Food Enchantment Incantation

Food Enchantment Incantation

The magick that’s within this dish

Is meant for (name of target), as is my wish.

On others who may hear its call

It shall not have any effect at all.

Pure delight is all they’ll feel

As they fill their plates and eat this meal.

But (name of target), it will hit magickally

As I will, So Mote It Be.

Reference:

Utterly Wicked
Curses, Hexes or Other Unsavory Notions
Dorothy Morrison

Today’s Tarot Card for July 12 is Temperance

Temperance

This Tarot Deck: Golden Tarot

General Meaning:  What is traditionally known as the Temperance card is a reference to the Soul. Classically female, she is mixing up a blend of subtle energies for the evolution of the personality. One key to interpreting this card can be found in its title, a play on the process of tempering metals in a forge.

Metals must undergo extremes of temperature, folding and pounding, but the end product is infinitely superior to impure ore mined from the earth. In this image, the soul volunteers the ego for a cleansing and healing experience which may turn the personality inside-out, but which brings out the gold hidden within the heart. (This card is entitled “Art” in the Crowley deck.)

Fact Sheet on Crowley

by Mandrake

‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’

Aleister Crowley (Edward Alexander Crowley) was born 12 October in the same year as the foundation of the Theosophical Society (1875), at Leamington Spa at 11.30pm. He was therefore a Libran with Pisces moon and Leo rising. Contrary to popular legend, he died on the 1st December 1947. A review in Cambridge University magazine Granta of 1904 provides some guidance on the pronunciation of the great man’s name: ‘Oh, Crowley, name for future fame!/(Do you pronounce it Croully?)/Whate’er the worth of this your mirth/It reads a trifle foully.’

The myth of the magus has grown to prodigious proportions in the half century or more since the old man’s death. Crowley is now firmly established in the popular mind as a folk hero (or anti hero?), transmogrified to an icon on a spectrum somewhere between ‘the sandman’ (Clive Barker version) and ‘the gringe’.

To many, Crowley’s magick (I am using the archaic form of the term as popularised by AC for technical reasons), provides a neat dividing line between some kind of urban high magical tradition and the supposedly more earth centred styles of neo-paganism. The truth is, as always, a lot more complex. Crowley’s magick draws all of it’s power from nature, see for example an ancient Egyptian formula: ‘so that every Spirit of the Firmament and of the Ether: Upon the Earth and under the Earth; on dry land and in the Water: of whirling Air; and of rushing Fire and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient to Me.’ (1)

Crowley spent all of his moderately long life exploring countless dramatic astral and mundane landscapes in search of gnosis. It’s a shame he wasn’t a good enough travel writer to communicate fully in his many books the real majesty of nature. He seemed to go everywhere, from the deepest jungles to the highest mountains of the earth. An account from Jan Fries’ book Visual Magick, amply demonstrates that Crowley never quite lost the taste for the great outdoors and the spirits of nature. In 1925 the mage took the leadership of the ‘Fraternitas Saturni on a long walk up the garden path and into the forest. Whenever Uncle Aleister noticed a remarkable plant, stone or tree, he graciously lifted his hat to greet it. This bizarre behaviour apparently astonished his fellows. Some novices, we are told, dared to whisper “What is the master doing?” “The elemental spirits of nature have come to see the master” was the reply “and Sir Aleister is acknowledging their greeting.” The whole incident including a rather nice ritual is to be found in an article on ‘Pentagramme Magick’ in Praxis (1963).

Towards the end of his life Crowley began to lose interest in the Ordo Templi Orientis and other organisations he had fashioned as potential vehicles for the dissemination of the great work. He met Gerald Gardner and together they may have devised a plan to transform the OTO into a more popular witchcraft cult. Gardner duly bought a charter and rose rapidly through the grades, even travelling to America to meet other OTO initiates. Fred Lamond, one of Gardners first acolytes, recalls that American adept Jack Parsons looked very favourably on the idea of a new witch cult. If Crowley had lived long enough to complete Gardner’s training, modern paganism would undoubtedly look quite different, but that’s another story.

(1) From Liber Samekh, as adapted by Crowley from an ancient Hermetic fragment. The cosmology of the Egyptian original made no sense to Crowley’s teachers, hence his slight paraphase – the original reads: ‘so that every daimon, whether heavenly or aerial or earthly or subterranean or terrestrial or aquatic’.
Crowley Today
Aleister Crowley may have died in 1947, but his influence is still very much felt by the magician of the 1990s. The CD soundtrack The Beast Speaks sold 8000 copies since its release in 1993, and the paperback edition of Crowley’s Confessions was number two in Virgin Megastores top ten books. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the magician of the nineties is a slavish follower or member of some mind bending cult. Crowley’s word was Thelema (The Crowleian pronunciation is Theh-LEE-mah, the accent bewatching on the vowel of the second syllable, Greek speakers ay the accent should be on the vowel of the first syllable for it to be pronounced right….ThEH-lee-mah) – which means [free] Will. Those who choose to follow this magical path aim to de-condition themselves, to develop independence of spirit and ultimately to become their very own self. One of the many attractions of Crowley’s type of Magick, was this advice to follow one’s own way and create your own life style. You don’t need a priest or a judge to tell you how to act – work it out for yourelf.

