For those of you reading this who don’t know, for the last decade I’ve spent a great deal of time studying, being trained in, and practicing hypnosis. I’m certified as a hypnotist by several organizations and have advanced certifications in several specialties. I’m also certified to teach hypnosis. When people ask me to teach them hypnosis, they generally have two questions or interests. The first is about inductions—the ability to lead someone into a trance. They either want to learn numerous inductions or “the best” induction. If you check the internet you will find dozens of people offering special and unique inductions that only they can teach.

The second thing people want to learn about is the “best” script to achieve some change in a person’s behavior. A script is simply a written monologue with specially-worded suggestions that supposedly encourage a person’s subconscious to make a change.

These requests seem fine, but the answer is a bit complex and many people get rather upset when I don’t give a simple and simplistic response.

The Hypnotic Paradigm

The way trained hypnotists approach the world is by seeing each person as a unique individual. That means there is no “best” induction that works on everyone. However for every person there is an induction that will result in reaching hypnotic trance. For some people there may be several inductions or variations on inductions that will achieve this goal. In reality, there are actually only a few basic underlying concepts for inductions, but an infinite number of variations. Some people claim they have invented a “new” induction, but I have never seen one of these inductions that is not a variation on one of the basic concepts. (For those who are interested, the basic inductions include confusion, pattern interrupts, focus, boredom, etc.)

Virtually all introductory books on hypnosis include scripts of what to tell others (or yourself) during a hypnotic trance in order to obtain desired change. I also own some books—some of which are very expensive—that are nothing but such scripts. The error beginning hypnotists make is that they think they should memorize or read these scripts to people who are hypnotized. This is completely wrong. Scripts are intended to be studied for concepts and approaches, not to be repeated by rote. That’s why I have all of those books—to see what others do and how they approach issues. I then combine these ideas with what I’ve learned from talking with a person before  the induction.

In order to alleviate allergy symptoms a person who developed allergies after a death in the family may need a different set of suggestions than a person who developed allergies after moving to a new location. A predetermined script of suggestions may not work for people with these different causes of allergy.

In sum, good hypnotists create inductions that will work for a specific individual and then use specific suggestions to meet the needs of that individual. These may be based on traditional concepts, but they are modified for the needs of the individual.

Magick is Individual, Too

Certain types of rituals, such as those that honor the God and Goddess or the Wheel of the Year, involve magickal or non-ordinary aspects, but as a goal tend to be celebratory or honorific in nature. They often follow a set plan and, in some cases, simply repeat themselves. In some Wiccan traditions, the celebrations of the Sabbats are the same each year. In the Golden Dawn, the initiation ritual for each degree and the rituals of the Equinox and Corpus Christi remain the same.

However, when it comes to practical magick—creating a specific change not associated with initiation or celebration—rituals should be individual and designed by the magician for specific needs. As I wrote in Modern Magick, “merely repeating what others had done wasn’t magick, it was hero worship.” I have, unfortunately, seen many people trying to do magick and merely repeating what others have done without success. And they’ll do this over and over, always hoping for a different result.

Just as the great value to hypnotists of script books is to learn from what others have done without copying by rote, so, too, should all the books of rituals and spells be sources for magickians to learn what others have done and learn from them.

Bad hypnotists simply recite scripts. Poor magickians simply copy spells and rituals that others have written. Good hypnotists learn from scripts and develop their own suggestions. Powerful magickians learn from spells and rituals others have shared and go on to create their own effective magick.

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Written by Donald Michael Kraig
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy. He has also studied public speaking and music (traditional and experimental) on the university level. After a decade of personal study and practice, he began ten years of teaching courses in the Southern California area on such ...