Friday, September 28, 2012

Above All Else, Experiment!

Recently over on Magick of Thought I was involved in a discussion of magical shielding methods. In response to a question from a commenter about my personal shielding practices, I wrote the following:

The short answer is that I don’t. Working shielded makes your magick less effective in terms of influencing material events. Even if you put up a shield that’s perfectly permeable to your own magical workings, which takes some skill, it still takes some of your energy/power/strength/whatever you want to call it just to maintain the shield. If the overall probability shift you can produce is P(Total), then for a shielded ritual your maximum effect can’t be greater than P(Total) – P(Shield). If your shield isn’t perfectly permeable, then you’re looking at R(Shield), resistance produced by the shield. So then your maximum effect becomes P(Total) – P(Shield) – R(Shield).

Yesterday Taylor Ellwood put up a post on Magical Experiments in response to my comments. One of the interesting things I noted about it is that even though he disagrees with them, he discusses working with a technique he calls the "Sphere of Art" that sounds remarkably similar to what I call an operant field in the context of my own work.

Now when this technique is used it does serve to create a very specific space/time that excludes anything not brought into it by the practitioner. However the beauty of it is that you can bring into it exactly what you need to work with, be it an entity, possibility or something else. Additionally, what is also significant is that when you wrap up the magical working, and return that space/time to regular space/time, you merge it with and embody it into reality, making a seamless transition where there is no resistance to the possibility being manifested.

For reference, compare that to this, particularly the description of the operant field at the bottom of the article. I talk about it in the context of the ceremonial forms that I generally use, but it sounds like the Sphere of Art is probably the same sort of thing created with different methods.

At any rate, Taylor goes on to say that he hasn't run into problems with shielding and that there are workarounds to the problem I mention. In fact he's right - one of the simplest ways around the "power" problem is to anchor the shield external to your own field of consciousness. In effect, that turns it into a sort of servitor or entity that can function on its own. But by the time I figured that out, I was to the point where I had come up with what I have found to be a more effective set of entities than any form of protective shielding. In the Magick of Thought discussion, I described this method thusly:

For protective magick, I use a two-pronged approach. First off, I have anchored servitors (or if you prefer, telesmas – artificial spirits that I’ve deliberately created) that don’t drain my personal power and are charged doing nothing but seeking out, helping me avoid, and neutralizing magical threats. Generally speaking they’re overkill and don’t get activated very often, but I built them back when I was more paranoid than I am now and since they don’t drain my personal power there’s no reason to decommission them.

Here's why they're better, in my opinion - my servitors are always looking for threats and neutralizing any that they see long before they can do any damage to me or those around me. I should point out as well that while I was talking about how they work magically in my comment, they help me avoid threats in the course of my mundane life as well, constantly manipulating situations so that I never run into anything all that dangerous. As I said, perhaps that's overkill, but it works very well. Incidentally, in case you're wondering, the second "prong" of my approach is my daily magical practice, which is pretty similar to this with a few modifications and additions that have crept in over the years.

Taylor's final comments bring me to the title of this article, in that I agree with his closing sentiments wholeheartedly. As practitioners we all are different, and everyone who wants to become a "serious mage" needs to experiment with the various methods that are out there to find what works best for them. Don't just take my word for it, or Taylor's, or Mike's, or anyone else's. Do it yourself. While I think that there are some commonalities between different magical methods, from the standpoint of empirical science we're just not there yet. Anyway, even if you do reach the same conclusion as some other practitioner, part of the point of doing magick is to explore all aspects of your being for yourself and come to an understanding of the most harmonious and coherent way to go about pursuing the Great Work.

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