Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Value of Discipline?

What value would you put on discipline in magic? There are so many types, from free-flowing, 'whatever feels right' magic, to systems with rules and correspondences up the wazoo. Do you find a difference in terms of effectiveness in these methods?

To clarify - if you had an important goal, would you take the time to collect your ingredients in the dead of night, with a silver knife, while naked, etc., or would you dash off a spell using whatever you had in your kitchen, substituting as necessary, telling a while candle it was really black now, and trusting to your focus and intent to carry it off. Is 'proper form' an unecessary frill, or does a spell have more 'oomph' when done elegantly and according to form?

The comparison that comes to my mind is in poetry. Free verse and poetic pose are both evocative, and, done properly, beautiful. They don't seem to require the discipline that iambic pentameter or haiku forms do, where there seems to be a sense of accomplishment in finding the perfect word with the right emphasis or number of syllables. Is there a value distinction between them? Would you choose one form over another according to the 'importance' of the occasion?

I've seen advice on here to 'do what feels right and it will work'. I've also seen some very specific debates about academic rigour. Is cutting the formality out of a CM ritual and adjusting it to your tastes a matter of freeing yourself of the limitations of form, or is it a matter of being unwilling to tackle the difficulties of discipline.

I go back and forth on this myself, both in magic and in poetry, but it always seems that the more important or more difficult a task, the more I go for the formal and disciplined. A word that takes a week to find, and is perfect, seems to acquire value just from the sense of achievement in finding it. Similarly, a spell done to rigourous and demanding standards seems stronger somehow.


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