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Magick Doesn’t Work

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on February 4, 2010 | Comments (13)

When I was in high school I took several science classes that included performing experiments. It’s a basic premise of science that under the same conditions, your experiments should show the same results. For example, if you fill a test tube with oxygen, then insert a lit match into the test tube, the flame should become brighter. If you perform the experiment and the flame goes out, it’s assumed that you, the scientist, did something wrong.

I believe that magick is (or should be considered) an experimental science. Curiously, most people look at a magickian, and if his or her magick didn’t work, rather than assume that the magickian/scientist did something wrong, they automatically assume that magick doesn’t work.

Do you see this split? In one case, if Y doesn’t happen when you perform X, the practitioner is at fault. In another case, if Y doesn’t happen when you perform X, the entire practice is at fault.

In my opinion, though, part of the responsibility for this observation justifiably falls on some magickians. Many magickians look at a modern or classic book on magick and accept everything in it as being a law that must not be challenged. This changes magick from being a science to being a type of religion, and therefore should be judged differently than science.

There is a saying that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity. An example of this would be repeatedly hitting yourself on the head with a hammer and expecting that it won’t hurt the next time.

Therefore, as an act of sanity, I would suggest that every book on magick should be looked at as a guideline and not a commandment set in stone. Guidelines are great. They are places to start and are useful because other people have had success with them. Try them out. If they work for you continue to use them. If they don’t work for you, act like a scientist. Modify one aspect of the magick at a time and see what happens. Record the results in a journal or magickal diary.

With dedication you will have your own book of magick that will be highly successful—for you. It may not work for others.

A Word of Warning

When learning magick, there are three things you need to do to achieve success:

practice, practice, practice.

When using a computer to keep your magickal diary or journal there are also three things you need to do to achieve success:

backup, backup, backup.

Where to Start

Today, so many people are interested in learning magick, but there are relatively few trainers or schools for learning the science. Therefore, if you want to learn the science of magick, a great place to begin is with books. Here are some you might find helpful:

True Magick

Foundations of Magic

The Essential Golden Dawn

Earth Power

Candle Magic for Beginners

Practical Magic for Beginners

and of course, my favorite:

Modern Magick

Reader Comments

Written By AarTiana
on February 4th, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

Great post Donald Michael! 🙂

As an astrologer, I can tell you that there is no such thing as the “same circumstances” when doing something twice, since the planets and lights – and really the entire sky never repeats itself exactly. Just a thought!

(Yes, I am a bit crazy, right?)

Written By lada
on February 5th, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

there is science
and there is art.
perhaps, as in Medicine
you ‘practice’ at melding
the two.

Written By Jade Wolf-Dragon
on February 5th, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

Awesome post! The practioner should take a look back and understand that some Magick doesn’t work because better things are in store later down the road.

Written By KJd
on February 10th, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

To the Post Person of this Blog. You cannot compare Magic or Magick to Science unless you speak of an Alcamist Student, then this would apply, Magic / Magick, is an earthbound Religion dating back to the earliest Religions, and has been proven to work, you are being more like s psychologist in stating X to Y’s, The proven point is that Magic/Magick is not yet a truly proven science, but then again we who follow the path our not out to prove anything, It is a way of our lives and we our not scientific Lab Rats.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 10th, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

Hi, KJD.

Thank you for your comments. However, I must respectfully disagree.

Magick existed long before there was any religion—if you define “religion” as an organized system of faith and worship. If you define “religion” in a different way, then by your definition you might be correct.

I would be more inclined to say that magick has been a part of every magickal system much as the wheels are part of every automobile. The wheels aren’t the automobile by themselves, but the car doesn’t work well without them.

All science is only proven until something comes along and disproves it. Atoms were thought to be the smallest things until that was disproven by the discovery of subatomic particles. Subatomic particles were thought to be the smallest things until the discovery of quarks.

The problem with “proving” magick or any scientific endeavor is that no matter how we try to get rid of the variables, there may still be one that we don’t fully appreciate or understand: our minds. Our minds determine what the variables are, how the testing should be done, etc. But we don’t think of our mind as a variable because everything we think and do is filtered through our minds.

So really, all science and magick allow us to do is better understand the reality that is interpreted by our minds. For most people Newtonian laws work just as well or better than quantum mechanics. And I believe that is really the key: does it work? For many thousands of people today and throughout history, magick absolutely does work.

So is it a “proven” science? I believe it is, at least as much as any science can be.

So we may disagree, and that’s okay. I believe we can disagree without being disagreeable.

Written By Christi Plemons
on February 13th, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

So if there is no set way… then how will we know we are doing all the rituals… studies… motions…vibrations… etc right? I am refering to your statements regarding that if magick is not working to change an aspect until you find what works. I know that I have been practicing magick for 9 years and felt stagnant. So, my brother suggested moving to a more intermediate form of magickal work and study your book Modern Magick… and then The Golden Dawn.

