Experimental Magic: The Evolution of Magic

Experiment with your magical practice by learning how to apply art, pop culture, neuroscience, psychology, and other disciplines to your magical work, as well as exploring fundamental underlying principles of what makes magic work. You'll never look at magic in the same way!

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The application of Magic to Being Human

One of my fascinations in life is human behavior. I'm reading Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely and it's a book about irrational behavior, and ultimately human behavior and why people make the choices they make. Reading it is enlightening, but even more than that I want to apply it to my magical work. See, one of the things that I like about magic is that I think it can be applied quite productively to human behavior. But that can only occur when you take the time to study human behavior and ask yourself the question as to how you could apply magic to that behavior. Whatever being human really means, when we apply magic to the mix what we seem to ultimately be doing is changing behavior and habits. We uncover and examine the unconscious behaviors we've taken on and use magic to bring them to a level of conscious awareness that can then be applied to change that behavior. Here's a few thoughts on how magic can be applied to human behavior:

1. Stop an expression of behavior. This is a typical act of magic that many people do. If you are doing a behavior that you find to be harmful, use magic as one of the ways to help you stop the behavior. When you use magic to help you stop a behavior you are finding some way for the magic to actually redirect the behavior. So you'll also want to think of what behavior you want to redirect it to. If you want to stop smoking, you typically start by cutting down on the smoking and or replacing it with a supplement, such as chewing gum, but you also need to change the behaviors associated with smoking, in some form or manner. For example, there may be specific hand gestures you did when you smoked, that you might need to change in order to avoid calling up the associations with the smoking.

2. Enhance or construct a behavior. When you think of the concept of a glamour, it's an illusion to used to enhance an image, but why not apply the principle to a behavior? For example, let's say you want to feel confident when you are speaking to people. You might observe someone you really admire for their confidence and analyze how they behave or act, and then construct a persona that allows you to access similar skills in order to improve your own confidence.

3. Become consciously aware of your behaviors and change them. Meditation is an excellent tool that you can use to step back and become aware of how you are acting. You can even apply this awareness to everyday behavior by making an effort to be present and aware of your behaviors by becoming an observer of yourself. You can use meditation to trace a behavior back to its roots and explore where the behavior originates from. Then, if you're feeling adventurous, you can do some some space/time magic work to change the root of the behavior, or do some other type of magical work that allows you to interact with the behavior and make changes to it.

These are a few examples shared of how magic could be applied to behavior, but in reading Predictably Irrational and a variety of similar books, what I've learned is that the majority of human behavior is unconscious. What this means is that a lot of the behavior we do is something we aren't even aware we do.  It's behavior that we've learned to do to the point that it's become a habit. A habit is an automatic behavior that we do, which we don't really think about. There are both good and bad habits, and naturally we want to keep the good habits, while changing the bad habits. Some of the suggested ways that you can change a behavior apply to what was written above, but I think that to really change a given behavior it's important to understand it and its expression in your life.

If we are to apply magic to being human we need to explore what being human really means. Is being human a collection of behaviors, habits, and routines that each of us do day in and day out? Or is being human defined by the relationships we have with other people, our jobs, our hobbies, etc.? For that matter is being human based on the dysfunctions and virtues you express in your mannerisms? All of these are good questions to ask, when we consider applying magic to being human. And they aren't the only questions we can ask when we think of what it means to be human and how we can apply magic to that state of being. Asking and  answering those questions can help us explore what being human really means and how we can improve on that state of being, by becoming more present and aware of ourselves and our interactions with each other and the world at large. In turn we can then consider how we can proactively apply magic to being human, in order to improve the quality of our lives and our interactions. I think that when apply magic this way we become proactive and practical in our application of it to our lives because we are looking to do more than just utilize it as a reaction. Instead we are looking at how we can shape ourselves into better people, and evolve whatever being human is.

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Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magick, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments. He is also the managing non-fiction editor of Immanion Press. Taylor lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two kids, as well as 7 cats.

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