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October 8th, 2006

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04:08 pm - Styles of Magic
I was talking with teaotter recently about how people use radically different styles of magic to accomplish similar goals. Much of this discussion was inspired by the three magical workshops that that lupagreenwolf and teriel recently gave.

This ritual to find love is typical of much of my magic. I seek to destroy all barriers (both internally and externally) in the way of getting what I want, or when dealing with things in my life that I don't want, I symbolically rend and destroy them and cast the ashes to the winds.

The only other common form of magic I use is making more general blessings, where I ask various gods and spirits to lend their energies to some endeavor and to focus these energies through a specific charm I make (typically written on a small pad of paper, with a purple felt tip pen that I've been using for this purpose for the last 20+ years). These charms are a some mixture of prayers and bargains (often, I offer some service in return for the service the beings do for me, sometimes, I simply command that they give it to me, and sometimes I just ask nicely).

In his talk on magic, teriel discussed his general techniques for magic, which involved making specific images (often visual images) of what he wanted, to draw this thing to him and of taking things he didn't want and transforming them into something useful or needed that he then took back in himself. Just as my magic is often highly destructive, his is equally creative.

I am also struck by a discussion years ago that I had with my friend Aaron, where he talked about the difference between subtractive and additive sculpture. Subtractive sculpture is like stone or woodcarving, where you remove everything that isn't what you want, while additive sculpture involved creating what you want by putting pieces together. Aaron seemed to think that these two different methods appealed to very different sorts of people and I think there is a parallel here between these two methods of magic.

teaotter has her own methods that are not related to either of these two options. She described that when trying to obtain something, she used something that I would classify as a mixture of looking into the future and finding the path to what she wants and arranging the context and externals of the situation in such a way so as to lead to what she wants – Becca discusses these methods as essentially being the same thing, which involves examining various possibilities in the future and seeing which possibilities get closest to the result she wants and then uses observations about the future to help cause events to proceed more rapidly and effectively towards her desired goal.

When she makes charms to accomplish some goal, she either awakens the spirit within an object or calls some small wandering spirit that is willing to do something very like what she wants done.

Much of magic involves psychology - I firmly believe that magic can affect the external world directly, I equally firmly believe that the "laws" of magic are the "laws" of human psychology, and more specifically the rules that govern each of our ability to focus and direct our wills. As such, I am intrigued by what various preferred styles of magic mean about what a person is like. I cannot speak for anyone else, but for my own style, the answer seems clear. My magic is done with the assumption that the world would naturally bring me what I want if all barriers to this happening are removed and that utterly destroying things I do not want is a perfectly sensible act because the world (myself included, since sometimes what I destroy in ritual are things directly connected to me) is exceedingly abundant and there will always be more. This is borne out by the fact that on an emotional level, I firmly believe this.

One of the many legacies of growing up fairly wealthy that I have and treasure is the firm belief that things will work out my way, that the universe will provide, and the ultimately the world owes me what I want from it. I have rarely found such beliefs in people that have not grown up in wealthy and privileged backgrounds and from what I have seen having these beliefs and the formative experiences that allow one to have these beliefs tends to make people far happier with themselves and the world and more importantly, far more willing to seek to do exactly what they want, rather than to settle for what they think they can or should do.

Likely, my magical style is also influenced by my feelings about the "natural" order of the world, and what can perhaps best be described as my anti-Taoist conviction that what I want and desire and what is good for me is naturally superior to any sort of inherent or natural order of the world. I carve away what I don't want, until what I want is left behind.

In any case, I would definitely be interested in learning about others' styles of magic and what you think that your style of magic says about your psychology.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:October 9th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC)
This is a deeply interesting subject to me, especially at this point in my life. I'd have to say that my style of magic is closer to teaotter's than anything, though with a bit more randomness/chaos [of the mathematical variety*] thrown in. I'm what a friend of mine who's a chaos mathematician and sorceror call me a "chaos surfer" -- I ride the chaos currents looking for a likely path that'll get me where I want to be, and when I find one I surf that sucker til it either works or peters out or sends me in another direction entirely. It mostly works. And when it doesn't work, I find a nice tidepool and pull the eels and squids out of my wetsuit and examine whether I really wanted the result I was trying to achieve in the first place; very often, the answer is I'm better off that it didn't work. ^_^ The intent I go in with when doing magic is for the Best Possible Outcome to result [hence the self-examination when things don't work]. That leaves open the possibility for paths and options I hadn't even considered to pop up. This is pretty much how I live my life, too.

I guess one could also call me a chaote, in the sense that when I actually do ritual, which is passing rare, I pick whatever methodology works for me regardless of magical "tradition" -- all done with complete respect for the tradition being nicked [though I tend to rely upon shamanistic methods for the most part]. I'm not a Chaos Magician, at least not in the Thelemic sense; if anything, I'm a Chaos Faerie. And Coyote's cheerful and willing bitch.

