Learning Magick: Feedback and Honesty

by Mike Sententia on April 13, 2010

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Anders Ericsson researches “acquiring expert performance.” The secret? Deliberate practice. Here’s his recipe:

  • Set measurable goals
  • Get immediate feedback
  • Focus on technique, not just immediate successes

This week is about the skills involved in learning magick.  Yesterday was Goals, Paths and Detours.  Today is feedback.

Get Immediate Feedback = Be Honest

In magick, there’s no coach telling you if an effect worked, no test at the end of the semester. There’s just you, teaching yourself magick.

It’s easy to lie.  Counting as a success a healing session where you feel a little better afterward, or an intuition that you could have guessed.  It feels good.

But fake successes will hold you back.

A friend in high school claimed to use magick to make his car get better gas mileage.  He said the needle seemed to go down less, but never measured his miles.

Another said she could make red lights turn green. It sometimes didn’t work the first time. But then she’d wait 30 seconds and tried again. It always worked after a few tries.

Neither became good at magick.

Avoid spells for luck that don’t specify a timeframe or outcome.  Avoid healing techniques that only result in recovering 5% faster than normal.  Make your goals concrete, even if they’re less cool that what you wish you were doing, and be honest about what works.

Like everything else, honesty gets easier with practice.

Freedom to Fail

Failing sucks.  Failing makes honesty hard.

But really, failing is good.  It means you’re pushing yourself.

It’s the self-doubt that comes from failing that sucks.  Punishing yourself because you learned somewhere that good people don’t fail.  Or because you’re keeping score on magick, trying silence the magick atheists in your life.

Once you figure out why you’re punishing yourself, you can begin to heal.

My parents are magick atheists. They don’t think magick is evil, just that it’s silly.  For a long time, I absorbed their reflexive doubts into my thoughts.  Every week I’d have to re-convince myself I was doing something worthwhile.

The only thing to do with atheists is let them go.  Avoid the subject.  Avoid the person.  You’ll find your own confidence long before you can demonstrate the kind of magick that will convince someone determined to doubt.

Next time a failure gets to you, write your stream of consciousness.  Read it a few days later.  Figure out why you’re punishing yourself.  And do whatever it takes to stop.

Other posts in this series: If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kristen April 17, 2010 at 8:37 AM

Great article! It’s important for people to be honest when assessing the results of their magick. I’ve seen far too many people do exactly what you described: credit random events to somethng they did with magick.

I especially like what you wrote about giving yourself the freedom to fail. (Oddly, I just wrote a blog post that’s going online this week about that exact topic but in how it applies to writing rather than magick.) If people are afraid to fail, they sometimes aren’t even willing to try. I’ve had friends who nearly talked themselves out of doing any magick study because they doubted their own skills. Encouraging them to focus on the process of exploration rather than the results seemed to help them feel more comfortable.

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