Religion and Sports
Pagans who practice the martial arts or regularly engage in a sport know that the difference between sports psychology and magickal psychology is mainly in terminology only. The same values and training advice resonate throughout each venue. If you take a look at the steps outlined in Mind Tools-Sport Psychology, one can easily recall many occult or Pagan books and web sites that say pretty much the same thing. Substitute the words 'magic(k)' or 'spell' for 'sport' and there you have the basic outline for magickal mental and physical training in a nutshell.
Of course, the budding magickal practitioner or athlete still has to supply the will, the determination, the practice, and the intention to any such program if they are to develop any real proficiency in either one. One has to practice, practice, and practice before what once took conscious effort to recall or execute becomes a habit of thought and action. But once that level of expertise and experience in sport is reached, it is quite easy to pick up a bow or a tennis racket at any time and in any place and use it well. So it is also in magic(k). A mentor once told me that the most powerful occult practitioners he knew never seemed to leave their easy chairs. The magick had become second nature to them. They could slip in and out of altered states of consciousness and send out their projections as easily as the opening and closing of a door.
One develops instincts in magickal workings done over time. Just as a golfer or an archer can tell by the 'feel' of their posture whether they are 'on target' or not, so can seasoned occultists and magickal practitioners 'feel' if the conditions for their workings are right. As the ball or arrow springs from the sportsman or woman, they often can tell right away if they have made a good shot or missed the mark even before the projectile gets anywhere near the goal. This special insight doesn't happen overnight but is the culmination of many years of dedicated and continuing practice and attention to detail. 'Close enough' is a phrase not spoken by serious sportsmen and women and those words shouldn't ever escape from between the lips of anyone serious about magic(k) either. Trained athletes and trained adepts make what they do look easy, but it is only because they have paid their dues with time, dedication, and energy that it seems so. Anyone serious about developing their magic(k)al talents and skills needs to know up front that there is no shortcut. But the rewards that eventually do come to those who are disciplined enough to stay focused upon their goal are well worth all of the effort.
And the pain. If Wren had known how sore that she would be for the three days after her first archery lesson, she still would have gone for it. But it would have been nice to know ahead of time that using some of those muscles in her arms and ribcage and neck for the first time and in entirely different ways was going to make her feel as if she had an anchor tied to each finger for several days. Ouch!
So here's your Wyld Witch Word to the Wise on that subject: A beginner in magickal workings should recognize that he or she is using certain spiritual 'muscles' for the first time and in entirely different ways. Headaches, vision distortions, equilibrium disturbances, and general physical and mental fatigue may follow your first practice sessions and can reoccur anytime one attempts a new line of magickal or occult training. Sometimes one can 'work through' these 'pains', but sometimes one really needs to ease off and rest those 'muscles' before attempting the next session. It's up to you, but at least now you know that those 'sore spots' in your after-magick psyche are not just your imagination. And neither is that 'little voice' that tells you when the timing for something is right.