Magic vs Manifestation. There is no question whatsoever which is more powerful.
Magic is work. If we were making pizza it's the ability to earn money, go to the store, buy the ingredients, carry them home, make the pizza, cook it, slice it and then eat it in new and creative ways.
Manifestation is using the check card tied to a trust fund with no limit that God/Goddess gave each of us to order the pizza exactly as you want to enjoy eating it.
If manifestation is so much more powerful, why then would I waste my time with magic? I actually wondered this for a long time. I have always been good at manifesting what I focused on. I could do so intentionally and with great effect. I had some mental blocks however. While I would manifest money really well (when I remembered that I could) I tended to still be in the same situation afterwards. Until recently, I rarely tended to use manifestation to change my whole life. It's like I'd use the check card to order a cruise, but never apply it to a home or a lifestyle I loved. After a while of doing this I ended up relegating the check card for "emergency use only."
A while after that I completely forgot about it in the dusty back drawer of my mind. I used the excuse of considering manifestation cheating and decided to revel in living my life and practicing magic. Only recently I dusted off the Check Card and started using it again. After a bit of use I realized that a large part of my limited use of it was that I liked where I was. Even though I was unhappy being broke all the time I was comfortable there. I claimed I wanted to experience change, but I never took the steps, no matter how easy, to do more than put on a show toward change.
This is Manifestation's fundamental limit: Us. We are infinite and have absolutely anything available to us if we'd only place the request. Yet we keep choosing to have a limited experience.
The fact of the matter is that your life is a culmination of your choices. Every single moment, you are the person you chose to be. You manifest everything and if you want change, the only option is to be willing to ask for it, and even more difficult, accept it. I could write whole books on the topic of accepting blessings, but put simply, the moment you recognize the truth in this paragraph you will be like a dreamer who recognizes they are dreaming... and thus gains the power to control the dream. The more fully you accept the truth the more quickly you will watch your choices manifest.
Believe it or not, the concept above is a core concept of magic yet you probably won't truly start to understand its deeper meanings until years of practice and experience...
Magick is not “the way” to change your life. Many people will use it as an excuse or even a tool to do so, but the only thing that can truly change your life is a choice.
Magick is a process and a series of understandings of how the universe works beyond the parts we can measure. A practiced Mage is confident of many answers that evade most people. We are confident of many aspects of what happens after death; because we speak with people who have experienced it. Choices that confuse most people are clear cut to mages because of the divination, spirits and intuition we have trained over the years.
Additionally practiced mages get to do awesome things like cast a spell to influence the weather, and scary things like influencing other people. We can glamor people into thinking complete lies, read minds, manipulate emotions, listen to spirits to know things we “shouldn't”... and much more.
The fact of the matter though, is that all of these are simply skills like computer programming or sewing. By themselves they are only useful in specific situations you need to learn to recognize and can be more of a curse than a blessing.
For example,I recently had an elder guide me to stop ignoring my ancestors. I had stopped listening to them almost entirely because I didn't know how to deal with spirits asking me to walk up to people I had never met and start discussing incredibly personal topics with them. I was actually afraid to listen to the spirits because I was afraid to do what they wanted, yet was afraid not to at the same time! I had this powerful blessing that I was mostly ignoring because I didn't think to just tell my ancestors that I only choose to deal with my own problems and didn't feel that I was willing to help other people with theirs yet.
If that weren't enough, the kind of person who tends to be attracted to magickal practice tends to be incredibly challenged and is hoping magick will be a cure-all. That's right... I'm talking to you from experience. If you are reading this book you likely have deep and fundamental problems that you have no clue how to deal with and are hoping that magick will help you find the answer.
The good news is that it will. Unfortunately, along the way it will also give you a lot of opportunities to hide in your old patterns and call it improvement since your life will seem to get better. You will have the choices to use the skills to either improve or strengthen your egotism, anti-social practices, childhood issues, or most dangerously, control issues.
A person with control issues who has the ability and experience to influence other people's emotions or thoughts, is incredibly empowered to either draw solutions to their problems closer, or push them further than ever. For example, the solution is to listen to council from other people to learn humility and the value of letting go of control. This allows you to receive blessings and love in more wonderful ways than one's controlling mind and fears could conceive. Unfortunately, unless they specifically choose not to, a person with control issues and magick is far more likely to keep such an adviser away after learning to control people.
I promise you this is true for every single core issue you have. Magick gives you more power to either heal it or make it worse... and helps you ignore the warnings of the consequences until they are much MUCH bigger than they would be without magick.
Don't feel bad though. This is true for any form of power. Money, Status, Celebrity and other forms of power all have the same consequences I just warned you of. What makes the situation more difficult is that magick is poorly understood and documented. Most other forms of power have well documented historical warnings that help loved ones identify the symptoms and recognize the dangers. While many of the symptoms are similar, because most people don't believe in magick, your loved ones are far less likely to recognize just how dangerous your unhealthy behaviors are to you.
If you are going to practice magick I strongly recommend that you make a commitment to yourself to keep moving forward every day. Commit to constantly allow the universe to let you know that you are wrong, and measure whether your understandings serve to make your life better or not. This isn't about beating yourself up or second guessing yourself. This is very specifically about being honest when reviewing your choices and consequences and deciding if you should change them to improve future consequences. This is about accepting that you can make mistakes and part of the process of improvement is to learn from them.
Well practiced Magick is not filled with Dogma. It is filled with ideas, techniques and understandings that are constantly tested and verified. It's like practicing science without double blind studies and experiments that your peers can repeat consistently. Your theories will be flimsy at best and may only work for you during a certain period of your life. When you hold on to one of your ideas like a fact you may find yourself in the dangerous place of using your resources to help yourself believe a lie... Please avoid that.