Television is one of the most visible components of modern society. Its influence is both profound and inescapable. How strange, then, that modern-day writers on magick have almost universally ignored it in their discussions of contemporary magickal theory! The power of television exists and is being tapped by others, whether the magickian chooses to use it for herself or not. It seems that the latent potential of television in all forms of sorcery could be used to great effect for a variety of ritual, divinatory and symbolic mnemonic purposes.
Like it or not, TELEVISION EXISTS. It is being used by the powers that be to influence the opinions, habits and actions of a great percentage of Earth's population. The truly modern magickian/shaman ignores this force at her own peril.
This booklet is based on writings sent to Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth over the last year and a half. It represents research and suggestions by around fifty people. Though this is, by statistical standards, a very small sampling, it is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time that a text on practical magick has been assembled based on input from a large number of people, rather than on the opinion of one Individual or the "official" teachings of one group or organization. If it appears to lack continuity, it is because it is of many voices. It is also the first attempt to systematically explore and theoretical implications of Television Magick.
As editor of this booklet, I have tried wherever possible to stick to mere editing and organizing the format and continuity of this booklet. However, as I have read through all of the material submitted, I was, perhaps, able to gain a broader perspective than the contributors. I became aware of a particular bias that most of them seemed to share, and have decided to write a section that will, hopefully, give this text a far broader perspective and implications than it might otherwise have had.
This booklet is a beginning. There is much more work and research to be done. It is hoped that this rough start will spark enough interest, controversy and dialogue to warrant expansion in the near future. This book is the first, not the last word on Television Magick.
Finally, I want to thank all those who, in the final analysis, really wrote this booklet. They know who they are, many will recognize their words and results here. This booklet is the product of the work and genius of many, and any credit for this work belongs to them, not the editor. This book shows that collaboration, communication and networking work. On this rock we have built our church. Feel free to write us and comment in any way.
TELEVISION IS A LANGUAGE
Like other disciplines, television has a unique language. Many of its technical terms have been borrowed from cinematography. Others are unique to TV. The language of advertising and newscasting are also unique to this medium. We see and hear grammatical faux pas that would put any self-respecting newspaper out of business! If one explores the structure and meaning behind many of these terms, a unique insight into the inner workings of television can be gained.
The one term that I feel is of the greatest importance in a magickal context is EDITING. It must be fairly obvious to any TV viewer that a lot more work goes into a television program than setting up a couple of cameras and videotaping away. Much more time must be spent in editing the various shot to project a form of CONTINUITY. The final televised version you watch may be the product of hours of discarded footage. Thus, the editor actually has more REAL control over the version you see than any other person involved in the production. Editing is a form of BIAS.
It might be interesting for a moment to consider magick, particularly ritual, as a form of editing like a good television editor, a magickian strives for some form of continuity in his program, or life. By emphasizing desired aspects, the magickian tries to edit out, or banish, unwanted footage from her Life. Any idiot can shoot great footage, only a Master can edit it all so it makes sense to a viewer later on. This could be used as a modern alchemical allegory.
Advertising Jargon is designed to penetrate to the subconscious mind, to cause a person to do something they might not do otherwise. So this language might be appropriated by a magickian to use as a mantra, or maybe she could actually shoot an advertisement for a specific desire. She could videotape objects and/or people that symbolized this desire to her, edited in with footage of her achieving said desire. Then she could do a voiceover of some type of slogan similar to those heard on TV ads. This advertisement could then be recorded in between a series of regular advertisements and stuck in the middle of a home video tape, say a favorite movie. Thus Austln Spare's notion of forgetfulness, the concept that a desire must be forgotten before it call be fulfilled, is adhered to. Just the amount of time)e and energy devoted to the production of such all advertisement would seem to guarantee its efficacy.
Television seems to form a psychick scaffolding when used actively as opposed to zombie consumption. Its technology emphasizes components and the psychick structures it produces have a systematic feel that reflects this emphasis:
- Electronic components
- Station Identification
- Test pattern
- Computer graphic
- Model Variations
- VCR/VTR etc...
What is the intelligence of these configurations telling us? Remember that quantum mechanics with its formula of indeterminacy is crucial to the technology of television.
