In his 1973 book, Time Enough for Love, Robert A. Heinlein wrote,
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
I agree with this idea. My mother used to express the concept that someone could be a “jack of all trades, master of none.” I’ve come to disagree. Why not become a master of all things you want to master? I’ve worked as an illusionist, performing before thousands. I’ve been a musician, performing before tens of thousands. I’ve been the editor-in-chief of magazines. Currently, I’m the head of the free, on-line Llewellyn Encyclopedia.Ā (check it out. Are there any words or phrases missing? Let me know.) And of course, I’m an author, lecturer, workshop leader, and a blogger.
Over the past decade I’ve also become deeply involved with the study of hypnosis. I’ve spent thousands of hours studying and practicing hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I’m certified as a hypnotherapist by three international organizations and I’m certified as an instructor of hypnosis and hypnotherapy. One of my other skills is as the moderator of an internet forum on hypnosis at another website.
The Questions that Link Hypnosis and Magick
In all honesty, there isn’t a single question that links hypnosis and magick, but there is a style of question that does this. That takes a bit of an explanation.
Most people have similar misconceptions about magick and hypnosis. These misconceptions are due to movies, TV, comic books, and novels where hypnosis and magick are simply gimmicks to move the plot. They don’t have to be realistic, they merely have to move the action along. With hypnosis, the misconception is that you can read an induction (a method to help lead a person into a hypnotic state) and then read a script of suggestions, following which a person is completely changed. With magick, the misconception is that you can emotionlessly mumble a bunch of words that have no meaning to you and something magickal will immediately occur.
Both of these commonly believed misconceptions lead to the questions that link hypnosis and magick. With hypnosis, the question frequently asked (on the forum I moderate) is, “I’ve read a few books on hypnosis and watched some videos on the internet. Will someone please tell me the best self-induction method and then give me a list of suggestions so I can overcomeā¦?” This is concluded with some issue they have. Often, this issue is surprisingly major.
Similarly, the question I often receive via mail or email is, “Can you please give me a ritual or spell to do so I can overcomeā¦?”
Both of these questions assume that magick and hypnosis are simple and easy to do. The truth is that both magick and hypnosis are simple and easy. But that doesn’t mean they don’t require practice to master. In Modern Magick I wrote that magick requires three things in order to master it: practice, practice, practice. The same is true with hypnosis, woodworking, skateboarding, dentistry, and most other skills.
The answers to the questions are:
Yes, I can give you inductions. But I don’t know if any particular one will work for you.
Yes, I can give you suggestions. But I don’t know if they will apply to you specifically or if you’ll be able to deliver them appropriately.
Yes, I can give you a spell. But I don’t know if you have the training and experience to use it successfully.
I remember reading (was it in Eliphas Levi?) that telling someone the truth when they couldn’t accept it is tantamount to telling them a lie. Giving someone the induction, the suggestions or the spell, if they can’t use it, is wasting their time and your time, as well as furthering the misconceptions about hypnosis or magick.
Another way to look at it is this: Would you go to a dentist, doctor, or brain surgeon to make major changes in your life if they had only learned from a couple of books or a few YouTube videos? Why think that with that same limited trained you can do magick or hypnosis safely and effectively?
The Questions that Link
Hypnosis, Magick, and Self-Empowerment
The ultimate version of these question for hypnosis is, “Will you fix this problem for me? I have no money but I need help and if you do this I know my life will change.” The ultimate version of these questions for magick is, “Will you do a spell to fix this problem for me? I have no money but I need help and if you do this I know my life will change.”
Most often, these problems are serious. They are not, “Can you get rid of my acne?” or “Can you get me a date for the dance?” They are more along the lines of “Can you get rid of my cancer?” or “My life is in financial ruins so can you help me win the lottery?”
There are numerous unstated sub-texts to these type of questions. One I’d like to mention is that the people who are asking these questions are often in a state of fear. They don’t know what to do and although there has been a long build-up to their current situations they are looking for a quick and easy way out. They want a magic take-one-pill-and-your-problem-is-over solution. Such unrealistic solutions rarely exist. When they do, they are usually the result of long periods of research and aren’t free. Further, they often require major additional changes in one’s life, and if you’re not willing to make those changes the effect of the single pill solution rarely lasts.
The second is more important. The reason hypnosis works is because our unconscious minds are often not in harmony with our conscious minds. With hypnosis we can harmonize them. This has the effect of empowering you. Modern hypnotists help you learn techniques so you can continue with this harmony, increasing self-empowerment.
With magick, if someone does magick for you, you are empowering the magickian, not yourself. The result is that the next time you develop a problem, you’ll have no way to resolve it. Rather than becoming self-empowered, you empower the magickian to have control over your life.
One of my goals with Modern Magick is to empower the reader/practitioner. One of my goals with hypnotherapy is to help clients become self-empowered. This means learning hypnosis, magick or, if you don’t want to be like Heinlein’s insect, perhaps both. This means start learning today to prepare for tomorrow.