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 virtue of curiosity in your magical practice

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.

I think that to truly make magic your own you need to be curious. It is not enough to read books and do the practices in those books, nor is it enough to learn from others and only do what those others have instructed you to do. While both activities can be useful for building a foundation, at some point you need to leave the nest and learn to fly. You need to take your magical practice and personalize it, making it your own, and to do that, it necessarily must be reflective of your interests.

The key to developing your personalized magical practice is discovered through being curious and most notably through asking how you can take what you are interested in and apply it meaningfully to magical work. Ask yourself: "How can I apply my interest to magic?" You'll be surprised at how much you can apply to magic, as well as what you can learn as a result of the application. For example, I've applied my interests in rhetoric and language to my magical practice and used those interests to explore the role of definitions in magical practice. I've also applied my interests in pop culture to my magical practice, creating a sigil technique based off the principles of comic book designs. If I wasn't curious I couldn't have taken those interests and developed them into meaningful aspects of magical practice.

Learning to be curious involves recognizing that the status quo never has all the answers and what answers it does provide may not even be true answers. As such it behooves the practitioner to find his/her own truth or make it. This truth can only be discovered or made by being curious and not settling for what the status quo presents you. Curiosity prompts you to ask questions and have experiences that allows you to make your own judgments. This principle applies to spiritual practices, but also life in general. 

When I read a book on magic, or hear someone offer a class, what's in the back of my mind is: How can I improve on what I am learning? What would I do differently from this person? How can I take what I know and apply it to what I'm learning? My answers won't be the same as someone else's. But my answers do allow me to make informed choices about my spiritual practice, and empower me to be a better person because I've chosen to use my curiosity to drive my practice. My answers aren't someone else's truth, but they are my truth arrived at through experience and the choice to personalize my magical practice.

Your curiosity is a virtue. Cultivate it, safeguard it and use it to help you become a better magician and person. Don't settle for the status quo or doing what others have done. Cultivate your spiritual practice by cultivating your curiosity. It will take you places no book and no other person can take you. 

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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.


  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez Friday, 09 November 2012

    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 readers. Curiosity is a Divine spark inside us, and you are very right - it challenges the status quo of things, which is always a good thing. Sharing this post right away!

  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood Friday, 09 November 2012

    Thanks Carolina! It's important to encourage curiosity...it's how we grow.

  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer Sunday, 11 November 2012

    Well said! If you think about it, any seeker wanting growth and spiritual health needs curiosity. It's the only way to expand our perspectives so we can absorb more knowledge. Can't pour anything into a full cup, to borrow a Buddhist proverb. :o)

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