To take part in the TV experience as defined by normal/network standard one must accept a passive role. Excluded from the life and breath of these so-called events. This produces the strange alienation of the voyeur. This in itself is not "bad", it's the way they make it seem as if there are no other possibilities. No questions, please!
SpelIbound/Hypnoteased are we. Always going away without the fulfillment of our desire.(as promised?). Searching hopeless. But the product we seek is not our desire. The process is a door to our desires. The TV set is process/not product. What is "put through" it is known as "programming".
TV as magick/TV is Magick. Buttons, switch, channel, remote control, video. Yes, modern magickal lingo. The symbols of a new form of incantation/spell/ritual. Dally millions of people take part in a ritual of acceptance, passivity and the giving away of freedom/responsibility (the ability to respond...).
TV must also work through subliminal and vibrational avenues. The accumulated data and effect of the existence (exit stance) of TV's everywhere continually going. Who knows what this is producing? The constant and relentless reinFORCEment of alien orders?
To de-program is to "Stop the World". TV is a tool for use or abuse. as are all the tools/toys of our time. What is powerful for control is also powerful for the Individual. Resistance is not necessary, no need to run away. Turn on, tune in, drop out. Imagination will set you free. Stopping a World of conditioned behavior. No fight, step off the merry go round... A rejection of TV is no use to me. Integration of TV is a way to free your mind's eye. TV is. We are. Imagine yourself. If you can see it in your mind's eye, you can see it in the TV eye.
INTEGRATION FOR REALIZATION-RIOT IN THEE EYE.
The mind is trained to learn by example not exhortation. To properly influence behavior, control does not plead and demand to people please do as we say. They simply show others doing so and receiving praise/prize. A dash of the herd mentality and there you go.
I believe the roots of this magickal mystery lie in the masking of the real purpose of "art". It is not now, and has never been mere entertainment. TV/video/cinema is but an equally old and rooted in ritual. When we can understand and work with this process, then we can begin to re-claim lost Parts of our ancient and eternal selves, lost in the process of "programming". We can free ourselves with the very tool of oppression.
TV is powerful because of the way it engages the senses. . sight and the sound. It comes on like a dream. You are caught an alternate reality. The key, however, being that it is not supposed to be one of your own choice or creation. We are left speechless in the face of our lack, our passivity, our confusion. Unable to articulate the experience except for the smallest of details. Are we still trapped in someone elses bad dreams?
Video. Here the overwhelming power of TV can be transformed into a tool for anyone. This seems like a bit of trouble for the powers that be. They cannot cut us off because they are dependent on us! Not the other way around as they like to think. So their survival depends on their ability to confuse, manipulate, divert, divide/conquer and control people. They use TV to push a philosophy of passivity. But the very fact that they MUST push contains the seed of their destruction. We can turn the situation upside down, and live OUR dreams.
TV AS MAGICK AND RELIGION
Is the deification and worship of technology an excusable response to the automation of human perception? During the Harmonic Convergence, one New Ager took a television set with her to the top of Mt. Shasta, and then stunned other observers by announcing that the image of an angel had manifested itself on the screen. The next day, before a large media conglomeration, a repairman reactivated the phenomenon and explained that it was due to a simple mechanical defect. Press and skeptics ate the story up with glee, but a pertinent point was missed. Who cares whether this videoized vision was caused by an otherworldly being, an unconscious group-will force or a shorted wire? Is not the human neurostructure, by which sensory data is received, but a complex system of wiring and basic automated processes? Spontaneous visual hallucination used to be a purely human characteristic.....
The future utilization of TV to transmit spiritual experience is an Inevitable Reality.
Our all - encompassing environment, which used to be Nature, has become technology. Before Judeo-Christianity all of Western man's religions were quite understandably based on his environment. Now that we have outgrown a flawed spiritual framework far removed from the principles of physical experience (and much worse off as a result), why not return to a religion more direct and in touch with the human condition? Because our environment is now self-created? Ah, but that is to be the hook of this new world faith...Evolution is gracing us with the powers of Creation and Destruction we once projected out onto gods, or perhaps we are Just realizing them latent within our psyches, the restless energies responsible for the seed of all spiritual thought...And so the medium is, indeed, the message.
