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Magic 2, Requirement 10

Explain how you determine if a magical working is the proper action in the situation you wish to apply it to. Describe your method of determining the proper magical course of action, from start to finish, as well as any particular exercises (such as divination) you go through to ensure that your actions are correct. (min. 600 words)

Determining if a magical working is the correct course of action is a compound process: you are not just determining whether this action is virtuous, but also whether it is needed.

While books on magic and ethics focus on the need to be ethical in our Work, I tend to focus first on whether magic is the best method by which a thing can be accomplished. The first step in doing this is to determine the desired outcome, the result I wish to create.

Once the desired result is determined (and, generally, I work hard to ensure that the phrasing is correct, clear, and concise), I take serious stock of the action ahead of me. Is this action best solved by magic, or is it best solved by another means?

A good example of this might be my recent work at learning American Sign Language. When I first encountered the feeling that I couldn't learn this language, I posted a LiveJournal entry about it. As a result, I received a number of comments that I should "just change your paradigm" to pass the class. This, of course, is a chaos magic technique that has served me well. But after examining whether I could or should do it this way, I determined that it was neither the easiest nor most effective way to complete the course. Instead, I decided on a secular, physical direction, and it paid off in a 97% passing grade.

At other times, I have been asked to use magic as a "quick fix", similar to the above: in life, relationships, and other areas. But I tend to resist those urges and that advice, because it rarely is the best way to deal with life in general.

The best criteria I have for whether magic is a good choice is to ask two questions in particular. The first, "Is this the best way to accomplish this task?" has already been covered. The second is more subjective, and consists of, "Will I grow from the use of magic in this instance?" This second question can only be answered by me, and the criteria involved are extremely variable.

Once I have determined that magic is indeed the best course of action, I seek to understand better what my bias is. I work out why I am interested in this particular end result, and how it will affect me. This leads me directly into my next question.

The question I ask next is "Is the end result virtuous?" Here, I apply the Nine Virtues of ADF (wisdom, vision, piety, integrity, perseverance, courage, hospitality, moderation, and fertility) to the end result, and then to the process of achieving that end result. There are, of course, not right or wrong answers; rather, I simply seek an understanding of the situation, and then re-balance my outlook and seek to determine if the action is one that is virtuous or not. I examine which virtues interact with each other, which are more useful than others, and which stand out as being either vitally important or irrelevant.

If I have come this far, I am unlikely to be dissuaded. Only now, once I am fully confident that this is the right course of action, do I seek the counsel of the Gods. I have placed this step so deep in the process because, when I work as a magician, I like to come before the gods with my plan, the ability to offer them a solid explanation for my actions, and ask more informed questions about both my own motives and theirs. I may, on occasion, skip this step if I am certain of the course, of if I don't feel that the Gods are necessarily interested in my working, but if I am unclear about the situation, I always ask.

Finally, I look over the entire process, from start to finish, and I ask one final question of myself. This final question is the most important to me, as it can make or break a working: "Is this magical working fun?"

It sounds tongue-in-cheek, but it is the litmus test that every ritual I do must pass. A ritual that has no play, that is not, in some way, "fun", is obviously incorrect. I should be able to look at my scripts, my phrasing, and my intents and find where play enters the working. If I determine that play is somehow inappropriate to this working, I am very likely to stop and start from scratch.

If all tests are passed, I ensure that my loose ends are tied up, make certain that if there is further work to be done it can be scheduled (or at least prescribed to the patient), and then I set my beginning time and go from there.

In short, this is the outline of the process:

  1. Determine desired result.
  2. Determine if magic is needed.
    • If "no", stop here, plan a non-magical course, and execute.
    • If "yes", continue.
  3. "Why do I want this/what is my bias?"
  4. "Is this virtuous?"
  5. Approach the Gods through Divination.
  6. "Is this working fun?"


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