Read an Excerpt
About Magick-and You
Why do you want to do magick?
This book is for you-if you want to:
know in what direction your life is headed, so that you may consciously guide your own destiny;
make wise decisions and solve difficult problems;
cleanse yourself of ignorance, fear, and hatred;
heal yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically;
find new strength, happiness, and skill within;
have all the necessities of life;
protect yourself from harm;
help others when they request it;
help create a more loving world;
. . . and, ultimately, if you want to find spiritual fulfillment and joy in sharing the essence of divinity.
If you want magickal skill in order to harm another, or to control or manipulate anyone, then this book is not for you. Put it down or give it away before you endanger yourself.
If you seek the ancient skills of the adepts for only ethical, beneficial purposes and primarily for your own growth, then read on.
What Magick Is Not
Magick is not an array of tricks or stage illusions. The "k" at the end of the word serves to distinguish it from the "magic" of nightclub acts. Magick is not for show.
Magick is not supernatural. As Janet and Stewart Farrar, prominent Irish witches and Craft teachers, point out, "Magic(k) does not break the laws of Nature; when it appears to do so, that is because it is obeying laws that the observer has not yet understood."_
Magick is not the medieval art of summoning demons to do one's will, at least not to intelligent and ethical magicians. Though it is possible to establish communication with beings on other planes of reality, trying to coerce them into service is both immoral and dangerous.
Magick is not based on a pact with "the Devil." Most magicians, including Wiccan priests and priestesses, do not believe in Satan and would certainly have no dealings with such an entity if he did exist.
Magick is not a good way to get revenge on enemies or force a former lover to return to you. Indeed, there is no "good" way to accomplish such nasty and immature things; but the penalties for misusing magick can be far greater than the consequences of these actions on the material plane.
Magick is not available only to a few talented individuals born with special gifts. It can be learned and mastered to a great degree by anyone with self-discipline and persistence.
Magick does not reside in ritual tools, amulets, magickal swords, etc., unless and until they are charged by a magician. The skill and power lie always in the magician, not in the tool.
Magick does not generally result in spectacular "special effects" on the material plane: strange entities materializing, showers of gold falling from the sky, locked doors bursting asunder, and so forth. Dramatic physical effects are possible and occasionally occur, but most magick aims at internal growth, where results are harder to see. Even magick for material-plane purposes tends to manifest in more or less quiet, gradual, natural ways.
_ Janet and Stewart Farrar, The Witches' Way (London: Robert Hale, 1984), 110.
And magick is not easy to learn or to practice. It is not an instant fix for life's problems, nor is it a shortcut to fame and wealth. It is a set of specialized tools, uniquely well-designed for inner growth and spiritual development. It can be used for more ordinary purposes, but sometimes that is like trying to pound nails with a screwdriver. Magick can be used to bring you safety, wealth, or loving relationships, but it is not a substitute for wearing a seat belt, getting a job, or being sensitive to your lover's needs. And no matter what it is used for, magick requires hard work and discipline.
What Magick Is
A definition of magick is in order. We have already rejected that of Webster's dictionary: magick as "the use of means (as charms, spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces." Here are some other definitions by magicians:
"Magic is the science of the control of the secret forces of nature." -S. L. MacGregor Mathers
"Magic is a comprehensive knowledge of all nature." -Francis Barrett
"Magick is the art and science of causing changes to occur in conformity with will."-Aleister Crowley
"Magic is the art of effecting changes in consciousness at will."-William Butler
"The work of magic involves transformation, and the first transformation is the shift of perception."-Marion Weinstein
"The movement of natural energies . . . to create needed change. Energy exists within all things-ourselves, plants, stones, colors, sounds, movements. Magic is the process of rousing or building up this energy, giving it purpose, and releasing it. Magic is a natural, not supernatural, practice, though it is little understood." -Scott Cunningham
So we can see that magick involves using natural forces to effect willed change, often changes in our own perceptions or consciousness. But what is the goal?
What Magick Is For
Stewart Farrar puts it this way: "The stage-by-stage development of the entire human being is the whole aim of magic."
