I was talking to a leader of the Golden Dawn today and we were discussing the differences between people who do and do not get the results they are seeking in magic. He said he often has felt disappointed over the years because students would do a ritual once or twice and then give up on it if they didn't see the results. It is very rare to find a student who is willing to work through this type of barrier. I said that is because people believe if you do a magical ritual once or twice you should be seeing results, and I do believe this to be true as does he. So what is the difference between people who see immediate and powerful results in thier magic and those who do not?
I believe this answer to be four-fold; Initiation, Training, Mental State, and a Connection to the Divine. The first two subjects are frequently discussed in books and forum so I would like to talk about the last two.
I have spent a great deal of time with my students over the years training them to cultivate a proper mental state before doing thier magic. Proper state meaning, a clearing of one's thoughts, and a raising of one's consciousness to what is known as the Kether Sphere (sphere on the Tree of Life that is vibrationally closest to the pure energy of the Divine). This allows one to become an open vessel for Divine Light to flow into one's ritual practice so that the most powerful forces of the Universe can be used to gain results. It is interesting though how many people gloss over this most important step when doing ritual. I have seen countless people at conferences out in a lobby goofing around and then go into the Temple, and without even taking a few minutes to calm thier thoughts go right into doing an LBRP....do you really think your going to banish anything when you are still thinking about that joke someone just told? So, this is the first step...taking time before ritual to sit, meditate on the Kether Sphere, clear your thoughts, and let your mind and body become an open vessel for the Divine Light. Once you have accomplished this then you can move onto the next step which will cause your magic to become trully powerful.
The second step deals with honing one's Will by focusing one's thoughts throughout the day on magic. This habit takes its place in someone who moves beyond being a hobbyist in magic and one who has taken the magical life-style as their calling or occupation. Even if one must work to gain money, or has familial duties etc...his thoughts are primarily focused on magic and connecting with the Divine. We can see the power of this even in mundane activities. If you look at the people in the world who have accomplished great things (politicians, olympians, humanitarians, scientists, writers etc...), you will find one thing in common...they have single one-pointed awareness on whatever it is they want to accomplish. The same is true for those monks, and yogis who ascend to the hieghts of enlightenement to become Saints. Do you not think if you were to put this much effort into your magical training that you could not, heal the sick with a touch, cast out demons, or control the weather? For every serious step you take to live a magical life-style, your power increases exponentially.
The key to this intense, but powerful training comes in monitoring one's thoughts, and guiding them back to magical topics. I am not talking about obsessing, although this state of mind can be very powerful (it can of course also be very dangerous as it is controlling you, not vice -versa). If you pay attention to your thoughts throughout the day, you will notice that you have a great deal of mental junk floating around i.e. thoughts that really have no purpose. By training yourself to notice these thoughts and than bring them back to what you choose, you are not only honing your Will, but you are placing the power of your thoughts onto one singular thing, thus building up that egregore around you, which can be tapped into when doing ritual work.
Now, you may choose to use this as you wish, but I am a theurgist so I believe that my power in magic is equivalent to how purified I am spiritually, and thus how close my relationship with God/ess is. Thus, the mental training that I have placed upon myself is to hone my thoughts towards the Divine rather than just a magical topic. I usually do this with what is called "constant prayer" I choose a particular short prayer, that I can use as a mantra and when my mind is not on a particular task I try to focus my thoughts on it. The eventual goal being to train my mind to go directly to the prayer when my thoughts do not need to be on something else, without noticing.
I have found it is best for my spiritual and magical development to mix in serious devotional work with my ritual training. As it is imperative to rise up to the Kether Sphere when beginning one's work, it is far easier to bring down that Divine Light, to commune with holy beings such as Archangels, Seniors, and Enochian Angels when I spend the time to work on constantly purifying myself through a devotional practice. By keeping my mind on prayer I leave very little space to dwell on things which lower my energy level such as lust, pride, vanity, and negatice thoughts. However, I also recognize that no spiritual gifts come to me of my own accord, but only through the blessings of the Most High as He/She sees fit...may you also be greatly blessed by the powers of the Lord of the Universe.