A school of thought concerning magick has emerged which hopes to reform it into something akin to science. It’s proponents believe that magick has a very direct cause and effect relationship, and that the success of a given operation is dependent upon any number of variables being true, and that so long as all of these variables are true the operation will succeed every time. The science of magick is has reduced it to nothing more than reading and gathering (and possibly even obtaining through oral communication) all available information and then experimenting through trial and error while recording every conceivable variable and looking for those instances which result in success.
In reality though magick is more akin to art than science. There are rules and theories concerning art, none of which are absolute, and there are exercises and methods available to an artist which will increase their skill. But there’s also inspiration, and a mastery over emotion, and that thing that just clicks in an artist’s head at any given time. There is no formula which can guarantee a masterpiece. There isn’t even a formula that can guarantee anything more than a blank canvas. Art, like magick, is something that happens in the moment, and when successful is typically as much improvisation as premeditation.
Rituals are not meant to be rigid step by step guides to performing an operation which must be followed as if they were sourced from some mystical owner’s manual to the universe. A ritual is a method of performing a ritual that worked for a particular practitioner and are created as a how-to framework that other practitioners may take ideas from or build upon in order to perform the operation themselves. A ritual is never the only way to perform an operation, nor is it always going to be the best way to do it, and the methods employed by any practitioner will most likely carry some of their own personality and beliefs, and lean towards their own strengths.
The magickal dogma of today is nothing more than the thoughts and ideas of some past practitioner written down into words, and is no more or less valid than the thoughts and ideas of current practitioners. True magickal wisdom is not something can be read and memorized, or even something that develops from experience. True magickal wisdom involves creative thought processes, the ability to solve enigmas as they present themselves, the ability to create or find knowledge within yourself when it is needed, and a bit of inspiration.
Too many people see magick as classical music. If a certain skill level is achieved through practice and certain instructions are followed to the letter something truly beautiful and amazing will result. But magick is like jazz. If you don’t freestyle you aren’t doing it right and you don’t understand what it is.