There is a discussion in one of the blogs comment section where someone is arguing that practical magick doesn't work or if it does it doesn't work as often as magicians suppose. He further goes on to say that the path of practical magick leds to delusion.
To take up the last part first, all paths of magick led to delusion if the would be mage lacks the necessary skepticism to judge the claims of his own ego, imperfect communications with spirits, wishful thinking and the like.
I think he also made the point that such magick is selfish. He's right. So what? Anything we want that we don't need is selfish. For instance, I want to watch a baseball game on TV rather than work in a soup kitchen helping humanity. That is selfish and maybe even lazy. However, if I become lonely and bored to the point of depression and use practical magick to gain more friends or even a girlfriend is that selfish or merely understanding what I need and using my hard earned skills to obtain that? I leave you to decide.
Theurgy is selfish too. When I seek the divine, or as my friend says, "to glow in the dark", I am seeking to have my own wants and needs fulfilled. It is unlikely my activity will feed the hungry or aid some starving soul. However, the after affects of theurgy do help the world. When I make myself a better person or have a stonger connection to higher aspects of my soul, I have a tendency to do less damage to my fellow humans. By not causing that damage, I am making their lives better.
As for it practical magick working, of course it does. However, magick rarely works for those that don't feel like it should or that doing so makes them feel diminished. The very soul, which is the source of all magick, recoils.
When I was learning thought-form magick, also called artificial elementals, I would send thought forms with specific job: Show me what I need to learn about situation X; What is the true nature of my conflict with "Y"; "Show me what I need to explore about..." I trusted my soul to imbue the force with my deep needs and reflect them back to me. This always occurred. However, it is so subjective, that any skeptic could say that I just picked up a random conversation or assigned meaning to something that simply didn't exist. I cannot argue with these folks except at an instinctual level which is pointless as their monkey mind can not accept the thoughts of my own.
Practically speaking, magick is harder for me to push aside. For instance, just to make sure that I wasn't deluding myself with my theurgic thought forms, I did something 'practical'. Practically worthless really but it was fun and showed me the magick was working as intended. I noticed that I was the only baseball fan at work. I've never had a conversation at work regarding baseball or if I had they were so rare as to not be memorable. I did a thought form that was charged with, "let someone instigate a conversation about baseball at work," or something like that.
Within a day or two, someone was directed to move into my building. I walked by his office and said hello and he said mentioned the San Francisco Giant memorabilia up on his wall. For those who are not in the US that is a professional baseball team. I am a fan of their rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. We had a brief chat on baseball and I went on my way knowing the magick worked. Two hours later he was packing his stuff up. He'd been told to move to the wrong building and was moving out. That is far too much of a coincidence. That magick had effect on the real world. Such "coincidences" happen too often to be coincidences. Practical magick does work.
That said, those that use it too regularly simply get trapped in cycles. Getting $50 whenever you need it to pay they rent, simply keeps you unambitious. You always get by but it gives one an excuse not to further one's life by schooling or making the effort to find better employment.
A magical career without a long term theurgic purpose is pointless. Well, perhaps not, as the theurgic effect will likely happen over time anyway unless you fight it. However, a magickal career without thaumaturgy, removes a hard earned tool from the tool box of life. I don't see why such assets should be utterly abandonned. Though, I do think they should be used judiciously and with aquired wisdom.