(Cover photo by Bad Wolf)
Over the past few months the Wyrd sisters have been weaving three strands of my experience ever closer together – my Volution Theory doctoral research into consciousness and information energy waves, our Wyrd Experience experiments with the Random Event Generators and related technology developed over 28 years at Princeton University’s School of Engineering and most recently Philip Pullman’s concept of Dust, at the core of the His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust series which I read a while ago but have just been watching the televised version of.
First let me introduce you to each of those areas before going into the relationships between them and the significant implications.
In Volution Theory I propose that time and space are not as linear as described in current theories of evolution and involution. In fact, reality is more like a toroidal breathing process, where Past is intrinsically connected to the Future, mediated by the Present. Everything is information that is carried on energy waves, on a spectrum of relative density and subtleness. Our awareness, intention and attention influence that reality at the subtle level and how it comes into the dense manifest world that we experience with our five senses. Our manifest 3-D reality is where the energy waves have become standing waves, meaning they have clicked into a level of coherence that creates the density that we see around us. In that relative world, the Newtonian laws of linear time and space apply. However, other laws apply in the more subtle stretches of the spectrum, close to those of non-linear quantum phenomena. I believe Philip Pullman’s “Dust” is a beautiful portrayal of how those information energy waves behave in the more subtle spectrum, and that the Princeton REGs are measuring the interaction of our intention and attention with that “Dust” dimension.
Philip Pullman’s Dust
In Philip Pullman’s series of books called His Dark Materials, the stories revolve around a substance called “Dust”. In the books’ parallel worlds, “Dust” has different names but they all point to the same phenomenon. It is depicted as a swarm of light particles that radiate from and interact with all living things. Dust flows through the worlds and responds to our conscious intention. It is a life-giving force. On his website, Pullman describes it in this way:
In Lyra’s universe Dust is a source of great anxiety to the Authority, that is the church. Dust, it believes, is the physical evidence of original sin. Dust comes to us when we grow up and become corrupted by the wickedness of the world, of knowledge. In their version of the Book of Genesis, the serpent is responsible for bringing Dust into the world by tempting Eve to taste the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. Dust is something to be hated and feared.
However, Lyra comes to a different point of view, which by a strange coincidence is also mine: that Dust is positively good. In Northern Lights she sees the adults around her doing terrible things in the name of getting rid of dust, and comes to think that dust cannot be bad. She realises that Dust is everything that is best about humanity – love, kindness, and curiosity – and must be encouraged rather than destroyed. This does not mean embracing evil instead of good: it means understanding that since the loss of innocence is inevitable, we should welcome it and embrace the next stage of our development instead of hiding our eyes from it. Knowing about good and evil is not the same as embracing eveil, though it might look like that to a church that likes to think it has all the answers.(https://www.philip-pullman.com/hdm?pageID=4)
In the video interview with Donna Freitas on the same page of his website, he talks more about Dust. Freitas says she saw Dust as the “divine” and Pullman answers “I think that too”. He believes people have a mutually independent relationship with Dust, “mutually nurturing, mutually necessary”. It is a “mysterious force of which powerful people in the story seem to be afraid”. “Dust is an analogue of everything that is consciousness, human thought, imagination, love, kindness, intellectual curiosity. Our profound duty is to increase the presence of Dust in the world.”
Random Event Generators (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research lab)
Over a period of twenty-eight years a team of researchers at Princeton University’s School of Engineering explored how people interact non-locally (having no physical contact) with the world around us. They called it the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR). They did this under strict laboratory conditions and published their findings in academic peer-reviewed journals. The main technologies they used for their research were physical and digital machines that generated random conditions so they could see if people’s intention and attention created statistically significant deviations from randomness when they interacted with the machines. By the end of the twenty-eight years they had shown statistical significance to the extent that the chance of what they had found being pure coincidence was nearly one in a billion. (Here’s an interview with Brenda Dunne who managed the lab).
