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Author Topic: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?  (Read 2716 times)

YungMeatRabbit

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Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« on: August 22, 2016, 09:30:31 pm »
Hey all!

Some background: I've always had sort of this fascination with magic/witchcraft, ever since I learned about it when I went through my Pagan/Occult/Satanist phase when I was 14.  However, at 15, I learned more about skepticism/critical thinking and realized that some of the more "New Age" beliefs I held were quite...flawed and were probably false.  However, I went too far and disregarded all my occult beliefs, assuming that if some of them were false, then all of them probably were.  For a while, I really despised the idea of magic/witchcraft because I felt like it was delusional nonsense that I wasted my time with.  However, despite my hatred of it, I would still lurk on occult forums and learn more about it.  Eventually, I learned about the psychological model and was thought that it was pretty cool.  When I was sixteen, I went through some really hard times and I wished so badly that magic/witchcraft was real so that I could make my life better.  This resulted in me studying lots of things about magic/witchcraft and since I was a bit of a Reconstructionist back then, I wound up looking at a lot of folk magic/witchcraft.

Flash forward to the present.  I've been studying Paganism and Witchcraft for years and I've noticed that many historical charms seem more like prayers than spells.  For example, many charms call upon a deity to cause an event to happen, although usually along with some kind of symbolic action.  It seems like these work theurgically.  However, I've also noticed that many modern-day spells work based on "energy", which is usually described as a force that emanates from all things in the universe.  This contradiction is interesting.  I'm wondering, if "energy-magic" is a more recent development and historically, most magic was seen more as prayer and it was just labelled as witchcraft because most of the people who would have studied it first would have been Christians and thus would've viewed it as such.

So what I'm wondering is, were there any ancient cultures that viewed witchcraft more like the energy model than the theurgic model?  And do you think there's an explanation for why there are these two models.  I mean, shouldn't witchcraft be more universal:)?

Thanks!

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 10:08:13 pm »
Quote from: YungMeatRabbit;195316
I mean, shouldn't witchcraft be more universal:)?

 
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Faemon

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2016, 03:46:01 am »
Quote from: YungMeatRabbit;195316
So what I'm wondering is, were there any ancient cultures that viewed witchcraft more like the energy model than the theurgic model?  And do you think there's an explanation for why there are these two models.  I mean, shouldn't witchcraft be more universal:)? Thanks!


The way I would narrow it down is, first, the word origin, and this is my favorite source for that:

Quote
energy 1590s, "force of expression," from Middle French énergie (16c.), from Late Latin energia, from Greek ... ergon "work, that which is wrought; business; action" (see organ).

Used by Aristotle with a sense of "actuality, reality, existence" (opposed to "potential") but this was misunderstood in Late Latin and afterward as "force of expression," as the power which calls up realistic mental pictures. Broader meaning of "power" in English is first recorded 1660s. Scientific use is from 1807.


So, I guess you could start reading up on Aristotle and the lineage of his idea around that? Personally, though, I'm more inclined to see subtle energy (I think that's a Theosophy thing? Not exactly ancient,) as a mirror to scientific understanding of physical energy (and very often confounded with it.)

For the physical energy to compare, I recommend the documentary Einstein's Big Idea, which traces the discoveries behind every component of E=mc^2. The reenactments are marvelously campy, and they do make a great effort to show the role of women in science as well. It's from that I learned that before the unification of electricity, magnetism, kinetic energy, and physical matter through what scientists would later call "energy", these were considered different separate forces. As energy, it curried interesting observations about the laws and nature of it.

And what I noticed since then is so much of this scientific understanding is skimmed and applied to some new age metaphysics, where the conditions surrounding the definition of the word in the scientific context simply doesn't hold together the same way, and seems to me to consequently not always apply. That's why I really, really, really do not like to use the word.

That said, I can sort of understand the appeal of it. The level of understanding of reality, when it comes to physical energy, appeared to be immensely counterintuitive to the lived physical experience, and that can make for a very appealing metaphor. It's tempting to imagine auras like auroras, or feel a magnetic attraction that's actually psychic because there are no metals involved (whether "psychic" means 'liminal, metaphysical' or 'pertaining to the psyche'), or galvanized as though by an electric current when it's really more like an emotional shock. So, some just take to calling these phenomena "(subtle) energy."

Maybe one 'ancient' version of this poetic process is however we can trace the word spirit as related to the wind or the air, and so air can be presently understood differently than physical energy as a categorically physical thing, but perhaps evokes far more similar experiences in...I don't know, synaesthetes? Liminalists? Spiritworkers?

Quote
I mean, shouldn't witchcraft be more universal:)?