As part of the process of developing self knowledge, Crowley advocated the practice of Magick. This he defined as ‘the science and art of causing change in conformity with will.’ The history of magick is the history of human beings. Many of the things that are now labelled ‘culture’ began as experiments in ritual and magick viz. drama, music, art, dance, philosophy and poetry etc., etc. Magick has played a role in many key moments of our history, for example during the fourteenth century, it was the philosophy of the Renaissance. In our own time, many modern art movements have been driven by magical ideas, for instance, the first abstract painting was made by the Theosophist Kandinsky. Magick is a valuable and reputable activity to undertake.

Crowley’s Books

Whatever else one can say about it, magick certainly is not a mass activity, neither is it a spectator sport. Magicians are in many localities in a minority of one and have to teach themselves the skills traditionally part of the art viz. trance, divination, invocation and creative imagination. The solitary magician gathers most of his or her information from books and Crowley made a substantial contribution to the vast number of books on the subject. Most of his books are now in print, something like 100 titles. The secondary literature of commentaries and studies, as one might expect after more than 50 years, is very extensive indeed. However there is no need to read everything the master wrote. There are a handful of key texts that should give you a good grounding in the man and his magick.

Sadly, there is still no really objective biography of Crowley. The standard biography is John Symonds’ The Great Beast, (lastest edition of which is entitled King of the Shadow Realm) which records all of the salient facts but is very hostile to Crowley’s ideas and therefore gives a lively but unbalanced picture. Jean Overton Fuller’s Magical Dilemma of Victor Neuburg is slightly more objective and written with much inside information. A modern attempt is the late Gerald Suster’s Legacy of the Beast, which is too short to cover all the facts, and too sycophantic -nevertheless, it is not without value. Gerald Suster also wrote Crowley’s entry in Dictionary of National Biography – Missing Persons (OUP 1993) which is also worth a read. Incidentally, 1993 was also the year in which Crowley made it to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations for the first time with his motto ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’

Several newer biographies have recently appeared, two in particular are worthy of note: Martin Booth, A Magick Life and said by some to be the best of the whole lot: Do What Thou Wilt by Lawrence Sutin for St Martin’s Press.

There is a 2004 reissue of Megatherion by Francis King, published by Creation Press, which was originally published in 1977 under the title The Magical World of Aleister Crowley. There is also an excellent study of Aleister Crowley’s followers in America during the Golden Age of Hollywood, entitled The Unknown God, W.T. Smith and the Thelemites by Martin P. Starr, published in 2003 by The Teitan Press, Inc.

The modern generation of Thelemites, admires something in the spirit of Crowley rather than the word. He could be a interesting writer but as is often the case, the present day re-working of his material is often easier to follow and less peppered by some of Crowley’s offensive cultural baggage. Writers such as Jan Fries in Visual Magick and Jack Parsons in Freedom is a Two Edged Sword, seem to have a better understanding of the magical philosophy for which Crowley was a conduit. However, you will undoubted want to make your own mind up in this, so apart from biography and if you have the stamina his massive autobiography, and the following are Crowley’s principal works.

1. Magick – alternatively called Magick in Theory and Practice -or Book Four. This is his textbook of magick, leads the reader from basic yoga techniques through Golden Dawn type ritual to his own unique gnostic rituals, many of them with veiled sexual content. But beware, this is not a book for the beginner and you might do well to ask a more experienced magician to suggest a study plan for it beginning with Liber O, or even look at some of the secondary literature first. For example see Lon DuQuette’s The Magick of Thelema or Israel Regardie’s Middle Pillar, Eye in Triangle, and others.

2. The Book of Thoth, along with the tarot cards of the same name, is his brilliant study of the tarot, difficult to follow in parts if you have no familiarity with his ‘Thelemic’ imagery, but well worth persevering with. The tarot deck he created with English ‘surrealist’ Lady Frieda Harris, is fast becoming the most widely used esoteric tarot deck in the world.

3. 777 and other Qabalistic Writings. A essential summary of his symbol system, which also contains a reprint of Mathers’ instructional essay on Qabalah.

4. Holy Books of Thelema – all brought together under one cover, including Liber al vel Legis – Book of the Law. The mystical poem that formed the core of Crowley’s magical system. ‘Delivered’ to him by discarnate entity Aiwass during one of the most important mystical experiences of his life.

Crowley’s People

There are a small but growing number of groups, based in this country that work with Crowley’s ideas. The following list is not exhaustive, but gives some of the main contact points. It is recommended that you do not atttempt to join all of them at once.

OTO This stands for Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of the Eastern Temple). A magical order, based on eastern eroto-gnostic techniques, some derived from Tantrism. Existed, long before Crowley came on the scene but soon became the principle vehicle for his magical work. Has undergone a big revival over the last ten years. Perhaps it is fortuititous that the OTO split into several rival tendencies following the death of Crowley’s successor, Karl Germer. Many magicians feel that magical orders, structured on medieval lines, may not be the appropriate vehicle for Thelema. But as things stand the aspiring candidate must make a choice after investigating and weighing up what both groups have to offer, if anything. In England there are two main groups claiming title to Crowley’s mantle: In other parts of Europe and the world, other OTOs exist and can claim priority. There are currently legal threats flying between these groups, so I hope I get it right.

i. OTO ‘Caliphate’ – BM Thelema, London WC1N 3XX – International HQ: Postfach 33 20 12 D-14180, Germany. More ‘traditional’ if it can be termed so. Uses original OTO Masonic style rituals and charges annual subscriptions and initiation fees.
ii. OTO ‘Typhonian’ BM Starfire, London WC1N 3XX. Ruled by famous occult scholar Kenneth Grant, whose book Aleister Crowley & the Hidden God, revolutionised the understanding of Crowley magick. Ditched the old Masonic style rituals in favour of the syllabus very like the Argentinum Astrum, i.e. individual graded magical practices leading to adeptship.