Through these information and communication technologies humanity has taken its most subjective inner experiences and offered them up replicated into the mass "meme pool" of perceptual stimuli. In doing so we have structured a gestalt of human reality, partially bridging the vast chasms between each universe of consciousness commonly known as a person. Actually we have recreated (In its own Image...) the Gestalt, for accepting either the spiritual notion of ultimate Unity. or the quantum energy grid of modern physics, we are beyond temporal impressions all one Network of Being. In other words, we have unconsciously but faithfully fulfilled (In our own little way) the creative principle within us by embodying its essence and carrying it forth. In one respect, TV sets and Hi-fl stereos have accomplished in a few years what organized religion has been striving toward for thousands.
Imagine a Video Tarot --- workable as soon as the technology of "shuffling" separate sequences is available. How many more corresponding attributions and possibilities for subjective impressions will be instantly at our grasp in a short video effects segment than in a small playing card? Imagine TV Ritual. The point of ceremony in spiritual traditions exo- and esoteric is to trigger inner experience through extraordinary sensory input. The potential of today's visual media for revolutionizing this ancient transformative art, their technical advances making possible both the creation of virtually any image- and their accessibility to anyone - is obvious. And, of course, the technology will only improve, forging new pathways.....
It is true that these communication systems are, for the most part, effecting today the polar opposite of enlightenment. This condition has provided some rare opportunities, however. Televisions are incredibly prolific. Most of the Population is used to watching them for long periods of time. From an evolutionary perspective, this can be seen as an "easing in" to a more vital project. Today's "living room" has become a TV viewing room, as is evident by the placement of the set and the rest of the furniture in relation to it; an objective observer would probably assume these devices fulfill a religious function already. The notion of "TV as altar" is not new but once again becomes relevant. We enshrine our video consoles the way we used to enshrine our god-Images.....
In the cathode ray then, may be the Channel we must find. A true Network to tune in, the remote control of an infinite, viewing its illusory passion plays on a plane of static radiation---are e the image on the screen?
Here television's application as a type of subconscious mirror for scrying is exposed. This type of working, as well as its use in cut-ups, were the main ideas that were sent in to us. There is much more to be explored, though....
An important task in contemporary magick is redefining psychick uses of existing structures. Seemingly abandoned locations such as TV snow can be taken over and used by the magickian. A Psychick Graffiti Zone. Infiltrate community channels, using night-time filler shows such as one consisting of a camera taking a complete journey on a subway train can be salvaged for use in ritual.
The impression I get from TV snow images is that they may form a consistent language with a specific vocabulary of images due to the limited parameters of TV (as opposed to the structures of dreams) and the repetitiveness of the images. Are these images the same to people in completely different circumstances?
Basically what I do is tune into a non-broadcasting channel and stare at the "snow", trying to look at one point, usually near the center of the screen. After a time, moving patterns start to emerge from the "snow", sort- of like spinning mandalas, or large colonies of black ants dancing circuitously into their burrow...eventually I begin to see several layers of things going on behind this...l can focus on any one layer, but not for long, as there is so much info....it's rather like watching 5 or 6 films projected one on top of the other (In layers) and trying to pick out one film. I can see topographical landscapes going by very quickly as if flying over a continent. Deserts and sparse vegetation seem to be prevalent. Also scenes from everyday life - houses, people, cars, etc...
Groups of people dancing and twirling, columns of marching men ... it's and awful lot like the dream machine with my eyes open. To stop all the images, all I have to do is re-focus my eyes on some other part of the room.
The TV snow hallucinations seem very connected to the current regular programming. Many of the images and moods seem like the original templates of the programming.
Here's something I've done with TV's. It's not new or original (we found it to be-ed.), but I've had fun with it and so have some of my friends especially in altered states. Turn on a TV to a non-transmitting channel. Adjust the contrast, color and tint to a desired setting. Then add a strobe light. The strobe helps to speed up the process and makes everything a bit weirder. Also that warped warbelling sound the stations transmit before going over to static can help bend your mind, especially if you turn it on full blast and let 90.
If television has a unique ability to penetrate our subconscious, how can the Individualist regain control over it? One possible solution is to render it trivial. Things are most easily trivialized through such frequent repetition that they become commonplace. A television left on long enough becomes furniture, not entertainment! Stacks of TV's all tuned to a different channel make it impossible to concentrate on a single linear program, one finds that one's eyes roam from set to set. And this with a few as three sets.
