practical magic

Why magic for your self isn't always effective

I was asked by someone why magic he was doing for himself was less effective. He told me that that until recently the magic done for himself had worked fine, but that then suddenly became less effective. He wondered if it was because he had put a shield up or if the magic was less effective because it as an attempt to avoid self sabotage. Finally he asked what could be done when your magic seemed less effective.

I don't know the specifics of what he was trying to do with his magical work, but some thoughts did come to mind, based on my own experiences and helping other people diagnose issues they are having with their magical practice. I find that when a person isn't getting a result or their magic is less effective, its usually because they are self-sabotaging in some way. They may not really want what they think they want. Or they may not feel they are worthy of what they want. Additionally there may be some internal resistance because what they want goes against some moral or ethical code.

How I became a Practical Magic Minimalist...

At one time, whenever I would do a practical magic working, I had to break out the bling...

You know the fancy tools, the smelly incense and candles, and all the other stuff we're told we need to have in order to do practical magic (and other types of magic for that matter). 

And don't get me wrong, those fancy tools, incenses, and candles could be a lot of fun to use. They can really set the tone of a ritual, create an atmosphere and experience that whisks you from mundane reality and opens you to the sacred mysteries of the universe.

But as I continued doing practical magic, I began to wonder if there was an easier, better way of doing practical magic, without all the bling and other stuff.

And as it turned out, there was.

Further commentary on practical magic

I recently posted about the reluctance to do magic for yourself. I got some responses which made me do some thinking and this post is a culmination of those thoughts. One of the responses was that the person was concerned about the possible harm that could occur. She needed to be absolutely sure she wouldn't harm someone if she chose to do magic for herself. Another response was the concern that doing magic to get a particular result might cause the person to miss out on a better opportunity. It was better to let the universe bring whatever opportunities would come her way.

These are valid comments to make. But at the same time I wonder if perhaps they create too much hesitation. If we wait for opportunity to come knocking, if we hold back from doing something because of potential consequences, what are we letting slip through our fingers? Practical magical involves making practical choices and taking risks. It recognizes that if you really want something and you think magic is necessary you do what it takes to make it happen.

I'll admit I'm not the most ethical magician out there. I figure if I'm doing magic for a practical result it may be a result that only favors me. While it may not harm someone in an obvious way, there's a chance it could still have an effect. For example if I do magic to get a job, and I get the job I have used magic in my favor and harmed all the other people applying for that job. It's not intentional harm per se, but it could be considered harm. I recognize that and if I choose to do magic I have to evaluate if choosing to do magic to provide a favorable outcome is really worth doing.

And its true that if you use magic to achieve a specific outcome that you could miss out on other opportunities. However it's also possible to set yourself up with the opportunities you really want. For example, I created an entity that specifically looks for opportunities and notifies me of them. I don't miss out on the opportunities because I am made aware of them.

With practical magic there is always some risk involved. But the same is true with living life. Even if you don't do magic when applying for a job, the very act of applying for the job and going to an interview and getting that job could still be considered harmful to the people applying for the job. We can choose to paralyze ourselves out of fear that something could happen, or we can take a risk and do it and deal with the consequences as they come up.

As someone who has done and continues to do a fair amount of practical magic I'm comfortable with doing it for the purposes of achieving a specific result. I recognize I could be closing one door, while opening another, but that's why I'm doing magic. I want to achieve a specific result. I know there are consequences, but there are always consequences when you take action. Life always has a risk attached to it. But if you want something then you have to decide what that really means. Practical magic is about shaping your life in a direction that is favorable to you. This doesn't mean you discount others, but it does mean you evaluate what is needed to help you achieve your desired outcome and then you do it.

Two purposes for utilizing magic

"Magick is by one definition, if you will, the science of making things happen according to your desires in order to maximize control over one's life and immediate environment to create a universe that is perfecting in its kindness to you" - Genesis P-orridge

The definition I've used above is a good one for describing one of the purposes that magic is used for. Indeed its fair to say that its descriptive of how most magicians approach magic. But it's not the only purpose. What should be clear however is that magic is a process of turning possibilities into reality, when this kind of definition is used. This kind of definition focuses on thaumaturgical or practical magic. The purpose of this kind of magic is to create practical solutions for a person's life, or to create a universe that is perfecting in its kindness towards you. How this occurs is through turning possibilities into reality, but to do that, there also needs to be an awareness as to how likely a possibility could become reality. The more likely a possibility can become reality, the easier it is to manifest that possibility through magic. The more unlikely, the more energy required. Thus one of the reasons the wise magician marries mundane efforts to magical efforts to realize a practical goal. For example, if you want to use magic to find a job, you still have to go out and fill out applications, submit resumes, and get interviewed. The magic doesn't work in the absence of those activities. It enhances those activities and more specifically the favorable and desired outcome that results due to doing those activities. It's stacking the odds in your favor. If you don't do the mundane activities, it becomes harder to manifest the desired possibility. Many people, when realizing that magic works this way, seem surprised because they have believed in magic as a kind of wave of the wand and everything appears. The reality is that magic is a process that interfaces with other processes. When you utilize magic you are accessing possibilities and discovering what it will take not only magically, but alos mundanely to make it all happen.

Turning possibility into reality involves clearly understanding what the desired result is, as well as understanding how it will apply to your life. In my previous post I mentioned that many people take a reactive approach to utilizing practical magic, which means they'll employ it when they need to solve a problem. The proactive approach involves utilizing magic to make your life easier, but this also means doing a fair amount of internal work to understand and work with your issues. I think its fair to say that there will always be some reactive use to magic, but if a magician can make the practical work be more proactive, s/he will find it much easier to manifest and keep desired results.

