The Photographic Record
By Mr. Chomondly-Squared, M.; Prof. Theory, B. B.; Dr. Matter,
Prof. Ventor, I. N.; Prof. Groovenmat, F.
at the Geometrical Pataphysical Laboratory, England.
2003. A group of ordinary ritual magicians commenced this project with the intention of attracting opportunities.
The Procedure was opened with a rendition of Mr Tom Lehrer's Periodic Table Song.
Using techniques developed as a practising group over many years, plus techniques taken from those used in the theatre, a procedure was devised to simulate the attraction and capture of opportunities that could be kept as a symbolic reminder for future reference. The procedure was carried out in a specially designated setting in England.
During the procedure two completely unrelated pseudoscientific theories were loosely cobbled together in such a way as to vaguely resemble something like a scientific explanation. This utter nonsense was used as the basis for what followed.
Five descriptions of scientific principles, bastardised with magical symbolism, were then described so as to give meaning to five ring magnets previously taken from old broken down speakers.
Each participant then used these magnets, assembled so as to create a magnetic cylinder, to magnetise a common household nail of the largest size available. The nails were then placed aside for later use.
Once each participant had performed the magnetisation procedure, the nails were then used to collect iron filings and place them in a prepared receptacle.
The procedure was then summed up by two members of the team loudly singing along to Eric Idle's Universe Song. The song bears no significant relationship to the procedure but it was deemed to be vaguely scientific and by then many of the participants were quite drunk so it didn't really matter much anyway.
The Procedure was then closed with a final rendition of Mr Tom Lehrer's Periodic Table Song similar, but not quite the same as at the beginning.
Once completed each participant possessed small container of opportunities which can be used as a talisman, key fob, or magical dangly thing to hang on your chord as desired. These dangly, shiny, symbolic appendages serve as a constant reminder to those present that the world we live in is filled with opportunities.
"Wouldn't it be nice to have an opportunity magnet!"
So declared Professor Ventor one evening over a cigar and a glass of his favourite brandy. This statement triggered a series of discussions where we theorised about what makes a good opportunity and what is required to make the best of the opportunities life brings our way.
The basis for the theory is that just about everybody is the same. Unless an individual spends their life in a single room, with no connection to the outside world or other people, they will inevitably encounter opportunities. However, we have observed that some people seem to encounter more opportunities than others or make greater use of those that they encounter.
So we have a paradox. Everybody is the same, yet some people do better out of opportunities than others. What we sought was a resolution to the paradox and thus developed the idea of the opportunity magnet.
Designing the procedural apparatus
We began by examining what examples of magnets we could find. Recent experiences in ceremonial magic of the normal kind (pointy hats and sticks with robes and incense) had led us to believe that a magical working has greater impact if there is some activity during the working that involves the participants performing some task. Therefore we decided to investigate the possibility of creating a magnet during the procedure.
However, creating a magnet alone would not have sufficient symbolic significance for our needs. A magnet created in such a situation would soon loose its magnetic properties and as such would carry completely the wrong psychological associations for our purposes. What we needed was something to symbolise a permanent change in the participants and also represent opportunities that we were intending to attract in the future.
However, if we could use the magnets created during the procedure to collect something that could be retained by each participant, then we would have a permanent representation of the opportunities which were the object of the procedure. For this purpose we decided to collect iron fillings.
Various preliminary experiments were conducted using coils of wire (the principle of induction) and metal cores (in our case large nails) but the magnetic affect gained from these were deemed insufficient for our purposes. However, the principle of an induction coil magnetising a metal core relies on the fact that the coil temporarily creates a magnetic field which magnetises the core. This was a principle which we, as ritual magicians, were familiar with. Any self respecting mediaeval magician knows, like begats like, otherwise known as sympathy.
Therefore, it was decided that in order to create magnets we needed more magnets. Induction coils were simply not powerful enough and their brief temporal nature wasn't helping either. In true mad scientist style what we decided on was BIGGER MAGNETS!
Using large permanent magnets we knew that we could stroke the metal core across the surface of the magnet and thus induce the sympathetic magnetic property that we required.