I took one black and white TV set:
CONTRAST, VERTICAL HOLD,
The constant flickering image, constantly changing. The Magick moments, when captured, can be visually stimulating. When stared into, colors appear. Hues of blue, green, yellow and red. In the dark, back to the set, the flickering light produces RAPID, strobe-like SHADOWS. Maybe this can be compared to the DREAMACHINE (If I can be so bold).
My set is placed in one corner of my bedroom. It has been running continuously for over two years, never shut off.
TUNE the vertical, horizontal hold and contrast so that it appears that only one-third of the image is visible. Actually the whole image is there, tripled, each overlapping.
With eyes open, the picture can be amusing and amazing. My set is tuned to the local religious channel (LA channel 30). Not to be sacrilegious, that's too easy, but that's where the most interesting pictures are, scriptures typed on the screen permutate, the Xtian cross tripled becomes Psychick.
I applied the Dreamachlne method (eyes closed)- the connection being FLICKER. My first attempts were fruitless. Then one day I could see. A strange sense of depth was noticed, as if I was viewing from the back of my head out to my eyelids. The whirling picture seemed to engulf my head, the only colors noticed were grey and blue. This doesn't work all the time, it seems the harder I try the less I see. Utilize the brightness control, too. Some side effects-my eyelids twitched a lot at first (cathode ray interference?) and a slight headache.
Camouflage. If you live in a city with access to cable with cut up produced by flicking through all the appear to be following your train of thought, as if trying to keep up with you by feeding back symbols appropriate to your present thought. Using association blocks to create a bridge between your thoughts and the flow of imagery. TV watching often becomes emotionally intense during this procedure. (Also, putting only the soundtrack of TV without the visuals through a stereo can provide valuable insights into the camouflage of control TV).
Is the image more real than we? Cut it up, lets see.
We are starting to tape specific commercials and parts of programs which could be Psychically stimulating one way or another...
A VCR is helpful to Fast-forward and Review and edit way around. Similar to Cabaret Voltaire but of your own design. if you can get several screens and put on each the most weirded-out images you can find or get on video and zone out on all the stimuli. The weirder the better. The addition of music equally as bizzare, you only add to the experience.
Television and video are ideally suited for the cut-up method, incorporating as they do both the milleu of sound and visuals. It is interesting to interchange the audio and visual portions of two or more different programs and watch the conflicting messages you are then exposed to. Which sense do you assign more validity to?
Cut-ups of video can be of great use in ritual, too. If something is desired, you can record various images of it from television. When you have "captured" enough raw images, proceed to cut them up, splicing the images together randomly, either with the original soundtracks, random soundtracks from other raw footage, or with a special soundtrack of your own device. This could also be randomly cut in with footage of yourself attaining your desire either symbolically or as working toward your goal. I find it very important in video sigils to have images of myself included in the footage. This serves to Personalize the video, to take the power latent in video away from the big corporations and consecrate it to ME.
By flicking the channels around, one often gets an impression of synchronicity, that the audio signals one receives are, in some sense, inter-related with one's actions and/or feelings in REAL TIME, This feeling is further heightened when multiple televisions are used, with the television putting out the audio is blacked out, and a TV tuned to another station is being viewed.
Most people utilize their televisions in a very rigid, linear way. They tune in one specific channel and watch passively. But if one begins to view the TV as a mirror, useful both for scrying (astral) and divinatory ("fortune-telling") Purposes, one will find that much of the "bad vibe" associated with television is dissipated, can even be turned around to become potent shamanic ally. Cut-up TV is decontrolled TV, is big business castrated of its control patterns, the patterns through which we as viewers/consumers are manipulated. Through the break up of these Patterns, we are able to free the airwaves of their inherent OBJECTIVITY, and reclaim them as subjective reflections of our own thoughts.
One of the biggest complaints about current television is that it allows for no participation by the viewer. It is soporific in that it allows for no challenges or ambiguities to a watcher. Even complex issues such as the Middle East are reduced to one-and-one-half minute "stories". The current half-hour to one-hour format of traditional television "programming" allows for no real character development or subtleties of plot. The characters, even on a "quality" program like Hill Street Blues, are hopelessly shallow in comparison to even the most shallow people in "real life". The cut-up method offers a childishly simple means of re-introducing abstraction and subjectivity, DEPTH - back into a media notorious for its lack thereof.
