In the first chapter of Occult Experiments in the Home (see pp. 8-9), I discuss an odd experience with some dice. I was 14, and during the preceding months I’d been experimenting with a Ouija board and friends. Indeed, we’d begun to dispense with the board and were asking ‘spirits’ to manifest directly. One day, I was idly rolling a pair of dice, when it struck me they might be used as a means of spirit-communication. I asked the dice to move if the next throw were a double six. Nothing happened, but I didn’t give up until I’d repeated the trial many times.
The dice were resting upon the carpet where they’d fallen. I put my question to them once more. And this time, I was amazed to see them jump apart from each other by a couple of centimetres. It was the kind of motion you’d expect if two small magnets had been placed against each other with their like-poles touching.
I scooped them up, shook them in my hand and rolled. The result was double six.
In the book I examine the impact this left on me. It shook me up. It has bothered me for years, and continues to bother me. My reason for engaging with magick is mostly a product of this experience. In my magickal career I have witnessed many improbable things, but I have never yet replicated the experience with those dice. The results of my magick have arrived as synchronicites or (occasionally) seeming psychological anomalies, such as telepathy or precognition. But I have never succeeded (either through sorcery or evocation) at causing material objects to move or behave intelligently. And it’s not through lack of trying, as some of my magickal confrères — whose patience I have tested over the years — would surely testify.
Supposing, of course, that is what happened on that first occasion. Because hallucination, misperception or false memory are far more likely explanations.
It began to dawn on me only recently, however, that although I’ve never replicated the moving dice, neither had I made an explicit effort at reproducing the experience.
So I printed off a bunch of forms, each with 36 sets of a small box partnered with two slightly larger boxes. The small box was to be marked with a tick or cross to indicate whether — before rolling, and after mentally inviting them to do so, if the next throw were a double six — the dice appeared to move. The two larger boxes were to record the scores. I had a black die and a red die, and decided that the first box would record the black score, and the second the red. Each form was headed with a space for the date and the time at which the 36 trials began, and at its foot was a space for recording any comments or environmental conditions that caught my notice.
At first, I ran sets of 36 trials whenever I found the time, but soon noticed the lengthening gaps between them. This was no good. I would have to make a proper job of it! A couple of weeks ago I stayed up all night, interspersing trials with periods of meditation. The date was 4-5th February, 2013. The timetable for the evening worked out like this:
2125 Light candles. Banishing ritual (LBRP). Meditation. 2220 Trials. 2330 Meditation. 0020 Trials. (Very sleepy.) 0130-0135 Break for stretching and water. 0135 Meditation. 0225 Trials. 0330 Finish. Banish. Bed.
By the end of the session I’d filled in 54 forms of 36 trials each, a total of 1,944 rolls of the dice.
And guess what? The dice didn’t move. Not once.
Before each throw, I mentally invited the dice to move if the next throw were a double six. By chance alone, one throw in 36 will produce a double six (which is the reason why I designed each form to contain 36 trials). 54 filled-in forms should have produced 54 double sixes.
Guess what? They did.
It would’ve been nice if my demon botherer had reappeared, if only to clear up to my own satisfaction that what I remember happening when I was 14 actually did. Certainly, at various points during the evening I sensed ‘a presence’. I found myself a few times glancing over my shoulder in response to feeling stared at. On two or three occasions there were odd knocking or tapping sounds within the room that I couldn’t easily explain. But I wasn’t willing to be bought off easily. No way. Those dice had to move, or nothing doing.
The only odd occurrence was soon after 2326, when one of the dice landed upright on its corner. Cautiously examining whether it was fixed there by paranormal forces, instead I ascertained it had lodged in a recess in the carpet pile. I scrapped that trial and re-rolled.
It was not the most comfortable evening. I was very tired. Sitting in the same position, repeating the same movements over and over, exacted a physical toll. Most surprising was that despite wanting something to happen, a mind fuzzy with fatigue, intermittent creepy feelings, and (until 0237) the only source of light being flickering candle flames, the dice not once appeared to move. And not once did I even doubt that they hadn’t.
I am happy to have made the experiment, however, because (although it proves nothing) to me it revealed, at least, that hallucinations are more difficult to arrive at than I imagined. I’d supposed that on a few occasions I would have thought the dice had moved. But, candlelight or electric light, tired and spooky or just plain bored — my mind refused to oblige with nary a misperception or illusion. Not once in 1,944 trials.
Which begs the question, whether a waking hallucination is even more rare than a pair of sentient dice.