How To Perform Magick Without Looking Like A Complete Moron Or A Total Jerk

I have recently been enjoying some atheist podcasts. Not that I am an atheist. If I were pressed, I would say that I probably am more of an agnostic. If I were speaking the hard truth, I would admit that I admit that I am probably more of a metaphysical “scientist”.   
Some of my more materialist friends might object to the usage of “metaphysical” with “science.” What I mean by this is that I have theories on how the universe works. I experiment with technique–which can simply be holding a particular belief–and observe any and all possible effects from that point onward. Within the same process, I question whether there could be any connection between my magickal/metaphysical actions and the manifest world.  I repeat the process. 
However, in metaphysics, I operate under “working conclusions.”  If a technique or belief COULD be working, MIGHT be helpful, AND does not interfere with the rest of my life (OR impact it in any negative way)–THEN, I will probably keep with it, until a better technique, explanation, method or belief comes along.  Magick is very personal.  I will share my working conclusions with my fellow magicians, but I will not pass them off as absolutes or dogma.  To the metaphysicians, magick is fluid.
I don’t need to be absolutely right about my convictions.  I just need to use what works.
….I grew up in a fairly religious environment. While it was mostly Catholic, there was a strong correlation taught that the actions we took….including the internal reality of which thoughts we held and emotions we felt….resulted in consequences. Even though it wasn’t explicitly stated, this was the foundation of teaching us that the way we used our energy (intentions and thoughts) affected our personal reality. We were taught the concept of magick, even if it was not presented that way. Pretty early on, I caught that my family benefited from my “behaving” and following “the rules” as they were supposedly set up by God.
However, I also eventually caught on that some of my prayers were answered, even though they were desires contrary to what my parents/family wanted or had told me
were the right things to desire. I started to formulate the idea that maybe God wasn’t necessarily what my family was telling me (or what the local Church was trying to enforce), but that God answered prayers in a way that I didn’t quite understand the formula for.  Maybe my family didn’t quite understand how God worked, either. 
What initially attracted me to the practice of magick was the idea that I could influence my immediate surroundings and the people in it. It is considered bad form to admit that; but if I were going to be honest, that was really the underlying motivation behind me. I was suffering from panic and anxiety disorder. I was in a constant state of fear about my well-being and my future, no matter which practical steps I took to live in a healthy or comfortable way. The prospect of “real magick” working appealed to me in ways that I couldn’t even imagine. I had been raised on stories of Catholic miracles and brujeria tales. Growing up, there was no reason why I shouldn’t have taken these stories at face value. These magickal accounts were reported by the same people who gave me very real-life, physical interaction and experiences. I had no reason to believe that their reports of magick were inaccurate.
I had already had clairvoyant and precognitive experiences that I couldn’t explain away in a logical way, so the idea of magick seemed possible. One mistake that newcomers to magick make is the same incorrect assumption that people outside the world of the metaphysical make–we are taught that magick runs under some formulas and recipes….and that everyone who practices magick is on equal ground. To make the new practitioner comfortable and more confident when first exploring and practicing, this is a useful (working) concept to pass along. As a working tool, this is a valuable one when someone is initially exploring the limits of possibility. However, there comes a point at which this concept becomes more of a hindrance to one’s continued growth. This comes when one is faced with the realization that one is not currently omnipotent in the immediate point of incarnation; but then they also have no clear direction on which way to go to become more powerful, in a very real-world way.
In religion, there is the idea that we must behave and perform activities without the benefit of feedback from the Deity that we are supposed to be pleasing. At best, we have a guideline (however vague) that outlines how we are supposed to be acting. For many of us, we start practicing magick because we want to create changes in our physical conditions–whether that is manifesting physical objects or affecting our life-situations. We look for concrete results. It’s all about demonstrations. Many of the magicians that I know did not explore the practice of magick because of simple curiosity.  The objective view of seeing if it worked.  It was more of an emotional need to do so–sometimes, a desperation.  In many cases, there is an emotional investment.