The main digital technology they used was called a Random Event Generator (REG), also known as a Random Number Generator. Like a digital coin-flipper, it creates lots of 1’s and 0’s using a quantum random process. This means that you get 50% of 1’s and 50% of 0s when there is no interference. According to traditional physics, there is no way anything in the physical world (e.g. atmospheric conditions, electromagnetism) should be able to influence these devices. Yet the Princeton researchers consistently got small but significant deviations from randomness on these REG devices as people attempted to influence them with their intention and attention, or groups of people had strong collective experiences. Interestingly, couples with a strong emotional connection had the biggest effects. By the laws of mainstream science this must mean something non-physical is the cause of this effect, given that there is no explanation for how anything in our physical reality could influence the REG devices.
One of the early Princeton REGs (left) and Murphy the Random Mechanical Cascade (right)
Consciousness, Dust and REGs
Let’s explore the connections between Dust as described in the Pullman books, the concept of consciousness and the REG technology. It is my belief that Dust is the medium that enables human intention and attention to impact the REGs. I also believe many of the Princeton conclusions reflect the way Dust behaves in His Dark Materials.
The concept of consciousness is core to this. What do I mean by “consciousness”? On the one hand, “consciousness” refers to the field of information-carrying energy waves that permeates everything and, in this sense, relates closely to Dust. Many ancient traditions refer to consciousness in this way and see it as the primary source of everything. This would mean that everything is consciousness, just expressed in different levels of density. “Conscious” is also used to mean how aware we are of this spectrum of consciousness – the more conscious we are, the more of the consciousness in the universe we can experience. We start off conscious of just our maternal/material world, in that innocent relationship of the early years. As we grow through the phases of childhood into adulthood, we become more aware of relationships and the diversity of reality around us, increasingly able to take more of it into account. At a certain point we may start to expand our spectrum of consciousness to take into account non-material subtle information waves, which would appear and function like Dust.
Most spiritual traditions would note that the individual’s awareness or consciousness is one with the field of consciousness that permeates everything. Quantum physics has stated that something comes into reality through the act of observation by a witness. In the classical double-slit experiment in which a wave is sent through two slits and its pattern registered on the other side of the slits, the waves only show up in a particle pattern when observed. The theory is that the act of observation “collapses the wave” into a particle. The shift from wave to particle is how we describe something moving from the more subtle realm of probability into becoming a “part” of the manifest physical world we see around us. It is therefore our awareness and attention that shapes the subtle field of consciousness around us, just as people influence Dust. It is the very creation process. What we describe as our reality is our experience of the world around us. We can see how the field of consciousness and the consciousness of the observer actually arise as one.
The Princeton research looked at the conditions that seemed to be most conducive to people being able to influence the random devices or access the field of information waves either to collect information or to influence the information. Their research, backed up by other researchers in this domain, is clear in its conclusion that one must still the rational mind, “go inside” and connect more through a feeling or intuitive sense, often related to the heart. When Pullman relates Dust to “love” and “kindness”, we can see where that is coming from. To have the greatest impact on the REGs, people need to feel a more heart-based relationship with what they are doing. Remember that the people who had the greatest impact in the PEAR lab were romantic partners.
Pullman also related Dust to “human thought”, “imagination” and “intellectual curiosity”. That last word is key to the ability to influence the random fields. If people are trying too hard then they generally don’t succeed with their intentions. The trick when trying to influence one of the REGs is to set the initial intention and then let go – surrender and stay open and curious about the result. Attachment to the result generates less impact. This is where the mind and heart come together, and why it makes sense that Pullman includes both “thought” and “love” in his description of Dust. Intention sets the direction we want the field of consciousness to go and is set by the mind. Attention feeds the intention with life energy and is sourced from the heart. One of the most fascinating results from the PEAR lab was the relative impact of men and women. They found that men were generally better at getting the devices to move in the direction they wanted, an effect of their mind-based intention, and archetypally a more masculine characteristic. Women however got far bigger effects than the men but were less effective at getting the effect in the direction they desired. Amplification of the effect is created through the heart-based attention, archetypally a more feminine characteristic.
The Random Event Generators respond to a combination of loving connection and a clear mind – attention and intention. They are reflecting the flow of Dust between us and the devices – amplitude effected by heart-based attention and directionality influenced by clear and unattached intention. In that practice, we shape Dust (information).
