Articles/Essays From Pagans
June 14th. 2015 ...
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
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Sex, Lies, and Witches: Love in a Time of Wiccans and Atheists
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March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
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Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
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January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
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October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
The Power of the Gorgon
August 3rd. 2014 ...
Are You a Natural Witch?
You Have to Believe We Are Magic...
July 27th. 2014 ...
Did I Just Draw Down the Moon?
Astrological Ages and the Great Astrological End-Time Cycle
The New Jersey Finishing School for Would-Be Glamour Girls and Boys
July 20th. 2014 ...
Being an Underage Wiccan
Greed, Power, Witches, and the Inquisition
Malleus Maleficarum - The Hammer of the Witches
Thoughts on Ghost Hunting
July 13th. 2014 ...
A World Of Witchcraft: Belief Is Only The Beginning...
From Christian to Pagan (Part III)
My Wiccan Ways...
July 6th. 2014 ...
Keys: Opening the Portals into Other Worlds
The Lore of the Door
Leaves of Love
June 29th. 2014 ...
What Does the Bible Say About Witches and Pagans?
Are You My Familiar ?
Invocations of the God and Goddess
Everything's Alright, Yes: Mary Magdalene
Results Magic and the Moral Compass
June 22nd. 2014 ...
Witchcraft vs. Religion
Christianity and Paganism: Why All Of the Fighting?
June 15th. 2014 ...
Becoming Your Own Wise One
Canine Familiars: Role of the Alpha
June 8th. 2014 ...
Moral Relativism and Wicca
Paganism in Cebu, Philippines
June 1st. 2014 ...
Rediscovering My Pagan Faith
13 Keys: The Wisdom of Chokmah
May 25th. 2014 ...
Some Differences Between Priestesses and Witches: Duties and Trials
How to Work With Your Muse
Awakening to our Celestial Nature (A Free 8-Day Course)
10 Things I Love about my Sacred Work as a Public Witch
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Magic or Magick . . . What's In a Word?
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Article ID: 11778
Age Group: Adult
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Author: True Pagan Warrior
Posted: July 1st. 2007
Times Viewed: 4,244
Since the day my kindergarten teacher unlocked the secrets of the alphabet for me, I have been a student of words. I read them voraciously and create my own almost as fast. I have seen, sometimes with amazement, the power that words can carry. Spoken and written words have different characters, different strengths and weaknesses, but both can shake the foundations of the world when crafted well. There is no doubt in my mind that words are truly magical . . . or are they magickal?
The debate about the use of the spelling ‘magick’ instead of ‘magic’ isn’t the ‘us and them’ dichotomy I have always imagined, which I discovered with some relief after reading Taylor Ellwood’s article on the subject. I have a knee-jerk reaction against any word that looks like it’s spelled wrong, and my word processor has always agreed with me that ‘magick’ doesn’t look right, but I have assumed all along that, among Pagans at least, I am in the minority.
Before I did any research on the subject, I resisted adding the ‘k’ because I respect the power of words. Too often words are changed or neologisms created by people that lack understanding of what a word is all about (a good example here is ‘herstory, ’ created to give a feminine perspective not contained in ‘his story, ’ i.e. history; the fact that the word ‘history’ comes from the Ancient Greek ‘istoria’, meaning “a learning or knowing by inquiry, ” and is etymologically unrelated to the pronoun ‘his’ in no way stopped the creation of such an ungainly term) .
Adding a ‘k’ does not change the pronunciation, so why do it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to replace the ‘c, ’ a near-useless letter in English regardless, with a ‘k’ if you want to change things up a bit?
Perhaps I’m being intractable, unwilling to change with the times, but I’m a Gaiaped, and so I expect change to be organic. Permitting someone to just add an extraneous letter to a perfectly good word makes as much sense to me as installing a massive irrigation system in Arizona and planting a redwood forest there. Sure, we might be able to pull it off, but it’s not the type of gradual, insistent change that the Earth itself fuels.
People (myself included) coin new terms, the neologisms I already mentioned, all the time; most of these wither on the vine, but some grow into bountiful fruits of their own. The words and spellings are accepted when there is a need for them, generally when new ideas come into the language.
There is no new idea here. We have two concepts that, on the surface at least, are related closely enough that they share a word. It happens so frequently in English that it has a word of its own: homonym. My uninformed opinion was that this new spelling seemed arrogant and pretentious, a view that didn’t change much when I found out where it came from.
I’m also a bit bothered by the sneaky aspect of that ‘k’ being appended. Slipping in a letter that doesn’t (allegedly, anyway) even change the pronunciation is a pretty squirrelly way of setting ritual spell work apart. It doesn’t give any means of telling the spoken words apart. Again, there are plenty of homophones out there, but if we’re going to insist on creating a new word, why not take the effort to make it an entirely new word? When you’re dealing with a discipline that places great meaning on every symbol, it can’t be accidental that the resemblance to the word for illusion and trickery was not entirely excised.
Of course, the ‘k’ only fails to change the word’s sound in certain forms. ‘Magick’ may seem innocuous, but ‘magickal’ makes a bit more impact. Only in Amber K’s work have I seen an attempt at ‘magickian, ’ which not even the most cursory student of the English language would think should be pronounced the same as ‘magician.’ Whenever I see any of these forms, I find myself emphasizing that ‘k’ in my head, because I find it distracting.
Amber K also gave me my first explanation of the purpose of the additional letter. It is indeed intended to change meaning, separating the stagecraft and illusion from the spellcraft and intent of practitioners of the Craft. Ellwood confirms that Aleister Crowley is given credit for this innovation, by his own words:
“I chose therefore the name 'MAGICK' as essentially the most sublime, and actually most discredited, of all the available terms. I swore to rehabilitate magick, to identify it with my own career; and to compel mankind to respect, love, and trust that which they scorned, hated, and feared.”
It’s clear that Crowley understood the power of words, and chose this spelling with care. There is a significant number of people who reserve the trailing ‘k’ specifically for Thelemic magick, since that is what Crowley practiced. After learning more about the subject, I prefer not to label any work that I do with a word that was intended to “compel mankind to respect, love, and trust that which they scorned, hated, and feared.” It’s a personal choice, but one that I no longer make on gut feeling alone.
I do not wish to associate my own craft with the ethics of Aleister Crowley. Mr. Crowley is to be respected for his contributions to the field, but “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” does not, for me, work as an ethical (ethickal?) system nearly as well as “leave no trace” does.
I have a much better understanding of the origins of ‘magick’ now. I still think it’s clumsy, ugly, and, considering its source, arrogant and ethically questionable. I’m glad that I put my own views to the test by educating myself on the subject.
I have no problem with people choosing the six-letter spelling, although I encourage anyone who practices any type of spell work to give thought to the power of this word, and choose a spelling that best meets their own needs.
Copyright: Copyright 2007 by Terence P Ward, all rights reserved. For reprinting permission contact the author directly.
True Pagan Warrior
Location: New Paltz, New York
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Bio: Dak is an easy-to-remember name that Terence P Ward goes by in festival settings. A professional writer and business consultant, his other interests include magical needlework, sacred backpacking, and sporks.
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