According to Marion Weinstein, magick can help "get your entire life in harmony mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychically . . . And what is the ultimate purpose of the work? To fulfill the self on an even higher level. To transform, uplift, and so fully develop the self that the whole Universe may benefit thereby."_
William G. Gray, another well-known occultist, says: "Magic is for growing up as Children of Light. Sane, sound, healthy, and happy souls, living naturally and normally on levels of inner Life where we can be REAL people as contrasted with the poor shadow-selves we project at one another on Earth."_
Thus magick exists to expedite, guide, and enhance change. Wiccans might say it is the work of the goddess within: "Everything she touches, changes . . ."
It seems a peculiarly human process, as far as we know. Other creatures can change their environments, but only sentient, self-aware beings can change themselves. Perhaps the cetaceans attempt this too-one day we may explore the spiritual paths and magickal traditions of the dolphins and whales.
Change ourselves? But to what? To a fuller range of possibilities, a broader spectrum of spirit. Not change to something else, but to something more. First learn to know ourselves, and then we expand, stretch our hearts and minds and souls, and explore and develop new territories within ourselves.
We are part of All That Is. With magick, we can experience existence from the perspective of other parts and know that we are One. We can experience at-one-ment with the immanent Source.
Perhaps this is the goal of all spiritual paths: to reconnect with the Source, to bridge the chasm of illusion that makes us feel separate and alone, to come Home.
_ Marion Weinstein, Positive Magic (Custer, WA: Phoenix, 1991), 3.
_ William G. Gray, Inner Traditions of Magic (New York: Samuel Weiser, 1970), x.
But the quest requires us to change, and magick is an effective tool for this. The scary part is this: we can't know who we are changing into until we actually experience the change. By then it's too late for second thoughts. We cannot change back; we can only keep changing, or wither.
Because we give up our old selves, any change is a "little death" that is the necessary first step to rebirth. To choose this, to will it, and to seek it out is an act of incredible courage. Magick requires daring. Not to change is to stagnate and die; but to willingly offer up the life we know is to find a greater life.
In "The Charge of the Goddess," she says, "Nor do I demand aught of sacrifice, for behold, I am the mother of all things and my love is poured out upon the earth." On one level this is true: killing a lamb on an altar stone does not lead to inner growth.
Yet on another level, sacrifice is required: self-sacrifice, the surrender of your old self. This is the meaning of the Hanged Man of tarot's major arcana (below) and of Odin's act in Norse mythology: "Nine days and nights I hung on the Tree, myself sacrificed to Myself . . ."
To the conscious mind unaware of the immortal Spirit within, this kind of sacrifice, the loss of the isolated little persona-self, seems terrifying indeed. Yet through it one regains the lost wholeness of the Greater Self, which is all of us, which is God/dess.
Thus far our focus has been on that branch of magick called theurgy; or as Isaac Bonewits defines it, "The use of magic for religious and/or psycho-therapeutic purposes, in order to attain 'salvation' or 'personal evolution.'" Though this is generally the best and highest use of magick, we will not ignore thaumaturgy, again defined by Bonewits: "The use of magic for nonreligious purposes; the art and science of 'wonder working'; using magic to actually change things on the Earth Plane."_
Thaumaturgy might include magick to heal physically; to travel safely; to obtain satisfying employment or a new home; to purify and bless a house or one's tools; to draw an adequate income; and so on. If such matters are accomplished without harm to others (as in seeking a job rather than Sam's job), and the magick is performed to supplement material-plane efforts raththan replace them, then there's nothing at all wrong with the practice of thaumaturgy.
Acting in Accord
Understand this: magick is not miracle-working. After you do a spell or ritual to achieve your purpose, you must still take practical steps to allow the magick to manifest. This is called "acting in accord" with the magick. You can do healing magick to get over an illness, but you must still rest and drink liquids. You can do a spell to get a better job, but you still must ask friends if they know of openings, and then apply for them. If you fail to do the logical follow-up steps, you will be like the legendary blonde who prayed night after night to win the million-dollar lottery, until after some weeks a great and weary voice thundered from the heavens: "O my daughter, I will consider your request; but you could help by buying a lottery ticket."
Magick and practical action reinforce each other; but you must do both to make the magick work.
_ Isaac Bonewits, Real Magic (Berkeley, CA: Creative Arts Book Co., 1971), 268.