The illusion of Will

Courtesy of Wikipedia I've always been fascinated with will power and the depictions of will power that a person can find in pop culture. The hero for example, who prevails against the odds because of his/her will power carrying them through the hardships and temptations that come their way. Will power also shows up in magic, to some extent, in the sense of the magician imposing his/her will on reality. To some degree Will can be treated as destiny or fate, when describing someone doing their true will. In that sense it's almost a compulsion of sorts and may not really have anything to do with will power. The problem I have with will power is that to a large extent it seems to be illusory. It's a trope of the rugged individual, a person who is always in control or uses will power to get control of a situation and yet based on my studies of behavior and environment I find what makes will power effective has less to do with the person and more to do with the person's environment.

The environment you are in, and what you have in that environment plays a role in will power and how successfully you are able to use it. For example, lets say you are on a diet. If you have food near you that you would want to eat, it becomes harder to resist eating that food, especially if you are engaged in other activities that take up your attention. To a large extent what makes will power work has more to do with how you design your environment proactively to support your success in whatever you are trying to change. If your environment isn't set up for optimal success, then it becomes harder to make those changes and while will power can help, it can only do so much.

Magic, to some extent, is about controlling the environment, and so I think that if a person wants to make a change, part of designing the environment should involve doing some magical work to that effect. For example, you might set up specific energetic spaces or zones which encourage the specific change in behavior you want or ping your consciousness when you are about to do something that doesn't support the change in behavior you seek. The more you work with the environment you are in to design it to support your desired change, the easier it is for your will power to execute that change. I'll be writing about this in more depth as time goes on, because I've become increasingly convinced that genuine change is developed when you have the right tools and environment in place to support the change. All the will power in the world won't do you any good unless you have the environment set up to support the execution of will power toward change.

Note: I chose the picture of Dr. Doom to represent will power, because that's the first image that comes to mind when I think of will power.

Magical Experiments podcast: Interview with Lydia Crabtree about Family Covens and Hereditary Witchcraft.