Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Applied Magick
by Brandy Williams
One: Matching Representations
In studying magic I've been exposed to a lot of related
fields--history, mythology, music--which enrich my understanding
of my vocation. One of the most helpful series of books I've
encountered is a set of five volumes starting with The Structure
of Magic I. and II. which focus on... psychology.
John Grinder and Richard Bandler developed the field they
called Neuro Linguistic Programming, or NLP. One reason I
suggest everyone I know become familiar with it is that they've
taught this stuff to salespeople, managers, Pentagon employees...
I see their techniques on television commercials and read about
them in seminar descriptions. NLP is a people manipulator par
excellance, and I think it's important others are made aware of
Another reason is that it's so incredibly useful.
Consider this: "The meaning of a communication is the
response you get." In their terms, an elegant phrase. It's
changed my entire relationship with others. If I don't make
myself clear, I don't blame the listener. I restate my case,
maybe trying a different body language, a different representa-
tional system, a little pacing...
Representational system? Well, what senses do we use to
explore the world? Sight--hearing--touch, and taste and smell to
a much lesser extent. So how do we think? In images, sounds and
feelings--or, in NLP terms, in visual, auditory and kinesthetic
What's interesting is that we all make images and sounds and
feelings to store experience, but we're usually only conscious of
using ONE system. The words we choose to describe our experi
ences reflect that: "I'm not very fo cused and I can't see what
you're saying." Or, "I've got a handle on the feeling that's
been bugging me." Or, "I hear that, it sounds like it will
Spend one hour listening to people and you can verify this.
Now, if I say, "I just can't feel good about that," and the
person I'm talking to says "I don't see what's wrong with it," my
communication hasn't received the response I want. If I switch
to my partner's most favored representational system and say,
"Let me make that clear to you. It looks like a really bad
situation," that's one way to match, or pace my partner.
See what I mean? Or maybe that gives you a feel for the
power of this particular "psychology".
What does any of this have to do with paganism or magic?
For starters, I wonder how many circle conflicts could be solved
by something as simple as accomodating each other's most favored
In a working circle, is someone having trouble visualizing a
goal? Is someone else very good at constructing mental temples,
but totally unable to feel when to release the energy? Put them
together, get them to trade notes and teach each other; both
skills are part of the same experience.
When you direct rituals, do you always include something to
see or imagine, hear or sing, feel--in the body or tactually? Do
your rituals work for some people and not others? You might
check to be sure you're satisfying everyone's most favored rep.
The function of magic is the response you get.
Works by John Grindler and Richard Bandler:
The Structure of Magic I.
The Structure of Magic II.
Frogs into Princes
NLP: APPLIED MAGIC
by Brandy Williams
Remember representational systems? The idea that humans
think in images, sounds, and feelings?
While we're calling up images (a process called accessing),
we're not able to look at what's going on in front of us. While
we're listening to music, we're not able to remember our favorite
song. While we're feeling our shoulders for tension, we're not
aware of the touch of cloth against our skin. Seeing with the
mind's eye and the physical eye are mutually exclusive processes.
In Neuro Linguistic Programming, accessing -- thinking -- is
called downtime, and obersving with the senses is labelled
I run uptime as a meditation. Try this: for three minutes,
look at the colors in front of you, the textures of surfaces,
shapes... listen to the volume and pitch of all sounds in your
vicinity... feel the surface you're sitting on, your hand
touching something in front of you...
The next time you generate an internal image, talk to
yourself, feel your stomach tightening -- notice the difference.
It's the difference between accessing and observing, downtime and
uptime, external and internal reality.
One thing that I notice about uptime is that it links to the
concept 'sacred'. When I take a walk by the river, I watch the
water rippling over rocks, listen to the white noise of the
current, feel the moist air touching my skin. I bring myself out
of my own internal creations and allow myself to live in the
Another thing I notice about uptime is that some people
don't do it very much. Most of us drop into internal reality
when our environment is unpleasant, and that's a very useful
thing to be able to do. But then a lot of people forget to come
back out-- come to their senses, literally -- and experience the
Such people are very difficult to talk to. When I have a
conversation, I like my partner to be listening to what I say,
and watching my body language. More often, my partner is acces
sing some internal meaning for, or response to, what I'm saying.
That internal meaning may or may not have anything to do with
what I'm communicating.
It isn't possible to observe someone (with all senses) when
we're accessing. It isn't possible to achieve rapport with a
person we're not observing. One of the bases of magical group
workings is rapport between the participants.
Try this: the next time you have a conversation about magic,
observe your partner. Watch for: body position and gestures.
Often people I talk to demonstrate what they feel when they do
magic. [A woman describing her circle method moved her hand from
her forehead down toward her feet, from shoulder to shoulder, and
from her heart straight in front of her -- gesturing the three
energy poles a circle creates.]
Listen for: sensory descriptions --"I saw, I heard, I felt."
Learning to go into uptime at will, and differentiate our
representations of reality from our observations, is perhaps the
most useful magical skill we can posess. It provides the basis
for a reality check; it helps us communicate our experiences more
effectively to others, and to help them duplicate what we do; and
it is one of the most profound alterations of consciousness.