One of the experiments done outside Princeton that informed PEAR’s further research gives us significant food for thought about the question of where the ability to influence Dust comes from. Just before a number of chicks were about to hatch, the mother was removed and replaced by a robot. When the chicks hatched they assumed the robot was their mother and bonded with it. The researchers then fenced the chicks into one corner of a field and programmed the robot to move in a random pattern around the rest of the field. The results showed that the robot spent much more time closer to the chicks than should have been the case if it had indeed been moving randomly. Somehow the chicks were exerting a pull on the robot.
So how does the energy of a newborn chick compare to that of a human who stills their mind and connects more to their intuition and heart? They are both non-rational in their starting point. The difference developmentally is that the chick is coming from a pre-cognitive instinctive stage of development and the human is coming from a trans-cognitive intuitive stage of development. The chick’s energy is pure in its innocence and unconciousness. It is interesting to note that the words “mother” and “matter/material” stem from the same source, the Indo-European Indo-European Māter.
The human actually has the harder job because we have to get beyond the chatter of our cognitive mind and access our more intuitive capacities, grounded in relationship and connection. Dust is inaccessible to the rational cognitive mind that is not resting in a heart-based relationship. Note that in His Dark Materials the transport device powered by intention only works when the driver clears their mind. Impacting the REGs requires the same.
Reading the Field
We have talked much about the ability to influence Dust and the REGs. An equally important aspect in the Pullman books is the ability to get information from the Dust. Lyra, the young girl who the story revolves around, uses a device called an alethiometer to find out the truth about things she wouldn’t otherwise be able to know about. It is apparently driven by Dust. Mary, a former nun turned quantum physics researcher, heads out to look for Lyra in one of the parallel worlds, and uses her I Ching sticks to guide her. This could all be seen as a form of dowsing or divination.
In His Dark Materials it is Dust that enables these technologies to work. The alethiometer and sticks interact with the clear intention of the questor’s mind combined with their unknowing curiosity through the medium of Dust. The questor’s not knowing is what creates the wave forms that enable the information to travel to them. When one feels that one knows something, we have “collapsed the wave form” into a part-icle. It is now fixed and immutable and cannot carry information as a wave in the non-linear subtle dimensions (along with cosmologist Jude Currivan I prefer to describe this more fixed state as standing waves rather than particles). It doesn’t matter what form you use, as long as the outcome is uncertain – an alethiometer, yarrow stalks of the I Ching, the cards of the tarot or a set of runes. It is the uncertainty which allows the Dust or information waves to create a pattern from the randomness in these physical divination technologies in which the reader can discern insight. Remember that the Dust and information is connected to all Dust and information everywhere outside of linear space and time, and so can bring intelligence to the questor far beyond the capacity of our cognitive minds. They act as a bridge for our intuitive knowing.
Relationship and the Collective
One of the aspects that was discovered in the Princeton research that is not reflected in Pullman’s concept of Dust is the power of collective alignment to influence the consciousness field and impact the REGs. A key finding was that when a group of people is aligned behind a shared purpose and/or has a shared focus, the impact on the REGs is significantly bigger than what one would expect from that number of individuals. The whole proves to be more than the sum of the parts. Shared ritual in particular registers strongly in the REGs. This reinforces the power of relationship to impact on the field of consciousness that shapes reality around us. Note that ritual again is something that takes us out of the cognitive rational mind and into the experiential, much more connected to body and emotion.
The power of relationship relates to another key theme in His Dark Materials, namely the loss of innocence that happens in the Garden of Eden to Eve – who the Authority’s Magisterium believe Lyra to be an incarnation of – tempted by the Serpent (represented by Mary). The Serpent in the biblical story introduces Adam and Eve to differentiation and self-awareness – a knowing that I am a distinct being from other beings around me and that everything has its own unique identity. The awareness of distinction brings with it the space of tension between beings that we call relationship. To relate means “to give an account of” which we can only do if we are consciously aware of something as other. It is in that space in between that energy or Dust flows. The “loss of innocence” is the realisation that not only are we all one in nature but everything in nature is distinct and different from everything else – the diversity of life. Love is the recognition of that connection. Dust is what flows in the space in between matter. “Love” and “Kindness” come from the recognition of the relationship. REGs are most impacted by those in loving relationships. “Curiosity” is what keeps it flowing as energy, as a wave, without collapsing it into the certainty of a known “particle”. Curiosity means the suspension of judgement – really wanting to find out about something or see someone fully in their own right.