Non OTO Thelemic Groups
Apart from the ‘OTOs’ there are a number of ‘new wave’ magical groups and orders that are trying to refashion the occult community on more ‘rosicrucian’ lines, which seem more in tune with modern needs. Strict hierarchies, authoritarianism and obscurantism are definitely out. An honest attempt to build a fellowship or sodality of magicians is on the cards. Amongst these are:

Golden Dawn Occult Society
PO Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP. (email C/O Ogdos@mandrake.uk.net or http://www.uk.net/ogdos.htm. Offers a foundation course in magick and other training to associate members (associate membership is £5 pa.). Is part of a growing network of individuals and groups throughout Britain and all over the world. Online newsletter

Chaos Magic and the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT)
C/O, BM Sorcery, London WC1N 3XX, Another important new style of magick that has developed out of the Thelemic one. Other influences include new physics and European shamanism.

The Kaula-Nath Community (including AMOOKOS). C/O PO Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP. East- West tantrik groups, founded by Dadaji, one of Crowley’s disciple’s in the 1930s who, on the master’s advice, went to India and became a sadhu. A unique blend of western occultism with authentic magical Hinduism. Has an older equivalent of Crowley’s ‘Law of Thelema’ – viz: svecchacara – ‘the path of ones own will’.

Crowley and the Media
There has been precious little media attention to Crowley, there is still no film or documentary devoted in entirety to Crowley’s life. This situation is changing slowly. In year 2000, BBC Scotland made a short documentary about Boleskine, Crowley’s house on the banks on Loch Ness. The show was called The Other Loch Ness Monster, but the BBC have so far refused to show it outside of Scotland. Channel Four have filmed a more thoroughgoing documentary although broadcast has again been delayed due to editorial difficulties. It will eventually appear as part of a series dealing with occult themes. BBC Modern Times are currently filming a fifty minute piece on serious magick, which will include a fair amount of material on Crowley. There are been one or two short radio pieces and an interesting stage play by Snoo Wilson some time back. Snoo Wilson appeared in a fifteen minute broadcast for UK’s Channel 4 (text reprinted in Thelemic Magick I fromMandrake of Oxford.) Snoo Wilson’s Novel I Crowley, has been published to critical acclaim and should go into production as a feature film. It is based on events at the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily.
Obtaining Useful Books etc
Books by and about Crowley are now widely available in UK booksellers such as Waterstones, Borders, Ottakar’s etc. The best selection is still to be found in specialist bookshops such as the world famous Atlantis Bookshop, 49a Museum St, London WC1, and Watkins Bookshop, 19 Cecil Court, London WC2 4EZ, as well as several others throughout the UK. However, if you don’t live in London or getting to a bookshop is difficult, there are several good mail-order suppliers, including Mandrake of Oxford (mandrake@[removeme]mandrake.uk.net) which is run by and for working magicians. Information is available here on local stockists and sometimes links if you prefer to deal with a bookseller in your own country.

Advice on titles and merchandise is freely available from the Mandrake website clickhere

Love is the law, love under will

Fact Sheet © Golden Dawn Occult Society, PO Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP.

For more info please contact OGDOS C/O Mandrake@mandrake[removeme].uk.net

Does Magick Work?

Does Magick Work?

Author: Silverwolf

Does magick work?

In this essay I will take a look at magick, and examine how and if it “works”. I am using the spelling “magick” as originally created by Aleister Crowley and will base much of my working definition on his original description.

Magick is at the heart of many Pagan practices, and is also a key difference between most Pagan practices and non-Pagan practices. Some may argue that prayer is treated much like magick in some religions, but there are some fundamental differences that I will investigate later. Given the importance of magick, proving that magick either does or does not “work” is a very relevant task.

I am using “works” here in quotes, because I believe that the term itself is somewhat ambiguous. There are two main components to magick “working”: how, and what. The “how” is the basis of what makes magick work. What mechanism causes it to be considered a success? The “what” is the end result.

Ignoring the question of how it works, do you achieve the end results that you desire? If it works by some mechanism differently than what you believe, but still achieves the desired results, is that still “working”? I propose here that it is the end results that are important, not so much the actual mechanism. In other words, if it works for you…then it works for you.

The premise I will start with, and attempt to prove, is that yes, magick does in fact work. That is, it does achieve results. Perhaps not the exact results that are always desired, but most explanations of magick include a belief that magick does not always work all of the time in exactly the way the practitioner wants. In this respect it is very much like prayer, and I am reminded of the old saying, ”God always answers your prayers – but sometimes the answer is no.”

There are three main explanations of how and why magick works that I will examine. The first is that it works through access to the divine. We get a God or Goddess to do our bidding and use our will to control their actions, giving us access to powers greater than that which we ourselves possess… The second option I will explore is that magick works because of basic scientific principles as of yet not fully understood.

To quote Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In this second category I include most of what we think of as supernatural forces today but may well have scientific explanations for tomorrow.

The third option that I will explore is that of the benefits of belief by the individual, and the ability to change yourself and your surroundings based on belief. There are countless examples of people in crisis or those who have advanced training (martial artists, yogis, etc.) and are able to perform feats of control over their bodies that seem impossible. It is exactly in this way that by believing something hard enough, we are able to rise above the limits of our normal lives. In this way, a belief in magick does, in fact, allow us to tap energy that we otherwise cannot utilize and therefore effect a change.

In short, magic does work and it works by one of three methods: divine intervention, supernatural/science, or psychology.

