Saturday, October 10, 2009

Some Thoughts About Practical Magick

A pious man went to synagogue every Sabbath, fervently prayed, sang hymns, gave alms to the poor, and observed every good orthodox practice that one could possibly do. In his prayers he earnestly asked the Lord to help him win the lottery because he felt that his need was great and his purpose just. But every time there was a drawing, the man didn’t win and he became despondent. He said: “Lord, I am a good man, pious and righteous, my need is great and unselfish, certainly I should be favored to win the lottery, yet still I haven’t won. Why have you forsaken me?” Then he heard a voice from on high say in a booming voice: “Saul, give me a break. Go buy a lottery ticket!"

In my four books on practicing the Art of Ritual Magick, I talk about how the discipline of ritual magick always requires extensive mundane actions being simultaneously performed when one is working magick for a specific end - especially for some kind of material change. I guess you could say that I have made that point to a nauseating degree, but I believe that it’s fundamental to successfully working magick. It represents the fact that magick is not a phenomenon that miraculously manifests the object of one’s desire for the benefit of the magician. What magick does is set in motion a powerful potentializing force that requires practical non-magickal actions and work in order to realize that potential. Working magick and then doing nothing afterwards is like the joke about the pious man who begs God to make him a lottery winner. He does everything right, except he doesn’t buy a lottery ticket, thus making it completely impossible for him to win the lottery. While I don’t advocate working magick and testing it by purchasing a lottery ticket, some have used this approach to test their magick, with varying results. My approach to practical magick is very... well, practical!

How do I define mundane actions? What exactly does that mean? It means being shrewd, open to all possibilities, being certain of oneself and one’s capabilities, and being able to act on multiple plans of action, knowing that one of them will pay off while others may not - and all for varying reasons. By being shrewd, I mean that one should always seek and establish goals that are not only likely and achievable, but can also lead to other possibilities that help one gain even greater potentials for advancement. All things are accomplished in stages, from the hardest and largest tasks to the most minor and insignificant. One proceeds and achieves in stages - so all goals should be achievable in their time and place. Also, it’s important to know yourself - to really know who you are, what you are capable of accomplishing and most importantly, what do you really want and how badly do you want it. One must be able to realize when opportunities arise, and then strategically take advantage of them. Having more plans and backup plans, all carefully thought out and worked to some degree of detail is also critically important. Never approach a problem with only one possible solution, since life is never that restrictive or narrow. One other important factor is never be too desperate, too tied to one outcome, too inflexible. Always know where your life is leading you and always plan for the unforeseeable and the unexpected. You may not know what may befall you, but you are mentally prepared for the fall. These qualities are what I call being shrewd. Seeking something that is way beyond one’s ability or nearly impossible to realize will only add to one’s problems and difficulties.

First of all, know yourself, who you are, what you are capable of, and then establish your goals in an incremental manner - one accomplishment playing into another. Does this sound too complicated and difficult? Then break it down into tasks that are simple and manageable. All of these considerations are what I call measuring and determining the base, which is “yourself.” You are the question that must be answered, and perhaps one of the greatest tools for determining the answers to that question is divination. As a practicing magician, you should master more than just one method. In other words, you should know multiple methods of divination and use them at different times and compare their results. For instance, ask the Tarot, the Runes, the I-Ching the same question and see how the results from each system agree and also expand on the derived knowledge. It is a truism that knowledge is power, but the magician has resources of occult knowledge that are far beyond what the normal person has, if only they are effectively used. Do divination to establish who you are, what are your desires (and why to do want them), and what is  your current potential for realizing them. Are they things that are within your grasp or are they far beyond your capabilities at the present time?

For instance, let’s say that you want to become the president of the company that you just got hired into in the recent past. If you aren’t already very high up in the corporate hierarchy, then the chances that you will be made president of that company in the near future are not very good. Working magick to realize this goal will probably produce little or no results, and in fact could harm you by creating unrealistic expectations. It might also make you behave in an arrogant and self-important manner, and even give birth to personal delusions. If instead, you carefully study the company that you are working for, look at how others have successfully climbed up the ladder of promotion, then you might discover the secret of how such an ambition may be realized - incrementally and at various strategic points in your career.