Power and Control
This uncertainty is a direct challenge to the Magisterium or any institution with a desire to control a population. To control something you must preach certainties and force others to believe them. Having people believe a collection of certainties leads to a loss of curiosity and therefore a loss of the flow of energy and information (“Dust”). Dictatorships and controlling hierarchies remove people’s capacity to co-create directly with life by stifling the qualities of open-mindedness and curiosity that are needed to be able to access the information fields directly. It is no wonder the Church burned so many witches. Spell-making and direct contact with nature is working with the co-creative power of Dust, diminishing the Church’s claim to absolute power. Witches play a key role in Pullman’s worlds supporting Lyra and the campaign to free people from the Magisterium’s desire to control Dust.
Likewise, the Authority’s creation of the Land of the Dead is a way of exerting their control over people during their lives, similar to the Church’s threat of hell and damnation. In the Land of the Dead, people are separated from their daemons, which are like our souls but depicted as animals that accompany us outside of our bodies. They are kept there for eternity in limbo. People’s fear of the Land of the Dead during their lives decreases the likelihood of them consciously discovering the world of Dust. Fear contracts and all the research shows that it is trust, openness and joy that makes energy flow and enables us to impact the REGs and consciousness fields around us. Fear of death plays a big role in keeping people passive. When Lyra and her friend Roger break people out of the Land of the Dead, their physical body dissolves and their energy returns to the source where it is connected to all things. When we know we return to the One there is no need to fear.
In the most recent research we have carried out with REGs, they have been placed in the rooms of Intensive Care Units to track any effects when people pass away. Every moment of death has registered on the REGs, with no physical contact between the person and the REG. If we think of Dust, or consciousness, leaving people when they die, they we might see that it is the movement of Dust at that moment that is showing up on the REGs.
Reconnecting to Dust
The bond between human and Daemon is so strong that a forced separation of the two is what creates the energy to fuel the most powerful weapons in His Dark Materials. The Daemon, or soul, is what gives us access to the vitality of Dust. It is by connecting to that deep inner part of ourselves that we are able to feel the Dust, the consciousness, access its wisdom and be part of the creation process. In our Western society we could say that it is our separation from our inner worlds in this scientific rational civilisation that has disconnected us from the life energy, from our feeling capacity and numbed us to the value of nature. Lyra’s mother, Mrs Coulter, comes to the realisation at the end of stories that all her life she has been numb to her Daemon, not respecting it for the value that it has to bring. Her reconciliation with her Daemon is a powerful moment that opens her heart and helps her reconnect to her love for Lyra and make her final sacrifice.
When we cannot feel Dust or the consciousness field, we are not able to sense its movements and flows. In shamanic traditions being able to read the signs from nature, feel life’s tendencies, is a critical capacity. This is why Shamans and Sorcerers were so respected as advisors to the leaders of their societies. In our Western civilisation we have lost almost all touch with this natural intelligence. When one cannot feel the flow of Dust, we are much more likely to end up swimming against the flow, creating turbulence in the Dust and stress for ourselves and the world around us. It doesn’t take much to see the extent to which our civilisation has lost the plot. Who in their balanced state of being would create soul-destroying education systems, care systems focused on sickness rather than health, food production systems that destroy the very eco-systems they depend on and don’t even feed their people in a healthy way? Yet all we need to do is to stop for a moment, go inside, feel what is the right thing to do, and access all the wisdom we need to create a healthy and joyful society.
It is my belief that with the REGs we have a technology that can help our technology-obsessed society see how interconnected we are with the rest of the world around us. They can give us feedback on how well we are connecting our inner worlds to the fields of consciousness that generate all life. The popularity of His Dark Materials shows there is a hunger for and curiosity about this hidden-secret-sacred dimension of our reality. As Aldous Huxley said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. Maybe with the REGs we have ourselves a Dust detector and with it a tool that can help us rediscover our inner worlds and regenerate our capacity to be conscious compassionate co-creators of life.
You can visit and interact with the equipment developed at the Princeton lab at Wyrd Experience near Skipton in Yorkshire, UK. See https://wyrdexperience.org.