Magick, Walking, and Golf

by Mike Sententia on June 25, 2014

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Walking is intuitive and natural. People often compare it to magick. For example:

You intend to walk across the room; it just happens, you don’t control or influence all the individual motor parts etc. You just experience “walking across the room” happening, the weight of your body, the breeze as you stroll on. If the floor is sticky, you adjust for it…

But what if magick is more like swimming, dancing, or golf?

Some people can swim naturally, but many cannot. It’s dangerous to jump into deep water without training.

Some people are naturally good dancers, but many are not. And no one is born knowing how to waltz.

In golf, intending to hit the ball harder makes you focus on strength, not form. The result? You hit it wrong, for less distance.

If you want to learn those sports, you hire a coach. The coach doesn’t just show you the correct form — youtube could do that. No, coach watches you (because you often don’t know what your body does when you intend to swim / dance / golf). They tell you what you did, and what to adjust. Their job is to help you guide your body through those new motions, because intent alone isn’t enough.

(Then, once you can consciously do the correct motion, you practice it until it becomes automatic and unconscious.)

I think that’s a better metaphor for magick. The only catch is, you have to be your own coach, at least for now.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

George June 26, 2014 at 2:12 AM

I guess the extra bit to the “walking” thing is that, you have to get rid of your bad habits to ‘clear the way’ for the right thing to happen spontaneously. In the example, the Alexander Technique focuses on learning to not trigger your normal responses, to clear the way to let the default natural one happen. Otherwise your intent brings about bad technique!

So, yes, correction is required – or at least, some way of avoiding triggering the bad habits – and then you can trust your intent to flow out naturally. The trick is: trying to do this by effort sometimes causes more problems than it solves, and self-observation is usually unreliable because what “feels right” is just what is habitual, not what is right.

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George June 26, 2014 at 2:30 AM

So learning magick is maybe a mixture of the two examples:

Every person still learns to walk at some point, by dynamic sensory feedback I guess (but probably not with conscious thinking). ‘Good walking’ is walking that is ‘aligned with the structure of the body’; ‘bad walking’ is walking where one tries to force through movement, ignoring that structure. (Bad habits are when that forcing becomes ingrained in the nervous system.)

So with magick maybe it’s the same: There are magickal structures in the world, so when you learn magick you want to do it ‘in alignment’ with them, rather than trying to ‘force through’ your intent.

I guess the very point of Direct Magick is that one becomes aware of those structures, and tries to line up appropriately?

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Mike Sententia June 27, 2014 at 8:06 AM

That’s interesting, that even walking well can require us to un-learn bad habits. Sounds like even things that seem intuitive can sometimes benefit from a coach.

And you’re on the right track about Direct Magick. Let me expand on it:

Direct Magick is about becoming conscious of how the mind responds to a magickal intent, like becoming aware of how we swim / dance / golf / walk. It turns out, there are lots of places where my mind takes one approach naturally, but by thinking through the problem, I can find a much better approach. Kind of like swinging a golf club in the way that’s most natural for me (ball goes about 5 yards) vs learning the proper technique. Once I have that better technique, I consciously guide my mind through each step, like you can consciously step your body through a proper golf swing. Then I practice until that better technique becomes automatic and intuitive.

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George June 28, 2014 at 1:49 AM

(A simple thing to with walking, try a little experiment with yourself: Walk across the room with your attention focussed on the back of your neck; do it again with your attention focussed on your abdomen. Notice how that simple ‘change of weighting’ changes how you walk. Similar subtle things occur, I’m sure, with magick.)

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John W. A. June 26, 2014 at 7:42 PM

I disagree, Mike. Walking isn’t intuitive. It is intuitive for us *now*. But not when we’re children. We take time to grow up and learn how to walk.

While we may have a natural way to move, sometimes we trip on our own feet despite walking for years and years. People aren’t perfectly coordinated. And walking isn’t automatic like, say, breathing, the function of our heartbeat or our liver and kidney functions are.

Walking is something we intend to do, and then we just do it. We direct and guide it, but that’s only because walking is no longer a conscious activity like driving. Driving takes learning, but after it’s intuitive it becomes second nature to someone. The same way walking is. However, we’ve been walking for so long we forgot we once had to learn it. People in physical therapy have to go through a re-learning of how to walk, especially people recovering from disabilities or who have been cured of a disability for the first time in their life and are only now learning how to walk.

So no. Walking isn’t intuitive, it becomes intuitive through regular use. It’s a learned skill that passes onto our “auto-pilot” part of our brains. And the same is true for most skills in life. With enough practice, they become part of our “intuitive” skills which we let the “auto-pilot” part of our brains take care of the details, while we give the major directions and instructions if/when needed. I believe magick to be the same in that regard, and with enough practice magick could just be another skill, with no need to fiddle in the details. Just use magick like your arm, intend it to do something, and let it do it’s thing while you enjoy the results.

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Mike Sententia June 27, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Hi John, it sounds like we actually agree on magick.

You say that magick is like walking because walking is unintuitive, something we need to learn. Some people even need expert guidance to learn it.

I say that magick is like golf because golf is unintuitive, something we need to learn, and that most people need coaching to learn it.

I don’t know that walking is the best metaphor to communicate “unintuitive and requires special training.” Because, as you point out, most people have been doing it for so long that it feels totally natural. That’s why I’m suggesting other metaphors.

But I think we agree for the most part.

You lose me on the last paragraph, though. Sure, with enough practice (of the proper technique), most things become automatic. Magick is like that, too. But let’s compare magick to skills that obviously require that practice, like swimming, dancing, and golf. Saying that you just use magick like you move your arm suggests it’s easy and intuitive from day one, which isn’t my experience, and it sounds like isn’t your experience either.

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John W. A. June 27, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Well, I’m not trying to suggest that doing magick is as easy and natural at the beginning (or even after several years) as moving your arm or walking. I’m saying we should aim to get there, and one way of doing so is thinking differently about magick. The way we treat magick, whether as knowledge, understanding, or as an extension of our will, has an affect on how magick behaves. It’s something I explored in my blog post “The Last Variable”, found here: http://wp.me/p31b5Q-d1

It covers how the way we treat magick affects the way it behaves for us, and how changing the way you think about magick can have far-reaching implications that help you in the long-term. =)

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