Wyrd Mind

Where do ideas come from? Where do they go? And who owns them?

Only in a society as insane as ours could that last question be asked at all: yet for many people's livelihoods that's the only question that matters... something a bit weird there, perhaps?

Be that as it may, it's worthwhile taking a careful look at how thoughts and ideas drift through every one of us on the threads of the wyrd. It's noticeable that we don't have any control over this: thoughts and ideas come and go as they please. What we do have control over - some control, at least - is how long each thought or idea hangs around. We do have that choice: the twist is that sometimes, having captured a thought as it passed by, it can be very difficult to let it go again!

In some ways ideas seem to have a life of their own. Like viruses, they can infect an entire group of people very quickly, creating an epidemic of ill-thought-through action. Like viruses, too, they can be endemic, flaring up again whenever the conditions are right and resistances against them are low. Religious fanaticism, nationalism and many political and social concepts fit clearly into this category: their factual basis is usually somewhere between flimsy and non-existent, but they keep on coming back, time after time, like the proverbial bad smell...

Thoughts and ideas, and emotions too, can attach themselves to places, and pop up again in our minds as though they were our own. Often this is simply through repetition: a place that is thought of by many as beautiful, or as deeply depressing - Culloden Moor is one classic example - will tend to create an echo of that same emotion in others. But in some cases the impression of scents, sounds or even complete visual sequences can be recorded in the fabric of a place, in a process known as 'place-memory'. For some decades now it's been known that around nine-tenths of all supposed 'hauntings' are place-memories of this kind, and the transfer mechanism is reasonably well-understood, if not so easily explained (see the Ghosts and Ghouls chapter of Needles of Stone). It's a commonplace piece of everyday wyrdness that is usually all too easy to ignore - until it catches us unawares!

The same is true of most of the so-called 'supernatural': if something exists, it's natural, no matter how weird it might be. Paranormal, yes, in the sense of 'outside of the normal range of experience': but then the definition of 'normal' tends to be a little fluid in any case, as researchers like Rupert Sheldrake and Charles Fort have long since demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.

For example, take a look at dowsing, or water-divining. It used to be thought of as a useful oddity tucked away at the forgotten fringes of science: a strange 'gift' limited to a few special - if not downright strange - individuals. But in reality, it's just another technology, a skill much like any other, and one that can be learnt by anyone if they choose to do so.The key part of the skill, in fact, consists of watching those strange thoughts and images wandering through on the wyrd, and noting when they happen to coincide with place in some consistent way. What makes it seem so weird is that it seems to work 'of its own accord': but in practice it's just the dowser expressing an intuitive response in some arbitrary physical way. Exactly what the dowser's responding to is a little less easy to describe: but there's a clear gradation of 'causes' from the strictly physical to the not-so-physical and beyond. Many people still want to make out that it's something special, and play around at the far end of that spectrum of supposed 'energy leys' and the like: but it's a fact that it becomes less and less reliable the further we try to take it from the physical realm. Yes, it's all a bit weird, of course, but it's nothing special - just the wyrd weaving through the world in its usual weird way!

The same is true of even stranger oddities like levitation and psychokinesis. To the normal view, they're all but impossible: yet a reasonably reliable technology to initiate them was developed, published and proven some three decades ago by Kenneth Batcheldor and Colin Brookes-Smith (see The practical art of magic in Inventing Reality). As with dowsing, there's a clear gradation from the strictly physical to the... er... something, and the closer it is to the physical (otherwise called 'cheating'!), the more reliably it works - hardly surprising, really. Yet once the weird twists that are needed to get round what Batcheldor described as 'witness inhibition' and 'ownership resistance' - in other words, "this isn't happening! - and if it is, it ain't me that's doin' it!" - are fully understood, even full hands-off levitation can become relatively reliable. Weird indeed...

What's really involved is a technology of mind - otherwise traditionally known as 'magic'. "Magic", as Aleister Crowley once insisted, "is the art and science of creating change in conformity with will". Without the help of some interesting trickery, though, most of us don't have the will to change the local reality that severely - though some people have some very impressive 'won't-power', clinging onto their 'normal' world as tightly as they can, and trying to force others to do likewise! Yet reality can indeed be surprisingly fluid - even at a physical level. As science journalist and broadcaster James Burke pointed out some years back, in his television series The Day The Universe Changed, even in the sciences we don't so much discover reality as invent it. Yes, that's weird too...

Ultimately, it's actually impossible to know what reality 'really is' :there are so many weird twists to it that we have no way of knowing which reality we're dealing with. But we do have choices: and they arise particularly when we start to pay attention to the weird way in which thoughts and ideas interweave within us, and between everyone, everything, everywhere, everywhen.