Magic Forums

Forums -> General Info -> Re: Practical Magick
You are not currenly logged in. Please log in or register with us and you will be able to comment on this or any other article on the website.
Original Post:
by: DarkWolfMage on Apr 24, 2023

There is a problematic trend among many in the Magickal Community today. Questions like "Why did my spell fail?" are answered--oftentimes--with stock answers like "You didn't work hard enough," or "You didn't believe enough." (As an aside, there are many on the Forums who do try to help with Troubleshooting Spells from a more practical diagnostical perspective, such as Weatherwax's post here: What I am referring to is a more general approach seen on many magic forums, not any particular one, that seems to pervade a certain portion of the community at large.) This is highly problematic for a couple of reasons.

#1: It reeks of when I was a Christian and prayers weren't answered and people weren't healed of their infirmities because one wasn't Good enough, Holy enough, Trusted 'god' enough, or Believed hard enough. It reeks of being a pat copout answer to deflect genuine and in-depth conversation about where Magick, not Humans, might have failed. I find this tends to be high in religions--and in many ways, Magick is a person's religion as well as other things--where the Integrity of the religion is based on Results, not other factors. After all, many would tell you Magick must create an outcome, or the system of Magick itself is rendered obsolete. Even though this is not Magick's function, its reason for existing, it appears that in today's WEIRD--Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic--countries, that many religions have become "Performance-Based." If such a religion does not consistently produce sustainable and verifiable--i.e., Empirical--results, then it is fake, and not worth endeavoring to persist in on any level.

#2: Using such pat answers does nothing to assume a Diagnostical approach to Magick. Further, it does not allow for the proper Introspection the spell's caster needs to have when assessing why or why not that particular spell failed. By asking in the very first place, the caster is--intentionally or not--casting off their own need to invest a good amount of Introspection or inspection to determine the cause of failure. By answering with such pat answers, the person responding also casts off the responsibility of helping the caster to properly examine the contents of both Spell and Caster in order to try and work a Diagnostic Path through the spell to try and find the cause of failure. Such easy answers are not for Magick, anymore than for Science or any other methodological approach to the workings of the world, and Magick is one such approach, whether people realize it or not.

Perhaps we can take a moment to try and help a Novice understand what exactly Magick may or may not be here. In this discussion, I do not--particularly having yet to cast a spell myself, but having read and researched much upon the topic of both Witchcraft (Wicca, and other forms) and Religions--claim to have the end-all-be-all 'truth' of such a topic, but only endeavor to discuss the more general potential purpose of Magick as a whole. I believe while the question of what "Magick is" can have many answers, I believe its Nature, regardless of what those answers may be, comes down to a particular purpose in the general sense of its existence.

Many consider Magick an Elemental Force, capable of being manipulated and guided to enact a specific outcome. This is what drew me to Magick int he first place, having once been a devout Christian, then a hardcore Empiricist, then moving on to something betwix those two in Magick. I believe this is the best answer for today's world, but let's examine some other aspects of what Magick has been considered as before moving on with the more Naturalistic foundation people commonly associate with it today.

Magic was more vague in the Early Days of Humanity, being used to explain quite Natural phenomenon that people did not have the intellectual knowledge to grasp at that time. Therefore, Magic, as such, was deeply intertwined with religion in general. If one became sick, one was Cursed by a Witch. If the yearly crop yield failed, one was Cursed by the Gods, having angered them somehow. All manner of phenomenon we now regard as Natural were relegated to the works of angry Spirits, Gods, Goddesses, etc. Or, in times of Abundance, such Entities were clearly pleased. At any rate, we now know much of the Natural workings of such phenomenon, and realize that the role to play by such Entities was minimal at best, if they even bothered to deign to interfere with such workings of the world at all. In sum, in the Ancient Days, Magick was largely regarded as the "Will of the Gods."

Coming off of this, Magick was still considered just as Supernatural, but isolated to workings that were more individualized than general. If a person had a bad run of luck, they were clearly Cursed. If a person exhibited an extraordinary talent to surpass expectations and achieve Abundance beyond anything considered 'normal,' then they were either Blessed by the Gods, or themselves enacting Magic in order to achieve those successes. In such an environment, Magick became more streamlined to specific persons, rather than as more generalized phenomenon. (Even if someone mentioned a general phenomenon--say, the yearly crop yield failure mentioned above--it was often cast upon an individual--a scapegoat, if you will--than simply accepted as the "Will of the Gods."

As time marched on, and Empiricism played a larger and larger role in opening up the 'mysteries' of Natural phenomenon, such beliefs became almost Taboo, and many were largely persecuted should they claim such Supernatural abilities. This is where the 'Occult'--hidden--aspects of Magick began to surface, as people were driven underground to Practice their works in Secrecy. Such beliefs began to be handed down orally, Generation-By-Generation, and therefore, Practitioners became fewer in number and more selective in who they passed such Practices down to.

