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There is a certain subjectivity to all magickal techniques. This is not to say that it is impossible to be objective about our experiences with magick. There are real, knowable laws that govern magickal techniques, or else they would not even take a similar form from practitioner to practitioner. The fact that we can go back through the writings of different individuals, different times, and different cultures and still see enough in common between reports to identify something even loosely under the term of “astral projection” says quite a bit. But magick, as we understand it, is a function of Will, and Will is something that is firmly rooted in the mind. This is one of the main reasons I will use the terms “magickal technique” and “psychic ability” almost interchangeably: magick, in many instances, is the conscious application of psychic abilities to sense, interpret, or influence the world.

When we are dealing with phenomenon in the physical world, such as chemical reactions, it is possible to measure and quantify what is going on. One can reliably take a small amount of baking soda, hand it over to someone else along with a vial of vinegar, and show very clearly how these two things interact. It is harder to take the experience of a telepathic dream, extract the details wholesale from the mind, and hand it over to another person so he or she can experience that dream in precisely the same detail.

We cannot put something like that into a vial to measure it. We have neither the tools nor the language to begin to quantify it. This does not just involve paranormal phenomenon: the same problems arise when we try to quantify thoughts or emotions. When a person experiences a particular thought, one might be able to measure some of the related chemicals or electrical impulses in the brain, but these things can only tell us that something is going on. An EEG can reliably tell us when someone is dreaming. Only the dreamer can tell us what that dream was about.

Magick or psychic experiences are hard to quantify because most of the work takes place in the mind, where few methods can measure or capture it. Furthermore, these experiences are subjective because each person perceives and interprets the world in a different way. When we dream, we each have our own unique set of symbols, developed and based upon experiences throughout our lives. Similar sets of symbols and associations are at work whenever we process a mental experience. As a simple example, my thoughts tend to manifest in words and images. Another person may think more in terms of feelings. A third may have mental processes more akin to numbers and code. If we work from nothing more than this one principle, all three people described above could think suddenly, “I’m hungry,” yet experience that thought very differently in their internal worlds.

Radically different senses, symbols, and metaphors can be chosen by each person, but in the end, it’s the same thought. Our point of perception influences the manner in which that perception is expressed – both internally and externally. This is a basic principle in psychology, and it is the principle at work in all the most confusing manifestations of reports about magickal and psychic techniques.