Every so often, a fictional character in a book (or in a movie, or on the telly) produces flame by 'magical' means. Sometimes this is done with a gesture; other times, the character just stares at the object in question. What the character is performing is a form of psychokinesis: 'pyrokinesis', the psionic generation of heat. Although usually associated with science fiction and horror flicks, pyrokinesis is real. Or at least, if it isn't, the article you're reading was written by a figment of your imagination.

Like other psychokinetic abilities, pyrokinesis involves molecular manipulation. The idea is to make the molecules excited. By contrast, 'cryokinesis' cools objects down, by slowing the molecular dance.Cryokinesis seems to have acquired several names, varying by specific application and also the location of the speaker, as these things tend to do.Pyrokenesis seems to be better known and generally more popular than its opposite number. In fact, many people have never even heard of cryokinesis by any name, much less tried it. However, the techniques for both are similar, because, in both cases, the intention is to alter the speed of an object's molecular movement. At its most basic, and in its most well-known form, pyrokinesis may be accomplished by concentrating on, for example, the wick of a candle. After going through the usual preliminary procedures*, if you have any, visualize the wick as being made up of many thousands of swirling dots or spheres. As you visualize them, see them swirling faster and faster, and as they swirl faster and faster, feel them becoming hot...becoming hotter and hotter until they glow like miniature suns.

When the dots are glowing brightly, bring part of your focus back to the wick as a whole, while still seeing and feeling the excited molecules. See the wick as a whole become hot and start to glow. Then, visualize it bursting into flame, perhaps accompanied by some sort of gesture, such as a flick of the hand or a snap of the fingers, if you are feeling dramatic. You may find that it is helpful, at least at first, to produce a psi ball around the wick while attempting this, not so much for sake of the energy as for concentration. It may also be helpful by way of preparation, to focus on an already-lit candle and use your mind to change the shape or movement of the flame; concentrate on the base of the flame, the faintly glowing blue part. If you like, you can use that same candle, already lit, to give cryokinesis a go.

Using much the same technique, visualize the wick cooling and going out. See those dots fading from their glow, turning blue or purple, and slowing their circular dance...getting slower and slower, and gradually cooler. It is quite possible that you will have more success with a more concrete visualization of your intention: imagining a basin of water up-ended over the candle, or a flame-thrower being used to light it. Similar experiments may be done with a bowl of water that starts out at room temperature. Fill the bowl with tap water and let it set out over night. Once again, do any of your usual preliminaries. Then, see the molecules, once again, as thousands of little dots swirling faster and faster as they glow ever more brightly like so many suns...or slower and slower as they fade into darkness, or, if your prefer, into an icy blueness. For the water experiments, you might like to place a candy thermometer in the water, once you've started to get some results, to see just how hot you've made the water. Some people need quite a bit of practice to get this to work, so don't be too discouraged if it doesn't work right away. A standard water thermometer ought to work well enough for the cryokinetic side of things. Of course, if you drop the temperature to the freezing point for long enough, you will have visual evidence of another kind. There are other, rather different applications for these skills. By forming a basic psi ball, then making the thing blue, cool and soothing, you can cool parts of the body; to ease a headache, or lower a fever, or bring down swelling, just to give a few of the more common uses. Don't overdo it however. Frostbite and hypothermia are nasty things. Bear in mind that pyrokinesis requires quite a lot of energy. By contrast, cryokinesis results in excess energy needing a place to go. These are not big problems if you only want to alter a small object, or by a few degrees, but give it some thought before chilling a gallon of fresh ice cream with this method, or boiling the water for tea.

Please bear in mind, also, that there may be some degree risk of injury to the nervous system involved in handling enough psi energy to cause large-scale pyrokinetic effects, so be careful. You are, after all, playing with fire. Literally. * The 'preliminary procedures' in question refer to whatever your customary preparation for magical, psychical, or psionic workings might be. Many people ground and center themselves, and gather their energies together before any working. Some cast various kinds of barriers around themselves: shields, wards, circles, force-bubbles, etc. Some have elaborate ceremonies and rituals. Others do nothing at all. Whatever you'd normally do immediately before practicing the conjuring of psi-balls is probably fine.

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