As part of the initial training, we are taught to look over our personal histories to see if we can find instances of causality.  In magick, we are taught that magick occurs when there is an abundance of emotion fueling a thought into manifestation and/or a thought forming into the physical when there are no contradictory thoughts blocking its manifestation.
In this training of our powers of observation, we learn how to notice when we manifest thoughts into form in the future.
Just as we cannot go into a materialist’s realm and argue from a metaphysician’s point of view–the framework and reference points are completely different–there are some criticisms of the magickal viewpoint that need to be considered.  These are questions that can help the magician in their personal growth, as well.
When a magician starts on the magickal pathway, they are taught that they simply need to master particular techniques and their spellworking will manifest as if by recipe.  If there is no manifestation, the technique needs to be practiced more (the skill of the magician is lacking) and/or repeated until results solidify.
Beginning magicians are given a very simple, working explanation of how magick works.  Occasionally, there are small clues as to how complex it can actually be.  The problem that most practitioners would have is that magick is a pathway of self-transformation.
The metaphysical explanation for manifest reality is that the world is a projection of the beliefs and perceptions of whatever is in the psyche or personal energy of the observer.  This means that magick occurs when one shifts one’s beliefs of what is real (or true)–when one shifts one’s beliefs, the manifest world follows suit.
In this sense, the “external” world of experience is tied into one’s personal psychology.  To change the “outside” world, one must change one’s internal–to change one’s internal world, one must face what is inside one’s mind.
Because not every magician is willing to explore what one really thinks and feels….including what one holds inside as memories, subconscious belief and everything else that the tricky unconscious can hide from conscious awareness.
Not everyone’s spells work, because THE REASONS for the desire manifesting AND not manifesting can vary so much between magicians.  To my observation, there is no “cosmic reason” why the spell doesn’t manifest as much as there are unaddressed mental and emotional factors, which affect it.
It can be fair to say that we don’t know why something didn’t manifest, even after the performance of magickal acts….but to assume a “cosmic reason” why it didn’t work is about the same as dismissing it as impossible.  Even if the desire seems like it will never manifest in the physical plane, to keep exploring possible obstacles is to open one’s self up to personal growth and transformation.  Elimination of the negative is never time wasted.  Even if the particular magickal project is not made manifest, the self growth will lead to positive results in other areas of life.
Any acts of magick [spells, rituals and the like] are not guaranteed to manifest exactly how the conscious mind expects.  The acts of magick are tools within the bigger picture of self-transformation, personal evolution and spiritual growth.  This is not an excuse to give up, but more of a working description of the metaphysical perspective that is necessary at an advanced level of understanding.  Perhaps not for the apprentice, the newcomer….but, when the magician comes to a level of understanding that magick is not necessarily the point in and of itself, but a tool for the spiritual pathway.
If desires do not manifest immediately, why continue to explore magick if it is not an exact science?  Another reason for the metaphysical thinker to continue exploring magick is because influence is not something that can be “turned off”.  Even if one is not performing deliberate acts of influence towards what one wants (the “positive”), there is also the perspective that everyone also influences their worlds in negative ways.  Even if I no longer perform a conscious act of magick, I have come to the point where I notice how my negative thoughts and emotions manifest as my personal experience, anyway.
From the perspective of the magician, I can’t stop influencing my world.
So–let’s take this back to formal workings and rituals.  The more effective magician observes the virtue of Silence.  There is no reason to ever divulge the workings of magick to anyone else.  What is sometimes popular is sharing one’s activities under the umbrella that other’s attention will add energy to the manifestation of the spellworking.   Under the perspective of the advanced magician, this is not actually the case.  What is actually happening is that, to the mind of someone who is not completely confident in the certainty of the manifestation, the IDEA that other’s attention will ensure the manifestation bolsters the performing magician’s personal belief/confidence…..and it is the “bolstering” that is the factor that will help bypass any doubts.