However, such Practices became more widespread with the writings of people such as Gerald Gardner and Anton LaVey. Further contributing to an enlargement of such practices was the persistent exposure of religious frauds and the growing discontent with up-to-then widely accepted Social Norms, Mores, and Taboos. Further fueling these concepts was a large rise in Anti-Authoritarian beliefs as well. As religions--particularly Christianity--had their stranglehold on "Absolute Truth" weakened, other religions, including Wicca and Satanism were free to come in and fill the gaps. And the more Materialistic and Dogmatic Christianity became, the larger were the gaps needing filled by other, alternative, religions and belief systems.

In the 70s and 80s, both Witchcraft and Satanism began to achieve large followings. However, both these belief systems, as with Christianity, would soon face challenges in the new foundations of Empirical tenets. Though for these systems, it was easier to avoid to conflict with Empiricism than with Christianity--after all, even if one saw another Curse someone, the subsequent ill-fortune heaped on that party could be attributed to Luck or Chance as opposed to, say, Raising the Dead, which is All-Or-Nothing--the growing tenets of Empiricism would continue to dominate the Western Mind for some time to come.

In this regard, Magick would tend to lend itself toward more Naturalistic expressions, such a "Energy Manipulation." By presenting Magick in a more Naturalistic way, it would be easier to avoid issues associated with the nuances of whether Intelligent external forces were capable of producing an impact on the spell that was cast and its subsequent results. By ruling out elements such as "Divine Intention" and focusing on more Naturalistic elements such as "Energy Manipulation," or some other form of manipulating forces, Magick became a more Scientific form of Elemental Manipulation. In this vein, it became a more suitable form of practice for the Modern Western World, devoid of the more common forms of mockery and loathing its predecessors were subjected to.

It is with this idea in mind that I will attempt to more properly communicate what Magick is, and is not, to the Novice seeking to better understand its Nature.

I won't reiterate the oft-repeated SOM Mantra of what Magick can not do; there are plenty of articles on that on the Forum and plenty more people who refuse to believe it. In this case, only experience will out for those who refuse sound advice. (Assuming nothing worse happens, as many spells advocating such Abilities as possible and attainable from magic have some very dangerous components to them that could injure or kill one's self or another.)

However, people also tend to think of Magick as stated on SOM and other forums (despite this not being what is actually said on such forums but rather coming through a misguided interpretive framework on the reader's part) in regards to what it can be in terms that are not beneficial to be thinking about. They think they can cast a spell and everything instantly goes right for them, or they get the woman or man of their dreams, or they become insanely rich right away, or they attain everlasting fame and so forth. So the first point to emphasize is that Magic is not a "Get 'Blank' Quick" scheme. (Fill in the blank with whatever it is you want Magick most strongly to attain for you.) Nor is it a Cure-All for whatever is ailing you. It won't Cure Cancer, it won't stop you from getting sick, it won't stop debtors from trying to collect their debts.

Well, then, what can Magick do? It can possibly help your cancer go into remission. It can help make you stronger to deal with the cancer, either mentally or spiritually. Sometimes--because I don't want people to think I am making either promises or light of cancer, as my family has dealt with this many times before--a simple change in one's mindset can make a devastating cancer diagnosis easier to navigate. It might not stop you from getting sick, but it might help you find the resilience to get over getting sick better and quicker. It might not stop debtors from trying to collect from you, but it might help them be more understanding and give you more time and options toward paying off your debt.

Magick, in other words, is both a Resource and a Tool which can help you better manage this thing called Life and the many challenges it throws your way. It has a small potential to affect Probability as well...kind of nudge it along, you might say. Remember, one of the key points of Magick is you are trying to influence an outcome. But as others have stated, for you to simply cast your spell and then do nothing will yield zero results. Because you cannot wildly affect probability, you can't land a job without even applying for it. You can't lose weight without taking some measures to enact healthier lifestyle choices. For as much as people promise that magic is a mystical energy that can enact fantastical results on some websites, the truth is more that Magic is a means of altering an outcome with a slight nudge from you. It should not have to be said that an outcome can not occur if nothing has been put in motion to begin with.

Here, it is interesting to discuss an aspect people might be wondering about at this point in time; Spirits, Gods, Goddesses, etc. After all, these forms of entities are often seen to have vast Powers beyond the ken of mortal persons. Many answers as to why these beings may not step in to, say, make you a Werewolf, are often that these beings are much more intelligent than us and do not work actively to upturn the world with interference from their own manipulations. This bit is a little hard for me to personally swallow; I have researched many gods and goddesses and so forth, and there are many powerful beings that would have a keen interest in causing chaotic commotions in the mortal realm, if for no other reason than their own amusement. So as in the Ancient Days, we have issues with Magick coming to a crossroads with reality; a crossroads where the reasoning behind Magick does not shore up with Observed Reality.

