How to learn process and apply it to magic

Posted on November 22, 2011
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I talk about the process of magic a lot on here, but a question that might arise is: What exactly is process and how do I learn it? Or more specifically, How do I turn magic into a process?

I learned about process from two different disciplines: Academia and Technical Writing. Both disciplines are process oriented, albeit in different ways. In academia, the process is research oriented. If you have an angle you want to explore, you need to do a lot of research and find corresponding evidence that supports your claim, and protects it from potential attacks by other people. This approach to process is more theory oriented than anything else, but it taught me a lot about how to construct an argument, and develop a defense for that argument. It also taught me to appreciate research and the need to ground any work you do in what others have already laid out. To this day, my approach to magic is always based in ongoing research into various subjects that are relevant to the experiments I’m working on. At the same time, academia also taught me the dangers of being too focused on theory. Within the particular disciplines I studied there was very little application, which caused me to question what, if anything, was really being done with the research academics were conducting. I recognized that while research is a necessary and integral part of a process, it must be balanced by something else.

Technical writing was the other discipline that taught me about process. It likely helped that my first tech writing job was at Boeing, where one of the phrases is: “Process is king” In that position, I learned that good technical writing had to address the right audience, while providing step by step practical explanations of how to use a given technology. Research also still played a role, but the practical application was the most important part. If you couldn’t apply it, it didn’t matter. That made sense to me and I realized it was the missing piece that academia didn’t have. If you can’t apply it, it doesn’t matter. Or in occult terms, if you can’t apply it, you’re just an armchair magician.

That’s how I learned process, but I doubt most people really want to follow my exact footsteps. But the two lessons you can take from those steps are: Anything you do must be grounded in research in order to show others where its come from and If you can’t practically apply what you are working on to improving your life, it doesn’t matter.

So figure out what you need to research and determine if you can apply it to your life. But there’s another lesson I learned from technical writing as well, that can help you develop a process. Everything you do can be broken down into steps.

Once you break something into steps you have a rudimentary process. Apply lessons one and two as well and you have a full fledged process. And lets not forget you also need to measure results. If you have a process, you have a result and you need to measure that result to determine if your process works. A process is only effective if you can consistently achieve the result you’ve designed the process for.