What is magic
Here at Mookychick we separate pracitising magic (because, yeah, we’re bang into that) from paganism, which is a religion. Our resident magic dude Luthaneal explains what magic is and what different forms of magic you can practise, so you can use the right tool for the job.
When I began thinking about what it would entail to try and write this article, I really didn’t envy myself of the task ahead of me. Magic is such a varied and dynamic medium that views and practices of it differ greatly among magic users. I decided the best and fairest way to go about this was to go back to basics, so I dug through my books, searching for the common threads of magic and the most popular views of it. Between the classic occultists, modern witchcraft and traditional magical lore, I found certain common threads that I hope to convey through the medium of my own perspective and the perspective of the greater magical community.
Some beliefs and ideas may get lost in the shuffle and for that, I apologise. But the attempt here is not to produce an all-inclusive guide to magic around the world. No, that would require a book in its own right. Instead, what is presented here is a fundamental view of the central ideas that persist most commonly among the different schools of magical thought. Hopefully, from there, these basic ideas can be easily integrated into your own magical practices and grant you a better understanding of how they work and why you do them.
The Theory of Magic
When depicted in movies and TV shows, magic often appears as some kind of incredible power, force or energy that is utterly unique to anything that exists. That is not the case.
Magic isn’t about summoning some kind of alien power into existence; it is instead about influencing those energies which already exist, both known and unknown.
The famed occultist Aleister Crowley described magic as:
“.the science and art of causing Change in conformity with Will.”
Indeed, even today this remains one of the most popular and accurate descriptions of magic (or Magick, as Aleister put it) that is used. But this in itself does not necessarily help the novice to determine what magic actually is. For Crowley every intentional act was a magical act, but here in this article we will focus on magic as defined beyond the realms of the mundane and ordinary. However, we have our launching point into magic: “Causing Change in conformity with Will”.
When asking many magical practitioners what magic is and how it works, the most common answer that I have encountered is that it is the manipulation of the Energies around us in order to affect the Universe as we desire.
This too, is a good definition. But without a little context, it is utterly meaningless. Turning on your television affects the flow of electrical energy and results in you watching the show you want. But we would hardly consider this an act of magic. That is just technology at work.
But magicians and witches have ways and means for accessing and manipulating energies in ways that require more than technology, as the energies at play are often beyond the current scope of technology.
But in order to place some meaning to these words we must first understand what these “Energies” are and in order to do that we must dip into the general worldview of a typical magic user.
The attitude towards the workings of magic more often reflects the spiritual perceptions of the user. That is to say, the magic works because they first have an understanding of the Universe on a magical level.
This in no way implies some kind of in-born insight into the cosmos.
Religions around the world, for the most part, have the same view of reality – that it is composed of different aspects, levels or dimensions. As a sweeping statement that appears to be fundamentally wrong and I will be the first to admit that there are definitely exceptions to the rule, but in the broad spectrum of world belief it is certainly true to say.
Whether you follow a Celtic tradition, Wicca, Christianity or an indigenous tribal religion, the idea that there are aspects of reality that exist beyond the immediate physical one are more or less universal. All accept the existence (or in some cases the illusion) of the physical universe. But beyond that is the idea that there are also various Etheric levels of reality, such as the spiritual, mental, astral, etc. These aspects of our reality exist alongside the physical and in some instances can and do interact with our physical reality. The common belief also persists that human beings (and perhaps other living things) have as part of us, the ability or a natural connection, that allows us access to these realms in a limited way.
When we speak of “Energies” we are speaking of the Etheric forces that comprise reality on all levels. So now when we regard the idea of manipulating Energies and causing change in conformity to will, we are talking about the ability to access and exert our will upon the Universe at different levels.
That is magic.
But this is not a simple act of saying “I want to summon a spirit” by means of affecting the spiritual plain of reality. No, Magic goes beyond desire and into action. So in order to bring about what we desire, we must use the right tool for the job.
Think of it this way: If we wish to achieve something in the physical world, as physical beings it is often simpler to just do it ourselves and in a physical way. Toasters are good for making toast, shovels are good for digging holes and pens are good for writing. But we wouldn’t use a pen to make toast or a toaster to dig a hole.
In the same way, our technology and science which operates so well for the physical world isn’t a very good tool for accessing and controlling the spiritual and astral levels of reality.
The right tool for the right job.
So, we use magic as our science and