This blog entry goes along with a video I did today for The Pagan Perspective, about the science of magick. I want to provide a little context here so that this blog entry can be read alone, as well as in conjunction with the video.
In the video, I talked about how we can study or experiment with our magick by recording our methods and results, somewhat like a lab report. From what I learned in my course last year (the one in which I did my research on prejudice against pagans, where we learned about many different groups throughout the whole class, from weightism to racism to ageism to discrimination against differing levels of financial wealth, and more), the way many of us (at least, I think many of us do this, I'm not actually sure!) record our magickal work is basically a way of conducting empirical research. We are noting our methods/process, writing down everything that could be relevant to the "experiment," and then recording/reporting what we observe occurring. This can be used to further our practice by tracking what is effective and what is not. As I mention in the video,
You can't say it means MAGICK DID THIS definitively, but you can record what you did and what you observed. You also can't say IT WORKS THIS WAY ALL THE TIME because I personally believe magick differs from person to person, so the methods I have found to work best for me MAY work best for you but they may not. Still, each individual can try various methods, write down exactly what they did, and what they observed. Then you can go back and see, okay this method didn't work at all any time I did it, at least not that I could see any results from. But I did see results each time with this method, so I will scrap that other one and do the one that works.Here is my personal example:
For years I tried to cast circles as described in books. While I did everything right and visualized it correctly, I still felt like I was just going through motions and it wasn't working, or actually doing anything. So I stopped casting circles for the most part because to me, it didn't matter. It was more effective for me just to call the quarters/Deity than to go through the circle process, so that's all I did.
Now, in order to understand the whole experience, you have to know how I believe energy works in my body, personally. You may have learned the opposite or not use these ideas at all, but it's relevant to my interpretation. I believe in energy circuits through the body as therefore meaning we have a sending and receiving hand. When we put our hands together, energy flows in a certain direction. You can change the direction, of course, but I believe one way works best for each person, or is the way energy flows easiest, following a charge like a battery would. For me the dominant hand is the one we use to send energy and the non-dominant is the receiver. I am right-handed. So for me, energy moves counterclockwise, from my right hand into my left and back through the whole circuit.
When I would cast sunwise circles, up here in the northern hemisphere that means walking to the right, but I wanted to use my SENDING hand, which is also my right hand. As you can imagine, this would mean walking to my right, crossing my right hand in front of my body to cast the circle to my left. This was incredibly awkward! So instead I just used my left hand (my downstage hand to use a theatre term, the hand toward the circle's edge). In retrospect, I think this is exactly what affected my results, because I was attempting to CAST energy out using the hand that I believe brings energy IN.
When I started doing shadow work last year, the book required counter-sunwise circles during the waning moon. (During the waxing moon, I still cast sunwise. This idea makes sense to me, so I adapt based on the phase that way.) To cast countersunwise, again being in the north, that meant I was walking to my left and using my right hand, which was comfortable AND felt effective. And when I opened the circle, I was then walking to my right and using my left, receptive hand, to draw the energy back in. From the very first time I did this, I physically felt vibrations and tingling in my receptive hand as I brought the energy back in. As I went around the usual three times, the tingling traveled up my wrist and lower arm. It did not continue once I was finished opening the circle. THAT to me is a definitive result showing that for ME, casting with my sending hand and opening with my receiving hand has a noticeable effect.
When I used to do it the opposite way, I never felt any kind of physical difference. In my early journal entries, I wrote things like "I don't think it did anything," "I didn't feel any change in the environment." But when I switched directions and tried it a different way, I observed a positive difference in results. So while various books I read at first said never to cast a widdershins circle, I immediately took to the practice once I tried it. It felt more natural, made more sense from a body positioning standpoint, and actually "worked" for me.
As I said, that doesn't mean everyone should do this instead because "it works better." It just works for me. And as I mentioned, I do still cast sunwise during the waxing moon, because I believe in the circuit of energy flowing a certain way in relation to the moon, as well. But I have begun using what I feel is the "appropriate" hand for each part, and just positioning my body differently so I don't feel as much that I am awkwardly crossing in front of my myself. Actually, I think in a few circles I didn't use my hands at all, but just walked around, which removed that obstacle. (Which is another experiment you can do! I tried it standing in one spot and turning in a circle, and then later I tried it physically walking around the circle. I found I have a personal preference so now I don't use the other way.) Anyway, it all depends on the individual circumstance and what works best at the time.
And no, I wasn't originally going to put ALL OF THAT in the video, but since I decided to post it here, I did add a little more so that it would make sense when read, rather than leaving it as short notes for me to read from. =)
Do you record your practices for your own personal reference? What kinds of things have you discovered through trial and error (of course only things you would share, as I certainly support keeping some things private)?
Thank you for reading!