Learning to Share Personal Experiences

by Mike Sententia on April 14, 2012

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

I tell friends that the first step to building a successful blog is becoming a non-bad writer. But it’s a little more complicated than that. In the past two years, I’ve become decent (I think) at explaining the technical intricacies of direct magick. But I haven’t yet learned to share personal experiences well.

Why haven’t I learned that? The prevailing meme is that people don’t share personal experiences because they’re worried about being judged, but I don’t think that’s it. For me, I’m worried I’ll be boring. That you all came here for technical advice on how to do magick, not to hear me whine about a failed attempt or brag about a success. I think I’ll get over that as I get better at writing personal experiences, but that’s where I’m starting.

Why do this now? Because I want to get people excited about direct magick, without sounding like a sales pitch. Because I think you’ll learn magick better if I share the journey, rather than just the techniques. Because sharing personal experiences is what it takes to truly connect to people, especially online. Because I found a skill that I don’t have yet, and that always annoys me. And probably a few more reasons that aren’t on the tip of my consciousness at the moment.

Also, I did manifesting* about this, and got back that this is an important skill for me to learn, that it will take 1.5-2 months to get decent at it (though I’m not entirely confident about receiving time frames yet), and that this will be necessary for a good introduction page and for getting more people to connect to me and this blog. Nothing I couldn’t have guessed myself, but it’s nice to get the confirmation.

*I mostly use manifesting to ask what I should do, not to request an event to happen.

So, coming up: Why I started with direct magick, why I’ve continued with it as an adult, and maybe a few other stories. It seems silly to ask you which personal stories I should share, but if there have been any posts or topics you wanted to know more about, now is the time to ask. I’ll try to alternate between a technical series and a personal series, and weave some personal experiences into my technical posts.

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

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

f3n1x_hvn732 April 14, 2012 at 10:17 AM

What about your first experiences with spirits?
I think that would be interesting.

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Mike Sententia April 14, 2012 at 10:19 AM

That’s a great idea. It’s going on my list. Thanks!

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Andrew April 14, 2012 at 10:40 AM

It might leave an impression on visitors if you relate the biggest results you got from magick before starting direct methods verses after, if they’re even comparable. Sort of to show the differences in your own level of skill, to get people interested and inspired.

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Mike Sententia April 14, 2012 at 10:48 AM

That’s a good idea, but I can’t really compare them. I started magick at age 11 (just playing with energy), started direct magick somewhere around age 14, and only started getting obvious, useful results in my 20s. I can’t tease apart directness from practice time from simple maturity and focus.

This is part of what I’m trying to think thorough: It’s a long road to get useful results with direct magick, at least, if you follow my path of doing everything yourself (without ethereal software). I chose that path because I was curious and wanted to understand how magick worked, and wasn’t particularly worried about useful results. So it probably won’t be as long for you, especially with my book and blog to guide you to the good stuff.

But testimonials from folks who try the book could be really great for what you’re talking about. Thanks for the idea.

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Yvonne April 15, 2012 at 5:24 AM

Yes, yes, and YES! What you might want to do is a kind of ethnographic narrative. It does not have to be personal but in my opinion the best kind of this writing is.

Frankly what stands out with your writing is the nature of your experiments, how you log them, and then how you reflect on the meaning of them.

OT Question: do you use manifestion as a form of divination? Sounds like it.

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Mike Sententia April 15, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Wow, whenever I get 3 yes’s from a woman, I make sure to keep doing it :) Any tips on doing an ethnographic narrative?

You could say that I use manifesting for divination. I’d tend to say “prediction” because “divination” just sounds like it ought to involve gods, but I think that’s more of a stylistic distinction in language than a substantive distinction in what I actually do. Is that what you were looking for?

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Yvonne April 15, 2012 at 3:59 PM

I have no tips on ethnography, there are whole schools of thought on this stuff, re: the right way, the wrong way, participant-observer, insider-outsider, joining the tribe, thinking like the native, etc etc etc. For me it is about telling a good story about some kind of human activity that we can all relate to. But that is not the orthodox anthropological approach. Don’t worry about it Mike, I think that you should observe and write how you feel, what you see, describe results from the outside and from the inside, but for Gods sake keep the method in the human sciences, okay? There are ways of recording and writing up data that are as dry as dust, formulaic (as they have to be), and mathematically precise. …and that is not good for us readers. Better to get as close to the action as possible and report, and don’t worry about subjectivity (or nuttyness, for that matter). I know this casual approach to may trouble the hard core materialists and those oriented toward the natural sciences, but trust me, it makes for a more interesting and readable blog.

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Ananael Qaa April 15, 2012 at 10:34 AM

However you feel about these experiences, you need to write about them. As in the more established sciences, both successes and failures are data, and it all needs to be out there. In a sense it is boring, but so are the results of long series of scientific experiments.

Here’s why. On a number of occasions, I’ve read your explanations of how you do magick and some aspects of your explanations come off as completely alien to what I’ve experienced. Without any data to back those up, my tendency is to dismiss those explanations as subjective speculation. While it can be interesting to read about somebody else’s idea of how they think magick works, without data it’s still just an idea. If, on the other hand, I can review the process you went through working out the idea and what data points you used to formulate it, it can give me a sense of (A) whether or not your data matches mine, (B) how well your hypothesis fits the data, and most importantly (C) is there a hypothesis that I can formulate that explains my data as well as yours. This last one is the essence of scientific progress works – you integrate as many data points as possible in the observation phase, construct a hypothesis that includes all of it, and then set up a procedure to either demonstrate or disprove the new explanation.

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Mike Sententia April 15, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Thanks for your honesty. I’ve thought that my models might be coming off as speculation, but it’s helpful to have you tell me. I’ll see what I can do.

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Ananael Qaa April 15, 2012 at 2:37 PM

My point is not that you’ve been explaining your models poorly or anything like that. In my opinion you’ve actually been explaining them quite well. My point is that without your data, ANYTHING is going to come off as speculation no matter how well you explain it. The data is where “the rubber hits the road,” so to speak, if your goal is to put forth your model as objective – that is, as something that applies to other practitioners besides yourself.

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Mike Sententia April 16, 2012 at 11:41 AM

I’ve been thinking about this, because I’m the same way when someone tells me their model. And the people I really want to attract to direct magick are the same way, too: Experienced and serious with their magick, focused on experiments and concrete results, and open to new data but cautious about accepting someone else’s model without good reasons. And I think a lot of people would have the same doubts you’re voicing, but just don’t say anything because they’re not sure how to explain it, or they’re shy about sharing those doubts.

It’s hard to see my own explanations objectively, because I always know the reasons behind everything. But if I want to convince serious, experienced, not-overly-credulous mages, I’ll need much better skills at explaining the reasons behind my models. And your feedback is exactly what I need to get there. So, what I’m saying is: Thanks, and keep it up.

And to anyone not voicing doubts out of politeness: Please let me know what’s on your mind. I need your help to learn how to explain the reasons behind my magick, which is one of my main projects for this year.

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