( from The Magician's Dictionary )


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 creation itself.

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 supernatural siddhis.

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 Theurgy."

"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 body."

· 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 attention."

· 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."

· CONCLUSION: 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".

The 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 doing.

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.


          ( from The Magician's Dictionary )

Stands for theurgy of "god" work, i.e. the hexagram.

"M/magic(k)," which is my own spelling, is intended to cover all contingencies with a standard designation. (Similarly, Qabalah = the traditional work, whereas Cabala refers to any derivative, Gentile system).

M/magic(k) should not be confused with "sorcery", which is the practice of using formulas and rituals by the ordinary mind to affect reality in self-seeking ways. "Magic", otoh, is active participation of the higher consciousness in creative experiences & mystical understanding.