The Theoretical Basis of Practical Magick

© 2017 R. Eugene Laughlin
All Rights Reserved

 

Goal-oriented (practical) magick, in addition to the value of directing desired changes in one’s life, serves a vital role in mystical development and the general enrichment of the individual. The mystical and general functions relate specifically to the routine evaluations of one’s circumstances, and the process of identifying meaningful goals for practical magick; it’s a matter of course for a magical lifestyle, which naturally supports the classic injunction to Know Thyself.

At every stage of development within this system, whether the fundamental work of developing Elemental Awareness is at hand, the practitioner is working on Zodiacal forces, or the subtler, more refined magical forces, no stage of the work is complete without the exercise of periodic, goal-oriented practical magick, of the nature of the development work at hand. The process begins with a basic understanding of goal selection.  

General Guidelines for Goal Selection

For the early stage practitioner, the art of selecting practical goals for targeted magick is a new skill that must be developed and refined with effort, continued practice and experience. Therefore, the first few practical workings, at least, can be approached as a developmental exercise. The following general guidelines for goal selection as development are offered as a starting point:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Keep it positive.
  3. Keep it practical.
  4. Work within your own concept of changes that you see as possible, even if unlikely. More to the point, if you feel a desired change is impossible, it’s best saved for a later time. 
  5. Limit the target(s) of your magick to yourself, interpersonal relationships, or your immediate environment.

The Basis of Goal Selection

Now, recall the following key passage…

Magick is the highest, most Absolute, most Divine Knowledge of natural Philosophy, advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult virtue of things; so that true agents being applied to proper patients, strange and admirable effects will thereby be produced. Whence magicians are profound and diligent searchers into Nature; they, because of their skill, know how to anticipate an effort (or effect), the which to the vulgar shall seem to be a miracle.

The passage establishes the conceptual basis of goal selection for practical magick, encoded by the phrases, true agents, and proper patients.

Proper Patients

A patient in this vernacular can be understood as the target of a magick operation, in that it’s the thing that needs to be changed. A linguistic relationship to a medical patient is meaningful if considered specifically in the context of holistic medicine. That is, while the patient’s complaints or symptoms are the reason a patient seeks medical treatment, the holistic physician treats the patient as a whole system (i.e. mind/body/spirit) rather than addressing the symptom(s) in isolation. The underlying philosophy of holistic medicine and this 21st Century Magick program is similar: complaints or symptoms (and reasons to pursue practical magick) are presumed to arise from a disordered system. Restoring natural order to the system is presumed to naturally correct the source of the complaint. In the magical case, sometimes we might tweak that a bit, to include the idea of imposing an order on the larger relevant system to bring about a desired result.

The magical patient concept expresses the idea of a somewhat wider system than the medical model assumes, including the individual at the heart of the complaint/symptom, but also their physical and social circumstances: family, friends and acquaintances, intuitions, etc. The relevant system might also include the local environment, the flora and fauna, weather patterns, political circumstances, the current news cycle, etc. Magical intervention is applied to issues arising from such a comprehensive system, and so is similarly holistic. The magical operation is intended to restore the system to a natural balance, or perhaps to impose an order in the system that resolves or precludes the initial complaint, the reason(s) a change is desired.  

What makes a given patient a proper patient is that the target of the magick must be amenable to magical intervention. Opinions about the extent and limitations of magical intervention vary widely, so it’s best left as an empirical question, to be determined by each practitioner through experimentation and experience. Suffice it to say that at the theoretical level, amenability to magical intervention is variable, and the more amenable a situation is to magical intervention, the more successful the magick is likely to be, all else being equal.

True Agents

An agent in this vernacular refers to the treatment or the magick. It’s the thing that is supposed to restore/impose the necessary order in the targeted system. What makes an agent true is, essentially, that it’s capable of instantiating the right kind of order to the system, and secondary refers to how well-aimed it is. So a true agent can be understood as well-selected and well-aimed magick, but there is an important distinction to be made between a magical act performed for a purpose and the magick itself. The magical act should be understood as the thing that launches the magick, while the magick itself assumed to be causal agent.

While magical acts can be specified in every detail, the magick itself tends to remain ever-mysterious, and therefore defies definition. A useful concept and terminology, however, is that of magical forces and powers. When those terms are used in the current documents to discuss the selection true agents, it isn’t necessary to take the terms literally. It’s best to keep an open mind. But take their general meaning in line with the notions of proper patients and true agents.

Magical Forces and Powers

With the above in mind, forces are best understood as characteristics of the world at large, the dynamic forces that makes the world what it is, the reasons things are the way they are, and the reasons things change the way they do, etc.  Powers, on the other hand, are acquired by the magician through training and effort, and refer to the magician’s ability to make good use of specific magical forces. The way powers are acquired within this system, at the basic level (i.e. Elemental), is by learning to sense and direct the magical forces (as described in Development of Elemental Awareness, Elemetnal Awarenss Continued: The Inner and Outer Cycles, and Energy Work: Making Elemental Awareness into a Tool of Focul Magick). More advanced methods of acquiring magical powers will be addressed in later documents.

The Central Glyph of the system is intended to expresses a comprehensive set of forces that represent the governing principles of the world in which the magician lives, from the basic to the more refined. The Magical Moments document introduces the general idea of how the magician can use the Glyph to understand, find, and select appropriate forces to apply to specific situations. The Glyph may be used as an oracle to that end, and also as a tool for setting up and executing magical operations. Instructional documents for those and other uses are available or will be added to the Practicum section of the 21st Century Magick method.    

Previous Article: The Sensory Basis of Intuition: A Role for the Elements in 21st Century Magick

Next Article: The next Knowledge Lecture article in this series is coming soon.

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