From Latin magi, pl. (Greek magoi, pl. of magos, a Magian, one of the Median tribe; also an enchanter,
properly a wise-man who interpreted dreams; Old Persian mugh, one of the Magi, a fire-worshipper;
Sanskrit maga "a priest of the sun"; maybe related to maha, "great" and maya, illusion; perhaps,
ultimately, even the Maya of Central America. Compare Hebrew makeshef, "magician"). Magic is
actually short for "Magic Art". The connection between magus and magnus "great" also appears in
Hebrew. As in Latin the word for "great", produces "master or teacher" (magister) , so Hebrew rab
produces "rabbi". However the confusion in Hebrew does not arise because the word for
"magic" (qeshem) is not related to "rab".
The word in this form is found with precisely the same meaning (or mystery) in most European tongues
and even in Japanese majutsu, (which they no doubt borrowed from the Portuguese). Elsewhere,
however, we find different senses altogether, such as the old Teutonic Helliruna (lit. "Hell's secret")
which is surely a folk etymology of the Arabic word for "mandrake", albiruhan or alyabruhin, the same
word we find in Spanish as the word for "magician", el brujo, because alongside that there is indeed the
Old High German word for "mandrake", Alruna. The only question we need ask is which form came
first, but we find the Arabic influence extending east as far as Mongolia, where, in passing, we may note
ilbi for "magic."
The otherness of ego enwraps each of us like a prison, but the magus takes all of earth as his body.
Magic itself is but a symbol of the greater Magic, which is Unity. The Oneness frees us from the
dungeon of darkness and the self and resembles the teaching of Buddhism.
From yet another perspective, magic, mind and life are the same thing: living cells are sometimes kept
alive in labs. A specialized cell, so protected, fed and allowed to reproduce, eventually turns into a basic
and undifferentiated cell. This indicates that life is not only exceedingly plastic but that it is also
purposive. If such adaptation were attributable to mindless mechanics, a bone cell would go on
reproducing a bone cell and a blood cell a blood cell forever.
Since all things are connected, then experiential reality, which is Mind, can be altered by the
implementation of the Will and Visualization. There is no "orthodox" doorway of the "Self" through the
various universes, so the magician must build his own bridge, without assistance, across the Abyss, from
the otherness of the separate ego to Cosmic Unity. Since the goal and purpose of existence is knowledge,
then the magus is obliged to seek experience on numerous planes of being reached via perichoresis and
also to effect material changes in the earth's reality. Thinking isn't just the beginning of creation, it is
Marc Edmund Jones classifies magic into categories. Divination is the effort to gain knowledge,
particularly of the future (in order the better to assist the "Divine" plan). The evocation or invocation of
elementals or angelic powers, functioning through the ethers, is another class of magic. Then there is
hypnotism, which works through "imitative" magic. Finally, there is tantrism, or the development of
Colin Wilson suggests that magic is simply the development of the Will and the Imagination, Versluis
that it is "not a means to an end, but a means to heighten means." Clearly, the object of magic is the
raising of consciousness. The magus is empowered to effect events only to the extent that he is able to
recognize that inside and outside are one. To transform the world is to transform oneself and vice-versa.
Traditional rituals, the using of symbols and the altering of consciousness through herbs, smells, sounds,
repetitions and meditation are all inward-directed processes designed to educate, focus and strengthen
the faculties of Imaging and Willing. Alchemy is the same endeavor directed outwardly. We fail to
control the transformation of our selves to the degree that we isolate ourselves from the world, just as we
lose our ability to change the world at the exact moment that we begin to lose touch with ourselves.
However, although those who don't know what they are doing are obliged to perform magic strictly
through the observation of rituals, those who understand its real nature and purpose can move directly to
its center and act from there, without incantations and conjurations. Here are some definitions of M/magic(k)
by various authorities on the subject:
· ANONYMOUS: "Magus Nascitur Non Fit." (The wizard is born not made)
· ALICE BAILEY: "No man is a magician, or worker in white magic, until his third eye is opened, or is
in the process of opening." (That means 'transmission of consciousness to the universal mind').
