A Structured Empirical Approach

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R. Eugene Laughlin
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A Structured Empirical Approach

Post#1 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:29 am

To set the stage...

Like most people who study and practice magical arts in modern times, I started in my teens. For me that was the 1970's. I did all the expected things: dabbled with the spirit board and pendulum, tarot, simple spellcraft; found what books I could, which was a lot harder than younger folk today can imagine (Anna Riva, Buckland's early-career candle burning book, not a lot more); and sought out others with similar interests to affiliate with. By my 20's I had found the Golden Dawn via Regardie material, and of course Crowley, and Bardon, Blavastky, et al... Modern occult and Neopagan literature was rapidly expanding by then. I developed a habit of buying a book or two every payday, and I read everything. My social (and to a degree my spiritual) drives tended to plug me into Neopagan networks, but my proclivities lent toward Ceremonial Magick practices, then together those led to the Orders. And of course, by the 90's the Internet had arrived and things opened up from there...

To cut the story short, after some 20 years of study, practice, and social interaction I had a reasonably good sense of what ideas did and didn't resonated for me, what I liked to do and what I didn't like to do, and when and why I felt my efforts were successful or not, etc. I arrived at a few personally significant conclusions, which flavored my next phase of study and practice: 1) well-structured ritual, when sincerely performed with sufficient precision and repetition is a powerful agent of long-term change (for better or for worse); no off-the-shelf cosmology rung true enough for me; and 3) I needed something, or things, that I wasn't finding in extant external sources.

Incidentally, the next decade or so of development co-occurred with my later-than-normal formal education (started at the age of 38 and concluding in my early 50's), which naturally lent toward reciprocal development. That is, my occult-studies and general education were never separate in any significant way. It's fair to say that my current incarnation is a function of all that. And significantly, part of that process included graduate school in a scientific discipline, which is all about breaking new ground and striving for new knowledge, which I applied to my occult studies and practice as well as my formal academic discipline.

Having learned something of what theories are and how they're developed, I naturally began theorizing about magic and how it works. I consider that a hobby, and in keeping with my academic discipline, I don't really attach to any given theory. I embrace philosophical skepticism, which for me equates to a perpetually open mind: I always assume there's more to learn. Interested readers can find quite a bit of that theorizing in the Occult Corpus archives, assuming the site becomes available again at some point. Discussion there has been slow in recent times and as of a few days ago, the site has gone dark.

I started this thread to lay out my personal philosophy of magic and the development of magical skills, and the system of development and practice that came with it. I'll provide a sampling of the kinds of effects I tend to achieve, to complete the picture. Rather than present a one-sided dissertation, I'm hoping for comments, criticism, and discussion as I go. I'd like to state up front that I expect to learn and grow from any interaction that occurs, and my feelings can't be hurt around this stuff. So feel free to call my baby ugly if that's how you feel about it.

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