There is also theurgical magic, magic done for spiritual work. This type of magic differs from practical magic because the focus is not on obtaining practical results, but instead is focused on spiritual communion and the evolution of the magician. Theurgical work involves the attunement of the magician to spiritual energies and forces. It can also involve doing work for your community or environment that isn't necessarily for the benefit of yourself (as occurs in practical magic), but instead is part of the mission of your theurgical work. A fair amount of theurgical work is also internal work, in the sense that the magician needs to understand him/herself well enough to not sabotage the theurgical work s/he is doing. Know thyself magician is a fundamental understanding of the necessity of self-awareness as it applies to the spiritual evolution of the magician and his/her spiritual mission.

Practical and spiritual magic can and do sometimes blend together, but in general I'd say they tend to be different focuses and paths. I'm more of a practical magician, with the majority of my work and experiments focused on obtaining results, but there is some work that is more theurgical in nature. Both purposes are equally valid forms of magical practice. Magic is less about the fantastic and much more about living life on your own terms. When you realize this, you also realize that living life on your terms is actually quite fantastic, not only in terms of joy, but also the recognition that many people do not live life on their own terms.

Book Review: The Psychick Bible by Genesis P-orridge

In this book you'll find a collection of TOPY essays including the Grey Book and other materials not previously published publicly, as well several previously published essays that are fascinating in terms of the biographical information provided, and also a one-sided perspective on Genesis and TOPY's falling out. I enjoyed reading this book a lot, and found the various texts to be informative and useful as it applies to my own magical work, especially as applied to the cut-up methodology and its application to magical work. It was also fascinating to learn more about the history of TOPY, albeit through a filtered perspective. I also enjoyed the essays on pandrogeny. I consider this a historical text that any magician, particularly those in chaos magic, might want to pick up. It demonstrates as well some of the issues that can arise in any magical organization.

Why I'm taking the Strategic Sorcery course

Last night I signed up for Jason Miller's Strategic Sorcery course. I've heard about his course for a while and I've seen a few cases where its clear people applied the work to their lives and made some changes. Now you might wonder, "Taylor you are making changes to your life with magic, and you've developed a variety of practical systems that work. Why are you taking the class?" You're absolutely correct. I have developed a few different systems, detailed in my own books and my approach to magic is practical and I regularly get measurable results. But just because I've done all that doesn't mean I've stopped learning. One of the primary reasons I write books is to educate myself about what I'm writing about. The process of writing and developing the magical practices is how I learn about something that interests. But as I write about in my Holistic Business Coaching blog, I'm also a firm believer in learning from other people. For the most part, with my magical practice, I've self-educated myself, and my prior experiences with mentors is one I don't care to try and repeat, but taking a class is different. It's purposely set up to provide guidance, but also freedom to learn, without necessarily having someone try and constrict your creativity. At least that's my feeling on classes. So I figure taking this class is a good opportunity to learn from someone else, improve my skills further, and become a better magician.

When you rest on your laurels is when you stagnate. Challenging yourself to grow is an integral part of living life and improving your craft. I do it with my business coaching, and I do it with my magical practice.

I have another reason I'm taking this class. I'm in the process of developing my own course work for magicians. It focuses on the process of magic. I have no idea how to set it up though. I don't want to copy Jason, but I want to get a sense of how someone creates and sets up a class. So it's a case of not just learning magic from someone, but also learning a bit about how they do business. If you want to be good at something, then learn from someone who is already doing it.

Use what you got

Use what you got. That's one of my mantras when it comes to magical work, and what it means is use everything at your disposal that helps you accomplish your goal. If you feel fear or worry about a situation where you need a result, then use that worry and fear to push for the result. Don't suppress it, or try and clear it away. That will make those emotions stronger and will also tell reality you don't want the result. Make it part of your process, part of the equation that helps you accomplish your goal. Make those emotions your friends, helping you achieve your result, bringing you success because you've used them to write large the possibility that will be the new reality, the new you. Use what you got, because what you have is always a resource. It only becomes a problem if you make it a problem. Knowing how to take your unease and make it your ally is really about learning how to hold on to yourself in the face of resistance and discover what it is you truly value and desire. In knowing that you can make informed choices, and practice magic that is effective because everything you have is turned toward making it work.

Use what you got, because it is what you have...Use all the discord, every thought, every emotion, every fear, worry, and whisper...make it your own, make it your success.

Book Review: Advanced Magick for Beginners (affiliate link) by Alan Chapman

As I read this book, what I found myself thinking was that while I found the exercises useful and some of the author's points salient to what he was trying to teach, there was also an odd mixture of push button magic (we don't need to know how it works) and traditional perspectives, which actually in a way fits, but also reveals what I'd consider problematic about this book. There's a tendency to stick with tried and true in occultism and this book fits that tendency. The decrying of asking how magic works fits with the traditional perspectives the author takes toward evocation and other practices and ironically defeats his criticisms of occult culture, because he ends up embodying what he is critiquing.

Is it a good book? I'd say there is some useful information here, and that an occultist will benefit from exploring the ideas. At the same time, what would be the most useful exercise for this book (and really any other book in general) is to question everything the author says, and also don't buy the push button, we don't need to know how it works model. If we don't need to know why it works, why write a book on the subject?

Why Mundane skills in magic matter

In thinking about what I read in Strategic Sorcery, something I really agree with Jason on is the importance of learning mundane skills that complement the magical practices you want to do. Doing magic to bring you money won't do much good if you don't have practical money skills to handle that money. The same is true with other situations that have require knowing mundane skills.

What is practical magic?

I've been thinking about what practical magic since I've started reading a book about strategic sorcery. When I think about practical magic and what it is, I don't just think of magic used to solve a problem or crisis in the mundane world, but also as the magician taking a step further and examining what his/her participation was in the problem, and then making changes in his/her life past managing the problem that the magic solved. The video says the rest.