Fancy trappings don't make a spell. --shiari
Original post at Tysha's forum (tysharina)
In my annoying, weird, think-twice way, I have to wonder if that's entirely correct for some varieties of magick by those prone to attempting the more ritualistic varieties without really contemplating exactly what they're doing.
Think about it. The greatest obstacle that I, personally, have encounterd to success with magickal working is self-doubt, A.K.A. "Wait, this is impossible, scratch the fact that I've done it before" syndrome. Allowing myself to really think about what I'm doing in any light other than what I want to do and how to do it is a very effective self-counter to whatever it is I'm trying to do.
It can be inferred, from this and what others have stated in a wide variety of places, that self-doubt is the greatest overall obstacle to success in magick. (And pretty much anything, for that matter, albeit less directly.) Therefore, to be successful, one must achieve a form of "suspension of disbelief"-- allowing onesself to stand back and, if only for the short time required to lock the effect, stop doubting, or at least not think about it.
Allow me to throw this idea out: that using GREAT and SHINY objects acts as a way for some to suspend their disbelief. Magick, in western cultural expectation, doesn't go itemless- ever read a fantasy novel where the wizard/mage/priest/etc. doesn't call upon some higher power to create the effect, doesn't use complicated (and frequently rhyming) invocations, and doesn't use items? ("And", not "or".)
Western expectations of magick include a reliance on items or semi-intricate actions to make it work. The key to magick is the suspension of disbelief. With such a cultural background, a lack of direct energy manipulation experience, and questions about it all, wouldn't it seem more plausible to use objects/invocations to work magick instead of a simple, unshowy, not blatantly elaborate act of will? (Not that it can't get elaborate, but it doesn't externally show exept, perhaps, as a facial expression more usually associated with intestinal constipation.) Items and ritual assist with suspension of disbelief not because they're really related to the magick, but because Western culture expects them to be related to magick.
The items/invocations/etc. can serve the additional benefit of a focus for the mind. Human thought patterns rely extensively on symbols; just look at any geometry book. Therefore, with physical totems and symbols, or a structured chant, to guide the mind, magick can be easier for those who think that way- although moderately less spontaneous.