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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The application of identity to magic

In my previous post, I defined various elements of identity that I thought should be considered in choosing to work with identity as a principle of magic. However what I didn't do was explain, in full, how identity could be applied to magic. It's not enough to simply recognize identity as a principle of magic or to even define identity, but consider this: The various elements I used to define identity all play a role in our lives, and in how we interact with other people, and the world. Understanding this about identity is important, because if we are apply identity to magic, we need to understand that we are working with these elements of identity and choosing to use them in a conscious, purposeful manner to effect change.

For example, your family is one of the elements of identity I mentioned in the previous post. There are a number of ways you could work with family as an element of identity, and apply that your magical work. You could do internal work via meditation, where you explore your dysfunctional issues and trace them back through your family, from generation to generation. The meditation could be a pathworking where you traveled into each each ancestor and experienced the dysfunction as it showed up in their lives. It might help you better understand it as well as look at how you could break the cycle. You could apply this working to life skills you learned from your family as well, such as finances, or your work ethic. You could also take this working and apply it forward to your descendants. 

You could also do more practical work with your family by creating an ancestor altar and communing with your ancestors or asking for their aide in your spiritual workings. You might seek advice from them, or simply honor them with a ritual that celebrates their contribution to your life. And that's just two ideas for how you could apply the identity element of family to your magical work.

One element of identity I didn't mention in the previous post is that of religion/spirituality. The religion grow up with and the religion/spirituality play a role in defining your identity. I've recently read a post which argued that you can't worship Jesus Christ and be a Pagan, and it highlights to me how religion is a form of identity because the author places a lot of value in his identity as a Pagan and seeks to differentiate that identity from anyone who worships Jesus Christ. If we were to apply magic to religion, you could explore the religion of your childhood and how it has shaped who you are and your choices, or you could look at how you've carried over the religious icons, rituals, and tools into the current spiritual work that you do. And of course you could also explore your emotional triggers to religions.

But there's also another way to approach identity and magic. How do you integrate identity into the magic you do? How do you integrate your body (as an example) into the spiritual work you do? What is the relationships your body has to the spiritual work you do? These are questions that aren't necessarily answered or explored in much depth, and yet I'd argue that your body is one of the most potent forms of expression and magic you have available to you. You can decorate it with clothes, tattoos, and jewelry that show what your identity is. You can integrate stillness and movement into your magic and explore how each contributes to the work you are doing. Why do you do that gesture? How does that gesture contribute to the magic and at the same time express your identity?

And there's a third layer to this as well. I'd argue that every time you do a magical act you are not just acting on the world around you, but also upon your identity. You are changing the essence of your being and becoming something and someone else through the magical work you do. Whether you are using magic to solve a problem or doing a high magic ritual that allows you to achieve apotheosis with the divine, you are moving your state of being from where it was to a different expression that allows you to revise your relationship with the universe as well. After all when we do magic to solve a problem, what are we really changing? We are solving the problem, but we are also changing the context of that problem and our relationship to it. What is that, but the very act of also changing our identity to become something new and different, and in the process also changing our relationship to the world around us, as well as the various elements, people, things, etc that we interact with?

When you recognize this aspect of identity, it changes how you think of magic, because it's no longer a matter of doing magic to effect change in conformity with will, but rather doing magic to change your relationship with yourself and the world. You become the change you seek to bring into the world, and through that change become a new identity that expresses the change.

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Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magick, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments. He is also the managing non-fiction editor of Immanion Press. Taylor lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two kids, as well as 7 cats.

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