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 Role of Belief in Magic

Belief is a powerful tool in magic, and in spirituality in general. Belief is a funnel for attention and intention. Whether you believe in something because you genuinely believe in it or believe in it for the sake of something you are trying to achieve, belief has a purpose in magical work. I find the following passage to be illustrative of the importance of belief in magical work:

Be it noted that we do not have to believe or disbelieve in the actuality of such inner agencies per se. what we must believe in is the possibility they exist in their own state of being, yet are capable of interaction with ours by unspecified means or degrees...We need not believe in 'spirit' unless we want to, but we positively must believe in our capability of living and behaving as if the energies available to such entities might be employed on our behalf. From Exorcizing the Tree of Evil by William G. Gray

What Gray reveals here is that belief allows a person to be open to possibilities that would otherwise be ignored because they don't fit conventional reality. Just as importantly what Gray reveals about belief is that where the belief must be focused is not so much in the external existence of something else, but rather a person's capability to behave and live as if that something else existed. I think that's an interesting distinction to make. It highlights how subjective belief actually be, and how such subjectivity can be worked with in a way that allows the magician to make meaningful connection with possible realities and use those connections to influence this reality.

In my magical work, belief plays a significant role. If I didn't believe magic existed, well I wouldn't be writing articles about it or doing magical work. If I wasn't open to believing that spiritual entities exist and that they and what they represent can be worked with, it would significantly limit how I work with magic. If I didn't believe it was possible to work with magic in ways that didn't conform to tradition, I wouldn't be working on the various projects I'm working on. And if I did't believe in myself and in what it is I'm working on or toward, that would also have effect on my magical work.

Belief is not something to be casually dismissed. Regardless of whether you're a devout Polytheist, or a chaos magician, belief plays some role in your practices. Recognizing that can help us appreciate the role of belief and perhaps even explore that role in order to better integrate belief into working workings as a principle of magic. What role does belief have in your spiritual practices and what would change if belief wasn't in the equation?

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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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