To be confident of its effects on a shared world, yeah, you would think so. But even when I propose that energy is the new air of metaphysical metaphor, it's very much based on what I call a substition: like, you can see somebody else doing a thing with witchy things and you or I, maybe not believing it works, call it superstition. What I call substition is the stuff that I personally believe is true even though I never thought about it, can't remember learning it, and can't describe what this belief is. If I tell you, "You want ancient energy models? Look up spirit..." then I am working with the substition (actually I am not, because I'm about to say it, which I wouldn't be able to if it were truly a substition,) that historically-documented stuff that we can interpret to constellate across the world certainly lends more validity to a witchcraft practice. Which. Uh.
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TheRaginPagan

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2016, 08:59:44 pm »
Quote from: YungMeatRabbit;195316
So what I'm wondering is, were there any ancient cultures that viewed witchcraft more like the energy model than the theurgic model?

 
Probably not. Our understanding of the world has progressed so much (see Faemon's statements about Einstein,) that it's almost illogical for us to regress to "historical" ways of looking at the world (e.g. the body's delicate "humours")

But that's not a bad thing, nor is it necessarily "New Age" or "fluffy." It's simply a modern approach at the powers that be. I find a lot, especially in the Heathen community, that some people tend to be very obsessed with digging up historical basis and practice; which is very helpful for reconstructionalism, but there's only so much that can really be done. It's also very important, I believe, for us to bear in mind that we are all ultimately modern movements, no matter how ancient our basis. This should root us, and give both frame and honesty to our worship.

For instance, I worship Thor-Перун. Where my ancestors would worship him as the God that rides through the sky, shouting thunder behind Loki (who was the lightning), I know that no such event happens. I know the science and meteorology of a thunderstorm, and what causes it. However, I still believe in him. I only view him - as a God, still - as the spiritual being that creates thunder by his very presence in this reality. That because he is a God, and thus higher than this state of being (Miðgarð or Явь), when he visits our existence he is born as the thunderstorm, creating it as much as he is it.

This is not a view that would be held by my ancestors at all - it's too "advanced" for what they would have known - but I don't view it as any less valid just because it's modern.

Paganism isn't so much about escaping the modern world, or even shunning technology (here we all are, on the internet), but of connecting with the world around us in our various ways. At least, that is my take on it.

In regards to witchcraft, both historically and modernly a great deal of it was practical. Herbalism, housekeeping, land-tending, etc. Off the cuff, I believe most witchcraft would have gone unnoticed in the Middle Ages, were it not for people blaming the local healer, apothecary, or wise-woman of witchcraft and devil worship. One doesn't necessarily need to cast a circle or call corners to practice witchcraft. That manner of witchcraft doesn't even need the viewpoint of energy, really.

Caleb Oak

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2016, 11:00:19 am »
Quote from: TheRaginPagan;195335
Probably not. Our understanding of the world has progressed so much (see Faemon's statements about Einstein,) that it's almost illogical for us to regress to "historical" ways of looking at the world (e.g. the body's delicate "humours")

But that's not a bad thing, nor is it necessarily "New Age" or "fluffy." It's simply a modern approach at the powers that be. I find a lot, especially in the Heathen community, that some people tend to be very obsessed with digging up historical basis and practice; which is very helpful for reconstructionalism, but there's only so much that can really be done. It's also very important, I believe, for us to bear in mind that we are all ultimately modern movements, no matter how ancient our basis. This should root us, and give both frame and honesty to our worship.

For instance, I worship Thor-Перун. Where my ancestors would worship him as the God that rides through the sky, shouting thunder behind Loki (who was the lightning), I know that no such event happens. I know the science and meteorology of a thunderstorm, and what causes it. However, I still believe in him. I only view him - as a God, still - as the spiritual being that creates thunder by his very presence in this reality. That because he is a God, and thus higher than this state of being (Miðgarð or Явь), when he visits our existence he is born as the thunderstorm, creating it as much as he is it.

This is not a view that would be held by my ancestors at all - it's too "advanced" for what they would have known - but I don't view it as any less valid just because it's modern.

Paganism isn't so much about escaping the modern world, or even shunning technology (here we all are, on the internet), but of connecting with the world around us in our various ways. At least, that is my take on it.

In regards to witchcraft, both historically and modernly a great deal of it was practical. Herbalism, housekeeping, land-tending, etc. Off the cuff, I believe most witchcraft would have gone unnoticed in the Middle Ages, were it not for people blaming the local healer, apothecary, or wise-woman of witchcraft and devil worship. One doesn't necessarily need to cast a circle or call corners to practice witchcraft. That manner of witchcraft doesn't even need the viewpoint of energy, really.

 
No offense but the witch hunts were mostly during the renaissance, not the middle ages.
;)

TheRaginPagan

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2016, 12:47:07 pm »
Quote from: Thrak;195401
No offense but the witch hunts were mostly during the renaissance, not the middle ages.

