Men, Minds and Mind Machines
Psionics, Adepts and Techno-Shamans

This paper was delivered to Metropolitan College in June 1998 and to Michael Penrose College a month later. An edited version appeared in the journal of the Ordre Martiniste S.I., Autumn Equinox 1998 edition. Since the original version is quite short I have used that here. Members of the SRIA would do well to recall the remarks of the Senior Substitute Magus, Andrew Stevenson, after I had finished the Metropolitan College delivery, to the effect that overlooking is a very dubious practice with unforseen (and unforseeable) results. He was most specific in advising against it. Additionally, he recounted to me an anecdote from his own experience, reinforcing his point.

          For millennia men have been inventing steadily more complex machines to make life easier for themselves, but only now, in the late 20th century, have we turned to exploration of the mind and the development of 'mind machine'. New Age developments have taken this from something clearly scientific in the 19th and 20th century sense of the term, into totally new directions ... or are they really so new?

          'Psionics' is easier to define than 'Techno-Shaman', but it is just as hard, or even harder to pin down exactly what it is. 'Psionics' is the science of mind machines, but what is a mind machine, in the sense of a psionic device?

          I have a 'mind lab': a device which uses a variable speed beeping sound and a synchronised flashing strobe, designed to adjust brain waves to a pre-determined level, in order to achieve mental effects such as relaxation, visualisation and self hypnosis. Established psychology agrees that brain waves do readily follow such stimuli and experimental proof of telepathy includes the transmission of patters induced in this way from a sener to a receiver in another building and tracing the results on an EEG. My mind lab is, without doubt, a working mind machine. It is equally certainly not psionic, at least as the term is usually used.

          Another scientifically understandable and readily available electronic mind machine is the one intended to develop lucid dreams. (a 'lucid dream' is one in which the dreamer knows that s/he is dreaming.) While the subject sleeps, a scanner looks for rapid eye movements - a reliable sign of dream activity - and, when they occur, a strobe breaks into the consciousness of the user without waking him/her. Variations are marketed by a couple of different importers and at least two small UK companies manufacture and sell them. Now the device does work ... at least it works electronically - you'd have to ask a serious user whether it actually develops lucid dreaming. Again, however, I doubt whether one could call this a psionic device.

           We are all, I think, accustomed to the idea of dowsing rods and pendulums. They approach closer to what is meant by 'psionic' and one might even call them that. However, the function of a pendulum or rods is to access information already in (or at least available to) one's inner mind, and I wonder whether this is true of every case of those instruments and machines commonly called psionic. Possibly it is.

           As an example of what is really meant by psionics, consider the 'psionic black box' (so called because the prototypes were cased in black plastic boxes - the colour may be immaterial, except that 'black box' hints at mystery and power, and that may in itself be significant.) The electronic circuitary of most does not make any sense scientifically. There is usually no power source and often not even a complete circuit. It constists of a flat copper plate about 8 or 10 cm square (called a 'witness plate') connected by a wire to the box. There is also a copper headband with button magnets, likewise attached by a wire. The box itself has a number of dials and knobs, usually about four, and a rubber or plastic 'thumb pad'.

The idea is to:

  1. Place on the 'witness plate' something appropriate (eg: a photo of the person you seek, grid reference of the place you wish to visit telepathically;
  2. Put on the headband;
  3. Turn the first dial, at the same time rubbing your thumb across the 'thumb pad' until your thumb 'sticks', and stop there. (Nothing can prepare you for the first time your dowsing rods swing across or twitch of their own volition - likewise nothing can prepare you for the first time your thimb 'sticks' ... but you'll know exactly when it happens to you. Repeat for the other dials/knobs;
  4. Having set the dials, relas (with the aid of a mind lab if you like) and visualise. One often successful trick is to imagine yourself outside your own front door. See it in every detail. Imagine yourself floating up. See over your roof and take in the view. Drift into bluesness and then start to come down to earth ...

         Now, what part does anything scientific play in all this? The answer is, I suggest, 'not much'! Appearance seems more important - it should look as if it works: for an individual of the late 20th or early 21st century, science, electronic circuitary. knobs and dials, all serve the same function as special robes, the right colours, music, gems and incense play for the adept.

          One of my sons is building a psionic back box with a more complete circuitary, using crystal diodes, like a crystal radio set, and variable capacitors - whether it works any better remains to be seen. Amongst the bigger names in psionics is Charles W. Cosimano. Searching 'psionics' on the Internet one runs across his name repeatedly. He wrote a specialised book called 'The Psionic Magician's Gadget Pattern Book" in which maintained that the circuitary is totally unimportant. He suggested cutting Patterns from cardboard and covering the card with aluminium cooking foil. Cosimano insisted that everything (except the magnets on the headband) were just props, though the same proceedure had to be followed in use as if the device 'worked' (in scientific terms.) You will probably see a parellel here with magical working, where the whole of an operation can be carried out inside the head of an adept, visualising each step of the ritual.