What is magick?

In this essay I am specifically referring to magick, with a “k”. Traditional views of magic involve the action of supernatural beings or deities, the use of specific spells or actions, and particular ceremonies. This is really not so different than the traditional church approach to prayer. So why is magick so different?

Magick, with the “k”, is a term originally created by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) . This was the early 20th century and stage magic abounded as a form of entertainment and mystery. At the same time, interest in the occult was blooming and a number of high-profile occult organizations, such as the Order of the Golden Dawn, flourished. This was a time of Harry Houdini (1874-1926) and Aleister wanted a way to differentiate occult magic from stage magic. To this end, he created the term “Magick” with an extra “k” on the end.

In his book Magick in Theory and Practice, he introduces the term “Magick”. Crowley begins the introduction to his book with quotes from a number of sources including Pythagoras, The Golden Bough by J.D. Frazer, St. Paul, etc. so we see that he drew from many classical sources when creating his work.

Magick, as defined by Crowley, is “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” What is particularly interesting is that the definition does not say anything about divine forces, spiritual intervention, or occult phenomenon. All it really describes is a cause and effect relationship, initiated by the practitioner.

Magick can be applied to anything, from mere mundane activities to chemical reactions, an example that Crowley himself uses. He tells us that “Any required change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of force in the proper manner through which the proper medium to the proper object.”

Crowley further states quite simply “every intentional act is a magickal act.” This means that anything that we do as a result of our will is an act of magick. Traditional views of magic (k) had assumed a supernatural element. Crowley, however, defines it as any act that we will to happen. In this regard, magick is an act of will that could be carried out by our own physical actions, by our instructions or commands, or even the use of supernatural forces. The involvement of supernatural forces, however, is far from a requirement.

The beauty of Crowley’s magick is that it covers a whole spectrum of forces at our disposal. We use our will directly to make changes in ourselves. We use our will and employ the tools of science to make changes. We use our will and employ the tools of witchcraft to make changes.

To improve our health, we might use our will to exercise more. To travel from Boston to New York we might use our will and the tool of the car that we drive. Magick builds on the use of our will to influence common events in our mundane life, but then adds in the use of our will to control supernatural forces as well.

Others since Crowley have largely followed his lead on what constitutes magick. In his bookThe Mystic Foundation, Christopher Penzcak calls magic (he does not use the extra k) a process of creation. He believes that words have creative power and energy, and are important to the use of magic. Magic is about harnessing and directing energy. Christopher then explains that energy can come from words, thoughts, and actions.

In addition to internal sources, he believes that herbs, metals, stones, symbols and colors are also forms of energy. Magic rituals harness this energy along with the magician’s will to create change. He explains that magic is a science, but it is also an art and a skill. He also proposed that what we call magic today may simply be what is called science tomorrow and refers to Arthur C. Clark’s famous quote about how any sufficiently advanced science will appear to be magic.

Like Crowley, Penczak also believes that magic is part of everything we do and says that we are all doing magic all the time. The difference as he sees it is that a magician is consciously aware of it and uses it as part of his or her personal and spiritual path. He points out that different people call magic by different names: many Pagans use the spelling with a k to differentiate it, but magic is also the same as medicine to a shaman, or prayer to a catholic. Ultimately, Penczak sums it up by saying, “Magic is any change that conforms to a person’s will.” While the words are slightly different, this is exactly what Crowley said as well.

InNatural Magic, Doreen Valiente describes magic (also without the k) as being centered internally. Symbols, tools, etc. are all useful to strike a mood but are merely external aids and the real magic is inside the human mind. She says that, “The only way you can really change your life is by changing yourself.” She, too, then goes on to describe how it is the power of will that causes change – regardless of what paths or energies are used to implement the will.

Many other notable authors from the pagan community have given their own particular spin and explanation on magick, but they all pretty much come down to the same description: Magic is the application of will to effect change. How this change comes about may be simple physical action on the part of the practitioner, or it may involve the use of forces or energies not scientifically understood or explained. It is all about wanting something to happen, and making it happen. In short, being empowered and being in control of your life.

Magick: invoking the divine

Of the three ways of looking at magick, the idea of invoking and controlling the divine is by far the fuzziest. Are there Gods and Goddesses? Are there other supernatural forces? Do we really think that we have the ability to actually control any of these forces? Or at least to request their assistance and have them pay any attention to us?

This is a far deeper discussion than fits within the scope of this essay, for our purposes here we will simply assume that yes, there are supernatural forces of some kind and we can access them for our own objectives. The exact nature of such forces is not important here, but rather the question of exactly how we can access them and direct them.

Accessing a God is quite a common endeavor in human history, but it has often been in the form of prayer. The key difference between prayer and magick is that prayer is a request to the deity to perform some action, whereas magick is a command to the deity to perform a service. In the former view we are subject to the whims of the divine and exist to serve at their pleasure. In the later, we are equal to any Gods in importance, if not in power, and they are available for us to command if we can figure out how. This may sound egotistical, but consider the vast forces of nature that we have learned to harness such as atomic energy. Is it really such a stretch from controlling nuclear reactions to controlling a God?

With prayer, we are supposed to exhibit good behavior (and belief) according to that particular mythology and as a reward we may ask the divine for favors. Of course, as discussed earlier, the answer can often be, “no.” Bargaining with the divine is also popular in prayer trading a promise for future good behavior or some special action in exchange for a prayer being answered.

