Should Magick Be Easy?

by Mike Sententia on December 22, 2011

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Sure, it would be nice if magick were easier. But a more interesting question is: Given the world we observe, should we expect magick to be easy or hard?

Let’s think through how each world would look, and see which one sounds the most similar to the world around us.

The Magick-is-Easy World

Things that are intuitive and effective are also obvious. If you can interact with the world in a certain way — walking to move around, looking to see a tiger, talking to a person — you don’t debate about whether they work. If someone disagrees, saying “You walkers are crazy, walking doesn’t let you move around,” you don’t get fired up and argue with them. No, you just wonder what’s wrong with them and go about your business. Intuitive, effective actions are so obvious that you don’t think about them.

Humans have evolved to intuitively understand and take advantage of useful, simple properties of the physical world. The way light moves through air and interacts with solid objects is useful, and as a result, animals with eyes out-performed animals without eyes, and we have eyes now. If there were simple natural laws saying “If you intend and believe in something, it will happen,” we would have evolved facilities to take advantage of that natural law as intuitively and unconsciously as we use our eyes.

In a world where magick was intuitive and effective, we would all be using it to solve large problems. You wouldn’t run tests to see if it was real any more than you would run a study to determine whether eyes let you see or mouths let you talk. We would all know it already, and move on to exploring the details of magick and developing the magick equivalent of microscopes and telephones.

The Magick-is-Hard World

If magick were complex, and the key to that complexity were known, I would expect rigorous scientific exploration. It would look like computer science or aviation: A large field, researchers teasing apart the fundamental laws, engineers developing useful tools, and the rest of the world benefiting.

But if the key were not known, and results were proportionate to how much of that key a particular mage had grasped, then I would expect:

  • A small number of technically-oriented people producing good results slowly and with great difficulty, the same way that other fields struggle at first. (Think ENIAC, made from vacuum tubes, calculating artillery ranges in WWII.)
  • A larger number of people producing minor results based on the parts of that key that were somewhat intuitive.
  • Most people not exploring magick at all, since without the key, its results can’t compete with the more mature fields of science.

That sounds a lot like the world we live in.

So next time you’re having a hard time learning magick, remind yourself that it isn’t supposed to be easy. If it were, the world would look very different.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew December 22, 2011 at 9:46 PM

The thing is though, that since humans are so visual we tend to literally only believe in what we see. For instance, it was a statement of fact in Greek philosophy for a long time that there was no matter in air, because you can’t see it. Since you can’t see magic or even the effects of it are sometimes difficult to perceive it only makes sense that people would doubt its existence.

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Mike Sententia December 22, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Hi Andrew, take a look at the description of magick you just suggested: That you can’t see the effects easily, and that the effects that are easy to get are so small they’re hard to detect. Which world does that fit into? The one where magick is easy (meaning intuitive and effective) and humans evolved to make intuitive use of it? Or the world where magick is complex and requires technical instructions?

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