· WADE BASKIN: "The art and science of magic is based on three basic principles. 1) one may
communicate with other realms, or planes of existence, through the medium of the Astral Light; 2) the
power of the magician is unlimited; 3) external characteristics (signatures) are signs through which
everything internal and invisible can be revealed."
· MORRIS BERMAN: "Magic is not necessarily gnostic in nature, since it is not particularly dualistic,
and it never includes the notion of an outside savior or redeemer, which Gnosticism (particularly in its
early forms) sometimes does."
· HELENA P. BLAVATSKY: "The art of divine Magic consists in the ability to perceive the essence of
things in the light of nature (astral light), and - by using the soul-powers of the Spirit - to produce
material things from the unseen universe, and in such operations the Above and the Below must be
brought together and made to act harmoniously". (The Secret Doctrine).
"Magic is spiritual wisdom. Arcane knowledge misapplied is sorcery."
"Magic was considered a divine science which led to a participation in the attributes of Divinity itself."
"Magic was the highest knowledge of natural philosophy... and the magician differed from the witch in
this, that, while the latter was an ignorant instrument in the hands of demons, the former had become
their master by the powerful intermediation of science, which was only within reach of the few, and
which these beings were powerless to disobey."
· BERNARD BROMAGE: "The word has, more often than not, been used, not for illumination, not as a
guide to ascertainable verity, but as a camouflage to conceal a man's ignorance; and, worse, his
calculated ineptitude and folly. The word can be said to have ceased to be a word and to have become a
byword: a symbol surrounded by an evilly phosphorescent light, of man's infernal capacity for avoiding
the issues. . . Magic, tout court, is immensely concerned with the 'Extension of Consciousness'; the
widening of frontiers; the increase and development of every variety of sense perception. To be a
magician one must learn to investigate all phenomena with the eye of the scientist who scorns no
possible hypothesis nor neglects to take into the fullest consideration the complete structure of our actual
and potential being. . . it is not a solace for the frustrated, but a reward for the pure of heart. Its final
appeal is not to curiosity or greed, but to reverence and acceptance."
· PETER CARROLL: "The world is magical but designed to make us believe we are not magi."
"All events are basically magical, arising spontaneously without prior cause. Physical laws are only
statistical approximations. Consciousness, magic and chaos are the same thing. Consciousness also
makes things happen without prior cause."
· ALEISTER CROWLEY: "All Art is Magick"
"The Goal of Magick is the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel."
· NEVILL DRURY: "Magic is the technique of harnessing the secret powers of Nature and and seeking
to influence events for one's own purpose. If the purpose is beneficial it is known as white magic, but if
it is intended to bring harm to others, or to destroy property, it is regarded as black magic."
"High Magic is intended to bring about the spiritual transformation of the person who practices it. This
form of magic is designed to channel the magician's consciousness towards the sacred light within,
which is often personified by the high gods of different cosmologies. The aim of high magic has been
described as communication with one's Holy Guardian Angel, or higher self. It is also known as
"Whereas science deals with empirically observable causes and effects, occultism deals pragmatically
with methods of altering consciousness to produce certain effects. One of these is the assimilation within
the self of the characteristics of a deity, another is the separation of consciousness from the physical
· DION FORTUNE: "Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will."
· KENNETH GRANT: "Magick is the apotheosis of the Irrational, the acme of the absurd, and the
reification of the impossible."
· GURDJIEFF: "I decided to call those undertakings which required intentional action of higher
centers - those centers which are properly the feeling and thinking centers, capable of emotional sensing
and of mentation respectively, but which are ordinarily unformed through absorption of their rightful
impressions by the false emotional and intellectual centers of the psyche - objective magic, having as its
result the obtaining of real knowledge."