With magick, we use our will to impose a task on a specific deity. Most pagans and practitioners of magick support a pantheists or polytheistic view and will usually pick a specific God or Goddess that is particularly appropriate for the task. We might call to Thor to be successful in battle, or Aphrodite for help with love for example. Frequently we will employ some sort of ceremony designed to attract and then compel the deity to perform our will.

Magick involving deities is often referred to as “Ceremonial Magick” and is not something that is universally encouraged. Raymond Buckland describes ceremonial magick as dangerous and totally unnecessary. He does support asking the Gods to aid you with power, however, in the “drawing down” of the God or Goddess and bringing a surge of their power into you during a magickal working.

Is it possible to direct the actions of the divine? Or even to ask them for power to aid you in your working? Certainly it is hard to top the power of a God and so if this method works, then it can be very effective. It is extremely difficult to actually prove or disprove that it is possible in invoke deities. There are also difficulties in assuming that this works for everyone or even for anyone. How, exactly, do you control a God?

What happens when someone else directs his or her God to do the opposite of what you are directing your God to do (for example, two people who both want to win the same lottery) ? Will the Gods only obey someone who has enough self-mastery to not want power and riches? There are many reasons why it might be possible for us to command the Gods but still not be able to access this path reliably.

Magick: a force of nature

We have seen examples in popular culture such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings where magick is a force of nature that can be controlled by people with special talents. In these three examples, the person controlling the magic has to be born into it although their powers can usually only be fully realized after training. In this worldview, magic can also be used to create magical objects that have their own power. Here the power does not come from any actual deity, but rather is a force of nature that some people have the ability to tap into.

Accessing this force is usually accomplished through the use of incantations, or tools such as wands that allow the user to focus their own magical abilities and powers. While there is certainly an element of willpower involved in using magic in this way, the right words, tools, or actions are crucial in making the magick work as well.

In The Golden Bough, James Frazer describes a classic view of the use of sympathetic magick, where we can control some target object through the manipulation of a second object. The two objects are linked, or have a sympathetic bond, and that is why action to one also impacts the other one. He then goes on to describe two basic types of this magic: contagious and imitative (or homeopathic) .

Imitative magick relies on the use of something that is similar to the object we desire to control, and assumes that by controlling the one object we can impact the target object. A traditional voodoo doll is a good example of this. The doll is created in a fashion to represent the target subject. By sticking pins into the doll, the theory is that we can cause pain of illness in the target subject.

Contagious magick, on the other hand, relies on the use of objects that have been in contact with the target object. Because they were once in contact with each other, there is a bond between them even when they are separated. Here, too, actions on the sympathetic object can be done to control the target object.

At the other end of the spectrum we can view these forces as scientific, rather than magickal. There is actually a very thin line between the two, and much of what is solid scientific fact today was considered magick quite recently. As noted in section 1, advanced technology is indistinguishable from magick. There is no science today to explain magick, obviously, or it would no longer be viewed as magick but rather as scientific fact. There, are, however, both technologies and scientific theories that point to the possibility of magick or bear a hint of action similar to what we think of as magick.

Let us consider how our will can affect the world around us without normal physical interaction. The brain creates electrical impulses during normal operation. It has not been shown that these weak impulses are capable of acting in any way on the surrounding environment, but they are there nonetheless, and are being broadcast to the world around us.

We cannot show that these affect anything, but we can prove that at least they are receiving the signals. It proves that there is at least a vehicle for our brain to communicate in a non-physical way with the world around us.

Quantum physics has been over-blown badly and many false conclusions drawn by people who understand only a little bit of what they have read about quantum theory. However, there are phenomenons in quantum physics that seem similar to some of our concepts of magick.

Entanglement, for example, tells us that two particles that are once entangled with each other will thereafter continue to reflect each other’s state even after they are separated by a great distance. While this does not prove any actual magick, it does show us how two objects, once connected, can continue to share a bond even after their separation. This is the same basic concept as contagious magick and shows that at least the idea of two objects sharing a remote bond is now in the realm of scientific theory.

Einstein once even went so far as to call this “spooky action at a distance”. Unlike brain wave activity, which is a measurable fact, it is important to remember that quantum entanglement is still part of a theory and while it is actually measurable as well, why it works is still being debated.

These are merely two examples where science has shown us mechanisms that demonstrate similar concepts to those proposed by classical magick theory. This is a huge step towards providing a scientific explanation for magick itself, or at least for making the more scientific among us to pause and consider before simply dismissing magick off-hand.

So if we believe some forces of nature support that magick, whether or not they are supernatural or scientific but unknown is a meaningless distinction. Clearly there are still many things that are unknown, and clearly there are things that are today labeled “magick” that may well be science tomorrow. This is a topic that has occupied entire books and this is, at best, an introduction.

One point that should be made, however, is how magick can exist when magick doesn’t work. Harry Potter can reliably and repeatedly make something happen once he has learned a spell. Witches in the real world often come up with mixed results at best. There are many ways to explain this and it does not in any way eliminate the possibility that magick exists.

Why can’t I win the lottery through magick, for example? Well, if we think of magick as our tapping into basic natural forces, do we not suppose that everyone else who bought a lottery ticket is doing the same thing, to greater or lesser degrees?

In this way, we are all countering each other’s magick. Unless we can assume that our magick is so much more powerful than everyone else’s combined, which seems unlikely in practice (Charmed or Bewitched notwithstanding) , we cannot force that outcome. It would be like a rowboat trying to steer an ocean liner. There is much more to be said on this topic, but the point of this example was merely to show that magick could, in fact, work quite well and still not work for us in any given situation.

