This is from Donald Michael Kraig's blog post in which he quotes Marshall McLuhan. Frankly, I have no idea who that is but I love the quote. DMK makes some good points in his post. I'd like to include my comments as well.
I do not fully agree with Don in that you have to believe that magick works in order to see it. I believe you have to believe in it to call it magick. If you see effects and you don't believe in magick you call it coincidence, happenstance or as something that can be explained rationally. You do see the effects what you don't see is the cause.
I do agree with him in that in order to do magick, you have to believe you can do it. Well, no, I don't agree with that either. In my experience too many people believe in magick they are not doing. Oh sure, they are going through the gestures, doing rituals and the like but what they intend to happen as a result isn't happening. They then take credit for anything that happens that is vaguely similar to what they intended. I have also seen people that do not believe in magick at all get stunned when they see it happen right in front of them. Worse, I have seen people that have done magick, hoping it would work but not really believing in it scare the you-know-what-out of themselves.
If you are brand new to the arts and believe in your magick, you are not being careful. When I was learning, I did small spells looking for small results. For instance, I did spells to educate myself on spiritual and mundane mysteries. If I was in conflict with someone and I'd do a spell to reveal another similar conflict in my life that I would otherwise have not connected. The result was that I learned something.
But why would I assume something magickal happened? Isn't a better explanation that I focused my mind on the result and simply saw what was right in front of me anyway? It may be cool to call that magick but isn't a simpler explanation more likely? Would it be just as valid to call it a psychological game?
Would having no doubts on regarding my magickal abilities help me or hurt me after such a spell? Well, if I have my head screwed on right, I may get away with this sloppy thinking. If I am not quite right, meaning a bit delusional and EVERYBODY is a bit delusional, I can get over inflated and develop an ego problem.
That may lead me deeper and deeper into self-delusion, infantile megalomania or other mental states that are not helpful.
Any magician that wants to progress has to be skeptical of his or her own work. Period. It is only by doing many more spells that result in increasingly unlikely events can one believe one is really doing magick. Once you have a realistic reason to believe in what you are doing, you can own that.
I agree with DMK that once you own it, once you drop your doubts, your magick will increase in potency. Getting rid of doubt by constant application of both magick and critical thinking is a long term solution. The exercise that Don recommends may be helpful to some in the beginning stages but strikes me as more of a psychological game than something to build a magickal career upon.
And now to reverse track completely, those psychological tricks are building blocks that can be used to generate positive experience that allows for the application of magick and critical thinking. By disagreeing in part with Mr. Kraig, do not think that I am discounting his words or his work. I started with Modern Magick after finding Regardie's Golden Dawn indecipherable. Don sparked my magickal career.
It may be worth noting that I have touched on many of the same points DMK mentioned just differently. I respect is work.