Recently I came across a situation where an acquaintance mentioned that s/he was hoping to buy a house, but that s/he was reluctant to do magic to affect the outcome, but was okay with other people doing magical work for him/her. I found it to be a curious statement, and puzzling in a way. Afterall s/he knew what s/he desired and had already done everything that could be mundanely done...why not tip the scales in his/her favor? Readers of my blog know that I'm not hesitant to employ magic to accomplish my goals, but I realize some people are.
I think part of the hesitancy is dependent on ethics. If you subscribe to a do no harm model of magic you may not feel you can do magic for practical purposes if you are concerned it will harm someone. Alternately if you believe that magic is only something that is done for spiritual or religious purposes you may not feel you can do magic for a practical purpose. It would be considered "low" magic after all.
I don't subscribe to either of these beliefs about magic. If I want something and I feel magic is appropriate to use to get it, I'll do magic. I do explore mundane options, but even in that case, I usually do it in tandem with magical work, on the basis that both mundane and magical efforts should support and enhance the effectiveness of each other.
But I find it interesting that there is, depending on your magical background, a perspective that argues against using magic for yourself or using it for practical purposes. When magic is used for such purposes it is frowned upon or called "low" magic, because it isn't oriented toward spiritual purposes, but it seems to me that spirituality needs a solid foundation in the material world and that magic isn't solely a spiritual force precisely because it can be applied, to good effect, to the material world. This doesn't mean I use magic for every single want or need, but I do utilize magic when a situation calls for it, especially if it'll tip the situation in my favor.
I recognize that some people are just uncomfortable with the idea of applying magic to a situation in their lives, but while magic is a means to communicate with the spiritual aspects of the world, it is also a means to communicate with the practical aspects.
What do you think? Do you use magic for practical purposes? Why or why not?