Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Year of Being Agile -- Working enchantment over comprehensive philosophy

As part of my year of being agile, I'm going to explore each of the four values in my Agile Magic Manifesto in order to a) help create actionable items and b) define my own plan for the year (one of the secret benefits to blogging is that writing about stuff helps you get shit straight in your own head).

Working enchantment over comprehensive philosophy

When I was in my 20s, I was pretty sure I knew how things were. I had theories galore about how magic operated, how religion worked, and what was really going on in the world. Not only was I convinced that I knew things, I was convinced that things were knowable.

I'm either much wiser or much stupider now (or both) because at this point I'm pretty sure I don't know how things work. In fact the only thing I'm pretty sure sure of is that lots of stuff may actually be unknowable. Of course, I still have theories, but now the important thing is not whether those theories meet some objective standard of true, but whether they are useful.

Lest I segue into the realm of alterna-facts, I am still sure that activities in the day to day world have some kind of agreed on reality. A reality that a lot of people would like to make very fuzzy right now. But just because the current state of the mundane world requires constant vigilance against a tsunami of manipulative bullshit -- from every direction -- doesn't mean we have to apply the same effort to the mystical, the liminal, the spiritual.

In those realms there isn't some ultimate real truth that we are going to agree on. There are just different theories, some of which are more useful than others. Which brings us to the second point of our agile magic manifesto -- if it works for you, that's enough.

How do I define "work" though? Well, it depends on your goal of course. If your goal is spiritual enlightenment, then it works if you are more enlightened (the objective standard would be if other people can see the light in you and react in a positive way). If your goal is practical enchantment, it's even easier. Is your life generally working the way you would like? Are you moving in a direction that gets you closer to and achieving your goals? Then what you are doing is working for you. Will it work for anyone else? The jury is still out on that. If your goal is the experience of occult connection (which is a perfectly valid goal) then it's about the number of synchronous events, the visitations/manifestations, the OBEs, the psychic phenomenon.

My personal philosophy is that if I can see a possible benefit to a new technique or idea, I'll give it a shot. Sure, stuff could go wrong or backfire. There may be fallout. But hey, it's magic. While I was more cautious about the big stuff when the budding psychonaut was tiny, now that I have a teen psychonaut (which totally sounds like a comic book) I enjoy experimenting.

I think we should approach all magic in the same way. Try things out and if it's good tech for you, then add it to your repertoire. If it doesn't work, set it aside. Not because it's wrong, but because it's not for you. Any maybe, just maybe, quit arguing about it endlessly on the Internet.

In the end, you have to find some practices that work for you. And one of the great things about the agile framework is that it can work with any technique and for any end game. Here's how:

  1. Decide what the acceptance criteria is -- that's how you know it worked
  2. Do the thing
  3. Check back and see whether it met the acceptance criteria
It fits neatly into the simple agile rhythm. In your sprint planning you decide not just the things you want to do, but what it means to be done with those things. If it can't be done in the time frame you've chosen (a month for example) make it smaller. And then decide how you judge whether it worked. Because that's the primary thing -- working enchantment.

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