Mike Sententia talked a bit about experiences explaining magic to people.

I get nervous explaining magick. Even to friends, even if they believe too, even after writing this blog for four years. I expect they’ll be bored, or they’ll trivialize my work as just another visualization, another arbitrary way to communicate intent to the unconscious. And so, I rush.

I rush through the model, defining terms rather than explaining the ideas behind them. I talk about one technique, rather than walking them through the overarching model and my reasons for using it. I try to finish quickly, rather than drawing them in so they want to explore the ideas with me.

Of course, rushing creates the exact problems I’m anticipating.

But if you take the time to consider the fact that they don’t know what you’re talking about (or at least not to the detail you are familiar with), and take them slowly through it, you get better results.

This week, I explained my current work to a friend. I made myself slow down. Explained ethereal muscles before discussing communication. Talked about referred sensations from imagination before discussing the tingles that come from energy. Stepped her through each idea while we had breakfast.

And she got it. She even offered to help me test some techniques

The problem here is twofold.

First of all, when you’re really in depth into something, it can be very difficult to remember the perspective you had as a novice. This makes it very easy to jump over an important term or concept, forgetting that the person you’re talking to isn’t familiar with it. And then you jump back and forth in a disjointed fashion, which makes it easy to lose people. Lost people become bored easily. (Notice how Sententia had better results when he presented his information in a more organized fashion?)

Secondly, this has a lot to do about passion and interest, and isn’t exclusive to magic. It’s easy to do this with whatever your passion or hobby or love is. It can be magic, the occult, or paganism, sure. It can also be gushing over the latest episode of Sherlock, or Supernatural, or going on endlessly about cars, or politics, or what color you baby’s poop was. We gush about what we’re passionate about.

Both of these issues are about perspective and empathy. It is very easy to forget the perspective of someone not as emotionally or intellectually invested in something as you are, and tone down your responses appropriately. Keep your audience in mind, and you will find it more receptive.

On problems of explaining magic, the occult, paganism, fandoms, or anything that is unusual and cliquish to outsiders

2 responses to “Audience

  1. Pingback: Audience | Practical Pagans

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