… or medicine, or music, or just about anything else. We must practice, or we won’t be able to when we need the skill. Remember my saying in a previous post that you don’t just look up what entity is associated with a certain activity and invoke them when you want to do it? It’s not going to work any more than asking random people on the street to help you move. You ask your friends, with whom you’ve established a relationship, and they’re willing to help.
Some people think of the Gods as symbols or archetypes, not beings, although I don’t, and I’m not sure how that would work. They may think of it as if they were asking strangers to help… but paying them (the offerings are “paying” for the service). Ouch! That’s hardly the relationship I’d want with either friends or deities. I guess the archetype folks aren’t friends with their gods.
But what I’m talking about today is how we learn the technique of manipulating energy, tweaking the flows of probability, “causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”, doing magick. (Feel free to replace that with whatever term makes you most comfortable if you don’t like “magick”. BTW, I use the Chaucerian spelling with the ‘k’ to differentiate real magick from stage magic or legerdemain.)
You have to practice to get good at anything. In any field, individuals will have natural talents that give them an advantage in anything from sports to art to making friends, but we all get better at things when we practice them. Part of what makes people REALLY GOOD at something is often simply that they have been willing to do it over and over for a very long time (so loving it helps you get better).
When I was younger I was worried about doing magick “for practice”. It seemed like a frivolous use of a sacred activity. Eventually I noticed that I also hated doing practice pieces of artwork, crafts, cooking, or even doing several drafts of writing (word processing helped with that- trust me, typing or hand copying the same page to change one little thing is something we are well past!). Wasting time and materials bothered me a lot. I’m cheap. But I learned that you have to do it. I had a friend who’s calligraphy teacher could tell how many hours each student had practiced between lessons.) I was so happy when I heard that Frigga accepts the first yarn you spin while you’re learning as offerings, because she approves of us learning the skill (and knows we can’t use the pathetic first few spindles-full). But if we don’t practice, we’ll never get good enough to do spin yarn or thread. It’s the same with magick (and art, and cooking). And we have to keep practicing after we’ve learned the skill. Think about it. How would you feel if someone said “I used to be good at this” when you called for medical help? Or even help with your car engine? I’d prefer someone whose license was current. Professional musicians still practice scales to keep their skills sharp. Sports teams need to practice. Why would magick be any different?
The more you do anything, the better you get at it. You will always be working within whatever your personal gifts are, and some of us are better at finding things, some better at working weather, telepathy, or feeling the threads of connection between us. But the more you practice, the better you get. People sometimes say “Do you really believe in magick?” and I say “No, I don’t believe in it, I use it. Do you believe in inertia?” (Using inertia has to do with how well you drive or throw a ball or other things.)
Because we need to practice to get good at anything, especially when beginning, our charms or spells won’t work, or not well. Sometimes they are going to go spectacularly wrong. (Use them as great teaching stories.) But the more you practice, the better you’ll get, and you’ll find the things that work best for you. But keep doing it, even when it doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped. Learn from your failures and tweak your skills.
Another thing I can share is that if you don’t take it seriously, you’ll never get good at it; lack of practice is part of that. (Being afraid it might work and having to take responsibility for it is another part- but I’ll deal with that in another post.)
Part of the reason the modern world is able to pretend that magick doesn’t work/ doesn’t exist is because we’ve been suppressed our abilities since the time of the Enlightenment. It’s nearly impossible to do anything you think can’t be done, whether it’s running a 4-minute mile or energy healing. But as Bach wrote in Johnathan Livingston Seagull: you don’t need to believe you can fly, you have to learn how. There’s as much technique in magick as there is in any other activity.
Practice, practice, practice. I’m sure you can think of things you want to change and make better. Do it every day rather than on weekends, every weekend rather than once a month, regularly rather than randomly. It’s something any skill needs, especially magick.