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THE MODES OF MAGICAL PRACTICE
Magic, for the purposes of this work, will be briefly defined as the art of causing observable changes in the physical universe in conformity with the human will. We will later expand on this brief definition, but setting it out here will reveal the basis of our discussion. Anything that might otherwise be considered magic, which is not able to produce a change in the physical universe, will not be a consideration in this work.
There are various modes of magic. These modes are approaches to the practice of magic, not just a set of specific techniques for the performance of any particular magical act. We may consider each of these modes of magic to be classifications of magical philosophy—guides to an understanding of one part of the magical universe. We shall examine the major modes of magic, and attempt to understand how they function to create the change desired in the physical universe when they are applied by their practitioners.
Difficulties present themselves when we examine the subject of magic, not the least of these being our current cultural bend away from the non-physical (or magical) universe toward the material universe. In addition, we are faced with the difficulty that all our various classifications have their origin in the perception of the physical universe as it is reported to us by our sensory organs. Our shared perception of the physical universe by our sensory organs is all that we really have in common with our fellow human beings. Most of us eventually recognize that many' of our perceptions, and the experiences resulting from these perceptions, are so unique to us that we cannot really share them with others.
While a majority can agree on observations such as dimension (length, height, breadth), color, and sound, our standards of odor and taste have a great variability, and this makes any observations of these physical senses quite subjective. The more subtle senses—the psychic perceptions—show even greater ranges of variability. Many people seem to be blind, deaf, and dumb to these phenomena, while others have psychic senses as open to these non-physical perceptions as their physical senses are open to physical perceptions.
Both modern and ancient investigations of the manner of perception, and the operation of the human sensory system, reveal that the physical senses and their interpretation are ultimately subjective. They are particular to the individual, rather than objective, and can not always be agreed on by the community. Anthropological research has indicated that physical perception by our sensory organs may be culturally subjective as well, and really not uniform through the human family as a whole. For the majority of humanity, the perceptions of the non-measurable physical, as well as the non-physical senses, are entirely subjective. These perceptions are based upon references which the individual does not share with family or community.
When we classify various modes of magical practice, it will necessarily be subjective and will relate to our individual perceptions. The practice of magic is seldom objective, and is seldom examined objectively by the community. The practice of magic is usually a subjective and personal experience.
Magic will never become a science because it is not measurable, nor can it be precisely replicated. These are the two tests which must be met by any real science. A physician friend said the same thing about the practice of medicine. He told me that while parts of medicine can be very scientific and meet all of the tests of a science, the practice of medicine itself was an art. As with any art, some people are better at performing it than others.
As a practical matter, the mode of magic employed by one person may be entirely unsuitable to another. The mode of magic is not at fault, it is only the unsuitability of that mode for the individual that causes the difficulty.
Bearing in mind our definition of magic as a process that results in real change in the physical world, let us restate it here.
MAGIC—The application of the astral or emotional force of an incarnate human being to the material world, in order to bring about the change in the material world which is desired, as directed by the will power of the incarnate human being.
All magic that results in a perceptible change in the physical universe is the result of the controlled application of parts of the incarnate human being we may refer to as "will power" and as "emotions." The emotional power of an incarnate human being may also be referred to as the astral force, or as astral power. The will power might be referred to as "mental power," but if so, it must be differentiated from rational ability, or the conscious thinking mind.
If we expand this definition to include just how the magical process operates, we will see that the actual process is not different from many other life processes. Magic that produces a result in the physical universe is the consequence of the application of the astral (or emotional) force of an incarnate human being on the conditions of the material world that he or she perceives at the time. This is done in such a way that the material world actually changes in accordance with the will of the person exerting this astral or emotional force. The person applying the astral force is the magician, the physical result of the application of his or her emotional force, directed by the will—is the product of his or her magic.
If we were to describe this as the motion of an arm or a leg, the wording would be the same, because the act of willing the motion of the arm or leg—and the manifestation of the motion in the physical world—is, in fact, carried out through the same process as is the process of magic. In both cases, the will power calls on the astral (or emotional) force to make the change desired. The difference is that in moving the leg, the astral force is applied to a physical part of the person's own body. In magical operations, the astral force is applied to the physical universe—one stage removed from the person.
When there is no physical change in the material world, there is no act of magic. It is the physical change—observable to the point where an impartial observer would agree that a change has occurred—which identifies the magic as real. The ability to consistently obtain such physical changes is what identifies an individual as a magician.
An individual is either a magician or not. This means that someone may study any of the modes of magical practice, but the ability to perform one mode (or many modes) in a consistent manner is what makes a real magician. Reading books doesn't do it. A real magician is neither a deluded fool nor a devotee of weird behavior. A magician is what he or she is, and has no need to convince others of anything. What would we think of physicians or attornies who constantly had to tell others about how powerful they are?