We have been working on foundation and understanding. One of the things both you and Regardie say is… not to move forward until you have memorized and fully understand the concept of the current instruction (lesson). How will I know what aspect to modify or even when an aspect is the problem and not my inexperience in the ritual work?

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 14th, 2010 @ 11:37 am

Hi, Christi. Thank you for your comment.

I would respond to your question with a two-part answer.

First, you’ll know something is effective when it works.
Second, break down each of your magickal practices into its component parts. Include such things a the weather, the phase of the moon, whether you’re tired or energetic, you emotional state, and each aspect of the ritual(s) you’re performing. Record this in your magickal record or diary.

Then, change one of those aspects. Try the ritual with just one of those aspects changed several times. If it’s effective, keep it. If not, go back to the original pattern and try something else. This is like a scientist doing investigative research.

You can always return to the basic starting practices. They are often reported, practiced, and written about as they have worked for many people.

I hope this helps!

Written By Christi Plemons
on February 16th, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

Thank you… That does help. I do the Magick Jornal just like that. I used your Modern Magick book to begin my new Journey. So I do that pattern of record keeping. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you for your response.

I do have a few questions for you that my brother who is incarcerated wanted to know and I didnt know where I could ask it at. I hope this is the appropriate place. If not… please let me know because we use your books together via email. Here is what he sent me….

concerning the self initiation into the golden dawn by Cicero

why use the goddess Themis for the ritual of initiation? isnt themis a greek goddess when the rest of the rituals are cenetered on egyption pantheon/ is it good to mix? confusing to me

Paths on the tree of life, not really understanding them could he recommend a good book to help me further understand. one not written in code?

do you believe that what we call lower magick is just as effective as higher magick? wicca vs ceremonial

He would be just thrilled if I was to send him your answers to these questions.

Thank you for all you do for the Pagan community. I plan on getting your Sex Magick book soon. I love Modern Magick. It is the best way to grasp information before moving into the Golden Dawn by Regardie. I also loved your interview on personal life media on sex magick.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 17th, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

Hi, Christi!

You can always contact me via my email: DonK@llewellyn.com

I wouldn’t want to misrepresent the Ciceros in a reply, so I would suggest contacting them directly through their website:

Concerning the paths on the Tree of Life, one of the most respected books on the subject is Gareth Knight’s “A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism.” That was originally a two-volume set, and the material in question is in the second volume. I believe it is now available in one united volume.

I have worked with both low and high magick, also known as natural magick and ceremonial magick. In my experience both are completely effective…but they are not equally effective for all people. If someone is more attracted to and comfortable with one style over another, he or she is likely to have more success with that style.

I hope this answers your questions, and thanks for your kind comments.

Written By Christi Plemons
on February 21st, 2010 @ 6:03 am

Thank you so much. I will paste your answers into his email. I will also go and check out the site you suggested and get the book your recommended for him.

Once again… I appreciate you taking your time to answer his questions.

Written By Josiah Sherebia
on September 17th, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

My own metaphysical studies and experiments have yielded the following: No human being can manipulate hard reality. No matter what type of magick it is, it does not work. None of us is really driving. Some of us may have some small insiginificant succession, but none of us is driving. Consider you place and size in the Universe. You have as much size as a microbe. Now see yourself shifting the laws of the Universe…it’s a fools errand

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on September 17th, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

Josiah, I can’t disagree with your personal experience. However, I can say that your post exhibits a logical fallacy: you assume that because something is true for you it must be true for all. In all my writings I stress that I’m describing what has worked for me and for others, but you have to determine if it works for you. Just because you or I say something does not mean it is true for everyone. As Dion Fortune wrote, there is no room for authority in occultism.

It’s interesting that you describe humans as having the “size of a microbe.” Little microbes are capable of destroying entire civilizations. The Little microbe that caused the flu after WWI, the “war to end all wars,” killed more people than the total number of people killed by that war.

As an martial artist will tell you, size has nothing to do with who wins a fight. It is only the observation of the materialist who thinks that size is the only determining factor. It is the materialist who, because he doesn’t understand the greater reality of the spiritual universe, declares that magick doesn’t work.

Indeed, for him, trying to work magick is a fool’s errand. He wastes his time trying to shift the laws of the universe. The magician, on the other hand, actually learns the laws of the universe and works with them. To those who refuse to see, the easiest thing to do is deny the magician’s success.

Written By Terrance
on June 4th, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

I studied many different systems of belief before I really started studying Magick, and I noticed that not only are most of the worlds major religious systems centered around the same basic concepts, they all including Magick are only effective if you have FAITH. Even in Christianity we see that there was a city that Jesus went to where he was unable to perform any miracles because of the town peoples unbelief. So I would definitly agree with Donald that it all depends on the individual factors, as even subconcious doubt or negativity will hinder attempts ineffective.

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