I don’t talk much about magick. Or magic without the “k” if you prefer to spell it that way. For the most part, its a subject that I don’t really put much thought into. But it is, however, one of the subjects I get a metric ton of questions on. The moment anyone hears that I am a Pagan, their mind immediately leaps to thoughts of me being into Wicca – which is a fairly safe jump for most people. They would be dead-wrong, but I completely grok how they got to that particular point on the map. Then, after a few minutes of getting my querent to understand that I am not a Wiccan, but am on a journey into Druidry – a different point of questioning arrives. But the quizzing still winds up revolving around the basic precept of magick. And all I can really do is take a deep breath, let out an internal sigh, and do the best that I can to sate that quizzical hunger that has been presented.
As a rule of thumb, I don’t delve into magickal works that much at all. Its not that I eschew magick or spell work – I just don’t feel that comfortable trying to bend or change my environment to my desires or whim. Ok, stop looking at me like I was trying to grow a third head out of the small of my back. Its probably safer, if we tackle this from some basic positions first. Since you are not sitting here in front of me, I will have to work off of the assumption that what follows in my statements is understood and agreed upon between the two of us – definitely one of the bigger drawbacks to blogging.
Let’s start with an attempt at definition. In Donald Michael Kraig’s book “Modern Magick”:
According to the famous occultist Aleister Crowley, magick is “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” … In fact, Crowley… says that “every intentional act is a Magickal Act.” If you follow his line of reasoning, there is a great deal of validity in what he says, although it is not what we are seeking at this time. We need to make the definition of magick a bit longer: Magick is the science and art of causing change (in consciousness) to occur in conformity with will, using means not currently understood by traditional Western science.
For me, this is not a bad place to start, but I can actually utilize a little more refinement. I can work with the idea that the utilization of magick is for the process of changing some type of outcome into a more desired effect. I like the ideal that it is about changing an individual’s conscious awareness as well. This works far better for me than the idea that I merely twitch my nose and something is automatically changed or altered into something else – like a party balloon is changed into a live Zebra. A little extreme of an example, but it generally makes the point. Probably the best example of magickal work that I have ever read was an example in Margot Adler’s book “Drawing Down the Moon”. I will recant the example to the best of my memory, however, since my copy has once again found legs – this is a book I lend out quite a bit and it sometimes never comes back…I believe I have purchased this book at least eight times over the years – I hope that any inaccuracies in the retelling will be forgiven and/or overlooked due to my own faulty memory.
A group of individuals were sent to a local stream to catch food for the rest of the communities meal. Having very few tools available, the results were predictable – they came back with nothing. When they relayed their difficulties to the group’s leader, he noted that the fish were necessary for the community to survive. That they needed to get the fish for the ability of the community to have sustenance. He drove home the extreme need for their “mission” to be successful, and went back to the stream with them. On the way there, he told them about how bears would catch fish in the stream, grasping the fish between their paws and throwing the fish over their backs and onto the bank. He got the group to think of themselves as hungry bears, needing food, envisioning themselves wading into the water and catching the fish as the bears would. When the group arrived at the stream, they waded in, and proceeded to follow his instructions….and they caught enough fish to feed the community for more than a single day.
This, for me, is what magick is about. This change of personal understanding, lending towards fulfilling a need. In Margot’s example, the people were transformed into the essence of bears, fishing as the bears would – essentially becoming bears in the stream. They didn’t physically change. They remained as human beings in physical form, but they changed the manner in which they went about catching the fish. They did as bears would do. In the way that they envisioned bears would. Their technique might not have been picture perfect as far as bears went, but it was the results that they sought. Perfection of technique was not the answer.
When I relay this example to my querents, I typically get puzzled looks. This is not the magick that people think of when they ask me their questions. They are looking for the abilities of Nicky Holroyd or Harry Potter and his fellow students at Hogwarts. As much as I wish that were possible – I just have never seen that be the case. And its here that I tend to lose those querents in the chasm between my definition of magick, and the beautiful magick created by the filmmakers in Hollywood, California. The result tends to be one of frustration – on the part of my querents who tend to leave confused and somewhat disillusioned over how the magick of Paganistic Belief Systems could ever benefit them – and on the part of myself, frustrated that I was not able to explain myself in clearer terms or symbols that could have been understood by my intended audience.
As I stated before, I typically avoid dealing with magick or magickal workings. At least on a personal level. Magick requires a change of an individual state of being…or if you will, a change of how one perceives their environment. For me, I perceive my environment every single day, every single moment. I see the magick in the changing of the seasons in my backyard and local neighborhood. I see, feel, and experience the magick of my students understanding topics in Business Information Systems over the sixteen weeks of the courses I teach. I revel in those experiences. Every moment I open my soul to those feelings, I feel alive and aware. And to be honest, I’m not really wanting or needing to change how I feel those experiences. I have enough magick in my life without needing to bend my consciousness any further than I have.