TV RITUAL-SETS AND SCRIPTS
As has already been mentioned, a lot more goes into television program than the final, edited version we watch. A set is constructed. A set could be compared to a Temple, or thee Nursery. It is a place designed with a particular function in mind, in the case of TV sets, usually to create an illusion. All ritual spaces are sets in a way. They are constructed to perform a specific purpose, and are constructed with that purpose in mind. If you notice the set on a TV sitcom, for example, you can notice the tedious attention to detail - a small stack of unanswered mail on the mantlepiece, all the cooking utensils on the countertops, a little bit of dirt on the floor (they're only human...). This is done to complete the illusion that this set, in reality a moveable plywood shell, is somebody's home.
It is with exactly this attention to detail that the magickian constructs her ritual space. She knows that if any detail remains to remind her of the so-called mundane aspects of her life, her ritual will lose much of its power.
Once the set is constructed, a production crew needs a STORY BOARD. This is a series of drawings which plot out both the movements of the characters and the zooms, pans and angles of the various cameras. The verbal "lines" of the actors, as well as any music or other sound effects, are written out or described on the bottom of each board.
Thus, each portion of a scene is meticulously plotted out, in such a way that each member of the crew can see her role in the production.
Anyone who has ever read magickal instructions for a ritual, such as a Gnostic Mass, will recognize that a grimoire is essentially a story board. However, a storyboard is much more effective as a mnemonic device as it describes the "plot" not only verbally, but also visually. Each sequence is described in terms of the "actors", the "observers" (or cameras) and the accompanying sounds or speech.
It can be extremely useful to plot out a ritual in a story board format. First, it allows no room for ambiguity as to who is to do what when. It also allows the magickian to see her ritual from the Perspective of a camera, a birds eye view, if you will, of exactly what will be happening. It allows for far greater considerations into the aesthetical aspects of the "production", placing a greater emphasis on symmetry and staging. A good ritual is similar to a good TV program - it causes a "suspension of disbelief" vital to creating change. It must create an illusion, to make something possible that, without good staging, would not be plausible.
Say you want to make money. Create a set that looks like a bank vault, or a giant hundred dollar bill. Videotape a gorgeous man rolling around in a pile of play money (need not be real, only green, if you are from the US). The magickian can make this man, rather than the money, the object of her desire. The money is already subliminally associated to the man through the video shot. A brief narration can be voiced over, or an evocative song, you could even invent some sort of dialogue, perhaps the man could be lustfully moaning the magickians name and his desire for her.
A technique I have used is to use the presence of a camera to prolong the agony, as it were, of a sexual working. As you excite each part of a partner's body, take a break to videotape that particular spot, both before and during stimulation. You'll be amazed at how sensuous it is to caress your lover with the camera's eye, you can zoom in on your favorite features at will, pause to excite a Part and videotape the result. A body can become a vast, mysterious landscape, and the act of lust become a HolIywood feature. It can also be used later as an excellent link (see "Formulating Links" in "Intuitive Magick") to either mentally re-create that moment, or to draw the lover closer again,
The sense of detachment from an event, which one might even be participating in ones self, is one of the oddest phenomena of video I have yet encountered. One literally becomes a voyeur into ones' own life and actions. Videotaping a ritual is nearly synonymous with objectivity.
And these, admittedly unrefined, examples need not be the end of it. The videotape could then be put on a TV set and played back as a centerpiece for a more traditional money-making ritual. The possibilities are unexplored, therefore endless. And it can 90 on and on, continually videotaping layer after layer of superimposed videotape ritual until one finally has on one tape the accumulated documentation of perhaps dozens of Individual rituals, or shoots.
This process is analogous to the old alchemical principle of "solve et coagula", of constantly sublimating (note the similarity to "subliminal", a major factor in subconscious recall) originally base matter into "gold".
Indeed, given the power that TV seems to exert over people and their lives, the old alchemical maxim "as above, so below" takes on a whole new meaning. She who rules the airwaves, rules the minds of men....
