Magick can work when it’s sloppy, poorly planned and badly performed. It shouldn’t, but it does, and when you understand why, there’s a chance your magick will work more often. And it’s also true that perfectly planned and executed magick can lead to failure. This seems crazy. If you want results, should you just dive in and do it badly, or try to get everything right?
I have a friend who likes to cook, and he will make a fantastic dinner in under thirty minutes, even when it looks like there’s nothing in the fridge that he could possibly cook with. He courageously chops and mixes and dashes things together, and there’s our meal. I also have friends, (many, many friends), who cook to exacting recipes, and nine times out of ten they only make average dinners. Does this mean that natural talent is more important than technique? Not one bit. What it means is that my courageous friend is willing to fail. He cooks with calm confidence and flair, knowing that what he’s working on could be brilliant, but might turn into gruel. And he doesn’t care. That’s why, most of the time, it works.
I think this same sort of flair can happen when people start magick. They just dive in, getting it all wrong, and to their immense surprise, it still works. You see reviews and stories on this site that say exactly this. ‘I wasn’t really expecting much, and I made some mistakes, but I put all my heart into it, forgot about it and BAM!, there was my result.’
As I often say, magick is full of crazy contradictions, and every time you find a contradiction it always leads to a really powerful truth. If you read our books and this blog, you’ll see that one minute we lecture about the importance of reading the instructions carefully, saying you must follow the instructions closely once you’ve understood them. But then we say you must chill out, be relaxed, that imperfect magick is better than no magick, and that the details are not as important as your willingness to try. Why the contradiction? Because you need to find a balance between flair and precision.
Quite often, I get a series of messages from somebody asking about every single detail in a ritual, wanting me to help them make sure it’s exactly right, and that nothing can go wrong. I do like it when people read the instructions properly and try to do it right, but when it goes this far, it implies extreme worry and fear. It’s not an attempt to get it right, so much as a fear that it’s almost certain to go wrong.
On the other side of things, when people rush through and do a badly thought-out ritual, it makes me gasp and squirm, because maybe we’ve made the magick so simple that people are taking it way, way too lightly. We get questions where people say, ‘Oh, I missed out the main part of the ritual where you say the magick words. Does it matter?’ It matters.
Sometimes people come to us and say the magick didn’t work, and eventually we find out they were falling asleep during each ritual and assuming that was a minor detail. It’s a major detail! People dive in with minimal preparation. Lots of people miss the important instructions. I know for a fact that countless people do Wealth Magick but neglect the daily practice it describes, and then think the magick is broken. Nope, the magick is fine but you missed the most important bit. And often, you missed the second most important bit too. I won’t spell it out. It’s in the book.
And that’s why we go on and on about reading it all deeply, and working with it properly. You really should read each book several times, because they’ve been designed as something other than clear instructions. They reveal more to you as you dwell on them. The act of reading, slowly and carefully, as you let the sense of your dreams build up within you – that’s an act of magick.
But then, we also say the stuff about chilling out and relaxing because you should just get on with the magick, like a courageous, hungry home chef. Magick done badly is better than no magick, and might work. Better to dive in than to spend weeks planning and obsessing about every detail. Have a go, and make magick a part of your life rather than building up to one ‘perfect’ ritual. And be willing to fail.
Think back to my friend who cooks with nothing other than hope and courage, and think about the recipe people. If my home-chef friend followed a recipe, he’d be too bored and restricted to do a good job. If my recipe-friends tried to make it up as they went along, we’d be eating some sort of wet porridge for dinner.
Recipes work most of the time, but they are better with a bit of flair thrown in. If you’re more of a recipe person, relax, and know that mistakes are actually just texture and flavour. Put some emotional energy into your work, with a sense of courage and certainty. Even if this ritual’s a dud, the next will be brilliant. Assume your magick is going to work just fine.
If you’re all about natural flair and diving in, but then find yourself frustrated when your magickal life doesn’t progress, go back to the basics. Read the books, learn the instructions. Know the recipe. Know it well.
And whatever your approach, know that sometimes you have to read between the lines. Did you notice something I repeated over and again in this post? You have to be willing to fail. When you’re cool with gruel, you often make something truly delicious.
When you are willing for magick to fail, that shows that you actually trust magick. It sounds weird, but it’s true. It’s like skimming stones on a pond. Often they sink with a disappointing plop. But you know they can fly and bounce and skip over the water. You believe that, so you try again and it happens. By letting go of the need for every attempt to be a success, you increase your chance of success.
This doesn’t mean you do lots of slapdash magick without caring about it. Put your heart into all your magick. Do it well and thoroughly. But if it fails, know that nothing went wrong; it’s just that the result is a few more steps away. You may need a different approach. You may need to change something within yourself to allow yourself to receive.
If one beloved ritual doesn’t work, know that something else will eventually work exactly the way you want it to. It doesn’t take belief, or willpower or imagination. Just read the instructions, practice often, and allow your natural flair to develop. And know that for every failure, a divine magickal success is one step closer.