The result of an application of magic is the real physical change in the physical world that the magician causes. This change must always be as noticeable to the physical senses of an impartial observer as is the motion of an arm, or the new color of a freshly painted wall. Without this evidence of change there is no magic. The magician must be able to demonstrate this change. It is not enough to feel that the change has, or should have, come about. Without proof that the desired change has occurred, there is no result to the magical attempt, only self-delusion in the mind of the would-be magician.
This is a very important point, although it is conveniently overlooked. Many who consider themselves magicians dwell on ideas of "expanding consciousness," or "joining with the great spiritual forces of the universe," or some such apparently noble cause. Many of these people believe that performing magic which has real results in the physical world is either beneath their power, or a misuse of their ability.
As these would-be magicians do nothing that might disturb the psyche, they can live in a world of fantasy—a world in which they are great magicians! Performing magic with no physical result is just a means of self-delusion. This is not a suitable form of magic for those who sincerely wish to develop themselves. Unfortunately, the fanciful magicians are best known in our society today. Dion Fortune, a well-known magician and occultist, defined magic as "the art of producing changes of consciousness at will." I think that it must be more than that.
Those who find they cannot perform magic with physical results should seek to develop spiritually until they are able to work magic. At a certain point in the development of the human soul, they will be able to perform magic which has a real physical result. This state of being must be reached by everyone seeking to develop harmony with the creator. The ability to perform magic is a spiritual ability, and it must be sought for in the realm of the spirit.
The study of the various modes of magical practice will allow us to see just how it is that the astral force of the magician is directed to operate on the physical world. We will also gain some understanding of the way the mind and emotional nature of the magician must be trained together to make the practice of magic possible. We will learn the similarities and differences between the various modes of magic, and that in many ways, our choice—the mode we individuals use to become magicians—is decided by our culture. We will also learn enough about the various modes of magical practice to understand that the same effect may be obtained in numerous ways, even though individual magicians believe that there is only one way to do something.
PREPARING TO PRACTICE MAGIC
Despite any of the various accouterments required in the various modes of magical practice, the primary instruments of magicians are their consciousness, their mental faculties, and the physical bodies which house them. To become magical practitioners students must begin training the conscious mental faculties.
Regardless of the particular practice that students intend to master, the first steps on the path are the same. Potential magicians must learn to relax and quiet their physical bodies. Once this is accomplished, they learn to take control of their minds. Until these two steps are mastered there is no sense in going further into the study of any of the various forms of magic. The mastery of these two steps may take willing and enthusiastic students three or four years under the direction of an able teacher. For neophytes working without benefit of the direct instruction of a real teacher, it may take considerably longer.
In our age of "I want this right now," there is a constant search for easy methods and quick solutions. In fact there is no royal road to magical practice, any more than there is a royal road to any other skill or ability. Those who promise quick and easy solutions to complex developmental processes are usually either charlatans, or people who have nothing real to offer students.
Developing yourself for the practice of magic requires a considerable amount of patient effort which is devoted in small bits of time over the course of many years. Eventually the performance of various exercises becomes a habitual part of life. At this point you begin to make progress that gradually becomes apparent.
The first exercise my own teacher gave me was a relaxation exercise. I was given the exercise in the same form that it is given below, and told that I could see him again once I had mastered the exercise by practicing it for at least three months. I returned in four months with the exercise, to my knowledge, completely mastered. My teacher worked with me for about an hour, and showed me that I had only begun to scratch the surface of the exercise. He then sent me away with the admonition to return only when I had mastered the exercise. This time it was six months before I felt that I had some mastery of the exercise and was able to return to him for further guidance. I still practice this relaxation exercise on a daily basis, and intend to do so for the rest of my life.
The tensions of daily life permeate us with their nervous energy. We become unknowing receptors for the thoughts and emotions of others. Until we can learn to relax to a certain depth, and rid ourselves of the tensions of daily life, we are not able to act on the world, much less to discipline our minds. All that we can do in this over-active state is react to influences exerted on us by the world around us.
We can not become ourselves if we are full of muscular and nervous tensions that constantly demand our conscious or subconscious attention. We have nothing within ourselves to develop if we are simply reacting to the influences of the physical and non-physical world around us. In this situation—the situation in which most people live—we are not able to really express our fullest potential.
