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The island of lost thoughts.

Random Notes

Refer to the Knowledge Expert section of the Negotiations and Group Decision Making page.

An example of when a professional was not as knowledgeable of a specific topic as a lay person.

We know of an individual who learned from a yearly physical that his serum cholesterol was not within a range considered normal. The blood-work report showed that his cholesterol level was extremely low – in the lower ½ of 1 percentile of the population. The doctor thought this was nothing but good news. The patient however felt it might not be a totally good thing. Cholesterol must be used for something or why would a human body store it?

The patient did some literature research at the local University’s medical library (this was a few years before the “Internets”). He discovered the cholesterol molecule is a component of bile salts used for digestion. Cholesterol gives cells membranes stiffness and stability. The body also uses cholesterol in the repair of damaged blood vessels. Cholesterol is also needed for proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain. Low cholesterol levels had recently been linked to depression and suicidal tendencies. This was long before serotonin had become big news in the general media.

He presented his physician with the collected information. His doctor admitted that he was not aware of that recent line of research. For this particular subject, the patient was the medical knowledge expert because he had done the research and collected the data for presentation.

On Magick
(Not to be confused with the magic performed by people like Penn & Teller)

In some sections of this website magick is included in descriptions of processes and ritual. This may seem superstitious or “woo-woo” to some people. We beg your indulgence for just a few moments as we describe why many people know that planting crops by the light of a full moon gives a better yield and how Germanic Iron Age Vikings made their swords better by imbuing them with the spirits of their ancestors and animals.

Agriculture started about 8,000 to 12,000 years ago (depending on where you look). This was before electric lighting, mechanized farming and insecticides. Picture these ancient farmers planting their fields. It took a lot of labor and time. For a large farm it took more time than daylight. But if you have a moon that is nearly full and a sky without clouds, you have enough light to turn dirt, place seeds and cover with dirt. It’s a pretty simple operation.

After several years the farmer starts to notice that the fields planted at night produced more than the fields planted in the daylight hours. The conclusion has to be that planting at night by moonlight is a good idea. Human beings can’t just leave it at that. We like to have reasons for things happening. We make meanings up when the reasons for events are not evident.

Several thousand years ago they did not have microscopes, laboratories or scientists that would know what to do with microscopes and laboratories. So they made stuff up. Gods caused the thunder and lightning and the moon had power to help things grow. Whatever the meaning applied by humans, planting by the light of the moon worked and fields planted that way produced more.

Swords made by Vikings during the Germanic Iron Age put them at a tactical disadvantage due to their weakness and inability to hold an edge. They needed better weapons to defend against Romans, neighboring warlords and Christian invaders. Most of iron they had to work with was of a poor quality called bog iron. At some point a blacksmith developed a ritual to imbue the iron with the warrior spirit of their ancestors and animals by placing the bones of an ancestor or animal in the forge’s fire. The result of the ritual was a sword of superior strength that resulted in success in battle.

Then science came along and started learning all manner of stuff. Science has become somewhat arrogant and dismisses many of the old ways out of hand, calling them primitive or old wives tales. However, a study done by the Agricultural Research Service in Iowa found a link between weed germination and exposure to light. They determined that tilling the soil (i.e. bringing weed’s seeds momentarily to the surface during tilling) was best done at night by a new moon (when there was as little light as possible). Tilling in the dark led to less weed seed germination and thus to fewer weeds in the farm fields. This practice results in a higher crop yield.

Studies of the German Iron Age swords revealed that they were indeed stronger. This was due to the carbon released by the bones in the forge's fire. As the swords were worked, carbon combined with the iron to create a rudimentary form of steel. The steel casing could be up to 3 milimeters thick. A significant improvement over the best pure iron blade.

So maybe a group breathing together in unison or casting a protective circle seems primitive and unscientific, but it seems to work for many people. And what’s the harm in deep breathing or casting a circle? Don’t make it mean anything. If it works for you, it works. If it doesn’t work for others, it doesn’t work. Just remember the story about planting by moonlight or imbuing a sword with an ancestor's spirit before you dismiss people who include “magick” in meetings and rituals as Lunatics. They just might be onto something.