Ask anyone how to get magic, and the answer they will give you is simple and correct: practice.
But anyone who has been this for a while can give you a million analogies as to why this is not the full answer anymore than someone asking how to build muscle and you’re told: lift more. You do all of those squats and before you know it, you have an injury. Why? Because while you were lifting more, you weren’t lifting correctly.
Magic isn’t all that dissimilar.
HOW should one practice? Is there a right and a wrong way to practice? What helps with some things more than others?
Here are some good tips:
- Have a regular practice that feeds your magic in addition to doing magic. In another blog post I covered when some rituals needed to be done repeatedly vs being a one time deal. Part of this is exercising your magic muscles but a part of this is also feeding them. What is a good example of this? I would say that any regular ritual or rite that you do involving a spirit, daemon, or deity pertaining to magic is a terrific example. While it’s recommended that you do this with one you have a relationship with already, this is also a great way to establish one. How do you know if it’s the right one? If you feel a pull, do the thing. You can also ask them directly if they would like to work with you and if they don’t feel it’d be a good match to recommend someone else. Obviously this is easiest for people who are theist and already have a pantheon or particular deity they already interact with. But any regular, basic ritual which helps to connect you to your practice is a fantastic way to get better and reaching out for aid is one way to get that done.
- Do regular rites which aid you in maintaining spiritual and magical purity. There are many, many ways to do this and I’ve blogged about several. Clearing out your space, your crap, and you is always a good thing and will lead to additional insights into things you need to work on in order to become a better occultist.
- Do regular energy work. As a beginner who has not figured out what senses you have and how to work them, this may be your biggest challenge. Some people are visual, some auditory, some sensory. Some are a mixture of the above and use them all when they engage in their work. I’ve found that the biggest weakness of a lot of groups and traditions is the emphasis on visuals and not enough on learning what works for you. If you can sense heat, is visualizing flames any better? I really feel that expecting everyone to be visual is somewhat ableist and we can do more to help people to get a better grip on energy work. Do meditative exercises and figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are, and if you can work on the stuff you’re weak on, fantastic! Eastern disciplines do a great job with energy work. You can learn tai chi, Qi Kung, or Reiki. There are also various sites online with basic exercises to work on in order to figure out how to do the thing, such as this one here.
- Study and practice a chosen magical discipline or tradition that appeals to you. Invest your time and energy into this one, and learn it inside and out. Ask questions, use critical thinking, and try to figure out for yourself why and how things work within that tradition and what they mean. Use tools both mindfully and intelligently. Know where they came from and why they’re used. It doesn’t have to be old as balls in order to be a valid practice, do what works. It’s not unusual to try out a variety of practices to figure out what is the most magically efficacious for you, and often people will wind up in more than one discipline. Just remember to take the time to fully respect and understand a tradition before going all over the place and ultimately confusing both yourself and your work.
- Meditate and get familiar with being in altered states of consciousness. People like to take drugs in order to get here, and it’s not an invalid practice as far as spirituality is concerned if done intelligently, mindfully, and with discernment. It’s also a good way of seeing the sort of altered states you could potentially get into and achieve. However, I personally advise getting to know how to get into altered states without the use of drugs so you know how to get in and how to get out on your own. The absolute best way to start is through having a regular meditation practice. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or elaborate, and could be as little as five minutes a day to start. One of the best ones I know is holding your breath for four counts, holding for four count, exhaling for four counts, holding for four counts, then repeat. It’s simple, it doesn’t rely on fanatically clearing your mind, and it’s very basic and approachable to anyone of absolutely any faith, background, or lack thereof. Some people use mantras that mean something to them and their tradition. Like I’ve stated before for other things, use what works.
- Practice. Actually get out there and do the work. Expect to screw up, don’t be afraid of screwing up, and learn from when you screw up. It’s the only way to go. People being afraid to do something because they fear whether or not they’ll “get it right” is the bane of any practice. Leave perfectionism at the doorstep and embrace yourself as you are, right now. You can only get better from here by doing the thing and there is absolutely no shortcut to this.
- Have patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, muscles are not developed in the gym after a few days of going there and lifting stuff, and you will not be a master magician overnight. You will find that small changes over time will exponentially increase your aptitude and strength in occultism, and it’s the little things that matter more than the big things.