The below is a re-worked version of an essay that appeared here a month ago. Note there are now two more principals.
The Nine Principals of Strategic Sorcery
By Jason Miller
A few years back I started offering consultations and spell clinics for those Witches and Mages who seemed to have a lot of knowledge, yet still found themselves thaumaturgically impaired; unable to make practical magic with measureable results work for them. These informal consults, led eventually to the groundwork of my second book "The Sorcerer's Secrets, Strategies for Practical Magick". The interest generated by that book led me to create my online course: The Strategic Sorcery Training, a One Year Bootcamp in Practical Magic". In these books and classes I lay out all the specific methods that I have found to be most effective and useful over the years.
What even more important than the methods though are the principals. While the methods of Strategic Sorcery are many, there are nine basic principals that can be employed by just about anyone from any system of magic or Witchcraft. Whether you have an interest in my other works or not, if you put a few of these principals to work, you will see real results from your magic and real improvements in your life.
As with so many ideas, these nine principals came about as a result of a great conversation with a fellow occultist who's identity, for reasons relating to his profession, needs to stay in the closet. Below is my own re-creation of pertinent parts of the conversation presented as a Q&A.
Q. So how did you start on this whole “Strategic Sorcery” bit?
A. Well, as you know I have been practicing magic for over 20 years, starting in my mid-teens. Like 90% of teens that start looking at magic and Witchcraft I got into it because I had the silly idea that I could cast spells on people and enchant events in the real world. Unlike most people in the occult scene, I never gave up on this idea. Like others in the occult world, I am very much concerned with the spiritual evolution of both myself and others, but this progress just made me better at the spell casting part. I had enough success in my early efforts that I knew it could be done, so saw no reason not to keep doing it. I saw no conflict between material and spiritual progress and still don’t. After studying system after system and tradition after tradition I had arrived at a place where I was learning lots of different ways to do the same thing. I was learning a lot of occult information, but my progress as a magician was stagnating.
This left me with a choice to make. One: I continue to study different forms of magic and spirituality that I am not familiar with (Druidry, Native American, Peruvian Shamanism, etc, etc) until I die. Two: I could pick one of these traditions, stick with it like glue, and become one of its representatives (Jason Rinpoche?, His Eminence Bishop Miller? Houngan Jay? Inominandum the OHO?). Three: I could focus on taking what I knew in a new direction, making it better, stronger, faster (“we have the technology!”).
Since I had no interest in learning yet more ways to accomplish essentially the same goals, door number one was easy to close. I flirted with door number two, but in the end I realized I am just not called to be a Priest, Lama, or high order muckety muck. I chose door number 3.
I started to deconstruct all the practical magic that I had learned so I could see what was really good tech, and what was not. When I began to take a look at the methods outside of the various symbol sets they are often attached to, it became remarkably clear to me how methods could be teamed together for better effect. For example, most of the magic I write about in my book combines tapping into the divine and energetic levels of magic in a way that is familiar to most ceremonial magicians, and channeling that through very intricate workings with physical links that would be familiar to rootworkers and other folk magic practitioners.
I realized that everything I valued about magic came down to one thing: making life better by doing things differently than how most do it. I began to see practical magic as type of what has recently been called “Life Hacking”. Realizing this, I began to take a look at other methods of life hacking.
I began to read books on time management tricks, intelligence gathering, pick-up techniques, asset building, and neuro-plasticity. I picked the brains of friends that knew hypnosis, NLP, applied disinformation, martial arts, and interpersonal mediation. I listened to CD’s on sales techniques, geo-arbitrage, social dynamics, and neural reconditioning. In short, knowing that magic works best when it is followed up by other types of work to support the goal (the blending of magical and mundane methods), I studied anything and everything I could to help make the magic I did, as effective as it could possibly be.
Applying all this to building pro-active strategies of life building, rather than reactive emergency magic that most people resort to when its already too late, gave birth to Strategic Sorcery.
Q. In your blog and class material that you have showed me you have started referring to “Strategic Sorcery” as a system in and of itself now, and not just as an approach. I thought you were against starting yet another system of magic or trying deliberately to be the founder of a tradition. How did this happen?
A: It just sorta happened without me trying. I think that way too many people are going out of their way to deliberately create systems just for the sake of being the founder of a system. This is even sillier when we talk about “traditions”. How can you call it a tradition if it has never been worked by anyone before or passed down to anyone but yourself?
There are currently an overabundance of systems that do not say anything new and are pretty much useless exercises in ego inflation. In my case I really just wanted to share my thoughts on how to do magic effectively, not start my own system. Eventually my ideas started to spawn rituals and inspire symbols, next thing you know, I have the makings of a system. At this point it is starting to accumulate its own “current”, complete with the egregore and strange synchronicities that accompany it. This all just sort of happened. I hope that it remains an open system. I want to make sure that it can be used by people who also work other traditions, as well as be used as a system unto itself. I also hope it keeps growing and changing after I am gone.
Q: So if systems are pretty useless unless they say something new, what would you say that Strategic Sorcery has to teach, that isn’t covered elsewhere?
A: I have narrowed this down to nine basic principles that I think define Strategic Sorcery.
