The Devil is in the Details: Why knowing how magic works matters

In my own magical practice I'm a real stickler for details. The reason is because I like to figure out what is working and how it's working (or conversely what isn't working). Not everyone feels this way about magic. Sometimes I'll hear people say that it doesn't matter how magic works, as long as it produces a result. I always find this response (and variants of it) to be fascinating and perplexing. "Why wouldn't you want to know how something works?" is one of the questions that I ask, along with another one, "What do you do if your magical working doesn't work or produce the results you were going after?"

I never really get a satisfactory answer to those questions.

One of the problems I have with push button magic (Basically where you don't know how it works) is that you don't really know the details. You're pushing a button and hoping something happens, but there's no way to determine if what you've done has actually worked.

And when you don't know if something has worked or not worked, then its hard to make effective changes to what you are doing.

This is one of the reasons I keep records of my magical workings and what this allows me to do is discover specific details. And as the title of this post goes, the devil is in the details...

What that really means is that sometimes you can put together a magical working and execute it and on the surface of it, everything seems to make sense...but when you take the time to examine the working and look over the details you discover what isn't working or what can be improved on. That knowledge can help you design better workings, as well as improve on existing ones, and fix what isn't working in your magic.

But we need to know what details to look out for. Getting better results isn't simply a matter of better ritual design. It's an understanding of the variables that need to be accounted for to make your working successful. It's also the development of your result.

In practical magic we don't want to go for vague results. We want to define our results in concrete terms that enable us to factor in variables such as when and where, perhaps even who, and whatever else might be significant to the success of our magical workings. We may not even overtly include these details in the actual working we do, but we should include them in the thought process and planning of our workings. Because when we do that, we account for the details and it makes the magical more focused. It also provides a way to measure the result and the process used to obtain that result.

By attending to the details, what you help yourself do is understand what you are putting into your magical working and how that contributes to the entire working. You're not simply pushing the button and hoping that something happens. Instead you're paying attention to what is being put into the working to create the output...and if the output isn't the result you want, then you can go in and look to those details and figure out what's not working and why. And then you either fix it and see if a change happens or you factor the details in for the next working and see what happens. Either way because you're paying attention to what you are doing, you understand how your magic ought to work and you can fix what you're doing accordingly.