Core Elements of Sorcery

In the Dresden Files book series, the wizard Harry Dresden finds his own powers and abilities refined through the act of taking on an apprentice. In teaching someone else “the basics” he is able to refocus on them himself and improve his technique and performance.

I do not have an apprentice. Of the three people I have met that I thought suitable, one turned out to be a psychopath, one simply wasn’t interested, and one thought I was trying to seduce her. But magic is about adaptability, and there is not reason I can’t review the basics on my own. So I have been doing so.

Chaos Magic has always interested me due to its emphasis on techique, practice, and results. When you take the glamor, theory, and myth away, you can describe magical techniques in practical terms that underlie all the models, explanations, and mysticism that hide them. So that seemed a good place to start over again.

And with this in mind, I look to Phil Hine’s Condensed Chaos, and his discussion of the core elements of sorcery operations.

Hine breaks down the basics to three elements:

1) Intention

I tend to shy away from the word “intention,” as newage pap such as The Secret has co-opted this term to describe its happy positive vibe brand of wishful thinking. But most magical texts will refer to a statement of intent at some point, with the understanding that this is the basis for your desire. I prefer the term instruction, since that is what this statement is: an instruction  which the magical process manifests.

But I’m quibbling over terms. What I am talking about is a statement of what the act of magic is intended to achieve, a declaration of the desired results. And it should be remembered that vague intentions will bring about vague results. Your declaration of intent should be as specific as possible.

Also remember that what your goal is may not be the real issue. There may be an underlying block or some other factor to consider that may be a more effective target. For example, you may want to find a new lover, but a lack of confidence or charisma may be impeding this goal, and solving that problem could provide a better long term result.

2) Probability Pathways

“Sorcery does seem to acheive the best results when the probability factor is at least fractionally higher than zero.”

The real issue here is the question of mundane versus magical action. Magic has the function of improving the probability that what you desire will occur. If that probability is already very small, magic may do little to make it probable. If you want your magic to be more effective, enchant for higher probability events, and increase the probability of those events through all actions possible.

In short, provide a pathway for the magic to work through. If you enchant to ace the test, study for it. If you cast to win the lottery, make sure to buy a ticket. If you do a spell to find a new job, be sure to revise your resume and apply to several positions.

3) Timing

This is closely related to precision in magic. Certain events are more vulnerable to manipulation at different points. In a lot of cases, the earlier you act, the better. For example, my approach to weather magic relies upon the fact that I don’t enchant for a target day that is less than a month away, allowing chaotic forces to contribute to, rather than detract from, the desired result. It is easier to heal a serious illness in its early stages than its later ones.

This is also a good place for divination. Knowing what is affecting the result you want and being able to see where to best focus your efforts will increase efficiency. There is also a place here to consider retroactive enchantments to improve your probabilities of success.


One response to “Core Elements of Sorcery

  1. Pingback: Core Elements of Sorcery | Practical Pagans

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