Magick: tapping into psychology

The third explanation that we will look at is the value of magick through psychological results. This is different than the general understanding of magick as involving something supernatural, but is a legitimate explanation. What we are trying to examine here is whether the belief in and performance of “magick” creates results. If we go back to our definition of magick as being the application of will to effect change then we can argue for a wide variety of actions as technically being magick. In order to make magick really interesting, however, we should assume that in order to really be magick, the end result needs to be something that would not otherwise have happened without the use of magick.

With this requirement I mind, we can fairly easily look at magick as enabling us to control at least our own mind and body, and to a degree that we do not normally have. This could be anything from stopping smoking or losing weight to success in love or our career. If we are looking at psychological reasons for magick working, we can rule out looking at things that we are not actively involved in. If magick works because of psychological reasons, we can control ourselves to a heightened degree directly but that also will have an impact on our immediate environment.

In the case of stopping smoking or losing weight it is “just as simple” as getting the will power to stop smoking, or to eat less and/or exercise more. As anyone knows who has tried to do this, this can be easy to say and very difficult to actually do. We need to overcome actual addictions as well as deeply ingrained personal behavior. Using magick to achieve these ends is not unlike using self-hypnosis. The power to make the change is entirely in our control, we “just” need the will power to make it happen.

Impacting our environment can also largely be a matter of effecting change in ourselves. If we can make ourselves more productive at work, we will probably be more successful. If we can change our own behavior to be more attractive to a partner, we can improve our love life. These are cases where we can essentially change the behavior of others by changing our own behavior and therefore changing our relationship with them. As we change, and our relationship changes, their behavior towards us will then change as well in response. Here, too, we need to make the change in ourselves first, and these changes may be very difficult because again they may run contrary to a lifetime of habits or personality.

The power of positive thinking is not just a sound-bite, but it is a well-documented and studied fact. People who are optimistic are able to achieve more than people who are pessimistic. While this sounds like common sense, studies have shown that people who believe they will succeed are not just “more motivated”, but are able to actually tap into more physical and mental energy than others who believe they will fail. If you think you will succeed, you will actually be able to work harder.

Beyond the basics step of merely going faster, further, longer, or harder, there are many documented stories of the ability of people to tap into inner strength that is not considered normal. There are many stories of people who have prayed or willed diseases into remission, who have tapped into super-human strength to save a loved one, or even just to walk on hot coals without suffering burns. These actions are the result of achieving a level of control over the human body that we do not normally have. Here, too, the key is to convince ourselves that it can be done.

Self-hypnosis provides a framework for making changes like this, and the techniques are actually very similar to what we do in ritual when casting a spell. Key to the effectiveness of self-hypnosis is our own belief that what we wish to achieve is possible. If we do not really believe it can be done on a sub-conscious level, we can never convince ourselves to make the change. While it is probably mandatory to believe in order to direct the actions of a God, or to marshal supernatural forces to our will, it is absolutely crucial to believe in order to create change within ourselves.

While this explanation of magick involves the mundane instead of the supernatural, nevertheless it is also a path to extraordinary results that have been absolutely proven. If you convince yourself of results, you can change your behavior and even tap into extraordinary, but not supernatural, abilities. This limits the potential reach of the results of magick, but it also gives an absolute, proven path to results.

Magick in this case provides the enabling action to reach these goals. In order to convince ourselves that we have made the change, something has to happen to act as the agent of change. We do not simply wake up one day and say, “today I will stop smoking.” That is rarely, if ever, effective because we know that we are no different than we were yesterday when we were still addicted to smoking.

There needs to be some event that we can use to convince ourselves that this change really will happen. Magick, and a magick ritual in particular, provide us with the event that will allow us to convince ourselves that change has occurred. Because we believe that the magick is going to work, it does in fact work.

While it is actually our own mind that is making the change, we are unable to do it without the event that convinces us. I believe in magick, therefore the magick is going to work. I have now convinced myself (especially on a sub-conscious level) of the success of my effort, and therefore I am able to achieve the desired results that I could not have achieved before. It is not the magick itself that makes the change in this case, but rather our belief in the magick that makes it work.

Magick vs. prayer

In section 3 we briefly touched on the differences between magick and prayer. The main difference, as we mentioned, is that prayer is based on asking God for a favor, whereas magick is based on you using your will to make things happen. Even in the case where you are working with a deity, you are telling that deity to do something for you, not asking.

Beyond the differences in approach, and the differences in execution, this also reflects a core difference between paganism and mainstream religions: where control of your life ultimately lies. Paganism places your life in your own hands – you are responsible for what happens to you and for making life what you want. Mainstream religion places ultimate responsibility in their God’s hands. You can only control your life to a certain point, and beyond that it is “God’s will.”

Of course, there is a down side to having this control as well. You, and only you, are responsible for your life. You can’t shrug it off and blame your problems on God. Yes, the world may have plans for you, and you may have a path that takes you in a certain direction, but you can also take control of your own destiny through an act of will. This is the use of magick – to provide control of your life and your destiny.

Things may happen to you that you don’t like, but at no point do you have to sit back and accept that. While giving you control, however, it also takes away the comfort of being able to blame your problems on “God’s will.” Stuff happens, some of it bad stuff, but not because it is part of “God’s plan”.

Having said that, prayer can still be effective. If you believe hard enough that God is going to answer your prayers, you can approach the same mindset of confidence that is used to drive magickal workings. Certainly if you believe that your prayers will be effective, you can at least convince yourself and therefore gain the benefit of positive thinking. Whether or not that person’s God does really exist, prayer, too, can end up having a positive impact.

