Experimental Magic: The Evolution of Magic

Experiment with your magical practice by learning how to apply art, pop culture, neuroscience, psychology, and other disciplines to your magical work, as well as exploring fundamental underlying principles of what makes magic work. You'll never look at magic in the same way!

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Taylor Ellwood

Taylor Ellwood

Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magic Systems, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments.

One of the most important virtues a magician can cultivate is curiosity. While the old saying that curiosity kills the cat comes to mind, we should consider that such a saying really is a response to curiosity that favors the status quo. It discourages exploration in favor of keeping things the same. Such an attitude should be an anathema to the magician.

Curiosity is at the core of my spiritual practice. When I was much younger I was a born again Christian and I left because I realized that I couldn't find all the answers in one book and that allowing myself to be limited to what I considered to be a narrow perspective of the universe was not good. So when I discovered that magic was real I voraciously began to read books and I allowed my curiosity to explore and experiment with what I learned. Curiosity motivates me to discover my questions and answers and it is an emotion that I couldn't imagine being without.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Well said! If you think about it, any seeker wanting growth and spiritual health needs curiosity. It's the only way to expand our
  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez says #
    I couldn't agree more with your every word. I follow the same approach and give the same advice that you are giving here to my own
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Thanks Carolina! It's important to encourage curiosity...it's how we grow.

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How to apply art to magical work

I've always been a creative person and that creativity has extended past writing to painting, singing, and other artistic pursuits that I continue to pursue to this day. And as with all my other interests, I'm always looking for ways to apply my artistic skills to my magical work. I figure that the art gives me another way to express my magical talents as well as my creative vision.

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  • Carol Frierson
    Carol Frierson says #
    Thank you Taylor! This came to me just at the right time! This may seem a little crazy but...I have never painted before but I ha
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello Carol, I'm glad this article helps. It's not crazy. I felt such an inclination myself at one time. Good luck!

When you've practiced magic long enough, you inevitably start to form relationships with spiritual entities, and much like relationships you have with people, its takes some work on your part (and their part) to create a healthy and sustainable relationship. There's also the question of how you form the relationship initially. There are some approaches to forming a relationship with a spiritual entity that I would find quite rude (these approaches involve commanding an entity to appear and do what you tell it to do), and other approaches I wouldn't do because I'd be concerned about how much power I was giving to the entity.

Personally I prefer a middle approach. I'm not going to worship a spiritual entity or deity and do what it says. If I wanted to do that I'd have stayed with the religion of my family. But neither do I believe in doing the medieval approach to evocation which involves summoning the entity and threatening it with other entities in order to coerce it into doing something. I figure why not just ask nicely and on top of that create a good relationship? I know, I know, some of you will say, "That sounds rather fluffy and ill-advised." But seriously why not simply dispense with all the theatrics and try and make nice? It's always worked for me and I've gotten the results I've wanted while also creating a solid relationship with the entity I've worked with.

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I've experimented with magic since I first started practicing when I was sixteen. I'd buy books at the local occult shop, voraciously read them and try the exercises out. Afterwards, I'd think about how I could improve the exercises or change them or experiment with them. I was never satisfied with other people's explanations of how magic worked. I'm still not satisfied with most of the explanations about how magic works, and that includes some of my explanations. That dissatisfaction, as well as an insatiable curiosity drives my desire to experiment with magic.

Magic is perceived by some as a spiritual force that complements their religious practices, and by others it is perceived as a practical methodology used to achieve measurable results that improve the lives of the practitioners. Still others think of it as a spiritual practice that allows them to commune with the world and the divine. Beyond all of that though it is a discipline, a field of study that many people contribute to on a regular basis. The challenge with any discipline is figuring out how you keep it relevant to the times and to the needs of the people.

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  • Merle Moss
    Merle Moss says #
    The only problem I have with the idea of 'experimentation in magic(k)', is rigorously keeping the original intent clear and simple
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello Merle, That's a fair point to make. I find that applying a process approach avoid such slippage, because the intent is writ
  • B. T. Newberg
    B. T. Newberg says #
    Interesting. Thanks for this. What are your views on experimental methodology in magic?
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello, I take a process approach to experimentation in magic, which means that if I put together an experiment and describe it to

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