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How Magic and Esp Work - A Quantum Mechanical Perspective
by Larry Cornett

In quantum mechanics, reality is described by waves defining the probabilities of different outcomes from the same interactions. These waves manifest as what we have been taught to call matter, energy, particles, and/or waves when observed. These probability waves overlap and continue forever. The interactions between different entities constitute a single structure of linked wave patterns, so that the entire universe can be thought of as an unbroken whole. The waves form a matrix, with all parts of the system affecting all other parts. Non-local relationships exist between parts of the system that are distant from each other.

So far I have seen Physicists publish four alternative explanations for the underlying, interlinking wave patterns implied by quantum mechanics:

  • The wave pattern is the most fundamental level of reality, and there is nothing more fundamental (this is the most popular view in the Quantum Mechanics text books, other than providing no explanation).
  • Consciousness is the underlying link (E.H. Walker).
  • Information (the negative reciprocal of entropy) is the underlying link,
  • Space and time, as described by quantum mechanics, are epiphenomena manifested by other phenomena. What underlies conventional space-time are variables and dimensions not limited by usual concepts of space and time. At least some of the variables in these realms (hidden variables) act everywhere at once linking the time-space phenomena described by quantum mechanics. Superstring theory and other unified field theories cover the nature of these hidden variables.

Whatever the subtle level of reality underlying matter and energy, we are that (including our consciousness). Consciousness, at a fundamental level, is associated with the continuity of the underlying structures out of which matter and energy manifest.

Consciousness is an inseparable aspect of this underlying reality. If hidden variables exist, we are the hidden variables. The non-local underlying wave patterns beneath manifestations of matter and energy that we hold in common with our surroundings allow us to influence reality and to obtain information about it. This underlying interconnecting pattern is the very stuff of consciousness and manifests, not only as matter & energy, but also as psychokinesis, precognition and other phenomenon that are only now beginning to be recognized and embraced by some theories of modern physics.

Normal waking consciousness occurs when the nerve cell firing rate (synaptic switching rate) is high enough to spread out the waves associated with electrons to fill the gaps between nerve cells (synaptic clefts) with waves of probability of similar amplitude. This is described mathematically by the quantum mechanical mechanism of tunneling. These waves are interconnected throughout regions of the brain through resonances, linked by fast, sequential quantum mechanical tunneling ("hopping conduction"). The result is a large, complex, unified, quantum mechanically defined wave pattern filling regions in the brain. The waves are interconnected with each other and with information storage and sensory input mechanisms within these interconnected regions. The sense of individual identity resides in the continuity of the process (1).

In this theory, the synapses fire separately at low synaptic firing rates. As the rate of firing increases, more and more synapses fire simultaneously, ultimately leading to collective physical behavior based on the linkage provided by hopping conduction and waking consciousness. The theory accurately predicts the threshold between waking and sleeping consciousness in people and animals(1).

Deflections caused by consciousness are not caused by force or energy in the conventional sense; but by something more subtle, namely resonant effects within the underlying wave structure out of which matter and energy are manifestations. The magnitude of these effects can be accurately predicted by modeling resonances between the brain and the target. The amount of effect is determined by:

  • The information handling rate with which consciousness in the brain resonates with the target,
  • The amount of time that the resonance occurs, and
  • The probability of the desired outcome in the absence of conscious intervention (2).

It is the non local structure that we share with nature that makes it possible to "attune to nature," to psychically participate in nature, and to perform magic. When our awareness connects with the deepest layer of reality interconnecting everything, we may experience the level of consciousness beyond time and form reported by many mystics.

This theory has been developed in considerable detail by Evan Harris Walker, of the U.S. Army Ballistics Research Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland (1, 2, 3). I have published several articles on this theory(4, 5, 6, 7).

Other theories of how and why magic works exist, including Cabalistic theories, Buddhist and Hindu metaphysical theories, theories of the nature of the Gods, etc. Many parallels exist among these theories. The most important one is the connection between individual consciousness and the universe (with or without the intervention of Gods, Goddesses, etc.).

To read about theories of magic is like reading about sports. You may pick up a few ideas; but to become proficient, you must participate and play the game. What follows is an outline of how to perform a magical ritual.


Consider a typical structure of a Wiccan magical ritual and its quantum mechanical explanation:

  • Purify one's mind and one's surroundings, freeing them of interfering resonances, quieting the static so that one can get a clear and strong resonance on the target desired.
  • Achieve a non-localized state of consciousness, often by resonating one's mind with one's inner being, with the Earth, the sky, and one's surroundings.
  • Meditate on the elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) representing non-local essences. This helps your mind to resonate powerfully non-locally. In Wiccan rituals, this is usually done by invoking each element in a different direction.
  • After reaching out with one's mind and connecting its resonance pattern intimately with the non-local web of wave patterns connecting everything, invoke deities whose natural function is related to the purpose of your ritual. If successful, this connects your mind to powerful, established, non-localized, intelligent resonance matrices that (hopefully) join in the magic.
  • Focus on the target of the work, connecting with the target (usually by visualization and/or by an object link).
  • While connected with the target, visualize the end result desired, thus creating a resonant template for the phenomenon one wants to achieve.
  • Energize the resonance through dance, drumming, chants, pure channeling of will power, and/or other means.
  • Release the energy into the target while strongly visualizing the target achieved (energizing the resonance in the target).
  • Ground (sending excess energy back to the Earth), removing one's mind from the direct, resonant link with the target, so that the patterns you have set in motion in the target can continue with minimum interference (to throw a ball, one has to let go); then share food and drink,
  • Thank and say goodbye to the intelligences and essences you worked with, thus disconnecting one's mind further from connected non- local resonance matrices.

