Magick is Easy
Sometimes the hardest part about magick is accepting how easy it can be. While there is a time and place for complexity, expensive tools, long periods of fasting, and long complex incantations, these things tend to be like the garnish on the plate of a fine meal that makes the dish as perfect as possible rather than essential prerequisites. Some beginning practitioners will start with complex systems like the Keys of Solomon or the z2 documents and feel intimidated and overwhelmed to the point they give up on their practice before they even start. They are mistaking the garnish for the meat and potatoes, so to speak. The mechanics underlying what makes magick work can be extremely simple. They only seem complex because we are not used to thinking in that way.
I am not a historian but it seems to me that many of the old traditional grimoiric types of magick were created by people who had plenty of money and time on their hands to experiment with these things and fine-tune them to the highest possible degree. They also didn’t have the same kinds of distractions we do so they were able to dedicate themselves more fully to their practice. In some cases these magicians were probably paid by royalty to focus on their magical studies, they didn’t have to worry about keeping a job and they weren’t tempted to spend their free time watching Netflix and playing video games. I’m not saying these things are bad, just that some of the authors of the more famous grimoires took things to a whole other level than most modern practitioners, and it’s easy to assume this is how all magick has to be done. Some of these grimoires were never even meant to be seen by the public and many of these old-school magicians weren’t writing for beginners.
Just 10 years ago finding information about magick could be difficult because unless you knew where to look you were only likely to find these famously complex systems of magick. Today we have the opposite problem. Internet occultism has exploded in the last 7 or 8 years. Now the problem comes from the fact there is so much material available to sort and sift through and you never know when the author is actually a reliable source. Sadly there are those who simply know how to sound confident and are out to just make a buck, regurgitating watered-down versions of something they read once. Type “Magick” into youtube and you will quickly see what I mean.
When I was just getting started with magick I didn’t really know where to look for information and the first bit of magick I was able to get my hands on was the Goetia. It was pretty obvious right away that I was in way over my head. I later stumbled upon a youtube magician who I know now to be a total psychopath named E.A. Koetting. I absolutely do not recommend following any of this person’s instructions, but at the time I discovered his work, I didn’t know what I was doing or where else to look. I was still in a bit of an ‘edge-lord’ phase and the dark nature of this person’s work appealed to me.
Following the example of this youtube magician, I began calling on Geotic entities with nothing more than a sigil, a circle made of rope, a stick of incense, and some candles and chanting the demonic enn associated with the spirit. The results I got were undeniable but some negative side effects made me realize there is a reason for some of the safety precations of the traditional methods of working with the Goetia… But the point I am trying to make is that this minimalistic approach worked. In fact, I’d say some of those early successes were some of the most intense and interesting experiences I have ever had with magick. Knowing what I know now, however, I realize that the real danger with this approach is the ego-inflation some of these entities can cause as well as the unpleasant feeling of being watched that sometimes would follow some of these workings.
Again, the main point is that the magick worked. Despite the modern tendency to assume more complicated = better, it seems in many cases the opposite is true. Keeping things simple can make your magick more focused. It is my opinion that when it comes to external ritual implements, it is best to start with the bare minimum, see how it works, and then add in the other stuff one bit at a time to see what kind of difference it makes. Try drawing your pentagrams in the LBRP with just your two forefingers, then try with a dagger, then a consecrated dagger, and see how it feels. Try using just one small candle in your candle magic, then try using the large 72-hour candles and see the difference. Then try adding in some herbs and crystals and so on. This may seem like a no-brainer for some, but some people (particularly beginners) think everything has to be done perfectly and in a specific way, or the magick won’t work.
There is nothing wrong with doing things “by the book” but I like to approach my magick in a way that allows me to really understand what I am doing from an experiential point of view. If you only ever follow pre-written recipes for spells you won’t really KNOW what all the ingredients of the spell really do. I have heard many beginning practitioners say “I want to do this spell but I am missing ‘X’ ingredient” not realizing what the real function of that ingredient may be.
In magick you are both the scientist and the experiment. There is a certain amount of risk involved in being a magician. If you want to be more than a dabbler or a person who throws a few spells here and there, if you want to really be a magician, you need to understand the how and why of what you are doing so you can construct your own spells and rituals without being limited to the rigid instructions of other practitioners. This means experimenting and recording the results. There are also some things you may have to accept as unknowable and just go with the best theory you can come up with until something happens to make you change your mind.
When working with specific systems of magick like the Golden Dawn, it is often best to do things by the book first and once you have worked through the system you can start to use things in a less traditional way. I still stand by my original statement about starting out with minimal external implements though. I am not saying we should do away with the curriculum and methods that have been worked out by magicians who have gone before us, I am mainly talking about the external elements of magick. If you can work effective magick without any physical objects at all then all the external implements you add will serve to strengthen and empower your magick rather than serve as some kind of prerequisite for success.
You can do effective magick with nothing more than your imagination and a few words of power. This is why having at least a basic understanding of the Kabbalistic tree of life can be so helpful to any magical practitioner no matter what tradition you tend to adhere to. Knowing the right colors to visualize, which names to vibrate, the right time of day to perform your magick, and having a clear methodology for working with energy can serve as a strong foundation for your magical practice. I plan to cover all of these in future posts.
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Thanks for reading, talk soon!