Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Lens, Not a Crutch

Ever since chaos magick first emerged as a coherent metaphysical paradigm, some magicians have insisted that "less is more" when it comes to the use of magical forms such as the basic pentagram and hexagram rituals. The idea that the forms can be discarded for specific magical operations once you reach a certain level of proficiency is true - but I don't think that means what they think it means.

Thanks to empirical investigation, I can say pretty definitively that after practicing for many years I can do quite a bit just by directing my thoughts and willing things to happen, my spells still work better if I open an operant field, which involves the pentagram and hexagram rituals. I firmly believe that the forms are not something you use until you somehow "get it" and then can toss them aside. The forms focus your magical power regardless of how good you are, so they work more like a lens than a crutch.

Forms are usually necessary for beginning magicians to get solid results, but that's because the amount of power that beginners can summon is limited. Without the additional focus provided by the forms this power is not strong enough to do much, at least at first. After years of diligent practice it increases, and eventually reaches a point where a single directed thought can do the same work that the forms did when that magician is starting out.

However, anyone who believes that this means they can stop practicing forms is missing the big picture. By using the forms properly, the experienced magician can do much more than he or she could with a simple directed thought. Ceremonial forms are like katas in Karate - every practitioner uses them, from the rank beginner to the highest-ranking black belt. A master of Karate is going to be good in a fight with or without katas, but the katas are used precisely because they are especially effective.

The same is true of magical tools. The school of thought suggesting that magical tools simply represent ideas and as a result you don't absolutely need them goes back to Aleister Crowley, who wrote about performing the Abramelin operation astrally without any of the physical materials. Again, while this is literally true, the tools are around because they work. Even if you are at a place where you can get results without them, you'll be able to accomplish a lot more with them.

So keep up those practices and don't become complacent just when you start to experience some success. We've got a whole world to transform!

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