The Effects of Light Pollution on Magical Ability
t is said in many different cultures that the great powers of priests, shamans, magicians, and witches of the ancients once had are now lost and no longer found in today’s practitioners. This is lamented from Ireland, to Haiti and Hawaii. If this is so, why? One can’t blame it alone on the spread of Abrahamic religions as many cultures still have Animistic and Pagan beliefs. So what has changed – what exists today that didn’t in all the centuries and millenia before the modern age? One could answer many things but the most obvious is technology and from it artificial light. Imagine a world where when the sun sets, you can’t just flick on a light switch to see or perform tasks, where you are too poor to afford candles let alone precious oil for lamps. Imagine a world when on average twelve hours out of your daily life are in darkness and in winter only six hours out of your day would have natural light.
“This scarcity of artificial lighting meant that a significant proportion of waking and working life would have been spent in darkness or in the semi-darkness of dawn and twilight. Animals could not be left hungry and corn could not be left to rot in the fields because the light was fading or the sun had not yet risen, consequently early modern poor would have lived much of their lives under the powerful thrall of darkness, and their perception of the world and its inhabitants would have been sculpted by its mystery.”
~ Emma Wilby, Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits
Now what does this have to do with magic? Well, while I was looking up some information on the differing cultural beliefs in the third eye I found scientific information along with it that surprised me and led to my theory that light, especially artificial light, hampers innate magical ability. The third eye is located between one’s eyes and anatomically behind this location outside of the blood brain barrier at the centre of one’s brain is the pineal gland. The pineal gland is still mysterious and still being researched today, but what is known about it is that it may be connected to every system of the body and the gland produces a compound known as melatonin which is found in plants, animals, and microorganisms. Melatonin is photosensitive and its creation is prevented by light and aided by darkness -meaning our bodies need a minimum of eight hours of darkness per day, which is still too little on average, to a maximum of twelve hours per day in order to produce enough melatonin to function properly.
Melatonin regulates sleep cycles, the body’s and the organ’s circadian rhythms, your emotional and physical seasonal cycles, a woman’s fertility cycles, it plays a role in the protection of DNA, and is also a powerful antioxidant helping the immune system function. More interesting for us witches, melatonin is very important to REM sleep and vivid dreaming actually causing extremely vibrant and realistic dreams in elevated (or I should say “normal”) levels. Also interestingly, hallucinogens found in nature actually aid in the production of melatonin and increase its effects allowing for dream-like experiences in an awakened state modern psychologists term “altered mental states”. Melatonin deficiency can lead to seasonal affective disorder, ADHD, mood disorders, sleep disorders, lack of dreams, cancer, infertility, and possibly autism if the parent(s) suffers from the deficiency.
All of this from a tiny little 5-8mm gland behind your third eye! Seventeenth century French philosopher René Descartes believed the pineal gland located deep in the centre of the brain was the seat of the soul in our bodies and was what connected the spirit to the mortal coil. Madame Blavatsky taught much the same thing in the late 1800’s and her writings on the pineal gland and its connection with the third eye can be found in her work The Secret Doctrine:
“If the odd ‘eye’ in man is now atrophied, it is a proof that, as in the lower animal, it has once been active; for nature never creates the smallest, the most insignificant form without some definite purpose and use. It was an active organ, we say, at that stage of evolution when the spiritual element in man reigned supreme over the hardly nascent intellectual and psychic elements. And, as the cycle ran down toward that point when the physiological senses were developed by, and went pari passu with, the growth and consolidation of the physical man, the interminable and complex vissitudes and tribulations of zoological development, that median ‘eye’ ended by atrophying along with the early spiritual and purely psychic characteristics in man.“
~ Helena Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine (p.298)
She means that primitive man in his earliest physical development was more spiritually developed then we will ever be today and enlarged pineal glands from fossils examined by modern scientists have shown her words to ring true. Also keep in mind that at the time of early man’s development, the earth was further away from the sun and not only colder, but also received less light from the Sun. For me, this importance of darkness explains the sacredness and ritual use of caves along with the animistic practice of placing an initiate in a place of darkness for a period of days or weeks before they are to meet the spirits to gain their initiation –whether the dark place be a hut, a cave, a room dug into the earth, or a mock grave with an air hole. It definitely puts a different spin on mystic Robert Cochrane’s love for spelunking… It also explains the more common occurrence of visionary experiences by people in the recent past than compared to the people of modern society.
So perhaps if you want to develop your third eye and therefore your psychic or “supernatural” abilities, the best thing you can do is sit in darkness and absorb its very essence into yourself. We may not ever be able to attain the states of awareness, abilities, and spiritual connection our ancestors did, but perhaps with their guidance we can try.