I'm reading Cursor's Fury right now, which is part of the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. The one character Tavi is different from everyone else because he can't seem to work with the furies (spirits) that everyone else works with. However this particular disability forces him to become creative in how he handles situations. He doesn't stick with conventional wisdom because conventional wisdom doesn't really work for him. And as time goes on, it becomes apparent that conventional wisdom, while useful in its own way, also ends up holding a lot of change and innovation back.
I've never really been a fan of conventional wisdom of any sort. I think it has something to offer and should on occasion be heeded, but I also think there's something to be said for just doing something to see what will happen and to learn from the experience. I've been talking about innovation and creativity a lot on this blog lately, partially because of what I'm reading, but also because its so much of what drives my approach to magic. I write about it a lot because there's so much out there arguing the opposite that I feel its essential to call out the necessity of innovation and creativity in spiritual practices.
It must seem odd in a way to associate innovation with spiritual practices, but if we consider that everything can evolve over time it starts to make sense. And magic isn't just a spiritual practice. It's also a practical discipline which people apply to their lives in order to create favorable circumstances and opportunities. And for that reason alone creativity and innovation is needed, because we want to keep our practices relevant with the demands and problems of the times. But I also find that creativity and innovation are part of the spiritual dimension, providing us a way to get out of our heads and get into the presence of whatever spirits we work with. And sometimes it can even help us examine the spirits from other perspectives we might not otherwise consider, and in the process stop applying our own limitations to those same beings.
Conventional wisdom and conventional answers aren't always the best solution. Sometimes you have to do things the hard way because what it does is push you to be innovative and find unconventional solutions. I'll admit that I prefer to do things the hard way or to phrase it differently, I prefer to develop my own solutions because as much as I recognize that what others have done before provides its own wisdom, I also realize that depending on my own experience and my willingness to take risks provides more satisfaction. I recognize that may not be the case for everyone, and as a result not everyone will want to do things the hard way. There's value in that too, up to the point that you deal with a situation where the conventional answers, the tried and true ways of doing things doesn't work and then you need to get creative.
How do you get creative with your magical work? How does it inform your practice and how you approach situations where you employ magic?
In other news Bill Whitcomb and I were interviewed by Mindful Cyborgs about the Book of Good Practices.