Actions are based on the personality of those who do them. That is perhaps the best way in which to express how what is described as the ‘true nature’, ‘innermost self’ etc becomes reflected in our deeds. Great heroes of old, maddened artists, impassioned writers, forlorn musicians – all these people have been held captive to their own nature and articulated it to the world through the things that we remember them for. It is not exactly a stretch (of the imagination) to say that magic is an action; the only difference is that when our magic is done and completed we don’t exactly have something like the Mona Lisa to show for it. So then, how does a person’s magic articulate their nature? Luckily, Jim Butcher has something to say on the matter: “A man’s magic demonstrates what sort of person he is, what is held most deeply inside of him. There is no truer gauge of a man’s character than the way in which he employs his strength, his power” – from Storm Rising by Jim Butcher.
What is basically being said is that there are two parts to the way a person’s magic articulates what sort of character they have, their nature. The first part is the magic itself, which here can be interpreted as the combination of the magical system and the function or purpose or aim of the magic being done at any particular moment. The second part is something that has a lot of forms of expression: intention, purpose, will and more. However what those expressions all boil down to is: why you are doing a particular magical act. It is really the combination of these two things that form the articulation of a person’ nature through acts of magic. Certainly this is not something that is unique unto magic; there are countless things that go into writing a song or composing poetry, making art etc. Upon refection this multi-part quality can be seen as common across all these acts – Post-Modernism in literature is to Minimalism in art is to the Tragic Hero is to Operatic Rock and so on and so forth (not an accurate series of equivalents).
Though that is just hasty example to illustrate the idea, the principle applies similarly with magic; the system of magic is equivalent to the genre of music or art or literature. Across the board, the category of the action is the lens through which the metaphorical light of why shines. The result can be likened thus: the Why of the Act provides the foundation and is made up of the person’s innate character then the Category of the Act (genre/system/theme/etc) provides the details that express the personality of the person. The act itself is the resulting product of foundation and details and, just as importantly as the two ‘ingredients’, the way in which the two interact as part of the final whole. Although there are additional factors involved with regards to the Category of the Act, the Why of the Act is something that is more or less totally subjective and therefore how we get the idea of there being ‘no truer gauge’. The Category can be affected by various environmental factors that might preclude certain options, for example a Pagan or Heathen living in New York likely wont be exposed to something like Voudun, but is very likely to come across Wicca or Witchcraft. The Why on the other hand, will be affected by external factors but won’t ever cease being subjective in nature. Category can be subjective but isn’t necessarily subjective, Why however is subjective out of necessity.