Operative Magic – Theory, Strategy, and Practice

Operative Magic – Theory, Strategy, and Practice May 18, 2020

The third online course from Under the Ancient Oaks is now open for registration. Operative Magic – Theory, Strategy, and Practice begins on June 4 and will run for six weeks.

For several years people have been asking me to teach a course on magic. My response has always been that there’s no shortage of books and classes on magic and witchcraft – why do we need another? Then as I was going through the last class on Building a New Myth, I realized that no one is teaching my specific approach to magic. There are three main things I can offer that no one else is teaching – at least not from the same perspective.

The first is magical theory. How does magic work? Chaos magician Peter J. Carroll said “magic works in practice but not in theory.” Certainly, there’s something to be said for not letting our difficulties with explaining magic to the satisfaction of skeptics get in the way of working magic. At the same time, if we want to take our magical practices into new areas, we need to have some idea of how our spells generate results. I’ve been working from a three-fold theory of magic for over 20 years and it’s proved to be very helpful.

The second is magical strategy. It’s not enough to know how to work magic, we need to know what to work magic for. You can do the best lottery spell in the world and improve your odds of winning by a thousand times and you’ll still only win PowerBall once every 2800 years. Most of us learn early on to be very specific with the goals and targets of our spells, but what can you do when you’re not sure exactly what your target should be?

The third are the deeper aspects of living a magical life. It’s one thing to dress a candle to bring some good new thing into your life. It’s a very different thing to make magic a regular part of your life. Nothing comes for free – be sure you’re willing to make the necessary trades before you get in too deep.

This approach has worked for me for 27 years. Not 100% of the time – nothing does that. But it’s worked often enough for long enough that when skeptics say there’s no way magic could work, I have to laugh, because I’ve seen the results, over and over and over again.

The Modules

0.  Introduction (free)
1.  A Brief History of Magic
2.  Magical Theory
3.  A Survey of Magical Techniques
4.  Magical Tactics: Writing Effective Spells
5.  Magical Strategy
6.  A Magical Life

The Details

As with the previous two classes, Operative Magic will be on-demand. Video classes will be released once a week – do them at your own pace. It looks like the modules will run longer than the previous classes, but I’m going to do my best to keep them under an hour each.

Module 0 – the syllabus module – is available now. Module 1 will go up June 4 and a new module every week after that. I always include a disclaimer “actual frequency may vary” but I’ve yet to miss a date, and I don’t expect to be late this time either.

Each module will have homework. Doing it is optional, but if you turn it in, I’ll read it and offer my feedback. No, there will be no grades. I’ll stop reviewing homework about a month after the last class – if you haven’t done it by then you’re probably not going to do it.

I will be more rigorous with homework evaluations this time. In the first two classes I was just trying to see if students were engaging with the material. But when it comes to working magic, some answers are better than others. If I think your response can be better I’ll say so. Of course, what you do with my feedback is entirely up to you.

I’ll be available to answer questions about the class even after the homework review period has passed.

K.D. Echols has once again graciously agreed to provide written transcripts for those with hearing difficulties – and for those of you who like to read as well as listen.

No textbooks

There will be no books to buy for this class. There’s not a book on the market that presents this material the way I’m going to present it. There will, however, be lots of recommendations for further reading.

In preparation for the class I encourage you to pick up some of your old Witchcraft 101 books and re-read the spells in them. Which ones have you done? What worked well? What went badly? Most importantly, what did you learn from doing them?

If you don’t have any basic magic books, I recommend Six Ways by Aidan Wachter. I reviewed it back in January.

Costs and Registration

Registration is open now. Send me an e-mail or use the contact form on the Under the Ancient Oaks website and tell me you want to sign up. I’ll send you a PayPal invoice. Once you pay it, I’ll register you for the class. Most times this will be done within 24 hours, but if you catch me while I’m occupied it may take longer.

The cost is the same as the first two courses: $50 for the entire course.

A limited number of scholarships are available for those experiencing financial difficulties. If you’d like to apply for a scholarship, just ask. I’ll take applications until May 30, and I’ll hold all applications until then. I’ll notify everyone of their application status by June 1. NOTE: the scholarship deadline has been extended to June 3.

If you’re in good financial shape, I hope you’ll consider sponsoring a scholarship. Each sponsorship fully funds one scholarship student, and it also counts toward the paid registrations that determine how many scholarships I can fund.


If you have any questions, contact me here or at any of the usual places.

Putting these classes together is a lot of work, but I’m really enjoying this one. I have a lot of things to share that are both magical and practical. I can’t wait for the course to start.

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