Freestyle Magick

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.

3 Responses to Freestyle Magick

  1. Ananael Qaa says:

    While I freely admit to being a proponent of a more scientific view of magick, I agree with you that anyone who believes

    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.

    is simply confused. There is no set of variables that will make magick succeed every time, period. There are, however, a number of factors that seem to correllate to more effective practical operations, and I think that failing to investigate them is a mistake.

    One of the problems with a number of the “science-only” types, though, is that they make the opposite error and fail to understand the role of inspiration in successful ritual. A magical operation that is dry and technical really doesn’t inspire, and in and of itself that limits its effectiveness.

    I think some of of the emphasis on technique comes from the difficulties involved in teaching inspiration. Art instruction is the same way. You can teach someone how to draw, but not how to produce a moving and impressive work of art. The technique is there to help express an artistic vision but the vision itself comes from within. You either have it or you don’t, and like gnosis, it’s hard to talk about.

  2. Rob says:

    A big problem is that a lot of people have, in recent times, labeled science and its processes as infallible and universal. Science was designed to tackle a very specific range of problems, and in many ways it is broken (such as being restricted to current paradigms and being swayed by popular opinion, despite what proponents might claim). We’ve now created two types of sciences, hard sciences and soft sciences, because we keep trying to push science into areas where it doesn’t belong. Some people say that science will eventually fix itself, but it never does, it creates more new errors for every one it fixes, and those fixes may take centuries, making science very much like Windows.

    Science cannot actively work with metaphysical issues. For one, the term metaphysical implies that what is being talked about cannot accurately and repeatedly be measured and recorded by modern technology in any significant way. Secondly the current paradigm is opposed to any metaphysical reality, and so any evidence that would suggest the possibility of a metaphysical world will almost immediately be debunked and explained away regardless of validity (the same way the planets were said to retrograde in a past paradigm). And lastly magick and spirituality are as much about the internal as the external, and it relies on subjective, not objective, truth, having the reality of the situation proven to you personally without the need for empirical evidence.

    A practitioner will not get very far if they’re constantly seeking empirical evidence. It takes a very long time to get just a little bit of it, and in order to advance to that stage you need to make many leaps of faith based on just what’s been proven to you sans evidence. Too much of magick is reliant on belief, confidence, and focus for the practitioner to get anywhere when everything needs to be physically proven before it will be believed.

  3. Ananael Qaa says:

    Science certainly should not be regarded as infallible, and I’m in agreement that this is a big problem. In fact, it is a basic tenet of science that it is always incorrect about something because the scientific method can only be used to disprove hypotheses.

    The application of scienfic ideas to magick is specifically related to practical results, not to any underlying spiritual or metaphysical model. The fact that magicians can cast spells and get demonstratble results might mean that the results are being produced by an external deity, or by some physiological power of the human brain, or by tapping into the magician’s inherent divinity. You are correct that science can’t help us there.

    I also agree with your last paragraph ao long as the keyword is constantly. Magicians should certainly move forward with magical work to improve their lives without having to test every aspect of their ritual work before doing any of it. But it is also a mistake to perform rituals without regard for the measurable results they produce. If a specific technique consistently fails to produce results it should be abandoned or at the very least improved.

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