Jason made a recent post about problems and solutions and magic. I think that sometimes people buy into a myth that if you're a magician you can use magic to solve your problems and everything will be a-ok. Then they get upset when they discover that magic doesn't automatically solve problems and that sometimes it even enhances them. What isn't recognized is that magic doesn't solve problems for you. Only you can solve problems for you and while magic may be one means of solving a problem it's not always the best way to solve the problem or may be only part of the solution you employ.
I have found that if I look at the various problems in my life, there is one thing all of those problems in common: Me. So problem solving really needs to start from within, which means that a contemplative awareness of my choices and actions can help me recognize how I am contributing to a problem in my life. I may not be solely responsible for the problem, but I always have some responsibility for it and recognizing that responsibility can help me start the process of solving the problem.
If I employ magic into the mix, I do so because I feel that it will help me solve the problem by providing me access to resources I'm not otherwise getting or help me discover a solution from an unusual angle. However I also know that the responsibility of solving the problem is on me. Magic can provide possible solutions, but I have to follow through on those solutions. And I think that if more magicians recognized this then they might not even be so quick to draw on magic. What I've observed both of myself and other magicians is that a lot of magic use is reactive, done as a response to a problem to try and make it go away. And sometimes that occurs, but then the problem resurfaces in a different format, because what hasn't been resolved is the magician's place in that problem and until that is resolved the problem will continue to surface.
So I think first look to your own role and make appropriate changes, then look to magic and other means of solving the problem and employ whatever measures are necessary. And then solve it and move on. Don't let the problem define you...define it, and let it go. One example of how I solved a problem via magic was dealing with an inability to let go of anger and hurt that I felt toward certain people from my past. I realized one day that those people didn't care and that the only getting effected by this problem was me. I took responsibility, then I developed a banishing ritual where I evoked my feelings about those people and then did a ritual to banish them and let them go. Now I don't think of those people, I'm happier, and magic has helped me solve that problem in a way that wasn't so much reactive as it was done with conscious awareness of how I could free myself from what I'd been feeling.
Book Review: The Miracle Tree by R. J. Stewart
This is a solid book on quabala that provides useful exercises to help you explore quabala from a Western esoteric tradition. I like how the author marries quabala to planetary magic and shows how the reader can use the system to do both meaningful internal work as well as connect to cosmic and underworld energies. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the topic, but don't just read the book. Do the exercises and you will get a lot from the content as it applies to your magical work and life.