Philosophy period, whether about magic or any other subject, is essentially useless. It’s an entertaining diversion among others that enjoy it. And it is great to confuse the masses if you are trying to create a new political system, or make people think economics is predictable. But it’s useless in practice.
When I cook, I cook by instinct and feel, “what will do what I want to do”, rather than “what does the recipe say”. I understand what each ingredient is used for, and how the proportions interact, which is the theory, but when I have them there, I put what seems right. Egg thickens, yeast rises with enough time and sugar, baking powder rises was the acid and base in it react when being cooked, baking powder rises in reaction to acid in what it’s added to while rising. Acid, especially citric acid, brings out flavour. Salt lowers the heat of spicy food. Honey or sugar makes a smoother taste. But the theory isn’t what matters, it’s the instinct and intuition as you combine the ingredients. Knowing when it is done cooking based on how it looks, smells, feels, rather than a timer. If you bake exactly to a recipe written for sea level, you’ll fail a mile higher in Denver, or even higher at 7220 feet above sea level in Laramie, WY.
Magic based on theory is cookie cutter magic and is lifeless and it’s luck if it works. Magic based on intuition and instinct is living and changing. The theory helps build instinct, but it’s training wheels. Circumstances change things. The same spell or working or charm doesn’t work the same way when circumstances change. They must be adapted and changed as the need changes.
And the best way to cook is to use what’s on hand, or to buy based on what’s available, especially if you can get it locally. Look at a piece of meet, or a vegetable or a type of bean or rice. Ask yourself, what would taste good with this? Add that. What would taste good with both of these? Add that. Build or craft the meal, don’t just go by rote.
Likewise with magic. Use what’s on hand. You don’t have to order something from half way across the world that’s rare and expensive and hard to get a hold of just because it’s used traditionally for something or you have a description from the 1800s or 1900s describing its use. Local ingredients, tools, and objects tend to work better for where you’re working anyway. The theory is in the questions, why does that object work, the application of that theory is to look at what do I have in my house, my yard, the areas around me, local stores, that would do the same? Or what if I changed other things in the method so I don’t need that thing? Adapt the working to your needs, your location, what you have on hand, the purpose you are after. If you often need something that’s not native and can’t find an alternative, see what it would take to grow or raise it yourself. Start a garden for herbs and plants you use often. If you have no place for one, look into renting a plot in a community garden (being aware of what is safe to grow there). Get your hands dirty. Do. Act. Practice.
I enjoy the intellectualism, but if it becomes the point instead of a pass time, the work doesn’t get done.
My dad is a geotechical engineer and can design the best bridges, dams, and retaining walls that will do exactly what they need to do and stand up for long time without modifications. Those designs are useless if they are never built, and those building them don’t need to know where the weight will be applied and where it is transferred, all they need is, place a beam here, pour concrete here, etc.
My grandpa used to say that if you’re going to be a ditch digger, be the best damn ditch digger you can be.
Put action to your words. If you commit to something, don’t just think about it, put in the effort, sweat, blood, and tears. Magic no less than anything else.
When I go to do a working, I don’t worry about the theory at all, typically I just do it on the fly, with whatever is on hand. Later, I will sometimes say, ok, why did I do what I did, and why did it work that way? As Victor Anderson said, perceive first, understand after.