Surprise and Expectation: Responding to Magickal Results

From the mouth of babes comes wisdom. I will paraphrase a text message conversation with my lover. He is the babe in this case, because while he may believe in magick he is not (yet) a practitioner or even armchair magickian. Also for background information, Behrat is a spirit who I employed to help drum up some finances for my vacation. He gave me the finances I needed, to the dollar, and I thought he was done then suddenly another unusual influx so that I could take the time off in comfort.

“What the Hell? Behrat just did it again. This is unreal.”
“I don’t see what the big issue is. If you believe in magick, why should this surprise you?”

I paused in shock and a touch of humility. My non-magickal lover just caught me in one of the common traps of the modern magickian; lack of faith in what we believe in and/or what we do. Thankfully the next week when Behrat delivered over thirty times what he had the week prior, I remembered that shock was counter-intuitive to my beliefs, so I thanked Behrat and continued on without getting caught up in the “surprise” that my magick worked.

When I got home the night of the previous conversation I fished around for my copy of SSOTBME by Ramsey Dukes, a rather good book on Chaos Magick, to find a quote for my lover.

Magic, in turn, inherits unconscious skepticism from Science. Just as the ‘open-minded’ Scientist is deep down a total believer in material reality, so also the ‘gullible’ Magician deep down does not really believe in anything. … Ritual magicians can be heard saying “we did this healing rite and – it’s absolutely incredible – next time he went to the doctor there was no sign of the tumour.” Can you imagine a group of chemists getting together and saying “I put this litmus paper into the acid and – it’s absolutely incredible – it changed colour”? (45)

It seems so silly when put in a reasonable analogy. I have spent years practicing magick, refining my workings, and refining myself, building up experience and knowledge for what works and what doesn’t, yet there I was, something worked and I was surprised, I had trouble believing it. The next time I bake bread and it rises, I would seem such a fool to be surprised that the yeast, sugar and flour reacted that way. It would be ridiculous if the next time I went jogging, if I was surprised when I made it home. Yet in magick, it didn’t seem that odd and it rarely does to other magickians who have the same experience.

Is this a problem in our belief, in our self, or is this the way it should be?

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2 Responses to Surprise and Expectation: Responding to Magickal Results

  1. Fred says:

    Typically I don’t like responding to one month old blog entries, but I felt compelled by the subject matter.

    I think your reaction was appropriate. Behrat performed better than expected.

    In regards to your lack of faith, I think this is the way it should be. The elephant in the room is reliability. Magick has a high amount of uncertainty associated with it. Not just will it work, but how good will it work. This means it’s more akin to baking a cake with no recipe and only a general idea of how to go about the process. You can take this analogy further. How about a perfect recipe but no way to accurately measure your ingredients?

    I think it’s foolish to cast these issues aside. Rather I think they should be seen as obstacles to overcome. But that’s not going to happen with faith. It’s going to happen by identifying the problem and finding a workable solution(s).

    People don’t like living with uncertainty, so I find it all to often the case that magicians/mages want to find an excuse to cast aside their doubt because it’s uncomfortable and often times demotivating. In my experience this often leads to delusion.

    Oh yeah, and go Team Engineering!!!

    • Kalagni says:

      I thought I replied to this a while back, but my response was still in draft mode.

      In the longer version of this, which I culled, I rationalized my surprise more. I justified part of it in the fact that at that time Behrat was still an untested variable, I had never used him, so I didn’t know what to expect. For simplicity’s sake that got removed though.

      Reliability is an issue, but I feel it shouldn’t be. If you’re critical and aware your success rate should only go up as you begin to understand how things work, and where the boundaries on what you can accomplish are.

      So I’m torn on the matter. Cause part of me that’s trying to be critical of my system and my interaction with it finds the surprise counterproductive and counterintuitive. Yet part of me is surprised when some things happen. Not all of me, some results are so consistent my surprise is when nothing occurs, but some things still surprise.

      I definitely have trouble with uncertainty but I think that’s what led me to try to be so scientific with my magick (in part, that’s another post in my draft folder). By figuring out more of the variables I can make results more probable and eliminate some degree of uncertainty, but I can’t deny part of that I’ll have to live with.

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