Seeking and desiring something does not make it so, and working magick will not somehow miraculously change the nature of the game to favor you. It has to be approached in a shrewd manner and examined carefully over time. It’s a process that must be accomplished in stages or not at all. Also, if after you have looked over the various individuals who have succeeded in being promoted to the top, and the corporate culture is such that only cronies and relatives get advanced, then this company may not ever be able to assist you in realizing your ambition. In such a situation, you will have to be open to all possibilities, including being promoted to a higher position within another company. If you are seeking a lofty objective, then it must approached carefully, decisively, strategically and one must be open to all possibilities, including moving on to other more profitable and rewarding situations.

A similar logic also applies to other objectives, whether they involve one’s material situation, social situation, relationship status (or lack thereof) - all of these “needs” must be determined in the same methodical and coldly rationalistic manner. If there are needs or something is lacking in life, then it is likely that the situation has not yet been examined in an objective and careful manner. One should always ask: “Do I really want this to happen? What am I willing to do to make it happen? Is it something that I am capable of doing? Is my life situation amendable to allowing this thing to happen? Do I have fears, negative opinions of myself or my abilities, etc.” A magician should engage in a great deal of soul searching and divination before deciding to use magick to change the equation in the material or mundane situation. And most importantly, one should have already determined the various steps and actions required to make this happen. Without a shrewd and practical approach to resolving one’s problems in life and achieving success, all efforts, whether magickal or mundane, will be for nought.

What this does, in a nutshell, is dispel the notion that by working magick to make something happen, it will automatically and miraculously happen. I have never seen this approach to magick achieve any degree of sustainable success.  Even engaging in positive affirmations, while laudable, or maintaining a positive attitude (no matter what happens) will not in themselves produce the result that one is seeking to make happen. There is a terrible mind set afflicting occultists and many in the New Age arena that merely projecting positive and empowering sentiments and beliefs is all that is required to miraculously attract success to oneself. This is an illusion, and one that is terrible in its effects and it produces not success, but delusion and inhibition. I could characterize this mind state by saying that no matter how big of a lie you believe about yourself, believing it doesn’t make it so. This is a misuse of the New Thought’s basic psychology of self-empowerment, called the “Law of Attraction.” I won’t get too deep into this system of belief, since one can easily get all the information about this by simply performing an internet search on the term “Law of Attraction”. Suffice it to say that the Law of Attraction states that a person’s thoughts, both conscious and unconscious powerfully determine their reality. As a magician, I would have to agree that this seems plausible and rational, and that knowing yourself thoroughly is one of many ways to addressing how you can achieve the realization of a specific desire (or not). However, you can’t change yourself by simply using affirmations and positive thoughts and nothing else. Attempting to “fake it until you make it” doesn’t usually work, because often situations are more complex and require a lot more internal work to fully realize success. You have to take positive actions and you have to make plans and seek to implement them. You have to understand the scope of what it is that you are trying to achieve, and then use all practical means in achieving it - and if you fail, then shift to plan B, or plan C. Each failure is an invitation to learn what you are doing wrong and how to correct it.

For instance, let’s say you need a better paying job. You put together your resume, determine what you are capable of doing and then how to convince others that you have that ability. Perhaps you work magick to help empower yourself, and you also seek out others to help you objectively judge whether you have all of the various points down. Maybe they put you through a job interview rehearsal. You have all of the right qualifications and good references. Let’s say you go through an interview and after the second stage, they decide to hire someone else. Instead of being dejected, you should contact them and find out how they saw you, what were your strengths and weaknesses. If your approach is one that is open to all possibilities, then your expectations will not be unrealistic. So not getting the job won’t be seen as some kind of rejection. Plan B is the next interview with the next company, and you will continue to gain more information and adjust your approach until you are successful. You may also need to have other options, such as another resume for another kind of work, and use that one as well. You should also cold call companies and gather information about what  jobs are available, who’s hiring, what kind of people are they looking for. The more information that you are able to gather, the more empowered you are. In such a quest, you never give up, you never stop trying, you don’t let small failures put you off course, and you maintain the highest flexibility and openness to whatever happens. Trust me when I say that this kind of approach will make you indomitable! You will succeed, and not merely as a matter of chance, especially when having so many possibilities to choose from. Life is infinite possibilities, it’s just that only a few of them are likely - a wise magician is able to divine the one opportunity that leads to many more.

