Earlier today (at the time of this writing) I was teaching a class on the process of magic and how the Tree of Life can be used as a model to explore a given magical process. One of the points I made in the class is how important it is to understand how magic works, and that when you have a process mapped out to describe what is happening, it also helps you figure out what isn't working, so that you can make adjustments accordingly. In fact, what a process ultimately provides you is the means to experiment with magic.
What a process does is describe how your magical working ought to work from beginning to end. It describes your desired result as well as the steps that need to be taken, what principles of magic you'll draw on and what tools, resources and powers that be you'll work with in order to achieve the result. That descriptive map also clues you in on how you can personalize and experiment with your working, so that if you want to do something that isn't traditional, you can still pull it off because the process helps you understand how the magic should work once you've done it.
I like to think of it as elegant magic because what it really does is helps you simplify the magical work and make it your own. And really that's how magic ought to be...simple, focused, and helping you achieve the result you want. I think that what usually makes it so complex for people has more to do with not having a process in place...or what I call push button magic, where so much is invested in doing magic a particular way because that's the way magic is being taught or that's the way its written about, or because the spell says it needs these components.
The problem with push button magic is that it doesn't encourage critical thinking or awareness or experimentation. It simply takes a prescriptive approach to magic and says this is the way you do it, often with little to no explanation for WHY you do it that way. Yet such an approach dulls the magic, because it doesn't set people up to discover what really works for them and will help them achieve the desired results they want.
A process approach to magic, on the other hand, is a descriptive approach that encourages experimentation with magic precisely because it encourages critical awareness and thinking about what you are doing and why you are doing it. It also encourages you to look at each step and ask yourself what you can do to make it work better.
Personally I like that approach to magic because it encourages innovation and experimentation and personalization of your magical work. You figure out what really works for you, why it works, and then you implement it. And if there is a problem, you go into your process and figure out what the problem is and then make the changes. No guess work involved, just a process that can be taken apart and put back together in a way that actually encourages the person to understand what is happening, in order to make it successful.
I've always found that experimenting with magic makes what I do with it work very effectively, because I understand what's happening. I understand what each step does and how it feeds into the working. I understand how the result will manifest and I know what to look for if something goes wrong.
After my class, I spoke with a person who found me and my website because of my writings about magic and sound. She told me that my process approach to magic gave her permission to experiment with the folk magic she was doing and use it in ways that it hadn't been used before. It allowed her to create new products that she couldn't find anywhere else, because she now had a process that she could use to describe what she was doing and implement that process with confidence. I thought that was cool, not the least because I don't really do anything with folk magic, but here was this person who does, who could take a process approach to it and achieve real results.
A process approach to magic can be applied to any type of magical practice. What it sets up for that magical practice is a method for exploring what is really happening in that practice, and then making modifications accordingly. It's the basis of experimentation. Map out what you have, then start experimenting with what you can change. It's beautiful and elegant.