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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How the Death Gate Cycle inspired my Process approach to Magic

I've just finished re-reading the Deathgate Cycle, a 7 book series published in the early 1990's and one of my favorite fantasy series. One of the reasons I like the series so much is the appendices, which the authors created to explain various aspects of the series, including how the magic in the series works. Although neither author is a magician, so far as I know, the detailed explanations they share provide a lot of insight into not the magic of their series, but magical work in general. For example, one of the concepts they talk about is the importance of definition in magic, and how definition shapes the raw possibilities into something that a person can understand apply to the world around him/herself.

I read the Deathgate cycle when it first came out, before I started practicing magic. It's fair to say that reading those appendices certainly had an effect on how I thought about magic, once I started to practice it in earnest. The concepts presented provided a way to understand magic that made sense to me, because what was presented was a very methodical approach to magic that made sense. That I would find some similar approaches in actual books on magic only confirmed to me the value of looking outside of strictly magical texts to find inspiration in my magical work.

This 7 book series inspired my process approach in several different ways. First, it taught me to think of magic in terms of possibilities. I came to recognize that the results I was seeking in magic were essentially possibilities I was bringing into reality, using magic as the means to do so. By understanding this about magic, it helped me understand that the work I did would always, to one degree or another, be situated in possibility. Second, what it taught me is how important it is to define what you are doing. While my understanding of the principle of definition would really come into focus much later as a result of reading Defining Reality, its fair to say that the Death Gate Cycle illustrated how important defining your process is. The appendices in the book presented a clear, defined, explanation of how the magic in that series worked, and when I applied that approach to my magical work, I found that it helped me put everything into the right context, because I defined what I was doing and used the definition to fully explore the actual work being done in a way that could help me take apart any magical working in order to learn what was actually happening, and then put it back together with my own personalizations, designed to make the working more effective.

Finding inspiration for magical work in the appendices of a fantasy series might seem ridiculous, but if you can find effective explanations and expressions of magic and implement them, then it doesn't matter what the source is. What matters is that your magic works, and that you understand how it works. When you have that kind of understanding you are able to see the process of your work for what it is and change it as needed. That's what I learned from reading those appendices and every time I reread that series what it shows me is how important it is to keep myself open to non-traditional resources to continue inspiring my magical work.

What are the non-traditional sources that inspire your magical work?

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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.


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