 
There have been many witch hunts throughout history. There may have been some during the Rennaissance, but there were also some during the Middle Ages. For the most part it was condemned by officials as "superstition," but there were people who, independent of any official, accused and murdered women on count of witchcraft. Bernardino of Siena even paved the way for the later Middle Ages witch hunts, accusing them of not only black magic and devil worship, but murder and infanticide.

Towards the end of the Medieval period (and still in the Middle Ages,) there was a resurgence in witch hunts. Keep in mind the Middle Ages is the period in time from the 5th to the 15th Centuries.

Caleb Oak

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2016, 02:53:55 pm »
Quote from: TheRaginPagan;195405
There have been many witch hunts throughout history. There may have been some during the Rennaissance, but there were also some during the Middle Ages. For the most part it was condemned by officials as "superstition," but there were people who, independent of any official, accused and murdered women on count of witchcraft. Bernardino of Siena even paved the way for the later Middle Ages witch hunts, accusing them of not only black magic and devil worship, but murder and infanticide.

Towards the end of the Medieval period (and still in the Middle Ages,) there was a resurgence in witch hunts. Keep in mind the Middle Ages is the period in time from the 5th to the 15th Centuries.

The Middle Ages ended in 138 as far as i know...
And to be fair even the Pagan Roman empire had witch hunts i read.
But iam digressing here, so ial let you get back on track....

Caleb Oak

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2016, 03:06:47 pm »
Quote from: Thrak;195419
The Middle Ages ended in 138 as far as i know...
And to be fair even the Pagan Roman empire had witch hunts i read.
But iam digressing here, so ial let you get back on track....

 
I mean 1380.
Darn keys.

YungMeatRabbit

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2016, 02:54:23 am »
Quote from: Faemon;195320
The way I would narrow it down is, first, the word origin, and this is my favorite source for that:



So, I guess you could start reading up on Aristotle and the lineage of his idea around that? Personally, though, I'm more inclined to see subtle energy (I think that's a Theosophy thing? Not exactly ancient,) as a mirror to scientific understanding of physical energy (and very often confounded with it.)

For the physical energy to compare, I recommend the documentary Einstein's Big Idea, which traces the discoveries behind every component of E=mc^2. The reenactments are marvelously campy, and they do make a great effort to show the role of women in science as well. It's from that I learned that before the unification of electricity, magnetism, kinetic energy, and physical matter through what scientists would later call "energy", these were considered different separate forces. As energy, it curried interesting observations about the laws and nature of it.

And what I noticed since then is so much of this scientific understanding is skimmed and applied to some new age metaphysics, where the conditions surrounding the definition of the word in the scientific context simply doesn't hold together the same way, and seems to me to consequently not always apply. That's why I really, really, really do not like to use the word.

That said, I can sort of understand the appeal of it. The level of understanding of reality, when it comes to physical energy, appeared to be immensely counterintuitive to the lived physical experience, and that can make for a very appealing metaphor. It's tempting to imagine auras like auroras, or feel a magnetic attraction that's actually psychic because there are no metals involved (whether "psychic" means 'liminal, metaphysical' or 'pertaining to the psyche'), or galvanized as though by an electric current when it's really more like an emotional shock. So, some just take to calling these phenomena "(subtle) energy."

Maybe one 'ancient' version of this poetic process is however we can trace the word spirit as related to the wind or the air, and so air can be presently understood differently than physical energy as a categorically physical thing, but perhaps evokes far more similar experiences in...I don't know, synaesthetes? Liminalists? Spiritworkers?



To be confident of its effects on a shared world, yeah, you would think so. But even when I propose that energy is the new air of metaphysical metaphor, it's very much based on what I call a substition: like, you can see somebody else doing a thing with witchy things and you or I, maybe not believing it works, call it superstition. What I call substition is the stuff that I personally believe is true even though I never thought about it, can't remember learning it, and can't describe what this belief is. If I tell you, "You want ancient energy models? Look up spirit..." then I am working with the substition (actually I am not, because I'm about to say it, which I wouldn't be able to if it were truly a substition,) that historically-documented stuff that we can interpret to constellate across the world certainly lends more validity to a witchcraft practice. Which. Uh.

 
I do feel like the term "energy" makes a lot more sense as a metaphor for "spirit" or "ether" or whatever.  By itself it's such a vague term...

Faemon

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Re: Is there any historical basis for the "Energy Model"?
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2016, 03:13:44 am »
Quote from: YungMeatRabbit;195562
I do feel like the term "energy" makes a lot more sense as a metaphor for "spirit" or "ether" or whatever.  By itself it's such a vague term...

Certainly is. If we could calculate in a controlled environment with reliable, repeatable consistency exactly how many thaums it takes to conjure up one white pigeon or three billiard balls...it would be science, not mysticism.
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