Let's interrupt this with something quite fascinating I discovered when beginning my Journey in Magick, and especially something I came across on the SOM Forums. It has been said that when spell calls upon a deity, they are interchangeable. That is, if a spell calls on you to call upon the aid of Aphrodite, you can substitute any of a number of similar Goddesses of Love from your preferred religion. This, too, contradicts what we know about gods, in that there are jealous gods who would blow a gasket if one of theirs switched Allegiance to a different one. (And the same point goes for if a spell is constructed using one god and you substitute a different god.) This brought me a most Powerful Revelation.

Remember when I said I was drawn to Witchcraft because of the more scientific premise of Energy Manipulation? When I read about this interchangeability of gods, I was hit with the stunning idea that maybe the Practitioner was the god, was the spirit, was the Fae.

Right now, a lot of the more sensible readers are reeling and backpedaling. Perhaps they enjoyed my rather Scientific discourse up until now. Perhaps they think I have spent much time writing this article--true--and that this section is being written while I am high or drunk. (False. I don't get 'high' and I don't drunk for medical reasons.) But hear me out.

Even in Empiricism, we recognize the fact that the human mind is far more capable of doing things than we can come anywhere near possibly understanding. (I have a Bachelor's in Psychology, so you can trust me on this one.) And so here is the stunning insight that came to me on the 'interchangeability' of gods... What if it's all us? The Pentagram, the Wands, the Athames, the Herbs, the Crystals...what if every single practice in Magick is devoted not communing with ethereal entities and spirits, but is meant to draw us to a higher level of Self-Awareness and Knowledge? What if every single practice in Magick is meant to attune Humans to a Higher State-Of-Being and completely revolves around opening up the Practitioner's Mind?

I am hoping that Newbies reading this can see where I am going with this. But a little elaboration never hurt anyone, so here goes. Imagine that we are trapped in only a world of Empirical confines. That everything we see and understand, and everything we don't see and understand all has roots in some form of observable foundations that we haven't yet discovered the means to observe. Remember, micro-organisms were long unobservable and therefore attributed to much of the superstitious explanations in older times. What if there is much out there that we have not discovered the means to observe yet? And what if the Practices of Magick were one such way to open up the means to discover such things, through means we yet don't comprehend and can't put a name to, save for calling it 'Magick'?

Now I want people to understand me here; this is not meant to disparage anyone who does believe in separate extra-existential entities. Nor is it meant to be some definable proof that such entities do not exist. This is meant as an alternate explanation of things and events not yet fully understood by anyone. And remember; I came to Magick because of Empiricism. I do not have the means to simply disregard my Empirical background in entirety, and when I noticed a few things, I began--as all Empiricists do--trying to connect the dots on a certain number of things being said about Magick and gods and goddesses, and came up with a potential explanation of why the things I heard did not completely accord with the Reality I observe on a daily basis.

Now, this explanation might anger many, and I might be told I don't know what I'm talking about for not having even cast my first spell yet--something I soon hope to change, as the circumstances which bind me from doing so should be alleviated shortly here--but as I have said, I have spent much time studying the Materials of Magick, and that includes having spent a great deal of time on SOM absorbing articles and information. And I see and observe a reality that is prone to questioning the foundations of certain spiritual beliefs and certain contradictions made therein. (As I mentioned before, one of the questions occurring to me is why such Powerful Beings as those Unseen did not do what they have even accredited with oftentimes doing in their Mythologies and interfering with Reality.) This is one potential explanation that filled that gap for me. I do not expect to fill such gaps for others, nor to present it as the single plausible explanation for such gaps. I just think it is good to question such things.

As it stands, this article has run far longer than I ever imagined it would when beginning it, and if you are still around for the Conclusion, I thank you. I want to reiterate my Main Points to Novices who may have gotten lost in the lengthy discourse on what Magick is or is not, or may or may not be.

Magick is a means of Elemental Manipulation that might help one to influence outcomes in one's life. Magick is a Tool, and a Resource. Magick may be a method of connecting with one's Higher-Self, one's higher Planes of Intellectual Being.

Magic will not defy Physics, will not appear as it does in the Movies, and will not instantly cure all your ailments and woes. It is meant to bulwark Life's Troubles, and to help you get through things more smoothly than you might without the aid of Magick. Finally, it is a means of accessing your own Resources of Intellect, Willpower, and Resilience that you might not have been able to access otherwise.

I hope this helps people with allowing for a better understanding of the Foundations of Magick.