No, really, magic and the scientific method.
Well, sort of.
In general, the scientific method has six steps:
- Find your question. What is it you want to know?
- Conduct research to see what is already known and unknown.
- Write a hypothesis (fancy word for a prediction of the outcome).
- Figure out an experiment that tests if the hypothesis is correct or not, and carry it out. This experiment needs to be repeatable, so that others can recreate the experiment and test your hypothesis themselves, verifying (or not) your results.
- Make observations on the outcome of your experiment.
- Draw results and conclusions (noting that only doing an experiment once is not enough; the experiment must be repeated).
Now, let’s try to apply this to witchcraft. You can certainly think of questions. Will my spell work? How might I increase its chances of working? This you can look up–the internet is full of information. And hypotheses aren’t hard to make–the more focus on the intent, the more likely it is for a spell to work, for example.
To me, step four–the experiment–is where everything falls apart. That is not because experiments cannot be performed–that is not true–but the part about being repeatable. Witchcraft has so many factors. How much did you focus on your intent (and how does one even measure that)? The energy of the space, entities that may be present, the ingredients used in a spell…some would consider the moon phase or other astrology-related factors to play a role. Your own energy plays a role.
There is no way for someone else to recreate that. Energy is specific to an individual and even individuals can have their energy change over time.
The experiment cannot be repeated. Whatever your result is, it cannot be verified. With all the factors that go into a spell (or anything else in witchcraft, spells are just an example here), any person would have difficulty recreating the same spell twice.
This is why I believe that true science cannot be done with witchcraft.
That doesn’t mean, however, that these steps can’t be followed. While it is not possible to exactly duplicate a spell, you can get close; you can still experiment, observe and record, repeat as best you can, and make your own conclusions. It isn’t truly science. It is not verifiable, but, it is something. There may still be patterns you can find. Your grimoire can still double as your lab report notebook. Calling it science may not be quite accurate, but let’s not let that stop us from applying science’s ideas and methods to witchcraft as best we can.