Human beings were intended by their creator to become forces in the universe. We cannot become active forces in the universe if we are assailed by the universe to the point where we are so fully distracted that we have no time to act on the world in which we live. Relaxation, learning to free ourselves from external tensions, is always the first step in development. Until we can live on Earth in a relaxed and stress-free manner, we are not going to be able to learn how to act on Earth in any real way.
The relaxation exercise is simplicity itself. All that is required is that you relax your physical body as completely as possible for thirty minutes per day. During this time you should learn to ignore any thoughts which may present themselves to your mind. Do not try to blank your mind, just ignore any thoughts which may enter into it. Concentrate your mind only on relaxing your physical body. Relax yourself by releasing all of the tension from your muscles. Simply lay or sit comfortably, and mentally direct your physical body to relax. This is all that there is to it.
Because this exercise is deceptively simple, many people ignore it, to their loss. If you are sincerely interested in improving yourself, to say nothing of learning to practice magic, you will use this exercise to your advantage.
Once you have practiced this exercise for at least six months you should be living your life in a considerably more relaxed state. You will find that this will be of benefit to you in your everyday affairs, as well as giving you some insight into the process of preparing yourself to practice magic.
The next exercise is the one which Aleister Crowley used to develop his magical abilities. Although at the time he received this exercise he was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, and considered by most of his associates to be an accomplished magician, he really began developing his magical abilities on a cruise to Mexico. On board the ship he met a man who was also a mountain climber. In conversation they discovered that they were both intending to climb the same mountains in Mexico. In further conversation Crowley revealed his interest in magic to his new acquaintance. The man was not impressed, because he had observed that Crowley was unable to concentrate his mind. He gave Crowley the following exercise, which Crowley mastered on the cruise. Once he had mastered this exercise, he found that his magical abilities improved greatly as a result.
The concentration exercise is given in substantially the same form here as it was given to Aleister Crowley. When you master this exercise you will find that you have gained greater control over your mind.
Examine any commonplace object: a lead pencil will do. Observe and note as many details as possible in the object. Now set the object aside, and write down as many details as you can recall from memory. Describe the object completely from memory.
Now reexamine the object, seeking for new details. Put it aside, and once again write down all the new details you discover.
Lastly, close your eyes, and in a state of relaxation, visualize the object in your mind's eye. See the object in your mind as it is in the physical state, visualizing all of the details you have noted in it. Hold this image as long as you can, adding all of the details you have found in the object.
Practice this exercise with a different familiar object every day for at least three months, while continuing to do your relaxation exercise. This exercise will develop your ability to pay attention. It will also begin developing your ability to observe and concentrate upon objects. You should begin this exercise with simple things, like tableware, pencils, pens and the like. As you perfect yourself with these objects, you may go on to more complex things such as the decor of a room, pictures, etc.
In Rudyard Kipling's book Kim, there is a game given to the young boy Kim which is also an exercise in observation. In this game a number of objects are placed on a tray and covered with a cloth. Those who are playing the game are allowed a fixed time to look at the exposed tray, usually a minute for the dozen or so objects which are displayed, and then the cloth is placed over the tray again. With the tray covered, the players write down a list of the objects which they have seen on the tray. The winner is the one who has written down the greatest number of objects on the tray correctly.
Excerpted from Practice of MAGIC by Draja Mickaharic. Copyright © 1995 Draja Mickaharic. Excerpted by permission of Samuel Weiser, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Chapter 1. The Modes of Magical Practice
Chapter 2. Preparing to Practice Magic
Chapter 3. The Religious Ritual
Chapter 4. Ritual and Ceremonial Magic
Chapter 5. Learning Ritual Magic
Chapter 6. Deific Magic
Chapter 7. Communing with the Spirits
Chapter 8. Learning Astral Projection
Chapter 9. Elemental Magic
Chapter 10. Learning Elemental Magic
Chapter 11. Natural Magic
Chapter 12. Learning Natural Magic
Not in Conclusion
Appendix: The Emerald Tablet
About the Author
Posted April 20, 2012
There are many books written on the subject of general overview of the art of real magic. Among them this is book is not only the best one, but also the only one who can give a true overview and not just repeat what others wrote. It shows it was not written by an "armchair magician" but by a genuine master of the art.
Whenever there is a question about magic and a general interest I tend to recommend this book.
It makes the reader wish the author would have written another about the history of magic because this man seems to know more than the average writer of magical books.
Posted August 14, 2000
I have been studying magick and philosophy for over 5 years now and this was the first book I read. I now teach, study, and write books just like it. I have since gone on to develope a business and writing profession around this very same topic and finding this book again here at B&N has excited me even more. Im glad I found a source to be able to share one of my greatest treasures from. If you want to learn what real magick is all about Draja is the MAN!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2010
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Posted February 17, 2010
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