Shamanism in the Age of Reason : Chapter 07
Shamanic sorcery is the craft of manipulating the fabric of psychedelic space for personal gain or vendetta. Powers ascribed to shamanic sorcery include clairvoyance, spirit channeling, shape shifting, astral travel, remote viewing, curses, dream projection, magical darts, telepathy, mind control, necromancy, and so on. The shamanic ontology, or psychedelic spirit space, can be cynically viewed as a shared non-physical, non-temporal delusion accessible to any shaman as long as they accept the rules of the central ontology. In this way the shared shamanic ontology becomes fluid through space and time, and is magically manipulated and reinforced through ritual use of psychedelic drugs. In a setting where the shamanic ontology is readily accepted and reinforced the shaman has great power; in reductive scientific settings that refute the shamanic ontology the shaman appears to have an overactive guru complex and delusions of grandeur.
While PIT may appear to discount the claims of shamanic sorcery and spirit channeling, very few scientific studies have been done to either verify or refute the efficacy of psychedelic sorcery. A close reading of the literature on psychedelic discovery by the West demonstrates that scientists, therapists, and academics have rushed to exploit the power of native visionary ritual without properly considering the cross-cultural psychic backlash.1,2,3,6 If the shamanic space is purely delusional then modern advocates have nothing to fear by exploiting traditional psychedelic ritual; but if the shamanic space is a transpersonal field then it should also be considered a battlefield for waging information warfare. Modern advocates cannot embrace the entheogenic side of psychedelic spiritual communion while simultaneously ignoring the darker aspects of a truly transpersonal ontology. A shared shamanic landscape is not merely a matrix for receiving information and psychic healing, it is also a place for treachery and attack.
Sorcery and Nonlinear Influence
From a reductive standpoint the shaman’s magical influence is limited only to his tribe members, local neighbors, or those within his sphere of personal influence; influence within this sphere is easy to account for in purely physical terms. From a metaphysical standpoint the shaman is also said to be bound non-locally to all spirits and shamen in the psychedelic space regardless of physical or temporal location. The shaman is also said to be able to enter people’s dreams, making the destabilized world of fleeting nocturnal visions like a global river for the shaman to navigate. These transpersonal claims are harder to account for in physical terms, and recent theory has attempted to tie the shamanic space to a non-local Akashic or morphogenetic field where non-physical spiritual or biological information is stored and transmitted.4,5 A shared morphogenetic field should infer evolutionary advantage, but it also implies nonlocal vulnerability. Attack sorcery often requires a clipping of hair, a fingernail, a personal item, or a totem of the attack target; from a morphological perspective the sorcerer uses the genetic traces on these items as a resonating antenna to attack the target directly through the morphic field.
Under the influence of psychedelics the shaman can hear nonlinear, nonverbal information coming from the jungle, the city, the plants, the animals, and can intuitively sense their natural cycles and sense them receding into the past and future. The shaman can blow a curse into the passing wind and send a magic darts on convoluted pathways towards enemies. From a nonlinear standpoint sorcery does not have to make rational sense. The placebo effect is a positive example of a nonlinear result that does not make rational sense; the same can be said for a curse that causes an enemy to suddenly fall ill. These results only make sense if you analyze them from a longitudinal perspective and follow the small periodic permutations of system variables as they produce disproportionately complex and unexpected results through time; recovery in the case of placebo or sickness and death in the case of a curse.
According to the fundamentals of Psychedelic Information Theory, the influence of shamanic sorcery can be presumed to be nonlinear, which means small periodic perturbations of system variables within a larger information system can produce disproportionately complex and chaotic results in any other part of the system. In the nonlinear psychedelic space the shaman is a chaos magician, or the butterfly that flaps his wings in China and creates a hurricane across the ocean. The nonlinear aspect of psychedelic sorcery makes it both a very subtle art form and something that escapes reductive scientific observation, but also makes it very prone to failure and lack of proper control. The weather is famously nonlinear, and one of the jobs of the shaman is reading and controlling the weather; this not a coincidence. PIT assumes that the study of nonlinear systems and complexity has always been a fundamental part of shamanism and sorcery.
Synchronicity Magic and Probability Collapse
Subjects in a destabilized nonlinear state often report enhanced sensations of non-random coincidence, or synchronicity, that appear to defy all rationality. Accounts of hidden forces acting in concert to send messages through non-random coincidence are common in psychosis, paranoia, schizophrenia, mania, bipolar disorder, and psychedelic intoxication. On psychedelics this state is dose dependent and increases in complexity with larger doses until it appears the entire fabric of reality, down the subatomic level, is speaking directly to the subject with a singular narrative message. While in the synchronicity hole nothing in the universe is random and all coincidence is laden with hidden subtext that makes sense only to the subject. From a clinical standpoint the synchronicity hole represents a state of high delusional megalomania, yet this is exactly the kind of logic we should expect from a nonlinear analysis of reality. Linear analysis may perceive the leaves on a tree as a random distribution; a nonlinear analysis will see a singular non-random function underlying the genesis of complex form.
Subjective accounts of the synchronicity hole describe an immediate precognitive insight where probability appears to collapse and the subject intuitively knows exactly what is going to happen next. A shaman in this space is said to be able to look forward in time into many probable futures, and can choose any potential future by following the pathway that leads him there. By applying synchronicity magic and selecting non-random pathways into the future, the shaman collapses probability and subtly alters the fabric of reality. This process can also be described as a form of deterministic neuroplasticity.
Sorcery and Negative Information
According to PIT shamanism is the craft of generating positive or stabilizing information within a larger matrix; sorcery is the craft of generating negative or destabilizing information within a larger information matrix. Negative information is any information which seeks to subvert or destroy the larger information matrix. Examples of negative information at the biological scale include viruses, parasites, toxins, and cancers; at the personal scale negative information may include doubt, fear, stress, depression, abuse, neglect, trauma, and delusion; at the tribal level negative information may include dishonesty, distrust, withholding, disinformation, and warfare. When negative information is amplified with positive feedback it can grow to destroy the entire system. Negative information can be countered with negative feedback or positive information which seeks to minimize negative information and bring stability back to the matrix. While a shaman uses psychedelics as a medicine or sacrament to heal and gain insight, the sorcerer uses psychedelics as a weapon to gain power over peers and attack enemies.
If shamanic sorcery is a kind of nonlinear chaos magic it should also be considered to be somewhat unpredictable, uncontrollable, prone to high rates of failure, and potentially dangerous. Moreover, it is right to be suspect of people interested in sorcery, which can be formally defined as negative information warfare waged for personal gain. Common wisdom dictates that when studying psychedelic shamanism one should learn under a Maestro, or master, who offers spiritual protection against black magic and sorcery.3 While it is easy to dismiss these claims as superstition, the ambiguities and temptations of psychedelic sorcery have not been adequately addressed in the context of modern entheogenic ritual and clinical psychedelic therapy. Anyone experimenting in the field of psychedelic shamanism should be careful to avoid the dangers and temptations of sorcery.
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Citation: Kent, James L. Psychedelic Information Theory: Shamanism in the Age of Reason, Chapter 07, 'Shamanic Sorcery'. PIT Press, Seattle, 2010.
Copyright: © James L. Kent, 2010. Some Rights Reserved. Please read copyright information before reproducing.