1. Strategy before Sorcery : Crappy magic says do a spell and sit back waiting for the result. Do a spell and wait for a friend to call with a job offer. Good magic tells you to make sure you follow up your magic with mundane work: You do the spell to get a job, than go job hunting so that the spell can work. Strategic Sorcery reverses this process and tells you to do mundane work first. Form a clear strategy to attain your goal and use magic to support the details of that plan at almost every step. In the case of getting a job the Strategic Sorcerer would study the current trends in targeted resume writing and employment offering rates. He would also study interview skills and modern networking techniques - all of which have changed drastically in the last 5 years. He might use magic to bless the entire venture and magnetize himself, but he would also might individually charge resumes as talismans, do influence magic targeted at those looking over the resume, glamours to make himself stand out at the interview etc.
2. Emergency magic is bad magic: Some people claim that magic should only be done to fix problems that cannot be fixed through mundane means. By that time, it is usually also too late to much with magic as well. Strategic Sorcery is done ahead of time and according to a plan, so that those problems don't occur, or at least get fixed before they get out of hand. Besides, it is much too easy to stay trapped in a crap job or living situation by fixing all the emergencies that might force you to do better for yourself. Sometimes what seems like an emergency is actually the universe opening up an opportunity that you might close with your magic. By being proactive with magic the Sorceress knows whether these little glitches might support her overall life plan.
3. Material needs and desires are not unspiritual: Some systems focus on spiritual growth or religious worship so much that they insist that practical magic is a side issue only to be used to support a spiritual practice or to provide aid in dire emergencies. Strategic Sorcery poses the opposite: by focusing on the magic of finances, sex, love, health, and power you naturally get drawn into spiritual work. By having such immediate and material concerns tied to your spiritual practice, your motivation to actually do the work is often much greater than if it is aimed only at an ephemeral goal like enlightenment or worship. Make no mistake the Sorcerer is concerned with spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment, he just views his practical magic as the outstretched rays of his illumination.
4. Always blend magical and mundane methods: In the old days magicians and Witches used to use not only use “supernatural” methods as part of their craft, but all kinds of skills that were not widely known to the populace at large: herbalism, illusion, chemistry, and hypnosis. The modern Sorcerer does the same by learning the hidden skills of persuasion, financial prowess, alternate medicine, computer hacking, media manipulation, and so on. By fusing these so-called life hacking techniques with traditional magic, we arrive at what it really means to be a Cunning Man or Woman.
5. Appropriate Tech not Symbols: Systems of magic can be broken down into symbol sets, and tech. Symbol sets are usually dependent on culture, time, tradition, and sometimes only available through initiation. Using a symbol set outside of its culture, or initiatory stream can sometimes be difficult, disrespectful, or even downright dangerous. Tech on the other hand works because it works, and thus can be looked and examined from outside of any specific tradition. In this way you can find the most effective techniques without falling into the trap of making an eclectic mess. For example it would be find to borrow the idea of multiplying offerings with the mind from Tibetan Buddhism and use it in Wicca. It would be quite another to grab the nearest Phurba and call it your Athame, using it in the way that an Athame is used without really learning anything about the Tibetan Phurba traditions.
6. Be Achonistic: The Strategic Sorcerer does not value old magic because of its ancient roots, nor does it value new magic because it is supposed to be cutting edge. Value is based on whether something works and how well it works.
7. Maintain a balance between Temple Magic and Field Magic: Most systems do not maintain a balance between magic done in a circle or temple and magic done in the field or on the fly. By using both the magic of the constructed circle and ritual, as well as magic performed right in the workplace, nightclub, bedroom, courthouse, or street, your magic will be more effective. Examples would include combining a midnight ritual in your home to effect the mind of the mind of a potential employer, followed by some embedded commands and maybe even a discrete use of compelling powder when you meet her next.
8. Maintain a balance between the Divine, Energetic, and Material levels: Most systems of magic do not maintain a balance between the three levels of Material, Energetic/Astral, and Divine/Causal level. By making sure you hit all these points in your working, your magic will be more effective. Some people do magic through working with energy and conjuring spirits. Some do it primarily through prayer and meditation. Some do it by the manipulation of herbs, candles, magnets, etc. Most people use more than one of these - but it is a rare Sorceress who uses all three.
9. Know that magic does not always work. Learn from what you do regardless of the outcome: Some say that magic done well always works. I agree that all magic done well has an effect - but sometimes the effect is meets insurmountable obstacles such as poor magical links (pictures are not as good as you think they are) or overwhelming odds (You are 40 times more likely to die in a car crash on the way to buy a lottery ticket as you are to win the big one). One of the reasons to do multiple types of magic towards any goal is so that if one spell fails, another will work. You can often learn more from does'nt work than you can from what does.
These Nine Principles have served me well time and time again. I apply them to my spiritual as well as my material needs. I share them with you in hopes that you will get some use out of them. The world needs transformation. Transformed circumstance and transformed citizens. Whether you call yourself a magician a Witch or a sorcerer, get out there and practice your craft.
I will be exploring each of these nine principals in detail in further articles.
Jason Miller (Inominandum) has been studying and practicing magick for over 20 years. His studies have brought him all over the world, from the American South, to Europe, to the Himalayas. He is a member of several magickal orders and craft traditions as well as being an initiate of the Nyingma and Bon lineages of Tibet.
He is the author of Protection and Reversal Magick, A Defense Guide for Witches and The Sorcerers Secrets, Strategies in Practical Magick as well as the Strategic Sorcery Blog, Thoughts on Thaumaturgy, Life Hacking, and Liberation. For more information on books, classes, and the Strategic Sorcery Training, go to www.inominandum.com