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 process and creativity work together in magical work

One of the reasons I apply process to my magical work is because with good processes in place, it makes easier to innovate and experiment with magic. I learned that in the business world and I've applied to my spiritual practices over the years to great success. You can actually learn a lot by taking the practice of one discipline and applying it to another discipline. In business, processes are used to solve problems, design and implement solutions, and to encourage creativity. Process encourages creativity by cutting out extraneous busy work, to focus on what really works, but in order to discover what works you necessarily need to work the process.

A lot of times creativity is treated as a chaotic experience, which occurs when a person is inspired. But in my experience, creativity is quite structured. Process provides the necessary structure for creativity to flourish in. Whether I'm writing, painting, or practicing magic, having a process in place allows me to work with my creativity as a resource. I'm not just waiting for inspiration to hit me...I'm actively cultivating it as part of my process.

When you think of process, you might think of it as a linear series of steps, but process is much more than just that. Process is a non-linear way of thinking. Process examines the variables in a given situation and looks at what is needed to bring everything together in order to do whatever you are going to do. It doesn't always move in one direction or lead to one result.

When I experiment with magic, I use process to provide a baseline I can work with. I know that there are fundamental principles of magic and I account for those in my process. Anything else can be applied as part of the process that works with those principles to achieve specific outcomes. Let's take the act of invocation as an example.

The process of invocation works with the principle of connection. You are invoking an entity for the purposes of communion, connection, communication, possession, etc., and all of it boils down to connection. Now what you'll do as a result of the invocation may differ from person to person, but the principle is the same regardless of what technique you are using. That's where process comes into play and along with it creativity.

Your technique needs to employ the principle of connection, but other than that, its up to you. You can go with something classic and true for your invocation, or you can get creative, based on whatever will help you employ that principle most effectively. If, for example, you are invoking a deity, you might try to create a specific costume that embodies that deity. You might also research the culture and then use culture specific items, food, etc., as part of the process of invoking the deity. If you are invoking a person, you might draw on what you know about the person, pictures, style, favorite food etc. The point here is that this process of invocation is customizable based on what you are invoking, and whatever you want to bring to the process. What stays the same is the principle being drawn upon, but beyond keeping that principle in mind, the process you work with can be as creative as needed. The reason is because the principle provides the foundation for the process to occur. What fleshes out the process is your creative approach to manifesting that process as a reality. 

I recommend getting creative in your magical work because it will help you learn magic in a way that goes beyond anything you read or learn from anyone else. When you get creative with your magical work, you make it your own, and you understand how it works in a much more intimate way than you'd ever encounter otherwise. To really know your spiritual practice is to make it your own, to learn the fundamentals and then get creative and personalize what you do.

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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. 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 4 cats.

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