The ultimate goal of ritual magic is fulfillment. As is true with most ultimates, it is seldom, if ever, reached. The degree to which it is approached signifies the success or failure of the practice of magic in the life of an individual. When ritual is sincerely and regularly practiced, in most cases there will be a benefit. Sometimes the improvement, from both an objective and subjective perspective, is remarkable. Magic can improve health and appearance, increase confidence and a sense of self-worth, remove obstacles hindering the progress of a life, and bring about a spiritual rebirth.
All lesser improvements tend toward the creation of a total, fulfilled, self-actualized life. They are pieces of a puzzle that make up a single perfect image. In order to impress this fact upon the mind of the newcomer into magic groups, both ancient and modern, it is very common for an initiation ceremony to be conducted. The initiation represents in brief the highest goal of magic. It is a magic ritual designed to realize that purpose in the months and years that follow.
Usually the initiate undergoes, in one form or another, a symbolic death and rebirth. The death emphasizes that the old world of confusion, ignorance and helplessness is being left behind. The rebirth stands for the new life as a totally realized human soul, able to act with complete freedom in any circumstance. This transformation is further driven home by assigning the initiate a new name.
The initiation ceremony is only a representation of what the members of the circle, and the initiate, wish to have happen. It is up to the Magus to make this transformation occur in his or her life through hard work and dedication. Although success is never complete, change can be profound. The result is simply a better human being from every angle.
One technique used in the West to bring about this soul transformation is a ritual communication with what, for want of a better name, has been called the Holy Guardian Angel. This is simply the higher spiritual awareness that concerns itself in the affairs of a single human being. It might as easily be called the Higher Self, or the personal God. It is the consciousness that cares enough about the happiness of a person to take the trouble to help.
Every person sees his or her Guardian Angel in a unique way.
The prophets of the major religions often don the mask of Guardian Angel, and are conceived differently by each worshiper, and so become personal to each, guiding and sustaining the individual through difficulties. The difference is that in magic, this communication is sought and established in a deliberate way, not merely to gain support in times of pain and doubt, but to transform the soul of the Magus on a permanent basis.
Magic is often worked for more humble and pragmatic reasons, and there is nothing wrong with this. But it should be understood that all improvements in a life, if they really are improvements and not mere illusions, tend toward the perfection of that life.