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I Wouldn’t Have Seen It If I Hadn’t Believed It

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on August 31, 2012 | Comments (10)

You might be thinking that I have the title backwards. Surely I meant that I wouldn’t have believed something if I hadn’t seen it.


The statement in the title is actually a quote from Marshall McLuhan, one of the world’s greatest philosophers and multi-talented educators. The quote above clearly shows the way our mind works. If we don’t believe in something, we’re not going to see it.

Marshall McLuhan Holding a Mirror
© Library and Archives Canada

In the political divisiveness becoming ever more apparent in U.S. politics, you will frequently see people quoting different sources to support their interpretations of the facts. Which sources will they quote? Which sources will they accept as valid? Why, the sources that provide “proof” for what they already believe, of course!

People will watch or listen to conservatives for “news” when they begin with a belief that these individuals are conservatives like themselves and hold the same points of view. People will watch or listen to progressives for “news” when they begin with a belief that these individuals are progressives like themselves and hold the same points of view. This results in an “information loop” of people only hearing what they want to hear, of only accepting the “facts” that they already want to believe.

If you don’t believe in climate change the only facts you will accept are those that prove climate change is a myth.

If you do believe in climate change the only facts you will accept are those that prove climate change exists.

If you don’t believe that magick is possible, you will never find magick.

•   •   •

One of my favorite writers was the late, great, Robert Anton Wilson. I had the good fortune to spend time with him on a few occasions. On one occasion, we took turns buying each other drinks at an airport bar. When the time to depart finally arrived, I owed him a drink. He died before I could make good my debt, and I hope that in the afterlife or a future life I’ll be able to make amends.

Robert Anton Wilson
Photo by frankenstoen

For me, reading Wilson is like being hit over the head with a bat. Not many writers do that to me, especially those who write philosophical, spiritual, or magickal books. Wilson wrote:

The materialist fundamentalists are funnier than the Christian fundamentalists, because they think they’re rational! …They’re never skeptical about anything except the things they have a prejudice against. None of them ever says anything skeptical about the AMA, or about anything in establishment science or any entrenched dogma. They’re only skeptical about new ideas that frighten them.

He’s wittily pointing out that the pseudo-skeptics, what I call followers of the ersatz religion of scientism and he calls materialist fundamentalists, have preset beliefs and they will only accept the “facts” that fall into their belief system. They won’t see anything magickal or spiritually mysterious because they don’t believe it is possible. They will never see it because they don’t believe it.

When it comes to magick, one of the things I’ve written is that you must have a positive attitude about what you’re doing. You have to believe in magick and that it’s going to work. If you don’t, you’ll never find anything magickal and never be very successful at magick. You won’t see it unless you believe it.

This does not mean that magick is nothing but psychological froo-froo. It means you have to believe it and know that it will work in order for it to work. If you don’t think your magick is real and works, your unconscious mind will work overtime to prove you’re right. The unconscious works to support what it believes are the goals of the conscious. If your unconscious thinks that your conscious believes reciting spells or performing rituals is ineffectual, it will do everything in its power to prove you’re right.

The Ugly Secret of Some Magick Books

If you have read many hundreds, perhaps thousands of occult books, you will eventually have the realization that some writers present rituals and spells they think should be effective, but they have never actually performed what they wrote. I have nothing against that if the writer clearly states that he or she has not done something. There are a few instances in my Modern Magick, Modern Sex Magick, and Tarot & Magic where I state that what I’m presenting has been reported to me but I’ve not done it myself.

Why do they pump out books when they don’t walk their talk? Some believe that, logically, something should work. Others are just cynically trying to appeal to the magickal market. And some don’t practice what they write because they’re afraid that it just might work.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.

—Henry Ford

Portrait of Henry Ford in 1919

Belief that magick works is a prerequisite for the practice of magick. It may simply be a belief that you’ll try magick out without prejudgement. Unfortunately, most people who try magick do so in an attempt to prove something to themselves, taking an “I don’t believe it but I’ll try it, and if it works than I’ll believe it” approach. As you may have figured out by now, people who try magick with that attitude rarely have positive results.