        The book Psychic Warrior by David Morehouse describes experiments in psychic distant viewing run, he claims by the US Military and in which he was personally involved. The book appeared on one of the book club lists in the UK last year and the reader might be forgiven for thinking it fiction, but for a CIA Press Release of September 1995, admitting that such experiments took place. The September release played down the importance of such tests, but one dated December 1995 came from one of the remote viewers and gave rather more detail. This later press release makes it clear that:

                            (a) Such experiments were successful to an un expectedly high degree and;
                            (b) The ability is latent in most people, and;
                            (c) Most people can be trained to develop it.

        This technique was said in the December 1995 Press Statement to be 'psychotronic' and that the word is of Russian origin. Apparantly, psychic research spending by the Soviets rose year on year throughout the late 1960s and the 1970s, to the extent that CIA realised that the Soviets were getting results. This was, don't forget, the height of the Cold War and the CIA was worried. American research was first into what the Russians were studying - Western Science was so sceptical about psi abilities that the CIA was too sheepish to indulge in original research itself.

        However, Soviet spending on psi skills rose from 60 million roubles in 1970 to 300 million roubles by 1975 and the CIA began to panic. They concluded that Russians must be getting results to invest such large sums, and they seem to have feared ridicule less than the prospect of being left behind. They initiated their own programme ... David Morehouse was involved in this work.

        The book Mind Trek is by Joseph McMoneagle, who was the US military's foremost 'Remote Viewer' from the mid-1970s to his retirement in the the late 1980s to continue his experimental work and to found an enterprise remote viewing commercially. A 1980s edition of the book described his participation in the Stanford Research Institute experimental programme and how he learnt to do remote viewing. After the CIA programme ended, the book was revised and described (as far as was possible without giving away official secrets) the CIA programme and his part in it. One of the more interesting claims he makes is that most of the elusive Scud missiles hit during the Gulf War were found by remote viewers, not satellite observations. The book does, incidentally, indicate a training methodology.

        McMoneagle tries to distance himself from anything occult, to make his experiences 'scientific' and to introduce a whole new vocabulary to his work - but you would see some very traditional ideas behind his words. A major theme in a paper of mine to Metropolitan Study Group last year was that science (or at least the leading edge of it) is now saying much the same as Rosicrucians and others on the path of the Western Mysteries have always said about reality and related issues. I suggest that much of psionics involves re-inventing the wheel for the new century and giving it a new name for the new millenium. Psionics and psychotronics appear to be describing different aspects of the same thing. At the risk of upsetting techno-shamans, the CIA, the US military and Joseph McMoneagle, all appear to cover the same ground as the adept does in the practice of magick!

Another major tool in the psionic tool kit is the crystal healing rod. You take a length of copper piping about 30 cm long, cap one end, stick a quartz crystal in the other end, then wind a thin strip of leather round it to insulate it, decorating to taste. This is the basic psionic tool. Its builders and proponants claim variously that it was widely used in Atlantis and that it is a psionic particle accelerator. The rod is aimed at the place where healing is needed and the user visualises a beam of white light projecting from it. The argument is that the 'machine' is operated by the mind of the operator.

        A techno-Shaman uses psionic tools, but functions in traditional shamanic ways. If one is to take such writers as Carlos Castanada seriously, some of the present day shamans use mind-altering drugs, as shamans have traditionally done. Generally those used are the naturally occurring ones, like the seed 'buttons' of the peyote cactus or 'magic mushrooms', but the couple of people I know who use a shamanic approach appear to do so without resort to drugs at all.

        There is an overlap between Psionics and New Age 'religion', but the borders are blurred. Some of the UFO interest groups use psionic devices, but I find it difficult to take the written explanations of their interest seriously, at least not as they interpret the phenomena. In general they have no point of contact with New Age Shaman, who might well use crystals generally and the healing rod in particular, channeling, drumming, dance, meditation and one of the New Age Tarots or similar divinatory systems, like runes.

        For many on the traditional path, the ritual robes, the Waite-Rider, Golden Dawn, BOTA or Hanson-Roberts Tarot Decks and the right incense, the right images and guardians on the right path to the correct Sephira with the appropriate God-Form ... these are the kind of correspondences which tune the mind in to the objective, whatever that might be. I can make some psionic tools work, but I tend naturally towards the established path of the Western Mystery Tradition. For many others, brought up in the shiny world of technology and computers, the need is for the electronic gadgetry of the world they know, rather than what they see as medieava superstition. Maybe it will work for them - the evidence of psychotronics and the Stanford Research Institute and the CIA programme appears entirely positive.

There are no direct quotes, but I have drawn from the followuing:

Crystal Warrior; Michael G. Smith & Lyn Westhrop; Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minn; 1992

Mind Trek - Exploring Consciousness, Time and Space Through Remote Viewing; Joseph McMoneagle; Hampton Roads Publishing, Virginia; 1997

Press Release of Ingo Swann; 1 December 1995 (available on the Internet)

Psionic Magician's Gadget Pattern Book; Charles W. Cosimano; International Guild of Advanced Sciences; California; 1994

Psychic Warrior; David Morehouse; Michael Joseph, London; 1996


An internet search engine like Alta Vista turns up 450+ entries under psionics, though not all are relevant. Ingo Swann's website is There is also a site devoted to Controlled Remote Viewing, but I can't recall the details off hand. Try a search?