Searching for other magnetic resources we settled upon the magnets contained in speakers, such as found in any common audio system. All speakers contain magnets; however, modern audio devices rely on sophisticated technology and the magnets are relatively small. Low tech speakers, on the other hand, rely on much simpler materials and as a result the magnets contained therein are much larger. These were ideal for our purposes. Another reason for utilising magnets from speakers is that they are toroidal in shape which would allow us to pass the core into the centre of the magnet stroking the core on the inside as we proceed.
So we collected as many large toroidal magnets as we could find and ended up with five. An interesting by-product of using a set of magnets was that each magnet will only fit together with the next in one particular orientation, north to south or vice versa. This gave us a strongly magnetic tube that was challenging to assemble. If you did not take care, the assembly would either bite your fingers or refuse to go together at all. All this served to add impact to the procedure.
Once the magnets were assembled the core could be passed through the centre taking care to make plenty of contact with the edges of the tube thus magnetising the core. Further preliminary tests indicated that ten strokes were sufficient to collect enough iron filings for our purposes.
As a final repository for each participants' iron filings, hereafter described for symbolic purposes as opportunities, we looked for a small container that could be suspended on a chord or chain. This way it could be used as a talisman either in future rituals or carried in any way that the participants so desired. For this purpose we were not constrained by the usual limitations of ceremonial magic, where participants might want to retain a look and feel of mediaeval appearance for the sake of atmosphere. Therefore we decided on the small metal capsules that are used to hold the identities of pets. These are usually hung from the collars of dogs and cats so that the owners can be contacted in the pet strays away from its home. These capsules also fitted the look and feel of scientific materials for the purposes of this procedure.
Developing the symbolism
Once we had decided on the materials this began to define some of the symbolism. The five ring magnets indicated that five qualities might be appropriate. Had we been able to find six ring magnets then we would have defined six qualities. Likewise had we found only four we would have defined just four qualities. This is an example of the serendipitous nature of the practice of magic and so the procedure took shape.
Defining the five qualities of opportunities we decided upon the following: (They are displayed here in alphabetical order. No hierarchical or qualitative implication is intended.)
Each of the five qualities of opportunities had to be defined in some way that could relate to a scientific procedure for the sake of building a pseudo scientific laboratory atmosphere. This led to some interesting, but sometimes surreal, ideas.
Is intended to define that ability that some people have to spot opportunities regardless of their personal circumstances. For this imagine the business man who manages to create a string of businesses while the rest of us are struggling for an idea, or the immigrant who moves to a new country and within a short space of time has successfully built a life, has a social network and a prosperous future ahead.
Intuition is a particularly unscientific concept as it implies something of an almost supernatural nature. After some thought we decided upon a scientific representation described as immediate insight. Focussing on a visual analogy for insight the principle of the telescope became our model for insight. Having settled on the idea of astronomy in general for immediate insight we were unable to decide whether we preferred to use an optical or radio telescope as our model, so we thought what the hell and used both.
Luck is another particularly unscientific concept but to a person without opportunities the apparent luck of others for finding opportunities can seem quite obvious. However, we realised that for the purposes of this procedure we would need to be careful how we framed the concept.
We had come across stories of parapsychologists who had tested the apparent ability of some people to be more lucky than others. Tests with random number generators indicated that with most people rates of correct prediction of random numbers generally matched those indicated by chance alone. However, some individuals who previously indicated that they considered themselves lucky correctly predicted more numbers than chance would indicate. Conversely, some individuals who suggested that they considered themselves unlucky predicted less numbers than chance indicated. The statistical significance of this is very small but it is said to be there all the same. (When we started this project we heard that there are documented reports of this however, the guy with the details still hasn't mailed them to us. Pull you finger out Robin! When we get the details we will put them on the references page.)
Such stories are not new, however, this example seemed to indicate that perception of luck affects the experience of luck. Obviously there could be more complex psychological phenomena at work here and we were unaware of the exact methodological rigour of these experiments, but in the spirit of 'don't pull apart something that you might not be able to put back together' we decided to use this idea and thus developed the idea that luck can be enriched.