If you have not been having success with your magick, or not been having the level of success you desire, the cause may simply be that on some level you don’t believe magick is real; you don’t believe that magick works. If this is the cause of your lack of success, let me give you the following suggestion, just something to try.

  1. Before doing any magick, sit in the area where you’re going to be doing the spell or rite.
  2. Imagine that you are not in the current room, but standing just outside of it. You’re holding a piece of luggage.
  3. Look down at the luggage and you’ll see a name tag. Rather than your name, however, it has one word on the tag: Disbelief.
  4. As you look at the piece of luggage, imagine it is getting heavier. As each second passes, the luggage fills with more and more of your disbelief.
  5. When it is filled with every drop of your doubts and disbelief and is so heavy you can’t hold it any more, visualize yourself setting the luggage down.
  6. Now visualize yourself walking into your room and sitting or standing just where you currently are.
  7. Look back at the suitcase filled with doubts and disbelief. Know that it’s not going anywhere. After you perform the magick you can go out there and pick it back up (if that’s what you really want to do). Visualize the door to your area closing with the baggage left outside.
  8. Do your magick.
  9. At the conclusion of your magickal practice, determine whether or not you want to collect your old baggage. Be aware that you are more likely to achieve success if you wait until after the results of the magick occur before picking up the baggage.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapt in awe, is as good as dead.

—Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein. Vienna, 1921.


People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

—George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw in 1889

Reader Comments

Written By Phaedra Bonewits
on August 31st, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

One of my favorite quotes from Crowley (although my memory might be paraphrasing it) is that one should be a skeptic outside the circle but a believer within it.

Written By Val
on August 31st, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

Lovely post!!! Enjoyed it!!!

Written By Mark Nelson
on August 31st, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

“This results in an ‘information loop’ of people only hearing what they want to hear, of only accepting the ‘facts’ that they already want to believe.”

This is the principal reason that I believe that the only way to arrive closer to the ‘truth’ is by debate between those of differing opinions. Other wise one only reinforces their own ideas which ultimately biases one entirely off scale. When I state something I try to provide references for my statement that, of course, support it. This gives the reader a chance to check up on me to some degree. Unfortunately the research takes a lot of time. I spent about 10 hours to support or refute a statement by a friend of mine. The results were to clearly refute their stance. For my efforts I was ultimately un-friended by them.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on August 31st, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

Unfortunately, Mark, if people are in an information loop and unwilling to listen to anything outside of the loop, presenting even documented support for your position will go unheard, unread, unappreciated, and unconsidered. And if you keep presenting the information to others that they don’t want to consider, their obvious option is to simply eliminate you (metaphorically, of course) from bothering them.

By the same token, even if you are willing to listen to alternative opinions, considering them requires a person to do things like fact check claims. I recently had a person who was constantly posting outright lies to me. No matter how many times I would go to the trouble of finding information that proved this person’s position was incorrect, my responses were ignored and more misrepresentation was posted. I finally gave up and simply unfriended him.

Real debate, in my opinion, requires people to logically and reasonably consider the ideas of another. If one person refuses to do so, or simply misrepresents facts, there is no debate possible.

Written By Dave
on August 31st, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

This is an excellent article and applies to more than just magick or politics. The thing that mystifies me most about people is how they become emotionally involved with their ideas so that if you dispute their ideas or even express a contrary opinion it is interpreted as a personal attack on them! This attitude reminds me of a line from my 10th grade geometry teacher who said “You peoples’ minds are like concrete! All mixed up and permanently set!” I try my level best not to be this way but it infects even me to one extent or another. Wouldn’t the world be more magickal if we all worked on just this one character flaw?

Thanks Donald for the fine article.

Written By Jah
on August 31st, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

Wonderful post!!! I love the quotes you cited. Thank you!

Written By Esme
on September 2nd, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

Great post! Exactly what I needed to hear today.

Written By Nona
on September 10th, 2012 @ 7:22 am

Very interesting read – and I agree that this could be applied to more than just magick! My spiritualist beliefs come to mind…
Thank you I will definitely share this with friends!


  1. Belief « Frater Ajaashb's Place  on September 2nd, 2012 @ 8:52 am

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