There are times when you can’t do a thing…

So, there is some healing magic I want to do really, really bad. It involves trying to helping an extended family member fight some severe mental illness. He is on a high dose of some “last chance “ medications, and the outlook is pretty grim.

I decided to dowse a bit to see which color I should start with to help give some guidance to my work. I got very strange information from my pendulum, and couldn’t make sense of it. So, being the resourceful fellow that I am, I decided to look into things a bit more with my cards. The outlook from the cards was very grim. I knew it was going to be a bad reading, as the depths of the mental illness he has rarely turns out well, but I didn’t realize that things had gone so far that I really couldn’t do anything about it.

So, I was faced with evaluating the probability of the the final outcome that I desire to the relationship of my magic ability and the natural probability of something happening. I remembered there were some rough guidelines in my Liber Kaos that could give you a good idea of how much influence you could have on any particular situation. It’s a fairly easy process; you just take the number M and use a table that also has the probabilities listed. It’s very similar to what we used in my statistics coursework, but without the annoying finite detail.

Here is the formula to find the value of M:

M = GL(1-A)(1-R)

If you haven’t read the book, Liber Kaos, here is a quick rundown of what everything means:

* M = The Magic Factor
* G = Gnosis
* L = Magical Link
* A = Conscious aweareness
* R = Subconscious resistance

I’m not going to go into any more detail about the individual items. This entire portion of the book is quite lengthy and is better to read from the source than it is to get a quick synopsis.

So if we look at three different scenarios, as things can change a LOT if you are too close to the situation and other factors that tend to fluctuate, here is what the odds hypothetically look like.

Great Case Scenario

M = (0.9)(0.9)(1-.1)(1-.1)
So, M = 0.6561
Using a P of 20%:
That only changes the final probability to about 26.2%

Moderate Case Scenario

M = (0.8)(0.8)(1-.2)(1-.2)
In this case M = .4096
Using a P of 20%:
That changes the final probability a lackluster 20.8%

Bad Case Scenario

M = (0.7)(0.7)(1-.3)(1-.3)
In our worst case M = 0.2401
Using a P of 20%:
Our final outcome probability is still right around 20%

So, the odds are terrible, and my estimation of probability may be too high in this case. This means that I would have to be near perfect in my abilities to make any sizable difference. Now I’m quite proud of how far I’ve come with Chaos, but I am still honest with myself. Every time I learn something new, it shows me just how much more I have to learn. I have a couple cheats for Gnosis and Subconscious Resistance, but it still doesn’t make me perfect, and eventually I will have to rely on talent rather than many of the shortcuts that I employ at this time.

My wife is an optimist about these things and gives him a 50/50 shot at it. Although personal experience tells me it’s not that high. The increased odds don’t help my influence very much anyway. The moderate case scenario only raises it by 8%. Honestly, with how much I want him to get better and how close I am to this thing, somewhere around moderate is the best I will be able to realistically achieve. It’s hard to admit such things, but the last thing you want to do in magic is to overestimate your abilities. That’s how people get in serious trouble.

The outlook is grim. The dowsing, the cards, and the math all agree that I can’t do much, if anything, about it. The situation will just have to be what it is going to be, whether I like it or not. Carroll even says in his book that the math can make for a bleak outlook to aspiring magicians, and he was right. It’s not something I can do with my servitors, and it’s not something I can do for someone who is terribly mentally ill and would be resistant to anything that he knew was directed at him.

This situation doesn’t make me lose any faith in Chaos, it just makes me realize how important early action is, and how we can’t control every situation. There are some things I will be able to make a huge difference in, and there will be some situations that will just have to take their course…for now.

The red pill, or the blue pill…

Soon, I will be facing a turning point in my life. There will be a choice that is paramount to the direction the rest of my life will take.

As I’ve said in previous posts, there is an uneasy similarity between occult involvement and psychological disorders. Hell, if you look at the questions on a Schizophrenia screening quiz, the better you are at magick, the higher you score towards psychosis. And, to that and, I will have an appointment with a professional soon to see what their take is on my current mental state.

I already know how it’s going to go:

* Standard background questions about family history
* Those answers will evolve into questions about my current state and how I relate them with my past
* Then we will talk about my current coping skills and how effective they have been at curtailing symptomatic progression
* The doctor will discuss their perceptions and make a treatment recommendation based on their findings

It’s pretty standard stuff, right out of the psychiatry handbooks. The only problem is they won’t like any of my answers. If we look at the visit as three parts (background, coping, and progression) it makes it a lot clearer as to the problem.

The first part is the background, and doctors have never liked this with me. I have a family history of psychological illness that blows their minds. They are usually encouraged that while my family is nuts, we are very functional in our daily lives, but it is two strikes against me before I ever have a chance to take the plate. In the past, this was no big deal, as I always knocked it out of the park on the next two questions…but that won’t be happening this time.

The next two questions will strike me out, and possibly carry over into my next at-bat. As a part of being into Chaos and such, I have dropped a lot of my normal defensive mechanisms, so in the eyes of Psychiatry, my coping is suffering, and my symptoms are progressing. The part that has me really bothered is that sometimes I can’t tell if I’m progressing in magick, or if I’m just doing a good job of mind-fucking myself. One of the problems with believing in Chaos, is that you also have to believe that all you are really doing is tweaking the odds…and this means that things that you were trying to do could have happened anyway. Giving yourself credit for everything that goes according to your desires, even if you had no real hand in it, is called being delusional.

Now, I know some of you are going to think what I’ve read all over occult boards: that doctors are quick to label people that operate outside of the social norm, blah, blah, blah… I know those arguments. I have heard them, I have said them, and I still believe in them. The problem I’m facing is that this isn’t a game. If it was just me, by myself, when I was in my early twenties, I would roll the dice and let them land where the universe wills it. I can’t do that anymore because I have too many people that rely on me. It wouldn’t be fair to my wife, daughter, or father if I let their entire existence crumble around them just because I wasn’t willing to explore all the possibilities available to me.

The other factor that’s a part of this is my family history. I’m the only one that hasn’t had a massive breakdown. In my family, the lucky ones have irreparable long-term damage to their cognitive abilities and stability, and the unlucky ones end in tragedy. Mental disorders have plagued my family like a cancer of the psyche for generations now, and I don’t want to be the next casualty of the illness.

So, as my appointment approaches over the next few weeks, I will have a lot of thinking to do. I doubt there will be a happy synergy between chaos and modern psychiatric treatment, so I will have to seriously weigh the options that lie before me. I know there will be medication recommendations, and if I decide to go that route, my mind will be cut off from everything that I have worked for with Chaos. I believe that it will still be out there, but those kinds of drugs seem to instantly throw the clamp on extra-perceptual experiences. And if they don’t, they up the dosages.

The blue pill will make me mundane, but preserve everything that I have created for my family…the red pill will let me explore the very nature of existence, the universe, and life, but may come at the cost of my family, my sanity, and even my life.