What is Magic? (Part I)
Article ID: 2879
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,190
Times Read: 237,156
Posted: July 16th. 2000
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"What is Magick? How do I do a spell? What part do these workings play in religion?" These are some questions that The Witches' Voice is asked every day. While we do not teach Witchcraft on this site, we DO try to provide information that helps to dispel misconceptions concerning the beliefs of our ways. This series of articles addresses some of the aspects and ideas surrounding Magick and Spellwork. They are not the final word on the subjects by any means and we encourage everyone to continue to study and investigate these areas for themselves.
Just what is "Magick"?
There are as many definitions of the word itself as there are numbers of its practitioners. Aleister Crowley defines "magick" as "The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity to Will". (Huh? Leave it to ole Uncle Al to really clear things up! )
S. L. Mathers, one of the founders of The Golden Dawn, stated magick is: "The Science of the Control of the Secret Forces of Nature,." (Did THAT really help?)
Moving on to The Lemegeton (Lesser Book of Solomon, the King), we come to: "Magick is the highest, most Absolute, most Divine Knowledge of natural Philosophy, advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult (hidden) virtue of things; so that true agents being applied to proper patients, strange and admirable effects will hereby be produced. Whence magicians are profound and diligent searchers into Nature; they, because of their skill, know how to anticipate an effect, the which to the vulgar shall seem to be a miracle." (I think that I agree, but...why DO they have to talk like this?)
My favorite definition of Magick comes from the French scholar, Christian Jacq, who made a study of Egyptian Magick. He says:" This magick can perhaps be defined as the essential energy which circulates in the Universe of the Gods, as well as in that of humans."
"...Spirit and matter are woven out of the same substance. The important thing in the practice of magick is to identify the thread which links everything and unites all creatures in a chain of cosmic union,."
To me, magic then is that Thread linking all to all. Learning to both recognize that thread and to be able to follow it to its source and back again is the study of Magick.
"To Know" is one of the four cornerstones of occult knowledge and the starting point of the seeker. While one can make use of a toaster without necessarily understanding the wiring which turns your toast to that nice golden brown, if the circuit does not work, one needs to either learn more about electricity or call in an expert. That is the function of magickal practice-to learn the basics of how things work, keep them working and prevent breaks in the circuits that may keep them from doing what they are meant to do. That is why magick will always exist and why those who become "wise" in its mysteries will always be sought out. Such are the "experts."
Now I don't hold much to the theory that some are just born into this lifetime with all the skills of an expert at their disposal. I believe though that some indeed do carry over a certain affinity for the Arts Magickal as a result of past lifetime training. But as a whole, we all must work-and work very hard- to develop the "expert" skills to become responsible and effective magickal workers. To do this, we have need of a guidebook, a training manual or a blue print. We need to know what the basic rules are-be it of electricity or of magick- before we starting tinkering around with the ole cosmic circuitry!
THE HERMETIC LAWS:
"That which is below is like unto that which is above, and that which is above is like unto that which is below, for the performing of the miracles of the One thing."
So states Hermes Trismegistus in the "Emerald Tablet", one of the few of forty-two books on everything from astrology to cosmology to law that have been attributed to him. Dating back to the third century B.C.E., they probably were the works of more than one person. Most were destroyed in the desecration of the great library at Alexandria, although there are some who say that they are hidden until humanity might reach a point in evolution to be able to make use of the information wisely.
But lest the reader wonder why such a work would be one of the founding treatises on magickal practice, it is not its ancient origin that makes it so significant (Not all things ancient are necessarily true!). It is the fact that these concepts have been proven to work and that they are now being studied in the realm of quantum physics!
"The first criterion of new-paradigm science is the shift from the parts to the whole. In the old paradigm, it was believed that in any complex system, the dynamics of the whole could be understood from the properties of its parts. In the new paradigm the relationship between the parts and the whole is reversed. The properties of the parts can only be understood from the dynamics of the whole. Ultimately, THERE ARE NO PARTS AT ALL! What we call a part is merely a pattern in an inseparable web of relationships."-Fritzof Capra, Ph.D.
Now I was brought up as a pantheist, so this concept of everything being connected to everything else was instilled in me very early on. This makes the sometimes troublesome interpretation of the Wiccan Rede-'An it harm none, do as ye will"- a non issue for me. I see it this way: If I lived alone in a cave, I could pretty much do whatever I liked, but once I step outside that cave, I have to consider how my actions will affect everything and everyone else.
To me, it is a simple act of respect for the rest of the Universe to be careful out there! If I feel like twirling around with a baseball bat in my hands, you know that I will check to be sure that no one is standing close enough to get a concussion.
Which brings up the question: "How can I be absolutely sure that my actions will BE for the good of all?" Same way you check around for possible concussion-getters...you look at the situation very carefully before you take a swing.
"Does that mean that you will not inadvertently still harm someone or something?" No, but it DOES mean you are acting as responsibly as you can with the knowledge that you do have. Something may still fly suddenly into the circle of your magickal "swing" that you did not anticipate. The only way to be sure is to ask that if it is NOT for the good of all, that your magickal working not come to pass. Many Wiccans and Witches use this technique at the end of their spells as a "safeguard."
"But aren't you supposed to put your entire will into a spell? How can you do this if you have doubts about its correctness?" That IS the question indeed. And one of the main reasons that seasoned magickal practitioners are very, VERY careful about the magickal workings that they do. They know that they ARE responsible and will be called to account for any changes made in the universal energy patterns. You are making changes in the fabric of reality itself. This is not work for either the foolish or the faint hearted. Magick, done correctly, is serious business indeed!
That is why the next principle of Magick is called-"TO WILL"...but before you can take that next step, you must spend the time and energy to learn the basics of magickal principles. Believe me, there are no shortcuts to becoming an "expert". You can't bluff your way into the "Universal Workings Union". You have to study the blueprint and follow the guidelines. If you are not prepared to do this, then just go out and buy yourself a role playing game. Your magick will never be effective, but at least you will keep yourself amused, you won't be doing any damage and you will be out of the way of the more serious student.
Walk in Light and Love,
(Chairperson - Witches' Voice)
For Part TWO of this topic Click HERE
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