In my post on Tarot collage work, I mentioned that the word and concept of function plays an important on magic, but that I'd explain it in a later post. So here we are. The reason the word function is important as it relates to magic is severalfold. A function, in and of itself, describes a specific action that is supposed to occur within a process as well as why it occurs in the process in way it does. Function, in magic, also speaks to how spiritual entities are supposed to behave. For example, angels are defined by the functions they perform. Those functions are the actions the angels perform, as well as their area of responsibility, but in another sense the function is also the soul of the angel. This understanding of function can be applied to other "types" of spiritual entities as well.
When we consider function in relationship to process, what we discover is that function is what moves process along. A process that isn't working is usually not working because specific functions of the process aren't being activated or don't work the way they should. Without the right functions in place, a process fizzles. So how do you make sure you have the right functions in place? First you have to understand the process and where those functions fit into the process. For example if lighting a candle is a function in your magical process, what is it that function does? How does that function contribute to the process and move it along? What happens if that particular function isn't activated?
Likewise if you are working with an entity, it's worth while to consider how you are interacting with the function it embodies. That entity can't go against its function, so you pretty much need to be in alignment with that function. There's some wiggle room in my experience, but that wiggle room has more to do with interpretation of the function than actually getting around it. This is why its important to be selective about what entity you'll work with, or if you're creating one be very specific about the function its supposed to embody.
Although function sounds restrictive, it really isn't if you understand it. The given functions are restricted in terms of what they do, but where the magic really happens is when you combine multiple functions into a sequence that creates your process and produces a result. If you understand how each functions work off each other, then you can plan for which functions you'll use and optimize your magical working. One of the ways I like to optimize my workings is to thoroughly explore the functions I'm using to see what they can and can't do. Then I know where and when to apply them in whatever magical work I'm doing. This understanding of function makes it easier to find problems in the process as well and then fix those problems. A lot of times it boils down to: "This function doesn't work in relationship to this other function."
This probably comes across as a mechanistic approach to magic, but I don't think it is. If anything I feel that it helps me appreciate magic on a much deeper level because I can understand how and why it works and know what to change in order to improve on what I'm doing. I like that and at the same time it gives me a deep appreciation for the wonder of magic because it never ceases to cause me to feel wonder to see a process come together and produce a specific result.