Failure is the Sign of the Magickian

Failure a sign of a true magickian. Perhaps not by the literal meaning of the word, but more by my own ideals of what a magickian should embody. Some might wonder if an ideal magickian could fail, but to me the ideal magickian is not omnipotent or omniscient, meaning failure can and should be part of the picture.

To see why an ideal magickian fails, one must think about why a “flawed” magickian would not fail.

One reason why a magickian may never fail is a lack of critical or detached thinking. If one is too attached and/or lacks critical thinking, then one would be unable to view results as they are, or could convince themselves otherwise. This leads to another fault, the inability to be honest, perhaps with others, but more importantly the inability to be honest with the self.

Perhaps the most important reason for a lack of failure is a lack of ambition. The path of the magickian is one of change and growth. If a magickian attains a level of accomplishment where they no longer fail, it means they have stopped pushing their boundaries and abilities. A magickian without failure has stopped trying to climb the mountain, and merely enjoys their view.

The contrast to these faults makes up the ideal magickian; someone detached and critical enough to view the world and their results honestly; someone honest enough to admit their failures, even if only to themselves; and perhaps most importantly an ideal magickian does not stop trying to achieve more and attain higher and deeper levels of understanding.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ~Albert Einstein


8 Responses to Failure is the Sign of the Magickian

  1. Gordon says:

    Me likey. Agreed.

  2. Sunfell says:

    Well, then I guess I must be a true mage, because I’ve failed very spectacularly- and more than once. The worst one landed me homeless and couch surfing for 3 weeks, then tail-tucking back home to live with the parents. (they didn’t let me live that down, either, sad to say…)

    I’m trying not to fail again- at least mega-fail, but my apparent lack of traction learning this new music software does not bode well for future success in magical music making.

    I know- maybe I’ll just start creating silly random musical noodles, and finally succeed. Seems to be the formula for my climbing out of the other various existential pits I’ve slid into.

    OTOH, I’ve been using Applied Magical Mindchanging to remake my image. I’m two years into the program, and can say that I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

    • Kalagni says:

      I think every magickian worth their salt and sulphur has a few spectacular failures in their past. The key is learning from it. If you’re always failing you’re not much of a magickian either, so it’s a balance, heh.

  3. Ananael Qaa says:

    Another way of looking at the role of failure in magick is to treat it like the role of failure in the physical sciences. It allows you to test methods and procedures an determine whether or not they truly work. In order to do this it is vitally important that practical rituals have a measurable goal to accomplish at which they might or might not succeed. That way there’s no question – your ritual either succeeds or fails. And you can learn as much from failure as you can from success.

    Philosopher of science Karl Popper got into an enormous trouble at one point for pointing out that psychoanalytic theories are not scientific for this precise reason. Said theories are not only complex, but within their structure they contain explanations for every possible observation and thus cannot be falsified. That makes them impossible to improve by application of the scientific method. For example, in Freudian analysis you have the observations that the theory predicts along with the concept of “reaction formation” which is a catch-all for observations that don’t fit the theory.

    To avoid this sort of thing, make sure that failure is always possible and measurable when you perform a rite. It can lead to a lot of insights that redefining everything that happens as some sort of “success” will never give you.

    • Kalagni says:

      I completely agree and I do treat failure much the same way as I would with a physical science. I didn’t go into it too deeply as this was just a meandering thought.

      I think there is useful “training” when engaging a new practice to make it magick you can’t (or can’t easily) fail, but beyond that it is and should always be an option.

      Regarding psychoanalysis not being scientific cause there is always an answer, I see the same thing with some magickians. Results don’t manifest and the first thing from their mouth is a stream of why it happened. They claim to know right there why it didn’t work, without investigating what went wrong, and arguably if they knew it wasn’t going to work they would have done it differently. Since they closed themselves off by “knowing” the answer, by having an immediate response, they lose the opportunity to actually learn and grow.

      As Adam Savage says “Failure is always an option.”

  4. “This leads to another fault, the inability to be honest, perhaps with others, but more importantly the inability to be honest with the self.”

    This is a poisonous situation to be in, as it bleeds into other aspects of your life with continued reinforcement, and you end up very much like some of the louder bloggers that have been getting attention recently.

  5. Simply Awesome Article! I’m not a Magi yet but… I can relate to your Idea of Failure. This Applies not just in being a True Magician but… in Life in General as Well! Cool Insight! 🙂

  6. […] magick. It’s also a #$^#@$^#$ing frustrating part of magick some times. I’ve talked about how Failure is the Sign of the Magickian before. (Five years ago O.o) I stand by that to this day. If you never fail at magick, you’re […]

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