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Why is accuracy the first victim?

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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Xiao Rong » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:23 pm

I like the cooking metaphor a lot, blue_moon, thanks for sharing.

To take that analogy a little bit further, there are many, many ways to cook, and indeed, there are specific traditions and cuisines that take skill and discipline to master. There's a reason why a particular cuisine uses the spices and ingredients that they do, based on a lot of trial and error, history, and a geographic context. But innovation and fusion are also important, and how any new field develops.

And a lot of that comes with someone swapping out an ingredient or two or changing up the recipe in the moment -- which sometimes ends in disaster, but also sometimes results in something even better. Knowing the difference is really what separates a skillful cook from a bad one. I remember in my early days of cooking when I was impatient and thought that if I just cranked the heat up, then the food would cook the same and be done in half the time! After MANY, MANY ruined dishes, I realized, NOPE! Simmering on low heat may make or break the dish. Or when I thought you could just combine steps and mix all the ingredients together at the same time, or that you could just use cheap quality bouillon cubes and still get the full flavor in your soup.

Nowadays, I know when I can turn the heat up a little higher and cook something faster without ruining the dish if I'm in a pinch, or when I need to let it cook low and slow and be patient to maximize the flavor. I also know what substitutions to make and how they'll impact the flavor or cooking time, what spices to add for an extra kick, when I can throw in more stuff for extra nutrition, what to spend money on for quality ingredients and what it makes more sense to just buy in bulk. I almost always have to go off-recipe to make something work for me, and that's okay. You can't get that kind of knowledge through any means but practice and experimentation (or a good teacher, but I never had one of those, and I'm a pretty decent cook now!).*

I think magic is much the same way -- there are certainly disciplines where a little change might ruin the balance of the whole spell, or making it even stronger. But it takes skill, experience, and trial and error to know when a quick substitution would make or break the spell. And that's an art form, not a science. I find that most ritual instructions need some interpretation on my part anyways to make sure they work for me -- usually can't follow them to the precise letter. Magic is just something you need to learn from experience. As in cooking, a good teacher or a more formal education can help you make fewer bad decisions and guide you more along the path, but you still just gotta learn by doing.

In cooking, there are really only a few things you can do that make the final product truly inedible or harmful (not cooking things through, using bad ingredients, etc.). There are lots of ways that the final product can be less than desirable -- lacking in flavor, weird texture, etc. -- although usually still edible (if not tasty). You might just have to throw it out, afterwards.

Similarly, in magic, I really only consider a few things to make a truly harmful spell that is liable to backfire on you (e.g. cursing, bad intentions, etc). There are a lot of ways that you can make a spell that is less than 100% effective. But that doesn't mean you didn't learn something.

Finally, I don't think that being encouraging is mutually contradictory to being corrective. You can say, "Hey, that was a good attempt, even it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to. You can't swap baking soda and baking powder in your biscuits recipe**. Next time you'll get it right, though. Keep trying!"


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* I know baking is a bit of a different story that requires a lot more precision, and more likely to go wrong if you don't follow it to the letter, but that still doesn't mean there's a single right way to bake and no room for innovation.

** True story, they tasted like soap. I wasn't the cook for that one, though.
~ Xiao Rong ~ 小蓉 ~ Little Lotus ~
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Wandering Warlock » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:33 am

I myself don't practice folk magic for this reason, as it seems to be based on "raised power" principals. I am a student of ceremonial magic and "drawing power," where the goal is to make contact with spiritual beings.

Personally, I think that's where the divide is in this case. There's the school of thought that the power comes from the person, and the school of thought that the power comes from the environment. In the former case, all magical ingredients and implements are aids to the psyche. In the latter, the ingredients and implements contain an inherent power of their own which can be harnessed by the magician.

Some people believe both of these, and some people only believe one of these is correct. In Gardnerian witchcraft (arguably the most heavily influential source of modern witchcraft), it was heavily advocated that power primarily came from the witch's body. Therefore, it espoused the philosophy that ingredients and tools are psychological implements which strictly aid in opening the pathways within the mind and body to "raise power."

But then there are authors such as Wiate, Barrett, Huson, and Grimassi, who suggest that within the body, our immediate environment, the earth, and within the interplanetary spaces there are "currents" of energy of a "physical" nature which can be tapped into and harnessed by the magician or witch in order to either a) generate a "thought form" or "seed" which is implanted in the aether for manifestation, or b) to create a connection in order to manipulate the currents into yielding a favorable outcome (like dropping rocks into a stream to slightly alter its course to achieve a desired effect, like creating a fish trap).

So it depends on what you believe. And it's quite possible to accept both paths. Personally, I do. A magical circle which is enclosed as a sphere is a place to contain raised power. A magicial circle which is created as a lens of power which connects to the natural energy currents of the world, and the greater universe beyond, is a conduit for sending influences and contacting anyone else in the "network" of the universe, or for tapping into Akashic records.

In the case of communicating with other beings, and in the case of drawing power, accuracy is stressed. You can't scribble a bunch of symbols you just made up and expect any other living being to understand them. In order to communicate, proper spelling (accuracy) is vital. But if your goal is to generate power, raise power, which transcends the spoken word, and where communication with other entities is not the goal, your scribbles (if they means something to you) has all the power they need... because they don't have power themselves. The power is inside you.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby HopefulChild » Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:10 pm

Xiao Rong wrote:Finally, I don't think that being encouraging is mutually contradictory to being corrective. You can say, "Hey, that was a good attempt, even it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to. You can't swap baking soda and baking powder in your biscuits recipe**. Next time you'll get it right, though. Keep trying!"


This is really the cornerstone my statement was based on.

And I do understand that it is close to impossible to really help with such diversity as these boards represent.

Maybe it's just my inner parent wanting to guide and assist. Maybe this train of thought was more for me to learn from for my own kids, than to establish a better way to help forum participants.

I appreciate all the discussion. It's been really fun.
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Xiao Rong » Tue Jan 26, 2016 4:11 pm

It was a really great question, and as I was writing my response I wound up clarifying a lot of my own thinking about magic (and cooking, incidentally), so thanks for the question! And thanks to everyone else who gave such interesting insight!
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Re: Why is accuracy the first victim?

Postby Shekinah » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:49 am

In our practice of Magick we must never forget that nothing in the universe if free. There will be a price to be exacted for our manipulation of physical laws. If we are not prepared to surrender an unknown compensation for our actions perhaps we should reconsider that action/request. Magick is not to be employed frivolously. What happens today is influenced by what you did yesterday and what you will do tomorrow. Magick transcends time.
Truth and Reality are highly guarded secrets. Nothing is as it appears. "The ONENESS sleeps in the stone, breathes in the plant, dreams in the animal and awakens in man" (Indian proverb)
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