There are other forms of magic, many of which involve a similar flow of consciousness.

Each of the above steps in ritual is a form of meditation which should be practiced individually until one is proficient at it. The best book I have found covering all of these techniques, meditations to improve one's ritual effectiveness, and how to weave these together into Neo-Pagan ritual is The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk(8). Those serious about learning magical ritual are advised to read this book and work with the individual meditations therein. Other good books also exist.

To create one's own rituals, one can put individual meditations, invocations, etc. that are good for the aforementioned purposes on to 3x5 cards, and collate them together into rituals of your own design. If you know what you are doing and follow appropriate magical and ethical practice, you can expect good results.


The ethics of magic is tied in to the mechanics of magic. To transmit a psychic signal, you must resonate it in your own mind. One's mind creates the original edition of the effect one wishes to produce in the target. If the target is receptive to your signal and linked to your mind, a copy of the signal resonating in your mind may resonate at the target, and be transmitted. You are left with the original edition.

Generally, only a fraction of the signal resonating in one's own mind is transmitted. The rest remains with the person generating it and with the associated media involved in transmission. To magically hex another person is to hex oneself. To do manipulative magic on another person is to perform similar manipulation on oneself. To perform unrequested magic on another may result in unwanted magical effects on oneself. It is prudent not to create, energize or transmit a thoughtform that you would not like to receive at least threefold yourself.

Much magic is directed at the universe and one's own circumstances, without specifically targeting or visualizing specific other individuals. Nevertheless, one may sometimes get magical backlash because of effects such magic may have on others. A good technique to avoid backlash is to filter the spell with a sincere affirmation that it be for the good of all and according to the free will of all. The best book I've seen covering such considerations (as well as providing practical spells and methods of becoming proficient at divination) is Positive Magic, by Miriam Weinstein(9).

If one performs magical ritual, it is important to clearly separate one's magical state of mind from one's state of mind in everyday reality, and to be consciously in control of and aware of which state one is in. Most forms of magic work by affirming and visualizing the end result desired and channeling "energy" into the vision to build a thoughtform that will mold events into the desired pattern. Visualizations are most effective when they are a total experience, with the senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste, and emotions in accordance with the desired end- while all thought processes function as if the desired end is a reality. Psychic "power" is channeled into this mold, and things happen.

Unfortunately, some magical people fail to keep their magical and rational states of mind separate. The result can be involuntary magical visualization. Madness comes with mistaking thoughtforms of what should have happened or what one wants to happen with what has occurred and what is occurring. This slippage can manifest as rewriting of history, being off in one's own world and perceived as a space case by others, "1984" style "doublethink," and pathological lying.

Rituals such as casting a magic circle and calling quarters, invoking elements and deities to initiate a magical state of mind, and grounding after work is done and thanking and dismissing the powers invoked to end this state of mind keep magical and rational states of mind separate. When not actively performing magic, the magician's consciousness should link with what is occurring and with that which has occurred in ordinary reality, and the magician should be able to function in harmony with nature and with one's surroundings.


  1. Walker, Evan H. "The Nature of Consciousness," Mathematical Biosciences 7, 1970.

  2. Walker, Evan H. The Complete Quantum Mechanical Anthropologist. U.S. Army Ballistic Research Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, presented at the 73rd Annual American Anthropological Association Meeting, Mexico City, November 19- 24, 1974.

  3. Walker, Evan H. and Nick Herbert. "Hidden Variables: Where Physics and the Paranormal Meet," Future Science, edited by John White and Stanley Krippner, Anchor books, Garden City, New York, 1977.

  4. Cornett, Larry. "Quantum Magic," Amaranth Anthology, published by Larry Cornett, Fairfax, VA, (also published in Amaranth #36 in Pagan APA #40), 1988.

  5. Cornett, Larry. "Laws of Magic, "Amaranth #39 in Pagan APA #43, June 5, 1989.

  6. Cornett, Larry. "A Quantum Mechanical Theory of How Magic Works," Amaranth #6 in Pagan APA, May 12, 1983. (also published in Druid's Progress in 1985)

  7. Cornett, Larry. "Bell's Theorem, Consciousness, and Magic," Amaranth #9 in Pagan APA, November 21, 1983.

  8. Starhawk. The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, Harper and Row Publishers, San Francisco, 1989.

  9. Weinstein, Marion. Positive Magic: Occult Self-Help, Phoenix Publishing Co., Custer, WA, 1981.

Larry Cornett, 9527 Blake Lane, Apt. 102, Fairfax, VA 22031.

All work is copyright the listed author.

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