* Note: This discussion is the author's personal theory. Others may have differing explanations. *
When one engages in spell craft, it is difficult sometimes to comprehend how it works. Much of the occult community focuses on 'cookbook' style magic, though they do not claim that they are ritualists.* The question of how magic works is often left deliberately unanswered or left the subject of vague assurances. Magic, like any other activity, is subject to the rules and laws of physics. We can not violate basic laws, such as the conservation of matter and energy, by way of magic. Before I discuss the physics of this, I must first address common misconceptions.
1. Creating Energy: The argument that a ritual is 'creating' energy is a false one. A ritual does not create energy as much as it reorders the energy in a given system to create a result. The energy that one taps for any ritual or magical undertaking is already present. You are simply rearranging it.
2. Three fold return means exact triplicate amount of energy returns: This is a fallacy built upon an incomplete assessment of the Law of Three. The Law of Three is a consideration of the chain of causality that results for a given action. It is most commonly interpreted as the first three steps of said chain. Some, however, interpret it as the first two steps plus an indeterminate reference to the continuing chain of causality. All actions are governed by simple causality and the related laws of physics.
3. If you believe hard enough, you can do anything: This is an incomplete statement. It is frequently taken as an assertion that with sufficient faith, once could violate the laws of physics. Faith is only a small measure of what is required for successful magical enterprise. Greater burden rests upon focused mental effort, where as faith is generally more of an emotional exercise. A disciplined mind will always have greater magical success the an undisciplined one.
4. Magic happens because the Gods will it: This is a variation of the third misconception. It could be taken as an argument that successful magic is ordained by the will of the Divine, but this fails to acknowledge that there are physical laws that govern how actions unfold. The system we operate in is built in such a fashion that the gravitational constant for Earth is always 32 feet per second, squared, for example. This could be taken as the Gods will that the gravitational constant is this or simply that it is part of the conditions that are present, regardless of the will of the Gods.
The only conditions where the theological discussion of magic is vaild are when we are discussing magic based in prayer or similar religious activity. This is a very specific subset of magic ruled by its own set of rules. The general rules of magic do apply as does the laws of physics. This will be addressed in its own post.
* Ritualism is the excessive emphasis upon the actions and invocations, including but not limited to the props used for spell casting. This could potentially also include ritual forms of prayer.