Looking back on my life, there is one subject I have been drawn to in a strong intuitive way since a very young age- esotericism. For a long time, I struggled to grasp the importance of relevance of how ceremonial magick could fit into my spiritual practice and exploration.
There is so much misunderstanding, stigma, and ignorance surrounding this subject that it becomes one of those “secrets” - a part of yourself you can never share with “others,” except other practitioners.
There is a concept of “magick” held by the wider public that it is a method of “forcing the hand of fate.” I will attempt by analogy to give a more accurate description instead.
If we are mindful, we hold certain intentions for the way we want events to unfold or the direction we would like to travel in. This is similar to the intention of a seed. A seed has one intention- to grow into a plant. Imagine any intention you may hold as a seed.
Would you simply throw seeds upon infertile ground in the shade and hope they grow? Certainly, this will likely produce a plant some of the time. This is the hand of fate, the law of probabilities. After all, the seed’s intention is to grow!
But what if, instead, you cultivated the soil and enlisted the proper forces (water, sunlight, fertilizer, sand, etc)? What would the probability be that the seed would grow into a plant now?
You might at this point argue that this has nothing to do with magick. You would tell me that sunlight and water are physical phenomena that we can measure and magick is hooey-hoo-ha!
And to that, I say, hold on. We aren’t done here.
Here are the 3 reasons ceremonial magick is amazing.
If nothing else, we can say that magick affects psychological and behavioral processes. Magick involves the ritualistic and deliberate movement of the body, intonation of voice and speech, and the specific, thoughtful, and deliberate arrangement of ritual space, altar, timing, etc. There is absolutely no doubt that activities such as yoga, chanting, meditation, even “power posing” have numerous beneficial effects on the mind and body. There are measurable chemical processes that change in favorable ways when these activities are carried out. Ritual magick incorporates all of these, into a deliberate act with a single purpose. For the materialist reading this, I will explain in your terms. Power posing, yoga, chanting, memorization, etc involved in ritual magick activate regions of the brain in unusual ways and initiate change in neuroprocesses and neurochemistry. For the “I must have scientific proof of this claim” person: Power posing affects hormones and a person’s social desirability and performance which directly influences their success in all realms of life. Additionally, sound profoundly affects consciousness, to the point certain sounds, with prolonged exposure, are considered literal torture devices. Do your own research and dive deep. Good stuff.
Moving out and away from the bare materialistic perspective. Magick works via the quantum energy level. (Traditionally, within mystery traditions this was referenced by other names). There is only so much that can be said - some will recognize truth here, and some will feel a knee jerk reaction of rejection. It’s all good. The universe is energy- we are energy- your thoughts are energy- your feelings are energy- your body is energy. The physical bits of reality are in fact energy, and are never actually standing still. Your solidity, all distance, even color, is a result of your perception. Your soul is real, your energy is real. The boundary of where you begin and end (your physical body) is not! Your thoughts and feelings drive your life in more than one dimension. They also profoundly affect others. Got it?
Lastly, I will cover the psychosynthesis or Jungian model which is so important to ceremonial magick (tarot is a perfect example of this). Ceremonial magick requires that the individual identifies an intention, spends a great deal of time organizing and preparing mentally and physically for the rite, and then sets aside the proper time to devote their attention to the matter 100%. This is an important psychological process for this individual. Non-serious intentions fall away, never making it to the ritual space. When the intention is not clear or too general, the person is required by the process itself to go deep within themselves to perfect and clarify the mission. This is a productive avenue for self-analysis and introspection. The use of archetypes and archetypal forces, as well as certain sounds used in ceremonial magick trigger psychological processes which aid the individual in exacting deep subconscious changes. This type of work, at best, can generally be achieved after six months or a year or so in traditional psychotherapy. The magician experiences an intense form of self discovery and, ultimately, self-actualization.