Also on the note of getting others’ attention involved–the magician needs to be aware that sometimes one has unconscious needs to have a negative experience with others.  Some of the more popular excuses for openly displaying one’s interest or identification with magick is that one needs to “be open” or honest about who they “are,” or that they don’t need to “hide” who they are because they are not ashamed of it.  While those might be popular excuses for public declaration of one’s magickal or religious tastes, more often than not, the magician is harboring a need to experience opposition or disapproval, instead.  Outside of the company of one’s fellow magicians, there is usually very little need to come out of the broom closet in day-to-day life.  Honestly question what sort of reaction you get from telling others about your magickal pursuits.  No one needs anyone else’s approval for the way they perceive and conduct themselves on a spiritual level–and I would go so far as to say that in most cases, sharing this part of one’s practices does not always make one closer to their audience.  Honestly contemplate why you want to share….and ask if divulging this information will REALLY bring you closer to whoever you are sharing this information with.
Magicians make use of a particular tool for taking information into their framework, much the same as many religious people do.  Whereas materialists rely on the five physical senses and external machinations which measure physical reality along these same lines–magicians make use of the faculties of imagination to gather and manipulate information on other levels.
Before we go on, let us explore the concept of imagination and define it.  As a tool, it is very valuable when used properly within particular boundaries and guidelines.  However, the seasoned magician will acknowledge that while anyone can use it, it is often used more improperly than not.
When we speak of the imagination in metaphysical terms, we are using this as an umbrella/general term to cover a variety of activities on non-physical levels.  My understanding, although not necessarily a comprehensive one, is that it is a mental process–under the metaphysical belief that all that exists in the universe has already been created and already exists–so that even the act of creation is more an act of observation and sensing of all pre-existing reality.  What we are doing when we experience “creation” is that we are becoming aware of the pre-existing reality and sensing it with our internal (imaginary) senses before we materialize it on a mental, emotional or physical level.
In metaphysical terms, “imagination” can be thought of as “imaging.”  This faculty is available to all beings with a consciousness–meaning, all humans.  The assumption on the part of the materialist is that only that which can be observed or measured through the physical dimensions is real.  The problem with this line of reasoning is that while it might totally work for some people, not all of us are strictly materialist-thinking to the same degree, at all times in all situations.
The mind is used to analyze and process the information that comes in through the five physical senses.  Also, any information which comes in through what we consider the non-physical senses, what we might confirm as intuition if it is useful or valid information, seems to be processed through the mind as well.  Any mental or imaginal information which does not seem to hold any relevance, validity or usefulness is considered delusion or fantasy.  However, this third type of information also seems to be processed in the same centers as the first two types of information.
The metaphysician strives to discern the three types of information and validate them–including sorting the usefulness and application of each type of information.  The goal is to be able to discern the difference between valid intuitive information and delusion.  We recognize that humans have varying levels of discernment between the three different types of information that come into the mind.  We acknowledge that there are those who have a high level of discernment; just as there are those who cannot tell the difference between delusion and intuition….and often lump everything together under seemingly valid, realistic intuitive impression.
We are at various levels of discernment.  Sorting real information from that which will not manifest for us in the real world, within a reasonable amount of time in practical ways, will help us make positive real-world changes.  It will also let us know what our real personal boundaries are…ones that reflect where we are currently in our psychological makeup.  When we know what it is that our specific personality is working with, then we have practical information to actually go beyond the boundaries that are specific to us as individuals.
So–to the serious practitioner of magick….how do we become better magicians?  How do we make real-world changes in the present moment?  First, observe silence unless absolutely necessary.  Unless it is for the purpose of information exchange, announcing your metaphysical leanings to the general populace outside of your coven, metaphysical group of community….you run the risk of creating ego games, possibly using your status as a magician for the purpose of creating shock and drama in your life, rather than sincerely pursuing spiritual growth.  Secondly, include self-perception into your workings.  Which changes will each act of magick and manifestation bring to yourself–how will you react to the end results?

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