(see also: Alchemy, Holy Guardian Angel, Meditation, Qabalah, Tarot, Yoga)

Article by David Claiborne
(C) Copyright 2000  All rights reserved

Magick has been defined quite accurately as the "Science and Art of causing change to occur, in conformity with Will."  It follows, then, that every intentional act is a magickal act.  Magick is the science and art of living.  The modern custom of spelling magick with a "k" has been adopted in order to distinguish between the Holy Art and the sleight-of-hand tricks of stage performers.

Arthur C. Clarke has stated that "any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic to to those with lesser technologies."  For this reason, the magickal arts have been shrouded in mystery and an air of supernatural nonsense, which stands in the way of many serious students.  It must be understood that magick is quite natural, and quite effective.  Recent developments in psychology have validated many magickal principles, particularly the work of Carl G. Jung and his colleagues.  Magick is the realization and utilization of Man's True Nature.

While all magick is working with the same forces, any powerful force can be used for various ends, and so magick is often separated into classes or schools such as White/Grey/Black, or similar labels.  White magick is more properly understood as mysticism, because its sole purpose is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.  Thus, white magick is sometimes referred to as the Yoga of the West.  Grey magick is really what most people think of when they think of magick, except for the ignorant few who think of all magick as "black".  Grey magick is the practice of manifesting the will or desire of the magician.  It is extremely important that the magician be sure that this manifestation is in line with his/her will, not just a petty desire, or they will suffer the consequences.  Black magick is the name given to all magickal acts which pander to the weakness and avarice of the magician, and for that reason are ultimately self-detrimental.  The concept of black magick has been clouded by a great deal of self-righteousness and false morality over the years.  The idea of lodges of black magicians is absurd, but is used as a tool to strike fear and to slander the reputations of good people.

Real magick is performed in a place beyond "good and evil", but it is foolish for a magician to manifest that which is not in their best interest.  For this reason, many magickal Orders and Masters insist that the student be well versed in the practices of white magick, union with the Higher or True Self.  In this way, the student may learn what is best suited for them, and will not allow their grey magick to fall prey to the petty desires which are injurious to them self.

A distinction is sometimes made between Low Magick and High Magick, or Sympathetic/Natural Magick and Ceremonial Magick.  The Low/High labels should not be understood as a judgement on the quality or morality of either methodology.  Rather, the terms derive from the fact that Ceremonial or High Magick developed among the people of the cities, usually built on high ground.  The more natural forms of magick, Low Magick, developed among the "pagans" and farmers of the lower rural lands.  Over time, the practitioners of Natural and Ceremonial Magick have at many times blended traditions, and very few of the modern magickal traditions are exclusively Low or High Magick.

The 20th century has seen a great revival in the occult arts.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many organizations like the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis sprang up in Europe.  Great minds like Eliphas Levi, Aleister Crowley and Helena Blavatsky helped to organize the useful information and discard the nonsense.  Publications like The Equinox have set a scientific standard for the study and practice of magick.  In more recent decades, the work of Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, Margaret Murray and others has led to the Wiccan movement, reviving the old pagan systems of Europe.

But this modern renaissance is, in reality, nothing new.  Magick is, has always been, and will always be an important part of human culture and society.  It is unfortunate that this form of personal development was outlawed and despised by the mainstream Christians, for much of the wisdom of the ancients has been lost.  To that which we do have, we are only now rediscovering the keys.  The systems of alchemy, astrology, Qabalah, Goetia, Tarot, the Enochian magick of Dr. John Dee, and many more are beginning to coalesce into a meaningful and coherent tradition of Modern Magick.

Magick is not the evil, supernatural hodge-podge of magic words and flashy light shows which the ignorant make it out to be.  It can, however, be a dangerous process.  The magician deals with many aspects of themself, their environment and the divine which may be psychologically traumatic.  The mind is pushed to its limits and beyond, and if proper precautions are not taken, obsession and insanity can occur.  Anyone with neurological or psychological disorders should consult their doctor before taking up magickal practice.  Magick must be afforded the respect and discipline that would be given to a martial art, and the care and integrity given to a system of psychotherapy.

However, magick is not outside the reach of the dedicated student.  There is much to be learned, many ordeals to be passed and a multitude of obstacles along the way, but there is no path nobler, more full of delight and ecstacy, than the magickal path.

Library Links

Ritual Theory and Technique

P.E.I. Bonewits' Laws of Magic

Candle Magic

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