Magic for everyone

Ultimately, the question of why magic works is an academic exercise and really not relevant. The important thing is to decide that yes, in fact, magick does work. Exactly why it works is not important. The key elements are that magick does work and that it is a product of our own willpower. This is what and how, and to use it that is really all we need to know. Few people understand exactly how a cell phone works, but they are able to use it quite effectively nevertheless.

It is important to understand how to use magick, obviously, in order to get results. It starts with a will to cause an effect. Whether it’s our brains or cosmic forces or Gods that make it work after that is not important. What is important is that we can make it work.

Wayne Dyer wrote an excellent pop self-help book about using magick titled Real Magic. My description of his book is in no way meant to be derogatory. “Pop” as in “popular” or “popular culture” is actually an asset. If you want to study the history and details of magick as a scholar then by all means, head for the more serious and scholarly authors.

If you simply want to use magick to change your life, then read Wayne Dyer (or others like him) who reduces the practice to simple, will-based techniques. If you believe you can change your life, then yes you really can change your life. But it has to start with will. This is the essence of self-help. Only you can perform magick for yourself. It is driven by your strength of will, no one else’s.

Wayne Dyer’s approach strips away the trappings of mystical magick, and obviously avoids the Crowley spelling, and places the techniques of magic in common life. His approach is based in large part upon meditation and visualization: both very sound and proven techniques, and ones that are important fundamentals for any magickal practice. This simple form may not be for everyone, and part of your own ability to tap into your own magick may well require the trappings of ceremony and ritual in order to help focus and control your will. What works for you…works for you. How to best focus your will is going to vary from person to person and is something you will need to work out for yourself.

Caveats

There are a few caveats that bear discussing when it comes to magick. While it is true that Magick requires faith and belief to work, this is a double-edged sword. If you believe that you can achieve something through magick, then you are certainly more likely to achieve the end result because of your belief. It is also, however, true that if you believe you cannot achieve something because of magick then you are certainly going to be far less likely to achieve it. This could be because you believe someone else’s magick is blocking you, it could be because you do not believe that the magick is going to work for you for whatever reason, or it could be because you believe that magick cannot help you achieve your objectives. Belief in failure is just as damaging as belief in success is rewarding.

Belief must also be reasonable, and you must make sure you do in fact use the right tools. If you work magick to get a job but do not actually apply for the job, think of how much more effort the magick needs in order to make it happen. Always use every tool at your disposal when working magick. There is a lot of truth I the old saying “God helps those who help themselves.” If you are not willing to put in the effort required, why should the magick do it for you? Don’t pick ridiculous goals for your magick either, or goals where you know you are going to be pushing up against many other people’s magick. Winning the lottery is a good example of this – everyone who buys a ticket is pushing against the outcome – some are more powerful than others, but your own magick would have to be incredibly powerful to overcome all of those counteracting forces.

Finally, there are things that magick should not do. It is not a favor to prolong the life of a terminally ill person who is suffering. That is selfish, not helpful. Magick should not be used to bring about results for the wrong reasons, and should not be used on people who do not want its help. What you want may not be what others want, and it may not even be good for them. You cannot decide whether your unwanted actions will end up for good or bad, and you are robbing someone else of their free will. Magick should only be used for people or on people who want the help and agree to it. Otherwise, leave them to their own path.

Conclusion

I started out by making the claim that magick does work – for everyone. An explanation of exactly how magick works depends on whom you talk to, with a number of different beliefs and explanations. The main explanations given by practitioners typically involve either the harnessing the power of a sentient God to do your will, or the access to supernatural powers. Essentially the same as supernatural forces are scientific forces that we do not yet fully understand. Ultimately, however, the mere fact that the practitioner believes in magick makes certain that, at least to some degree, the magick will unquestionably work. Because belief in success does, in fact, increase the chances of success by drawing more effort and energy out of the believer.

Magickal workings are an attempt to influence events and make changes in the world according to your will. These results are in relation to you and your place in the world, so making a change in yourself (by increasing your energy) will obviously have a change in your environment as perceived by yourself.

Ultimately, how magick works becomes less important than the fact that magick does work. The only requirement, however, is that you must believe in magick for it to work effectively. That’s the key, and the only thing that is needed to unlock the power of your will. Just like when Peter Pan tells us that Tinker Bell will die if we say we don’t believe. But if we believe, then Tink will live.

Without belief, Magick dies, but with belief, a whole world of possibilities is open to us. To use another children’s story as an analogy, “The Little Engine that could” makes it up the mountain only because he believes that he can. Children know these things, and these stories resonate with them. Sadly, as we grow older we are taught to learn boundaries and restrictions and once we find out that magick is not real and not possible, then, in fact it does become unreal and impossible.

 



Footnotes:
References:

Crowley, Aleister. Magick: in Theory and Practice. Castle Books, 1970 (originally published 1929) .
Penzcak, Christopher. The Mystic Foundation. Llewellyn, 2006
Valiente, Doreen. Natural Magic. Phoenix Publishing, 1975
Buckland, Raymond. The Complete Book of Witchcraft. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2007.
Frazer, Sir James. The Golden Bough. Macmillan, 1922.
Aczel, Amir. Entanglement. Plume, 2003.
Keith, William. The Science of the Craft. Citadel, 2005.
Vaughan, Susan C. Half Empty, Half Full: Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism. Harvest Books, 2001.
Hogan, Kevin, and LaBay, Mary Lee. Through The Open Door: Secrets of Self Hypnosis. Pelican Books, 2000.
Dyer, Wayne. Real Magic. Harper Collins, 1992.

