Every so often I get emails from people asking for advice on their magical practice. One common problem I note is that there is tendency to make magical workings more complex than they need to be. I suspect the reason for that is simply that in general western occultism values a lot of pomp and ceremony, which in my book involves creating a lot of complexity of the needless kind.
My advice is simple: Cut the complexity out of your magical work. If you find yourself focusing on the details overly much perhaps its because those details are obfuscating your magical process. If they are, its time to evaluate them and decide on whether or not they are really relevant to the magical working at hand. If they aren’t relevant, let them go, and if they are relevant, then spend some time clarifying their exact purpose in your magical practice.
Building complexity into your magical work should only be done when you clearly understand how it will enhance your magical workings. And if you are (as many people do) doing magical practices that you’ve learned from books it is absolutely necessary that you assess those practices with an eye toward personalizing them. You’ll discover that a lot of what is included is needless complexity and that your own understanding of the actual working is enhanced by personalizing it. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t learn the foundations of magic. You should, but learning those foundations will also show you how to adapt magical practices to your own preferences.
With that foundational knowledge in place it should be easy to determine when there is needless complexity. Remember that what you are really working with are the principles of magic. Everything else is just the window dressing. It looks nice, but may not be needed or all that functional.
A long time ago I learned ceremonial magic and then I learned how to get rid of the ceremony and still practice the magic. I recognized that so much of the ceremony was really put into place as a way to create a specific environment and I also realized that the same environment could be replicated without all the extras. The key was and is to understand the principles of magic. Everything else is adaptable. So I shed the needless complexity, and simplified my magical work. And that’s what I advocate for when people I get emailed or asked. Make it simple…it’ll still work, and you may find it works more effectively.