Why do we do magic? That’s a loaded question, full of linguistic traps (e.g. what is ‘magic?’ what do we mean when we say ‘do magic?’) and contradictions. You can ask this question philosophically or anthropologically as well–why are humans motivated to perform magic? how do the forms of magic arise, and what, in a spiritual sense, do we hope to gain?
I’m asking this question practically. Why do I do magic? At the most basic level, I do magic to effect changes I want to see in myself, my life, and the world. How do I do magic? This is a murky question with similar pitfalls, but I’ll try to keep it simpler. I do magic, and I’m positing that we all do magic, by stacking the deck–altering probability to turn out in our favor. Something like 85-90% of magic is, at its most basic level, a way to create our own serendipity.
The difference between increasing probability and specific outcomes
I doubt anyone will argue with me when I say that magic is less like a scalpel and more like buckshot fired from a shotgun. It makes the most impact when you plan ahead, train up your skills, remain aware of your environment, and bring the right tool for the occasion. It is absolutely nothing like placing an order at a restaurant–what you ask for is exactly what you’ll get. Magic often takes the long way round, the twisting path, the most confusing and silly and terrifying way from point A (no job and busted car) to point B (new job and fixed-up car). And honestly, sometimes you never quite get from point A to point B–sometimes you end up stuck somewhere in between (magic does fail, kids), or at a point C (starting a home business!) you never expected to find.
When I do magic, I’m trying to significantly increase the chances that something good will happen (say, that I’ll find a new job), or significantly decrease the chances something awful will happen (like my car breaking down before I get the new job and thus the money to fix it). No matter the method you use, from low country folk magic to high ceremonial grimorie magic to something in between, this is the desired (and realistic) result.
By acknowledging that this is what I’m looking to accomplish–increase my chances of getting a job, any job that I’m qualified for and actively seeking by putting in applications and showing up on time for scheduled interviews, or by advertising my business and soliciting work–I bring my expectations in line with the reasonable possibilities magic puts within my reach. I’m not sabotaging myself from the get-go by expecting an amazing low-stress high-pay job that I’ve never even heard of to drop into my lap with a bow on top, no effort required–I’m using my reasonable expectation to feed into my work, to help shape the outcome not only of my magic spell (or whatever term you prefer) but also my job hunt.
I’m not a statistician. For what it’s worth, even though I was one of those annoying destroy-the-bell-curve students, math was my worst subject. But a few years of working my mojo has taught me this: when you’re practicing magic, what you’re essentially doing is playing the numbers of probability. And that’s a very good thing. It’s a thing that lets you be proactive.
The practical bit
Try it out. Magic, contrary to some opinion, doesn’t have to be complicated (just ask Jason Miller). One of the most important, and most effective, things you can do to boost your probability-bending powers is make regular offerings to a group of spirits or deities (or both) that you regularly work with. Build up a relationship of mutual obligation–you make regular offerings, and they regularly aid your work (or even perform work on your behalf) to increase the chances of awesomeness in your life. See what the key word is here, folks? Keep it regular. And I’ll guess it’s a safe bet that more often than not, probability will be on your side.
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