The principle of enrichment is used when processing uranium for nuclear power stations. This became our model for the enrichment of luck.
To be able to take advantage of any opportunity it is necessary to have motivation. Many of us know people who never seem to make any progress in life through lack of motivation. Therefore, motivation was deemed an essential part of an opportunity magnet to ensure opportunities could be taken advantage of when they come along.
Our analogy for motivation was based on the idea that energy is required for any motive force, so we looked for a suitable source of energy. Being mad scientists we looked for the maddest and fringiest source of energy we could find, and came up with zero point energy.
Zero point energy is said to abound in the universe and with the correct apparatus it is suggested that energy could simply be extracted as if from nowhere. The Casimir Effect was discovered by a scientist of the same name in the nineteen forties while he was trying to figure why viscous liquids like mayonnaise move so slowly. This is the stuff of Nikola Tesla, infamous for lightning machines and earthquake generators. Apparently he once built an oscillator that literally came close to bringing the house down. He was also the inventor of the AC motor after Edison had declared it impossible. If there was ever an icon for the mad scientist, Nikola Tesla was it.
Regardless of what anybody might say, taking advantage of opportunities requires certain resources. Even if only access to a telephone, a computer or the bus fare to get to a meeting, if you don't have the resources required for an opportunity (or a creative way around the requirement) then your chances are much reduced.
To symbolise the resources required for any given opportunity we chose the science of genetics. We chose genetics because of positive associations with growth and development, plus the same analogy could be applied to financial resources.
Furthermore, genetic engineering allows for the selection of specific characteristics of a living thing to be spliced into the genes of some other organism. When it comes to mad science, this Frankenstein type combination of creatures has a great deal of potential for combining symbolism.
Last on our list or requirements for an opportunity magnet is Wisdom. Although this is difficult to define we decided that wisdom is basically the ability to learn from experience. However, the act of learning usually involves some process of extracting the salient lesson from that which we experience.
We likened this extraction process to the process of distillation. As a scientific procedure distillation showed great potential for selecting the relevant symbolic elements of something allowing us to select only that which we needed.
The Five Fluxes
Once the five qualities of the opportunity magnet had been defined we decided that they needed a proper identification and so they were named the five fluxes.
The Magical Symbolism
Having decided upon the scientific symbolism we then needed to define magical symbolism to combine with the five fluxes. To do this we used Crowley's table of correspondences from 777. Each of the five fluxes was associated with a number from Crowley's table and the correspondences were read from the table.
Materials and Equipment
With this ceremony (now renamed a procedure) firmly wrapped in scientific symbolism it was decided to abandon the traditional magical weapons representing the four elements. Instead it was decided to use just that which was required for the procedure.
In addition the room was decorated with any scientific paraphernalia to give the look and feel of a laboratory setting.
The procedure followed a strict running order as described here. This is provided as a separate document to allow other scientific teams to perform the procedure for themselves.
The success of this procedure is not something that can be measured in the short term. Each of those present left with a small container of opportunities imbued with the five fluxes. Each of the participants has different intentions for it's use. Some members of the team have placed the container on their key ring as a constant reminder of the nature of opportunities. Other participants have put the container to one side to be used on special occasions, perhaps as part of scientific or ceremonial garb.
Whatever the case the procedure, along with the preparation that went into it, has caused all involved to do a great deal of thinking about the nature of opportunities and such thinking must surely have an effect.
The original intention was that the opportunity magnet procedure would attract opportunities to each of us. Any participant should be lucky enough to have opportunities arise around them and have the intuition to recognise the opportunity for what it is. The individual should have the wisdom to be able to apply past experience to the opportunity and the resources to take advantage of it. Finally, none of the five fluxes are worth anything if the individual cannot generate the motivation to get on with the task.
However, as the procedure was developed it became apparent that the five fluxes could just as easily be used as a check list for when opportunities arise. So that an individual can apply the five fluxes to any given opportunity as a measure of its quality.
Appendix - Names of Participants
Geometrical Pataphysical Laboratory, England
Mr Marion Chomondly-Squared
Chair of Psychobabble
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