The term magick comprises a rather broad assortment of practices that typically focus on the capacity of individuals to interact with subtle and otherwise imperceptible forces commonly considered external to, and often greater than, themselves. Whether these forces are deemed "natural," "supernatural," "celestial," "spiritual," or even "infernal," the practice of manipulating - or perceiving to manipulate - the world around us by these forces goes back to the dawn of recorded history.
Now, here is the part where I make a bunch of people hopping mad...
Many people talk about "real" magick and the necessary counterpart of "fake" magick, the former usually being whatever the person speaking does, and the latter being whatever the person speaking doesn't do or otherwise identify with. (The real “magick” of the above distinction is being able to pick up girls at magical workshops when you would otherwise have no prospect.) Allow me to clear up this entire issue once and for all: "real" magick consists of things that you can actually do; "fake" magick consists of things you cannot actually do, but occasional circumstances make it seem like you can... at least some of the time.
In "The Discoverie of Witchcraft," Reginald Scot argues against the witch hysteria of his day by stating that witches [read as "magicians"] do not exist, and those that purport to be such are either fooling you, or fooling themselves. This is a position that I largely agree with when it comes to the majority of magick "spells," and similar practices that claim to be part of magical training so-called. Too often, the results of such magical operations appear to succeed by chance, or are justified in their failure as something that "just was not meant to be." To be clear, you CANNOT now, nor will you ever be able to, move or otherwise manipulate: flames, wind, water, earth, birds, monkeys, fish, tacos, fish tacos, or any other physical objects or phenomena, with your mind. You cannot use the force, Luke. I'm sorry, I wish it were true.
Is this, then, the bitter voice of failure? Far from it; it is the sane voice of success, and of reason. Aleister Crowley famously defined magick as "The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with will." In other words, magick is a means of "making things happen" in a direct, causal relationship predicated by your will for that event to occur. Note, however, that he makes no statement herein about one's capacity to effect that change. He does not even imply in that statement some set of supernatural abilities. The change you effect must be within your sphere of influence. In order to effect change, you must be capable of acting upon an object within your sphere of influence with sufficient force, or bring that object into your sphere of influence in order to act upon it in such a manner.
That much for the "what." As for the "how," I state in the introductory page, "The techniques of ceremonial magick are intended to incite a predisposition of the mind." What do I mean by this? We are capable of having a great deal of influence on our minds, much more than the average person understands. In fact, the average person is relatively unconscious of the operation of his or her mind, as they have never fully inspected its operation. Once we understand and acknowledge the workings of our minds, we can leverage its faculties to attain our ends much more effectively. The techniques of magick affect the mind in such a way as to facilitate this predisposition.
The practice of magick can thus be seen in the light of the following:
The Neophyte Training in techniques that will be useful in engaging the capacity of the mind to will. These techniques often are not useful in and of themselves, but provide the background and structure necessary to proceed. Learning a different alphabet or different names for the seasons will not in and of themselves aid your capacity to effect change. They are, in essence, an investment (of the mind) in a framework or common language that will be useful in grasping further, abstract concepts.
The Adept Use of techniques designed to aid in the predisposition of the mind. These are the very techniques of traditional ceremonial magick, leveraging practices to reinforce the mental predisposition of the magician toward a given end. The framework and corresponding mental attitudes (and aptitudes) incorporated by the Neophyte are engaged to effect change more consistently and effectively.
The Magus Alignment of all operations with the individual's (subconscious) will, accomplished through the re-constitution of the conscious self in the light of the subconscious. The greatest efficacy will be attained when the outward desire and inward desire are in alignment. Any willed operation that is in conflict with the ultimate will of the individual can have only two outcomes: failure (in part or in whole) of the operation due to opposing forces, or discontent with its success. For the Magus, every willed act is is in alignment with the ultimate will of the individual. The framework established in the Neophyte and perfected in practice by the Adept is now ingrained in the thought-process. The techniques of the Adept are no longer requisite.
That being the introduction to my specific magical philosophy or outlook, I hope to expand it more fully herein, as well as touch on some of the various aspects of the different magical systems that I find interesting.
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The works presented in De Arte Magica are © 2010, Colin D. Campbell
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