"I thus separated this objective magic from its ordinary counterpart, 'magic of the psyche', in which
purely fantastic results are obtained, and self-calming and amusement are the only attainments. Under
this category I placed my former endeavors as a medium and psychic, as well as those results obtained
by theosophy, occultism and so forth, all of which up to then had quite fascinated and attracted my
· WILLIAM JAMES: "We all have a lifelong habit of inferiority to our full self"
· MARC EDMUND JONES: "Occult, as distinct from secular, science; Occult as the effort to compel
the cooperation of others, as well as deity, nature, in enterprises of self, illustrated by miracle or
thaumaturgy, known as white when ethical and black when amoral."
· ELIPHAS LÉVI: "The Arcanum of the Magnum Opus is the mastery or government of Ignis."; "Would
you learn to reign over yourself and others? Learn how to will. How can one learn to will? This is the
first arcanum of magical initiation. . ."
· MACGREGOR MATTHEWS: "To practice magic, both the imagination and the Will must be called
into action, they are co-equal in the work. . . The Will unaided can send forth a current. . . yet its effect is
vague and indefinite. . . the Imagination unaided can create an image. . . yet it can do nothing of
importance, unless vitalized and directed by the Will."
· JOHN MIDDLETON: "We may say that the realm of magic is that in which human beings believe that
they may directly affect nature and each other for good or ill, by their own efforts (even when the
precise mechanism may not be understood by them) as distinct from appealing to divine powers by
sacrifice or prayer (i.e. religion)."
· JOHN O'KEEFE: "Magic is the defense of the self against the malevolence of society."
· PARACELSUS: "The exercise of true magic does not require any ceremonies or conjurations, or the
making of circles and signs; it requires neither benedictions nor maledictions in words, neither verbal
blessings or curses."
· JOHN COWPER POWYS: "Magic is simply the choice between emphasis and rejection."
· DIANE DE PRIMA: "Look at the forces behind the things rather than just at the object or event. If I
have a working definition of magic it's that behind every single thing in the world an infinite tunnel
opens of reference, cross-references, and forces, and how these things interlock in nets. What I basically
say is, yeah, learning to see force. . . learning to see the etheric and the astral, etc. to the thinner and
thinner layers of stuff. And learning to work off those layers rather than . . . if you want to push that rock
you don't necessarily have to go out there and put your shoulder to it."
· RIMBAUD: "The Poet transforms himself into a seer through a long, immense and determined, rational
disordering of all his sense. Every form of love, suffering and madness he seeks within himself and
exhausts in himself all poisons, preserving but their quintessences. Ineffable torture where he will need
all of his faith and superhuman strength, making him among men, the great Sick Man, the Thrice-
Damned, the Arch-Criminal - and the supreme Savant! - for he arrives at the Unknown! Since he has
cultivated his soul, already richer than any other man's, he thereby reaches the Unknown, and, even if,
insane in the end, he should lose every shred of understanding gained so laboriously, he will have had
his Visions! He may perish in his leap into those innumerable, unnameable things, there will follow
other terrible workers. They will begin at the horizons where he fell."
· MARTIN DEL RIO: "An art or skill which, by means of a non-supernatural force, produces certain
strange and unusual phenomena whose rationale eludes common sense."
· ROMULUS: "Magic is living poetry."
"Magic is the invocation and exploitation of synchronicity. All practices build up a momentum of their
own. What we desire eventually comes true, with interest."
"Every magician's tricks are his own, to help him with own special problems, to get himself over his
own inner obstacles. Our Individual tasks are to learn and overcome our own obstacles. That's why the
study of great men and women is so very instructional and worthwhile. Not because they teach us to be
like them, but because they show us how they became themselves! "
"Self-confident, integrated personalities already are fairly much in control of their powers and are
magical to some extent. When circumstances intrude, such as sickness, enmity, financial loss, etc. and
self-confidence wanes, the 'magical' side begins to seem spurious. The more 'magical' we try to be, the
more charlatanry rises to the surface in us."
