Why is Direct Magick so Complex?

by Mike Sententia on July 7, 2011

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“Why is your magick so complex?” That’s everyone’s question after talking with me for 5 minutes.

I’m sure I have a good reason. But I haven’t been able to express it well. So I’m writing this post.

Short answer: Because I work with magick’s implementation, not its interface.

I don’t expect that made a tremendous amount of sense. But once it does, it will change the way you explore magick. Hopefully, that happens by the end of this post.

Interface vs Implementation

You make a car move with the gas pedal. That’s the interface. But the car moves because of fuel injectors, pistons, the cam shaft, and a lot of other parts. That’s the implementation.

The implementation is a lot more complex. So why work to understand it? Well, you don’t get to design new cars by knowing the pedal makes it go.

2 more examples:

The internet’s interface: Google, clicking links, etc. The implementation: SQL databases, dynamic JSP pages, massive DNS systems, and other acronym-based technologies.

Light switch: Interface. It’s implementation: Power generators, transformers, and the wires in your wall.

2 things to realize:

  • Interfaces are much simpler than implementations. Most people can use google. Few could program it.
  • Interfaces only let you use something that already exists. Implementations let you create something new.

Interfaces are for users. Creators need the implementation.

Interface vs Implementation in Magick

When you perform a ritual, some force listens to your actions, takes them as instructions, and shifts some probabilities (or summons spirits or whatever you requested).

Same with visualizing your goal and “sending out your intent,” drawing runes or other symbols, and most other styles of magick: You’re either instructing some external force, or sending your intent to your unconscious, which does … um, something to make the magick happen.

Those styles of magick work at the interface. You can tell because they focus on sending instructions to something you don’t understand, which does the magick. Like how a car’s interface (pedals) send instructions to the engine and brakes, or clicking a link tells a bunch of computers to do a bunch of complex stuff to give you the next webpage.

But what does that force do to make the magick happen? What are all the steps it takes? And which steps could you change to get better results?

Answering those questions requires the implementation. Once you understand it, you can debug and improve your techniques. You’re a mechanic, not a user.

But now you’re talking about the engine, not the steering wheel. Now you’re talking about programming PHP, not clicking a link. When you move to the implementation, your models have to handle a lot more detail.

That’s why direct magick is so complex.

Direct Magick

When a car mechanic drives, he uses the pedals (interface). Programmers search with google, and electricians flip light switches. You only need the implementation when you’re creating.

I call my style “direct magick” because I act directly on the implementation, not the interface. But I don’t always do direct magick. I use interfaces all the time: I channel forces for psychic intuitions, ask spirits for favors, and occasionally do rituals.

There’s no need to choose. You can (should, even) keep doing all the magick you’re doing now, and add some direct magick to it. And as you understand how those forces work, you’ll be able to use them better.

What Magick’s Implementation Lets You Do

You use the implementation to create new techniques. If you do it right, the technique will work reliably for other mages, even if they don’t know enough to create it themselves, or understand quite why it works.

But there’s a bigger point. If you love cars, knowing which pedal makes it go just isn’t enough. Computer jocks love talking about specs, but you need to understand how computers work for those specs to mean anything.

I love figuring out and talking about how magick works. Direct magick — working on the implementation directly, so you can see how it responds — is really about developing that understanding. It’s about curiosity, not magick abilities.

If that sounds like you, check out this series for a walkthrough of magick’s implementation.

If not, check out these posts for techniques I’ve created that you can use to get better results from your magick, without needing to understand the implementation.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amonjinn July 8, 2011 at 10:52 AM

I feel that this is an extremely important article for people to understand, and one that forces practitioners to ask themselves how they want to approach their magic.

More importantly, Mike subtly shines a light on a much more important topic which is the difference between accepting what you learn in your magical studies and understanding what you have learned. It is one thing to accept what you have learned and have the ability to regurgitate the information but it is an entirely different thing to understand what you have learned. The latter gives a person the ability to conceptualize and utilize the information in a much greater array of ways.

There is one inconsistency that I perceive, being that everything we do in magic is based on theory. I’m curious if you find that to be the case Mike. After meeting with you I have a better understanding of how you work with and you relate to magic. But we can’t just work on the implementation side of magic if we don’t have concrete testing/answers on why magic works in the first place. We all believe that our will/mind can dictate realities around us but we all suffer the syndrome of going though actions (mentally or physically) without knowing why they work. To borrow one of your metaphors, we are still standing in front of the light switch and scratching our heads in bewilderment when we turn it on. This isn’t to say that we haven’t pried the switch from the wall and tried to trace the wires but still we have a lot of questions and very few answers…in my opinion at least.

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Mike Sententia July 8, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Hi Amonjinn, great to hear from you! Thanks so much for your praise, I’m glad you found this post so helpful.

Let me respond to your last paragraph:

I think all everything is based on theory, we just don’t realize it. If you play tennis, you have a theory of how balls react to rackets, and how balls move through the air, just most of it is unconscious. In some fields, more of the theory is conscious. Physics. Computer science. And magick.

On modeling the implementation: I read a great article recently:
http://blog.aaroniba.net/2011/07/06/a-lesson-from-my-ios-users-they-dont-teach-at-mit/
It’s not a magick blog, it’s a games blog. But his point is, when solving puzzles, don’t try to reason about each piece and only put a piece down when you know 100% that it’s the right answer. Instead, put something down, see the result, then fix it, and iterate. That’s how to make magick models: Propose something, try it out, see what works and what doesn’t, and make some changes to the model.

Beyond that, the key to understanding the implementation is to learn accurate sensory connections, so you can see magickal structures work in real time. Here’s the series on that:
https://magickofthought.com/2011/02/how-to-watch-magick-well/

That’s the difference between trying to figure out the wires in the wall based on what switch turns on what light, and having a metal detector so you can actually follow each wire. It’s one of the keys to learning good direct magick.

On using the interface as well: I wouldn’t try to understand a car by modeling the engine without the pedals. You definitely need to include the interface within your model. But if you can, model the implementation of the interface: Pushing this pedal increases fuel to the engine; pushing that one closes this circuit, which engages the disk breaks. Realizing that light switches are about making 2 pieces of metal touch each other is more useful that just knowing they turn on lights. Realizing that magickal forces (“systems”) respond to thoughts you hold in a particular part of your mind, and that they require that part of your mind to be aligned to their signature, is more useful than just knowing they respond to “intents” in a general sense.

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