Where Have All the Gardners and Crowleys Gone? (An Answer)

Where Have All the Gardners and Crowleys Gone? (An Answer)

Author: Juniper

In the last couple of weeks a question, or rather a few similar questions, have been coming across my radar, again and again. I do try to pay attention to such things, when they come my way. One or more of these times were in articles posted on Witchvox, while other times this question has been uttered to me by friends. Here are the questions:

“Why are there no more Gardners and Crowleys?”

“Where are the women like Doreen Valentine and Janet Farrar and Dion Fortune in younger generations?”

“Where have all the good Elders gone?”

“Why are there no impressive High Priest/ess any more?”

… And such similar ponderings.

Despite the fact the fact that I am no Crowley, nor Starhawk, nor Elder, I think I may have hit upon an answer. It’s an ugly answer, and I know that sharing it may only cause me problems. Yet, I feel compelled to share it. So folks, if you are easily offended, please … keep reading. Bear with me, let me sit upon a “high horse” for but a moment and allow me to say some things you may not want to hear.

Gardner and Crowley were trailblazers. They were bold and daring, they said and did outrageous things. People like Gardner, Crowley, Cochrane and Hutton (to name a few) were eclectics, they tried stuff out, and they mixed and matched. They mixed pantheons and traditions. Nowadays we pagans use the word “eclectic” like a dirty word, an insult to be slung at anyone who dares to mix traditions or practices.

Because our watered-down version of paganism and occultism does not breed such people, does not encourage them. In fact, we make them pariahs. We are not comfortable with controversial leaders. We don’t want teachers with a reputation for being eccentric. We don’t like it when someone walks through the mall wearing a giant pentagram, or purple hair or a black dress. We don’t want to rock the boat. We don’t like it when someone says or does something new or different or outside the box. We are uncomfortable with pagans who don’t fit neatly into some label.

There are no more good elders for two reasons.

One, we treat them horribly, you know it and I know it. We give them no reason to participate in the community. We are pleading and demanding and completely lacking in respect. We expect them to do all the work for us, with barely an introduction. We never finish what they work so hard to help us start.

Two, many of our elders and pagans who have been around for a while have become jaded and disenfranchised. They have decided to give up on us and are hiding away somewhere. Far too often now, when they do decide to show up, it is either for our adulation or to make fun of other less experienced pagans… which only leads to a lack of respect for our elders. And thus we create a vicious cycle.

We all understand cycles do we not?

Because we seem to think that High Priestess and other spiritual leaders and teachers of such caliber are “born”, not slowly grown over time. We think that once a pagan reaches 40, they should just magickally turn into a great leader, teacher or guru. We think we do not need to support our young leaders and teachers. We feel that we do not need to help them to grow into great elders.

No, instead we pick and snipe at them and demand to see credentials and examine their birth certificate as if age is what matters. Because we forget that people like Janet Farrar, Doreen Valentine, and Starhawk were in their twenties when they first made their claim to fame. We forget, and we treat our young witches and priestesses like idiot children.

Because we buy white-lighter, easy-to-read, fluffy little books when we should be buying the books Chapters and Barnes and Noble refuse to sell. How many of you actually have books written by Gardner, Valentine, Farrar, and Crowley? How many of you have more books written by the likes of Sylvia Browne than books by our great old Elders?

There are no more Gardners and Crowleys because we are afraid. Afraid of controversy, afraid of not being politically correct, afraid of being judged, afraid of ourselves, afraid of what the neighbors might think. Afraid of what the rest of the pagan community might think or do.

Because we are afraid to try something that no one has done before, we need to read three instructional books on how to do it first. We need an author, teacher, or Internet friend to assure us that nothing bad might happen, that it will be fun and safe … and boring. Because we panic when a hedgewitch posts Flying Ointment recipes on her blog.

And we are lazy. We have become a community whose majority are little more than armchair pagans. We study more than we practice and we think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Paganism, witchcraft, magick … these are PRACTICES. You have to practice them! These pissing contests about what you know are meaningless. We need to focus on ourselves and our practices, not on what someone else has memorized.

Because we have made paganism too commercial, too user friendly, too easy, too accessible. We are more comfortable with a clean, neat, organized, sterilized version of spirituality. We don’t want something messy, sexy, nitty and gritty. We want something that matches the row upon row of identical pink stucco houses that litter suburbia.

Because we don’t want to have to work hard to find wisdom. We want it handed to us in a textbook format.

There are no more Gardners and Crowleys and the like because you’re supposed to be one.

That’s right. YOU.

Who else is going to do it? So what’s stopping ya?

You want more visionaries, teachers, and leaders? You want to see the next generation of Gardners and Crowleys crop up? Then go and do it yourself. Because chances are everyone else is too yellowbelly to do it for you. And why should anyone do it for you anyway?

Think about it.

*climbs off high-horse and raises shield*

Today’s Tarot Card for August 2 is Temperance

Temperance

This Tarot Deck: Palladini

General Meaning: What is traditionally known as the Temperance card is a reference to the Soul. Classically female, she is mixing up a blend of subtle energies for the evolution of the personality. One key to interpreting this card can be found in its title, a play on the process of tempering metals in a forge.

Metals must undergo extremes of temperature, folding and pounding, but the end product is infinitely superior to impure ore mined from the earth. In this image, the soul volunteers the ego for a cleansing and healing experience which may turn the personality inside-out, but which brings out the gold hidden within the heart. (This card is entitled “Art” in the Crowley deck.)