of the possible must precede its manifestation.
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
Included in the title of this piece are the words “visionary theory” rather than “visionary fiction theory,” indicating that I plan it to be more about visionary realism than visionary fiction per se. Its core material comes from the non-fiction work Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe by Dean Radin PhD, a bone fide scientist and academic, but one courageous and confident enough to dare put the words magic and modern science together in the same title.
As VF authors attempting to increase their readership have learned, some contemporary audiences are both skeptical about hard science and turned off by non-material phenomena as well. So, it is crucial to remember that many cutting-edge scientists, Dr. Radin among them, who include topics in Parapsychology in their research, are roundly criticized by their peers. As Dr. Gary Schwartz of the University of Arizona, about whom I have posted previously, reminds us in the words of Carl Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” And regrettably paranormal phenomena are still considered extra-ordinary.
VF authors, especially those of us who aspire to the form of realism, magical or otherwise, generally considered inherent in this genre, are likely to encounter a similar skepticism, which cuts two ways, neither to our advantage. In one direction, VF can be disregarded as fantasy, New Age frivolity, or airy-fairy spiritualism not worth the price or time. In the other, it can be seen as the babbling of quacks, scientific poseurs, wannabe gurus, etc. Such criticism comes with the territory even after you have adopted the more palatable guise of fiction rather than science. Thus the need to disguise the extraordinary “medicine” within an extraordinary story.
What is Real Magic?
As long as humans have been telling stories (think Homer’s Odyssey or portions of the Old Testament), magic—causative elements that cannot be seen with the senses or explained logically—had been invoked to bridge the gap between the abstract and the concrete.
Consider the first two definitions of magic offered in dictionary.com:
1) the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; legerdemain; conjuring
2) the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.
The first definition reeks of fraud and has little to do with our topic here, but note that it smears magic’s reputation from the get-go. The second, though it does not specify the “various other techniques,” suggest more valid phenomena, although presumably is thrown in to qualify against potential quackery.
In contrast to dictionary.com’s skepticism, and because of its so many delicious facets with which to play, I’ll quote Dean Radin’s full derivation for magic:
The word magic comes from the Greek word magos, referring to a member of a learned and priestly class, which in turn derives from the Old Persian word magush, meaning to “be able” or “to have power.” In the early nineteenth century, the word magic also took on the connotation of entertainment, delight, or attraction. Magic also implies exotic, alien, or the “other.” This subtext is an important reason why magic is persistently alluring. But that allure often manifests in the sense of watching a train wreck—simultaneously attractive and repulsive. Our magic, which is a core facet of our religious practice, is of course fascinating and perfectly acceptable. But their practices are dangerous, outrageous, and evil.
Incidentally, the word fascinate comes from the Latin fascinatus, meaning “to bewitch or enchant.” The words bewitch and enchant have roughly the same meaning as magic, as do the words charm and glamour. Magic is everywhere.
Radin also touches tellingly on magic’s well known dark side with its ethical ramifications:
Magical power intended to manipulate or exploit others is called black magic…as social creatures, we must depend on others who may or may not be interested in our desires, and that can easily lead to personal conflicts. Use of magic to resolve these conflicts egregiously violates the Golden Rule, so it’s immoral.” VF authors should easily understand the ethical dimension of magic.
The New Discipline: Combining Magic and Science
Then as a true scientist, he goes on to cleanly dissect Real Magic into three categories:
- mental influence of the physical world,
- perception of events distant in space or time,
- and interactions with nonphysical entities.
He expands a bit on each:
The first type I’ll call force of will; it’s associated with spell-casting and other techniques meant to intentionally influence events or actions. The second is divination; it’s associated with practices such as reading Tarot cards and mirror-gazing. The third is theurgy, from the Greek meaning “god-work”; it involves methods for evoking and communicating with spirits.
Setting aside discussion of magic from the psychological, historical, or practical (e.g., rules for spell casting) perspectives, he states that his goal is “to explore real magic from an evidence-based scientific perspective.”
His rational explanation of this seemingly questionable stretch from fuzzy magic to hard science shows why his work, and that of other scientists working to the same end, has ramifications for the VF writer wanting to add some “real magic” to his recipe for heightening consciousness through VF.
Dr. Radin comes to two conclusions, which the visionary author would do well to ponder deeply:
- First, there’s no doubt that science is the most accurate lens on reality that humanity has developed so far…Technologies based on that knowledge provide proof that our discoveries are valid. So, when considering real magic, it would be foolish to just throw away what we have already learned.
- But second, reality viewed through the lens of science is an exceedingly thin slice of the whole shebang. Science is tightly focused on the objective, measurable, physical world. That focus excludes the one and only thing you can ever know for sure—your consciousness, that inner spark of sentience that you call “me.”
[Part Two of this series, “Real Magic: Visionary Practice’ will be published on this site on December 14, 2020. Participate with the process by adding your comment below. Thank you.]