The Scientific Method is the means by which science advances. It has five major attributes:
- Proposal of a hypothesis
- Experimentation to prove or disprove the hypothesis
- Rigorous recording of the results of the experiments
- Repeatability of the experiment with the same results under the same conditions
- A resulting theory or law.
One of the “dirty little secrets” that modern scientists don’t like to acknowledge is that the scientific method was originally developed by practitioners of magick! Specifically, it began with the medieval alchemists. Their following of this 5-step procedure eventually resulted in the development of modern chemistry. Many people think that science is the opposite of magick. In fact, science is a development of magick. Famed author Arthur C. Clarke made this clear in his “law”:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic[k].”
So if this is true, the question every magician should ask himself or herself is, “How can I apply the scientific method to my practice of magick to improve my results?”
Step 1) Hypothesis: The most important hypothesis that is intrinsic to the practice of magick can simply be stated as “magick works.” In its extended form it would be, “The fundamental laws of magick, as currently understood, are effective.”
Step 2) Create an experiment (ritual, spell, etc.) to prove or disprove this hypothesis.
Step 3) Keep a “magickal record” or “magickal diary” that thoroughly documents the conditions of the “experiment,” what you did, and the results of your work.
Step 4) By following what is in your magickal record, you should be able to duplicate the success of your ritual or spell.
Step 5) You should be able to state your theory for the “laws of magick.” That is, you should be able to document what works for you.
There are a few things I want to point out about this. The first is that it begins with a simple presumption: magick works. If we didn’t presume that we’d be doing nothing more than waving wands and wasting time.
The second thing is that there are laws or rules by which magick works. Part of the work of any magician is to discover what those rules are.
The third thingâ€”and I think this is very important to understandâ€”is that there is nothing describing experiments “failing.” In other words, I believe it’s important to understand that magick is an experimental science. Not getting the results you want does not mean you’ve failed, it only means that you have not followed (or discovered) the rules or laws of magick. In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), this is simply described this way:
There is no failure, only feedback.
Not getting the results you want is feedback. What condition(s) of magick didn’t you fulfill? The best way to learn this information is by keeping an exacting record of each ritual in your magickal diary. After many experiments/rituals/spells, you’ll see that some worked and some did not. Compare all the conditions, both internal (the way you feel) and external (time, moon phase, weather, etc.), plus the specific rituals or spells that you used. After several such experiments, you’ll see similarities that can help define the laws of effective magick for you.
The fourth thing is the understanding that you are a unique individual. Certain things that apply to you may or may not apply to anyone else. The same is true for all of the classic grimoires of magick and modern spellbooks. The authors have shared what works for them and for others. This is a great place to start. It should not be a finish. If you merely copy what someone has written you are involved in hero worship, not magick. Begin with your teachers, be they people or books, then experiment. Modify and change one or two conditions of your ritual experiment. Is the result more or less effective? Keep working until your magick becomes powerful and your results are exactly what you wantedâ€¦or better!
Finally, after you have proven your theory (the techniques of how magick works for you), I think you have an obligation to do one more thing: Share what you know! Today, with the internet and publishing on demand, that is easier, more effective, and less expensive than ever. The challenge with this is not becoming dogmatic. Sure, it works for you, and your path and experience will help others on their magickal path. But that does not mean they can or should follow in your footsteps. Rather, they can follow a parallel path to yours, modifying and changing what you’ve shared so that magick becomes highly effective for them.
In this post I hope you will get some practical ideas: using the scientific method to improve your magick, realizing that there is no failure, only feedback, the laws of magick have a degree of personal uniqueness, and the importance of keeping a very complete magickal record. My book Modern Magick, includes complete instructions on what to include in your record.
What do you think? Do you use the scientific method in your magick?