There are a few old magickal cliches that have been running around in my brain pan for a few days. The first is Your Mileage May Vary, which sometimes just gets put in short hand as YMMV. It is used as a sort of disclaimer in my line of Work. People tell you what works for them and then immediately add YMMV. I just don't think that point can be emphasized enough.
People are really fond of repeating and imitating success. It is how we are conditioned and raised. This works, hence this is how you do it. The problem is that in magick, much like stereo instructions, that is just another wo/mans opinion. Again like stereo instructions, you have no idea if they are right until you try it a few times. The problem is that we are all inherently lazy to some extent and we really really want that to work verbatim for us. Then again when it does that is usually the beginning of the problems.
Take a tried and true favorite that we can all get our minds around "a simple LBRP". Which by the way I have never ever considered simple. It is however widely used by many many trads and eclectics alike. There are books galore on the subject, yet everyone has their own take. It is like a nice apple pie recipe from your grandmother. If you follow the directions most of the time you get something that looks a great deal like grandma's. Yet it just doesn't always taste the same. Why is that? Well magickally I think it is that no matter how closely people are raised, we have a different set of experiences. What moves my soul, leaves my partner flat. Even though we are performing the same actions with the same intent in mind the results vary widely.
So here is the problem when you are first starting out you are fumbling your way through this symbolic astral ritual hoping that you are doing it "right". Which usually means "does it look like my mentors?" At least for me those were bad markers. The 3 that I am close to have 20 years of field experience on me and I beat the hell out myself mentally for not having it "feel" like theirs. Yes I know it is illogical, but it was how my mind worked. If I do X.. Y happens. WARNING MATH REFERENCE IMPENDING, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. When in reality it is more like f'(x) (a function of X) gives you a range of Y. Translation : So you have a huge freaking set of variables and where they get traction depends largely on your soul lessons. So as long as it is somewhere in that ball park you are good. It will however change as you change. This is where people get hung up, I think.
We expect that everything is static and that every ritual will go perfectly according to plan. Well there is just no basis in reality there. Nothing is static. I have yet to do 2 LBRPs ( and I have done plenty) that felt EXACTLY the same. It is all fluid and moving. If it is not there is something very very wrong in your universe. It is however moving in tiny ways and not large swinging ways, except for sometimes :) They all feel alike, just not carbon copies. (For those born after 1988 - Google it :).
So why don't they all feel the same? Is it more than just our experiences? Are we more than a sum of our parts? Because.Yes. Definitely Yes.
This leads me to my next cliche. Your Qabalah is not my Qabalah. Your experiences shape your universe and mine shape my universe. How you learn is different from how I learn and why emphasis is placed on each lesson varies WIDELY. So when the Newbie picks up that book and starts flailing around wildly ( I will post on my Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Canine sometime and make everyone feel better about that statement...) there is a fine line between changing stuff to work for you and just doing something completely different. That line in my opinion is keeping with the intent of the ritual and being able to tap into the current of those folks who have done it before you. Each ritual has certain parts that are designed for certain things. When you understand what the parts do and why they are there then you have the choice to change them to suit your needs. Leaving them out willy nilly will get you all sorts of unintended consequences ( Like being howled at by dogs for 2 weeks. ) For good or for bad, 10,000 magickians flailing in the same general direction creates a certain astral current. When we first start out we are trying desperately to land in the middle of that current just so that we feel that something is MOVING. We just don't realize at the time that no one does it the same and at some point it is all US. Of course that takes experience and how we get experience is by making mistakes :) So go and do. It is the only way to learn. Just remember YMMV and my Qabalah is not your Qabalah :)