· FRANCIS KING & STEPHEN SKINNER: "Four basic assumptions of magic: 1. That the [physical]
universe is only a part of total reality. 2. The human will-power is a real force, capable of being trained
and concentrated, and that the disciplined will is capable of changing its environment and producing
paranormal events. 3. That this will-power must be directed by the imagination. 4. That the universe is
not a mixture of chance factors and influences, but an ordered system of correspondences, and the
understanding of the pattern of correspondences enables the occultist to use them for his own purposes,
good or evil."
· HUTTON WEBSTER (1948): "As regards purpose, Magic is divinatory, productive and aversive. The
magician discovers or foretells what is otherwise hidden in time or space from human eyes; he
influences and manipulates the objects and phenomena of nature and all animate creatures so that they
may satisfy actual or human needs; and finally he combats, neutralizes and remedies the onslaught of the
evils, real or imaginary, afflicting mankind. The range of magic is thus almost as wide as the life of man.
All things under heaven, and even the inhabitants of heaven become subject to its sway."
· COLIN WILSON: "Human perception is 'intentional.'" (Consciousness is a muscle).
"The great personality-inhibitor is caution. . . even in a few people who seem fairly well integrated. I can
suddenly catch a glimpse of a more sophisticated, confident personality that has never succeeded in
emerging . . . Even criminality is a form of caution, the desire for immediate and tangible returns, based
upon the feeling that the universe has no intention of giving you anything you are not prepared to take
by force. In fact, the study of murder leaves one with an impression of weak and crippled personalities
who left half their potentialities to stagnate."
"Outside our everyday personality there is a wider self that possesses greater powers than the everyday
self. . . When the will is hindered by too much self-consciousness it often produces the opposite effect
from the one intended. (Poe called it "the imp of the perverse"). The wider self would be happy to
oblige, but the contracted ego is somehow opposing itself, like someone trying to open a door by
pushing it instead of pulling it. So it does the next best thing." (Psychokinesis).
"Modern civilization induces an attitude of passivity. When a Stone Age hunter set out to trap wild
animals, he was aware of his will as a living force. When the prehistoric farmer scored the surface of the
earth with a crude plough, he knew that his family's survival through the winter depended on his effort,
and his will responded to the challenge. When a modern city dweller walks down a crowded
thoroughfare, he feels no sense of challenge or involvement. This city was built by other people, all
these shops and offices are owned by other people. He can get through an ordinary day's work in a state
approximating sleep. Most of his routine tasks are carried out by the 'robot'. There is neither the need or
the opportunity to use the will."
· ZORN ZUCKERMAN: "The 20th Century has been so much a time of everything 'losing its magic,
that the only thing left is magic itself."
Is magic simply the search for "ultimate knowledge" without the burden of "worship"? Not exactly. The
Golden Dawn used to say, "The aim of religion, the method of science," which was as ambitious as it
was inaccurate. The "Transcendental" without religion, as opposed to mere "Revelation" without
religion, would be closer to the mark than soulless "Ultimate Knowledge." The latter is a logical,
scientific goal, not a magical one. The Scientist is obliged to go wherever his will-o'-the-wisp may lead
him, as Mary Shelley pointed out, stopping not even at Frankenstein's monster nor the Hydrogen Bomb
nor tailor-made diseases. Thus, the scientist inevitably winds up in Hell, the epitome of "Reason".
Magician knows where he is going, dares to go there and will what he will discover and create. His work
(ideally) is the transmogrification of Hell. Moreover, about what he does he can make no statement,
because it is always unique, never a repeatable "trick". That is, he is in the business, not as the scientist
is of "finding" meaning, but of "creating" it. But we have to remember that the phenomenological world
is an illusion, which requires the magician always to remain watchful of the illusory nature of what he is
Life without magic is not possible. Moreover, the important "passages" of life cannot be handled except
in a frank context of High Magic: birth, adolescence, marriage, death, etc.