Magical Cop-Outs

By Michael Osiris Snuffin (2002)

    There are some Thelemites who misuse Crowley’s definitions of magick as justification for labeling themselves magicians while avoiding the Great Work. Crowley certainly gets part of the blame in this matter, for in his efforts to explain magick to the common man in Liber ABA, he offers definitions that are far too broad and simplistic to be useful. Let’s look at a couple:

    1. “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will. Every intentional act is a magical act.” --Liber ABA, pages 126-127.

    If this is taken literally, then everyone is doing magick. There is no difference between a Magus, an accountant or a televangelist. It does not matter if the willed act is cutting one’s toenails or premeditated murder--it is considered by this definition to be magick.

    This all-inclusive definition is worthless. It applies the lowest common denominator to magick and demeans those who are actually doing the Great Work. Yet it is this very definition that is used by those who wish to study and spout Crowley’s theories of magick while ignoring the practice he set forth to prove and employ them.

    2. “All Art is magick.” --Liber ABA, page 197.

    I paint, sculpt, or make music; therefore I’m doing magick! Another popular all-inclusive definition that has the additional support of the fact that Crowley was an artist as well as an adept. However, these days you can shit on a piece of paper and call it art, which is by this definition magick. To say that all art is magick equates any half-wit with pastels or a guitar to an adept seeking the Knowledge and Conversation with his Holy Guardian Angel.

    If we go as far as to compare and contrast the two definitions, we find them to be at odds with each other. All art is magick, yet magick is a science and an art. So where does science fit into the second definition? Science is an expression of the left brain, while art is an expression of the right brain; both parts of the brain must be employed to successfully perform practical magick. Thus the second definition is woefully incomplete in light of the first.

    What is really amusing is that some of those who use these all-inclusive definitions of magick insist that they are separate from the non-Thelemic, non-”magickal” society around them. They want to be different or special, yet enable themselves with definitions of magick that do just the opposite. You can’t have it both ways.

    So what is it that these definitions lack? One idea common to all systems of serious spiritual attainment is the existence of an Astral or Etheric plane that coexists with the Physical plane perceived by the five senses. True magick involves the acknowledgment, sensation and manipulation of the Etheric plane in order to cause change to occur on the Physical plane. This is what separates magick from “any intentional act.”

    Not all people are magicians, for most of the population are ignorant of the existence of the Etheric plane and its relationship to the Physical plane. Not all Thelemites are magicians either, as many cannot overcome the skepticism, laziness, and/or fear in that binds them and begin the Great Work. The reason that we call it the Great Work is that there is a great deal of work required to achieve the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel and discover your True Will. You can hide behind useless definitions of magick, but until you cease your blathering and go on to do the work, you will never be a true magician.

Copyright (c) 2010 Michael Osiris Snuffin

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