THE LANGUAGE OF ADVERTISING
As mentioned earlier, television is a language of its own. The real content of television is not in the programs, they are merely "bait" to get us to watch the ubiquitous advertisements. It almost seems as though TV programs are deliberately made as dull and unchallenging as possible, to lull us into a sort of hypnotic trance, so that we are thus rendered more susceptible to the commercials. Commercials have their own unique language, to, and an amazing amount of research has been done into what sorts of advertising strategies are most likely to persuade us.
It might be useful to take a look at some of the factors in advertising that have been found to influence consumers:
- Information content,
- Brand / Product Identification,
- Visual and auditory devices,
- Music and dancing,
- Structure and format,
- Timing and counting measures (for example, length or number of times the brand name is shown or mentioned).
Many of these methods are very reminiscent of old ceremonial magick rituals, for ~n excellent crossreference too lengthy to get into here, see Magick In Theory and Practice by Aleister Crowley, Chapter 2. The main thrust of my argument is that advertising Jargon IS a magickal language. It CAN be used to affect or program the subconscious mind. Advertisements are constructed ~n exactly the same way that rituals are, using mnemonic devices very similar to the qabalah. I do not consider this to be a theory-l take it to be a fact. If you have any doubts about this basic assumption, go to your library and read through some books on tele-marketing techniques.
Start watching advertisements. Pay close attention to the logic of them. You will begin to notice that hardly any of them really make any logical sense. A typical example: Everyone knows that oxitone fights cavities. Crust toothpaste has oxitone. So it has the power to keep cavities away. Now it has not been actually stated that oxitone does, in fact, fight cavities - you are led to think that you are stupid for NOT knowing this. It is also not stated HOW MUCH oxitone it takes to fight cavities. Nor is the extent of this "cavity fighting" ever defined. So we are left with a total non-sequitur. What, at first appearance, is a very informative advertisement turns out, on closer examination, to say absolutely nothing. It is a conjuror's trick, a sleight-of hand maneuver.
It is in this realm of tricking the subconscious into accepting the impossible as FACT that the traditional magickian has always worked. And, although Madison Avenue may have updated the language and hardware, the essential technique, philosophy and approach would be very familiar to any magickian of the past. A contemporary magickian , if she has any desire to be such in anything other than name alone, would do well to learn how to apply these updated methods of subconscious persuasion to her ritual methods. Many of them are supported by the latest research into Psychology and neurolinguistics, as well as proving their effectiveness through consumer response.
A lot of money goes into marketing research. SOMEBODY must be getting results from this form of magick.
Video Magick warrants a whole book on its own, it definitely deserves a great deal more attention. Hopefully you, the reader/critic will send us more research in the near future so that this project can be done justice to. It is, obviously, only the tip of the iceberg...
Get or rent a video camera, one that has a negative/reversal switch on it so that you can make the picture negative. Point the camera at the TV screen while monitoring. You will discover an astral tunnel in black and white. Now turn the camera ever so slightly and observe!! With practice you can see every geometric pattern under and in the sun-an almost infinite variety of symbols all fluctuating, all changing constantly. The effect is enhanced even more if you turn the color up to high contrast during the experiment. By various spinning methods (ie., rotating the camera as if the lens were a pivot) and very slight adjustments of the zoom lens you will have hours and hours of mesmerized fun and trance. Video feedback has another application. Take a small picture, no bigger than 10% of your total screen area, and stick it onto your TV screen. in this manner, you can immediately add visual images to the splendorous kaleidoscope of colors and these images will also feed back infinitely. You have to see this effect to believe it!! Why it has never been used in promotional videos, especially in the '60s I will never know...
This technique sounds as if it would lend itself perfectly to the Sigil Process, a symbol ov desire being placed on the screen and multiplied by video feedback. A hypnotic aid to concentration. Also, favorite patterns and configurations could easily be videotaped and saved for documentation as well as future rituals.
All that can really be said to sum up is that Television Magick is certainly an area of occult deserving more attention and much more research. Hopefully, this modest beginning will be enlarged upon through experiments and communication inspired by this first effort. Reading through this booklet, it is obvious that we have not even properly scratched the surface.
Sincere thanks must be given to those who offered input into this project - we hope that this pamphlet will encourage more of you to send in your research and results in this fascinating new area of the occult.