I sense a theme here... ^___^

As background, I grew up lower-middle class in Las Vegas, a place riddled with very strong chaos currents, surrounded by random events and shit that happened for no readily apparent reason. Once I picked up on those currents and began to work with them, all the randomness and change and, well, chaos in my life didn't bother me so much anymore, because I knew how to navigate them. Needless to say, I'm pretty nimble when life throws me a curve ball, at least when left to my own devices. I expect nothing and usually manage to get pretty much what I need to make me happy, if not always content.

Wow, this got long, didn't it? Hope it makes some sort of sense! ^_^

*I say this because invariably, when one talks about chaos in re: magic or religion, Discordianism comes up. I'm not a Discordian, not really, but I sorta am, and I want to distinguish what I do from "rutabaga" Discordianism, which has very little to do with the science of chaos and far too much to do with making an arse of oneself in public and using "religion" as an excuse. Discordianism done right, IMNSHO, takes the principles of chaos-as-science and uses them to set loose butterflies that could potentially cause hurricanes in peoples' lives. Hail Eris.
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Date:October 9th, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
Indeed. I actually know someone who was involved in an invocation of goetic entities. Three people prepared in a highly traditional fashion for several days, then they drew the circle and the triangle very carefully, and instead of evoking the spirit into the triangle, one of the people was placed in the triangle, where they were tied to a chair. Then, the other two invoked the spirit into this person and it conversed with them. Part of this conversation involved on of the people outside asking if the spirit could escape from the triangle if it tried. The spirit then asked "Do you think I can escape from the triangle?" The two people outside rapidly changed the subject. Absolutely fascinating, I'd love to try it sometime, assuming I was one of the people outside of the triangle.
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Date:October 12th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
For me, what many people refer to as "doing magic" i.e. deciding there is something that I want and performing some symbolic action to attain it, feels rather alien and too instrumental. For me magic is more something that's *experienced* while performing some physical activity such as dancing or drumming. On occasion I might do something like weather magic while in that state but it's generally incidental to the ecstatic experience and usually involves accepting the weather as it is before attempting any kind of change. Most of the magic I do has the goal opening myself to that ecstatic state.

I also do a certain amount of unintentional magic as a result of instinct. For instance, I had had very little success in finding Tengutake mushrooms (A. Muscaria) this year and hadn't been able to conclusively identify the one I had collected. On impulse I hung that one from one of our pine trees to give it a chance to spread it's spores. The next day, I felt a "tug on my brain" to go look in a specific place for them. I found a large patch of them there and in fact have been finding them all over the place since then. My feeling is that they chose to reveal themselves to me as a result of my hanging that one from a tree but I had no intention of "causing" that when I hung it there. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

With regards to feelings of entitlement, I suspect that may correlate with family size. I grew up with eight brothers and sisters. There was always the necessity to balance my desires against the wants and needs of others. I don't regard this as a completely bad thing. It provides me with the expectation that I will have to balance my desires against the needs of my local and global ecosystem.
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Date:October 12th, 2006 06:06 am (UTC)
For me magic is more something that's *experienced* while performing some physical activity such as dancing or drumming.

*nods* I'm exceptionally Apollonian in my approach to magic, and like many people who walk a path that can perhaps be described as being an "earth-religion pagan", you are fairly Dionysian in your approach, so that makes excellent sense to me. I'm far from certain that I could do any magic at all while dancing or drumming. These days guided meditations, trance work, and solitary or group energy work where much of the work is done via visualization is what I am best at. I slip into trance while meditating quite easily and can then do what I want.

Btw, my first experience with any of that sort of thing was the guided meditation you did for me back in Madison, where you had me go see some wind spirits, and instead, I became one. While I have had quite a number of experiences that were as or more powerful, and a few that were far stranger, I still remember and treasure that experience. Thank you, it definitely helped set me on my path.
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Date:October 12th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC)
I'm far from certain that I could do any magic at all while dancing or drumming.

It isn't so much "doing magic" as "being magic".

Btw, my first experience with any of that sort of thing was the guided meditation you did for me back in Madison, where you had me go see some wind spirits, and instead, I became one. While I have had quite a number of experiences that were as or more powerful, and a few that were far stranger, I still remember and treasure that experience. Thank you, it definitely helped set me on my path.

You're welcome, I feel happy knowing that. Actually, one of the reasons I stopped leading guided meditations was that I got very little feedback from people about whether they were effective. That, and the fact that they tend to be too much of a "head game" to be exciting to me.
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Date:October 23rd, 2006 11:29 am (UTC)
veleda and metaphorge and I are working on a series of political rituals designed to turn the Democrats into something useful. We've had some really interesting discussions on how exactly to go about this. I'm pretty pleased at the progress, but yeah, our different metaphors give us some pretty different ideas. Thanks for posting this, it was interesting to think about.

(I'll post in greater detail later, but one of them involves a ritual orgy with Captain America, while another one involves decaying raw meat. Oh yeah, chaotes shouldn't get together.)

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