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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How Context shapes your spiritual work

Lately, in the magical experiments community, I've been doing some experiments with pathworking techniques, and my fellow members have been gracious enough to try my ideas out. I've been paying close attention to their feedback and one consistent issue that has come up is how important context is for shaping a pathworking in such a way that people actually connect with whatever you want them to connect with. If there is not enough contextual information provided it can be hard to know what, if anything, you've connected with.

The right context provides enough information to orient the person in the pathworking and then leaves the rest of it up to the person. I take a very minimalistic approach to pathworking, ideally providing as little information as possible in order to see how the people involved will connect with whatever is being worked with. Determining how much context and what context to provide has been the interesting challenge. I don't want to provide too much because then I could potentially be steering the pathworking toward specific outcomes and I want to pick what information I share so that I can see what people pick up independently of anything I've shared.

What I'm finding is that a certain level of contextual information is needed. So for example if I were to set up a pathworking that involved connecting to a specific spirit, I would need to provide a name and some details about the spirit. Appearance can be a useful detail to provide, particularly if you are doing a pathworking that relies on visualization, but if you are setting up a pathworking based on a different type of stimuli, then what you might provide is a partial description of what the spirit does. I say partial because if you, like me, want to test what people pick up, you also need to leave certain details out to see what the person actually gets from the experience. So you might describe a specific function or area of influence a spirit is responsible for, but leave out another area of influence or function to see if the person actually picks up on that information as a result of doing the pathworking.

A reason I leave some of that information out, aside from wanting to test the connection, is because I don't want to lead the person toward a specific result, so much as learn what outcome that person has. By not providing every detail, it indicates to me whether the person is only experiencing something because of details I provided or if the experience has moved beyond the initial information provided into an actual connection. This is significant because for a genuine connection to occur it necessarily must move beyond whatever information is provided by someone else.

If you look at your own meditation and spiritual work, it can be interesting to examine how much of it is informed by context and how much of it is informed by your experience. Context should provide a starting point, but it shouldn't be the entire journey. At some point your experiences should move you past context to discovering something deeper with whatever spirit you are seeking to connect with.

What role does context have in your spiritual meditations and pathworkings?

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Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magic Systems, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments.


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