In my post "What is Strategic Sorcery" I ended by putting forth a 7 point Strategic Sorcery Manifesto, because after all if you are going to do something as pompous and ridiculous as start a system of magic, you may as well go all-in with a "manifesto". I promised to comment on each of the seven point with its own post. Here is point number one, which really is the key to the whole concept.
Most books on practical magic, even the good ones, provide a spell or ritual for what you want to do and tell you to do non magical work to support your magic. Strategic Sorcery poses the exact opposite: that you develop a strategy to attain your goal and use magic to support that plan.
Any good magician worth his or her salt knows that you need to follow up your magic with other types of effort. Louis Martine had a great saying for reminding himself of this at the end of every magical effort: "First comes the working, than comes the work". This was my mantra for a long time, and was the key to a lot of successful magic.
I would often summon a spirit: Angel, Intelligence, Loa, Shade of the Dead, or Demon tell them what I want and wait for the signs of their work to appear. I would than follow up on their lead with more mundane efforts. A lot of good things came out of working this way: I found my spouse this way, I helped start an occult lodge this way, I made money found jobs this way, etc.
Other times though, it didn't quite work out so well. For example, before my spouse, my magic would bring me women that fit the qualities I was seeking, sometimes very specific, but have other glaring problems that I did not anticipate. I would do magic for money, and occasionally it would manifest in the form of an insurance payment because of some body damage to my car, which of course would never get fixed because I needed the money elsewhere. For fear of seeming craven, I was originally not going to mention this, but I spoke with Frater R.O. before making this post and he encouraged me to point out that he is experiencing one of the more extreme manifestations of this phenomena right now: receiving fire insurance and donations in nearly the exact numbers he had been requesting from Bune.
Even when things didn't go explicitly wrong, I began to feel that it is a mistake to give the spirits, even lofty angels, that much control over guiding my life. After all, its my life, and I am a native of the plane, planet, country, and town where I live, not them. It's not their job to know how our society works, or that a solution that they come up with will cause more harm than good. Its a question of management. You wouldn't hire someone from a tribe in the Brazilian Rainforest for instance and give them carte blanche on as far as how they do things. It would be disastrous for you, and also unfair to them. When you do a spell or summon a spirit, you are employing a being or power, you are responsible for managing it.
When I figured this out, I started to put the mundane work first, than use the magic to back it up. Things improved immensely. Instead of a day job that a spell brought to me, I networked with people I knew to find positions that i could choose from. I used magic to grease the wheels and sell myself and eventually land the job I chose. Rather than do a spell for something like "making more money through my teachings and magic" I read some great books on how to run businesses successfully and used magic to aid me in every step of the process. I still did overall magick to boost my aura of prosperity (Jambhala sadhanas mostly), but I took care of the specific details, employing spell work and spirits along the way.
Most people use magic for emergencies. I prefer not to have the emergency if I can avoid it, and use magic as part of my strategic life plan. I come up with goals for myself and more importantly a trajectory of how to get there. I monitor the magic I do very closely. Even with a strategy, you can shoot yourself in the foot. For instance, anyone that knows me knows I am always bitching about a lack of time. For a while the financial section of my magic, which includes a slightly more occult form of (you can make fun of me if you like) daily affirmations, was focused on making money through teaching, writing, and magic. When I was doing a weekly monitoring of everything that I do, I realized that one of the possible outcomes of this was that I could loose my day-job because of my affirmations about making money outside of it. While that might itself lead to good things in the far future, it would really screw some important things up for a good long time. For one thing, I actually like my day job, and am not looking to leave it until I am so secure with other income and assets that it will barely cause a financial hit. So, recognizing this possibility I added in parts to the affirmation/invocation along the lines of "my superiors like and appreciate the work I do, I will be able to work at XXXX for as long as I desire."
A lot of people get into practical magic because they want magic to hand them things on a silver platter. They want to win the lottery and have the person of their dreams fall slavishly in love with them. The fact that occult gatherings are not held at exclusive country clubs or tropical resorts and magicians are rarely seen in the company of super models should be the first clue that this is not a plan for success. You can get all those things with magic, but only when that magic includes a lot of skillful work. What strategic sorcery suggests is that it is better to let your intelligence and intuition guide a plan that is supported by magic, rather than let magic dictate your plan.