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(Hello to the folks from the "Cast Iron Cooking, Classifieds and Hellraising" group who are reading this blog in order to laugh at my crazy "magic" bullshit. This one is probably going to make you think I'm completely batty.)
A first draft:
During the 1990s, I was an outspoken opponent of the Church of Scientology, and I enthusiastically participated in the criticism and opposition to the organization, labeling it as a cult and openly deriding its efforts to keep its "secret" OT Levels I to VIII (Operating Thetan) documents private. This was nearly twenty years ago, as I write this (in October of 2013). I've learned some things in the years since then, and my perspectives and beliefs have changed somewhat. First of all, I will state that I do not "hate" Scientology with the vigorous and venomous enthusiasm I had in the 1990s. I still know for a fact that the organization itself is an elaborate sham, designed to destroy the lives of its practitioners in order to make money for the ruling elite of the Church of Scientology. This, sadly, is still true.
Meanwhile, in the past few years, I've been researching and experiencing techniques in meditation, including mental exercises meant to assist with meditation. This is what brought me into the realm of Chaos Magic. Much of the practice of Chaos magic involves the use of focusing exercises, in order to reach a state of spiritual awareness usually referred to as gnosis. At this point, it is that a "magical" effect can be enacted. How much of this is truly "magical" is open to personal interpretation, and that's one of the aspects of Chaos magic that I like. However, in exploring the methods and techniques of meditation, I've come to the realization that this is very similar, if not identical, to the techniques practiced in Dianetics and the secret "upper levels" of Scientology.
In other words, it is possible to state: Dianetics and Scientology are not science - they are magic.
L. Ron Hubbard devised a series of pseudo-scientific trappings to dress up magickal ritual, and he called it the "science" of Dianetics.
The basic practice of Dianetics is that of an "auditor" trained in the use of a Scientology E-meter. The auditor asks questions and encourages the practitioner ("preclear") to close his or her eyes, relax, and enter a state of "dianetic reverie" – in other words, meditation or self-hypnosis. From here, the auditor asks a series of questions designed to re-create incidents in the preclear's life. This is monitored through the use of the E-meter, which supposedly detects the occurrence of "engrams" created by these incidents that occurred over time.
(The actual functioning of the E-meter is a matter of considerable controversy. I agree with those who say it actually detects physical impulses, the body's electrical activity, and the like. In terms of magical activity, I would say the E-meter is not actually necessary.)
Over time and repeated auditing sessions, the preclear eventually reaches a state of "clear," in which these "engrams" have been supposedly cleared out of his or her psyche. The state of clear is not unlike the state of gnosis that practitioners of magic look to achieve.
However, this simple form of meditation and self-hypnosis is only the first step, and the "magical" aspect is actually well hidden. The plunge into the realm of "magic" comes when the preclear achieves the state of Clear. At this point, the Church of Scientology then begins pressuring the initiate to advance into the further levels of Scientology, and reach for the level of OT (Operating Thetan). It's here where the "magic" of Scientology really comes into play.
When Scientology's critics claim that Hubbard actually used "black magic" when he designed the system of Scientology, they were actually correct. There have been reports that after World War II, Hubbard spent some time with Jack Parsons (and even briefly met Aleister Crowley, who wasn't especially impressed), and spent some time engaging in occult rituals. This was likely the basis for Hubbard's foundations in magickal ritual, which he later worked into the foundations of Scientology. Hubbard devised a system of self-hypnosis with Dianetics, and he cloaked it in the facade of "science." After the Dianetics fad died off, he took on the "religion" angle and developed the system of Scientology. The methods of focusing and "creating your own universe" within Scientology are, in fact, the same techniques used in the practice of magic.
One of the basic mantras repeated by Hubbard (which he called "axioms") is a statement that is one of the basic assumptions of magic: If it's true for you, then it's true. This is the idea of the power of belief, and it is one of the fundamental ideas of magic.
Hubbard devised the system of Scientology to address the "spiritual" aspect of oneself. Scientology begins with the assumption that "you are a spirit" – a thetan – and moves on from there. (A lot of this had to do with Hubbard creating a "religious" system in order to remain non-profit, but I won't get into that here.) While Dianetics looks at engrams and "incidents" that supposedly occurred over the course of a person's life, Scientology looks at "past lives" – and it is here that the magical aspect of Scientology flowers into full bloom. Scientology addresses the "spirit," and it is looking at the same unknown aspect of ourselves that we cannot codify or define: the part of oneself that makes up our personality, our creativity, and our consciousness. It's here that "magic" resides.
The basic system of Scientology practice uses an expanded version of Dianetic auditing: the E-meter is still used, and an auditor is still involved; though now they are using the E-meter to (supposedly) audit "thetans" (spiritual or past life incidents) rather than "engrams" (psychological incidents). The exercises of the "secret" OT Levels also consist of mental exercises that fairly reek with the idea of magical ritual. Because the Church of Scientology's is well known for attacking anyone who even hints that they may have a copy of their "unpublished, copyrighted, undocumented trade secret" materials, I am not suggesting you obtain a copy of the OT documents for yourself. Fortunately, there are sites on the Internet that offer legal summaries of the OT writings, such as the OT Archive at Operation Clambake. An examination of the OT materials will show that this is essentially magical meditation: it involves "projecting your intent," "thought beams," "placing yourself in other beings," and other aspects of magical concentration that are regularly seen in rituals and incantations.
If you want a look at one of the strangest and most hysterical works of "non-fiction" ever written, track down a copy of L. Ron Hubbard's book Have You Lived Before This Life? This book is the result of Scientology auditing sessions that address the incidents that supposedly occurred in the past lives of Scientologists, including incidents that took place on other planets, in other galaxies, and often dating back millions or billions of years. Looking at this book from the view of Chaos magic, I realize that Hubbard did exactly what Chaos magicians do when they create magical entities and assume their aspects. Through Scientology auditing, Scientologists are practicing magic of the same sort seen in many rituals and cast spells. Hubbard created a magical effect in his subjects, causing them to experience gnosis and invent images and "memories" exactly in the same manner that magicians engage in astral projection, create magical realms, and populate those realms with magical entities. The past lives of Scientology, the other universes, and the other galaxies and planets all existed within the realm of magic, and Scientologists are using their "advanced tech" to travel there and visit these realms. It's not science – Have You Lived Before This Life? is not a document of the actual scientific history of this universe. (For that matter, neither is Hubbard's other famous "historical" work, A History of Man.) Rather, it's magic. It exists in the mind of the Scientologist, and as such it is as true as he or she believes it to be.
This is the summation of my theory: that Scientology is actually a kind of magic – a magickal system devised by L. Ron Hubbard especially to benefit himself. He cloaked it in the guise of "religion" in order to escape prosecution and taxation, but its basis actually formed on magic.
This also explains why some former Scientologists still claim to have found a benefit from Dianetics and Scientology.
Of course, there's one fundamental, inescapable difference between the magic practiced at the Church of Scientology, and magic practiced by pagans and magicians worldwide. That, of course, is the fact that the Church of Scientology charges thousands of dollars for this magical training. The rituals and magic exercises provided to Scientologists come at an astounding cost, and the entire structural system of the Church of Scientology is designed to keep Scientologists trapped within the system, paying for a level of magical expertise that could just as easily be achieved for free, or at a far lower cost, by embracing a different magickal path.