So, now that we have gone over this obvious practical methodology, one could easily think that doing this alone would suffice, and that the need to work magick is superfluous. Indeed, millions of people do these kinds of things every day and they are not magicians, nor do they work any kind of magick. I never said that magick will make all of these material things realized. What I am saying is that for those of us who must work magick, then we may use it to change our material situation, and that doing so does not confound our magickal and spiritual obligations. We are magicians - it’s our spiritual way and our path. Other folks have their beliefs and practices and follow them as well. Magick does not provide the answer to every issue or situation that a magician might experience, in fact, often magick can cause more problems than it solves. But it is our way and our path, and so we use it to find a greater happiness and satisfaction in our lives, so that one day we may realize our greatest achievement, union with God.

I would like to make a final note on this line of consideration and ask the question: “What kind of magick does a magician work to affect the material plane?” Do we invoke deities, angels, demons, project energies - what kind of magick do we do? The most effective and simplistic magick that I have ever seen is, believe it or not, hoodoo. Lucky hoodoo, for those who believe and practice it, is probably one of the most effective systems of magic around. How absurd! Why do I believe such a thing? Well, it’s a system of magick that is wholly concerned with material and mundane issues, such as money, love, keeping a marriage together, getting even with an enemy, etc. It’s methods are simple: you want to get even with someone who has wronged you - take this concoction (Chicago Style Bitch-slap Oil - sorry John), visualize your objective, say some words of power over the oil, then put it on the target person’s door nob where they are certain to come in contact with it, etc. This magick does work quite well, amazingly, but for those who are more sophisticated, then I would recommend working with Elementals and Talismanic magick. I would also use astrology and the phases of the moon and one’s personal greater wheel of fortune to determine the auspicious timing of such a working, and I would incorporate lots of divination, especially before and even after the working. I would also use all of the possible mundane actions and steps necessary to ensure success. However, we will talk more about the details of such a magickal regimen in the near future.

Frater Barrrabbas


  1. The laws of probability make the role of mundane action in practical magical operations abundantly clear. To use the lottery example at the beginning of the article, it is possible for a lottery spell to be successful even if the magician doesn't buy a ticket - he or she could, say, happen upon a winning ticket lying on the sidewalk while out for a stroll. It's just that such a thing is very unlikely, much more so than picking a jackpot winning number. If your magical powers are such that you can produce a probability shift of 100 to 1 against or even 1000 to 1 against there's really no point in bothering unless you shift the odds into a more reasonable range by buying a ticket. Similarly, you can do a spell for a better job and there's a possibility that you will just happen to be out at a party or something one evening and meet the right person, but again your odds are a lot better if you send out resumes and go through the usual job-hunting steps in addition to casting a spell.

    The key to understanding this is that magick is not all-powerful, despite the fallacious arguments of skeptics that imply if you can do anything paranormal it automatically implies that you can do everything paranormal. In my experience, there is a limit to the probability shift that any given magician can produce and the key to successful practical magick is to take enough mundane actions that your goal falls within that probability range. If you can do that you will always succeed, whereas somebody taking the same mundane steps but doing no magick in conjunction with them probably will not. That's the point of using magick in practical situations, even when the probability shift that would cause your desire to instantly manifest out of thin air is far too great for you to manage.

    And, of course, those rare occasions when your desires do manifest out of thin air totally rock...

  2. Good article, Frater B. While magick can give you a powerful boost and assist in opening opportunities, at the end of the day, action is still required. Since you brought up hoodoo, I was reminded of an article I read in Gnosis magazine nearly 20 years ago about Hawaiian huna practices, which held that any ritual action had to have its physical analog via material action in this plane to allow the spirit to manifest. That's a very similar notion.

  3. I am disgusted to read things like this. You say that one must be able to do accomplish a goal without magic if magic has to work. But if someone would be capable of doing things without magic, the magic wouldn't be needed. When you cast a spell and get results because they are in your capabilites - it is not magic. No. It is desperate self-lying. Many deny the fact that magic is miracle-making, because otherwise their failures would be exposed.