When I was a beginning novice (as opposed to now being Novice Adept) I read something that just set me off. I don't remember which of the hundreds of books it came from, but it was so simple it hurt.
The paragraph essentially said, "Grimoires assume that the reader already has a practical knowledge of how to work Magick. This is why it's quite useless to pick up a grimoire and attempt to replicate what it says." Few things piss me off like finally finding an oasis in the midst of a desert, only to realize you need a key from elsewhere to get in.
However, my after putting my butthurt aside, I began making it my mission to find out what I was missing. I needed to know why the grimoires didn't work. What was I missing? While there are tons of maps to the oasis, there are no maps to the key. I set off on this journey about 8 years ago. I think I found it.
In our desperation, we sometimes over complicate the occult. After all, if WE can't do this stuff with our brilliants minds and decades of dedication, who can? The only plausible answer is that it's just very complicated and we have to decode it. Or, we do a small hop to the left and experience a paradigm shift.
So I shifted. Birthday cake candles. Christmas trees. Divining egg yolk in water. These are examples of simple traditions of ancient magick that have transcended time, cultures, and even religions. (ok, maybe not the egg yolks). What do they all have in common? They are symbolic. More importantly, they change how we FEEL. All rituals change how we feel... how our mindsets and attitudes react.
It's more than just "Feelings" though. There is an energy that we swim in so often, we don't realize is there. You've walked into a room before and felt the anger/joy/sadness/etc that's still in it... even though the creators of that energy has left. You've been overwhelmed by beauty staring at a vast wilderness stretched beneath the hill you've climbed. Most likely you've even felt the comforting darkness of finding the rotting bones of a dead animal in a swamp and feeling your connection to it. It's invigorating. You can feel this energy in your sleep or in wakefulness.
Need a more practical example? When someone that you love rejects you or admonishes you... your energy drops. You feel low. You desperately want to strike back at them and reclaim your energy. It's that rush you get when you finally defeat your enemy. This is more than serotonin and dopamine. This is the constant exchange of energy that makes us who we are. Seratonin and Dopamine merely react to that energy exchange.
This energy is the difference of repeating a mantra and using a mantra. It is "Shin", the animating spirit of Yod Heh Shin Vau Heh. It's the difference of lighting candles because a book suggested it and sending your focused will into The Above.
When we do our magick and our rituals, we are trying to focus that Shin. We are charging it, aiming it, and sending it out according to our Wills. When you do your rituals, shout when needed, cry, stamp your feet to gain stability! The more you can process your Shin, the better your working. This is also the secret to powerful sex magick and charging sigils.
It is my firm belief that if you are not working with your equivalent of what I call, "Shin", you are not working magick at all. I'm not so arrogant as to tell you to believe as I do, but it is what I believe. Tell me your thoughts!