It seems like I've gotten into quite a discourse. In his latest post, Mike argues that magicians don't experiment because most of them ignore 2/3rds of how magic work. He also argues that in my last post, I only argued that people don't experiment because they perceive it as not fun. Actually, I spent the majority of the post discussing at some length that they don't experiment because they don't understand a process oriented approach to magic and they are encouraged to not approach magic from a process oriented perspective. I think that what Mike means by system is what I mean when I discuss process...kind of, because this what he says:
- Your conscious mind uses some form of symbolism (either traditional or personal) to signal your goal to your unconscious mental muscles.
- Your mental muscles act on this goal, usually by sending instructions to an external force (a “system”).
- The system shifts probabilities, produces energy, or does whatever else to make the magick happen.
I take a different approach, which goes like this:
Step 1: Define your result. What it is you want to accomplish and what will the consequences be? Many magicians focus only on what they want to accomplish, and don't consider the consequences of achieving said result. Defining the result is a necessary step, as we need to know what we want, before we can even do the magical work.
Step 2 is Define the actions (both mundane and magical) you will take to achieve this result. I include mundane actions because they are an integral part of what makes magic work. What you are on the mundane level contributes to the overall process of magic, and must be factored in order to understand your process. Magical actions refers to the actual magical act you will do. A magical act could be an invocation, evocation, enchantment etc. When you define the magical act, you need to define all of the contributing factors, which includes tools used, spiritual entities worked with, symbols, etc. You do this, so that you can you understand how they all fit into your process, and into the magical action. Most important note: Everything this step is really a way for you to communicate with your identity and the external systems its connected to (see step 3)
Step 3: Define your beliefs and values and how they contribute to the achievement of the defined result. This where you do the internal work. Before you even begin your act of magic, you need to determine if your values and beliefs and values align with the desired result. Note that I'm not just talking about examining beliefs and values on the level of consciousness or even unconsciousness. That's a good place to start, but you need to dig in further and explore this from an ontological perspective, aka identity. Is your identity in alignment with the result? Your identity, which is really your connection to the systems or external forces is where the magic begins and ends. Beliefs and values are just the tip of the iceberg with identity, which is why you need to do a lot of internal work. In my forthcoming book Magical Identity (due out in January 2012), I discuss at some length why magicians need to incorporate identity into their magical process, and why the psychological model of consciousness and unconsciousness is out of date.I'd argue what makes magic work, and really what drives change in general is a person's ability to make changes to his/her ontological identity and its agreement with the universe.
Step 4: Do your process and observe both the process and result. If you don't get the result you want, its time to look at your process and determine where the problem is. Chances are its step 3, but don't rule steps 1 or 2 either.
That's what I mean by process and it looks like Mike and I are discussing the same thing, but using different words. Regardless of the words, its still the same issue: The reason experimentation doesn't occur is because of an inadequate understanding of the process of magic.