Categorizing Mysticism

So, my thoughts on mysticism have led in the direction of trying to describe some sort of model for dividing/specifying the functions of mysticism into modular parts. I’m not really familiar with any attempts to do this sort of things, so I’m just going to make up the terminology whole cloth using my general guideline for labeling: use nifty words.

By describing individual mystical functions, I hope to be able to pursue each of the functions independently, and work with them interrelated later, in the ultimate hope of being able to make a wholly artificial mystic experience (presumably, using some artistic medium as trigger, as I lack the ability to directly cause divine experience).

I’ve identified four different categories of mystical functionality based on what kinds of actions they encourage individuals to take. I have named the categories as follows: Anima, Ki, Logos, and Glamour.


In spiritual terms, Anima is the interaction with the ‘spirit’ of a thing. It’s what you do when you worship an ancestral spirit, or pray to the god of math tests that you pass that final exam, or even when you threaten your computer to start working or else you’ll scrap it (it also describes my relationship with a specific traffic light I pass through on the way to work – that light’s a bastard, I tell you what).

In practical terms, Anima is anthropomorphism. Humans are social creatures, and our social capabilities do not simply turn off when we interact with things that aren’t humans (or even alive) – thus, our brains insist on trying to treat everything we interact with as if it were a person like us.


In mystical terms, Ki is the manipulation of internal energies and emotions, sometimes with the intent of directly affecting the outside world. It’s something that can be invoked in emotion-controlling meditation, and it’s what triggers our fervent belief that we really can kill someone by just hating them hard enough, or a sudden second wind in an athletic event when we know people are cheering for us.

In practical terms, Ki is the logical extention of our empathic functions as people. It represents both an expectation that our emotions affect the world around us, and that the emotions we percieve of the world around us affect us. This function is similar to Anima in that it too exists because our social capability is ‘on’ all the time, in all situations – it causes us to get emotional impressions from things that do not actively express emotions, and it causes us to subconsciously expect objects to react to our own emotional expression as if those objects were human like us.


In mystical terms, Logos is the sensation of ‘getting it’ – something which we feel when we learn and contemplate correct things (I imagine Colbert would sue me if I tried to call it “Truthyness”, but that wouldn’t be a bad word to use either).  Logos is what gives us confidence that what we know is correct, allowing us to trust in the world that we perceive.

In practical terms, Logos is a feedback loop caused by contemplating a series of thoughts that feature recursion (Example: A leads to B, B leads to C, C leads back to A). It’s arguably the foundation of modern learning systems, and it’s also the foundation of self-reinforcing systems of ‘facts’ which can cause cognitive dissonance by causing an individual to view all new information exclusively in the self-reinforcing context.


In mystical terms, Glamour is an indescribable, ineffable experience, frequently attributed as divine in nature.

In practical terms, Glamour is the effect of an extremely strong behavioral reinforcement function – neurologically, it’s probably a form of temporal lobe epilepsy – of course, knowing how it works doesn’t make such an experience any less intense. Understanding the precise triggers and functions of Glamour will probably prove harder than the other forces, despite our culture’s greater neurological understanding of it.

The next step, I imagine, would be to try to learn how to activate these functions at will in some way. Perhaps we can utilize the Logos that leads people to memorize and think in terms of intricate conspiracy theories, and turn it towards improving memory capacity? Or perhaps we can gain insights from wise use of our anthropic mystic functions, Anima and Ki, on inanimate objects or even abstract ideas? Maybe I could get the God of Mathematics (Checked Wikipedia, apparently there’s no patron saint) to help me on my trigonometry.

I’m pretty bad at trig.


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