There are as many aspects of Magick - and opinions - as there are magickal practitioners. Here, Frater S.P.R.V. (in regular typeface) and Quill (in italics) offer bits and pieces of information about some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about this mysterious Art.
Definitions of Magick
"Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will."
- Aleister Crowley
"[Magick is] a technique grounded in a belief in powers located in the human soul and in the universe outside ourselves, a technique that aims at imposing the human will on nature or on human beings by using supersensual powers."
- Georg Luck
Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult
in the Greek and Roman Worlds
"[Magick is] the action of consciousness voluntarily working together with an aware and interconnected universe to bring about one or more desired results."
- Joyce and River Higginbotham
Elements of Magick according to the definitions:
A - It is utilized through dynamic methodology (belief system) and rational application (science and art).
B - The first key element is the tapping into or invocation of existent natural or "supernatural" energies.
C - The second key element is the Will of the magickian.
D - Its goal is change of some sort.
Magick is natural.
Magick is rational.
Magick can be performed by anyone (everyone has the potential).
Magick is grounded in belief, but not in any one set of beliefs.
One of my greatest flaws is that I tend to oversimplify things - including definitions. For me, magick is directing what energies flow freely in the universe to a specific purpose. While I can agree with the latter statements that "everyone has the potential" to perform magick, and "Magick is grounded in beliefs, but not in any one set of beliefs," doing so successfully is not easy. Any writer or practitioner who says it is... lies. The practice of magick is unutterably beautiful and profound and, therefore, hard to define in a way all practitioners will find satisfactory, but it is a path which can lead to total self-knowledge and fulfillment.
What energies are utilized in Magick?
There are many types of energies utilized in Magick. It is up to the individual how he or she discerns/identifies these energies, albeit based on study and experience. That the energies start out "neutral" and the practitioner manipulates them to positive or negative purpose is something that always must be remembered.
What are the key components of Magickal operations?
Planning and preparation for any magickal working is an absolute. The Laws of Magick (well summarized by Isaac Bonewits and listed on various websites and in the book Authentic Thaumaturgy) should be included in the studies of anyone who desires to trod the magickal path. When it comes to correspondences, things become relative, and rather subjective. It is possible to study the "standard" correspondences for colors, plants, etc., but it will be for the individual to determine which work best.
The planetary hours and the moon phases, coupled with the aspect of timing, also become relative, and dependent upon which style of magick an individual uses. Some will find these aspects of study useful, others will not and may need to discern their own method to monitor the energies in order to plan a working for the appropriate time to be most successful.
Before attempting any manner of magickal working (spells included), the practitioner should read lots of books?
A practitioner should read many books, especially in today's market where so much is being published at a phenomenal rate. But the practitioner should also be able to discern what is just so many words upon a page - as quite a number of books on magick have turned out to be - and what is really useful and worth taking to heart. Proper preparation and study should always precede any magickal working.
It is important to choose one's Gods and Goddesses, and research them thoroughly, before performing any magickal working?
Just as a person wouldn't want to try to eat a mushroom if he or she was uncertain about its poisonous potential, so a magickal practitioner will avoid "rushing in" to a working with a particular God or Goddess without knowing the background of those deities. It may sound like fun to invoke Kali, but it isn't necessarily wise. The Gods are not playthings, to be used and discarded at a whim. One must establish a relationship with them, much as one nurtures a friendship. Asking their assistance without full knowledge of how that assistance may be manifested (often in unexpected ways) could cause serious trouble for the practitioner.
Those who wish to pursue a magickal path should first concern themselves with personal balance?
If a person interested in the magickal arts does not possess the self-knowledge, maturity and foundation to live a balanced life - body, mind and spirit - then it is rather unlikely he or she will get very far. Magick is not the "easy" way to fix one's life. First, a person must fix what he can repair through his own efforts (self-knowledge), then enlist the aid of the magickal energies to help with the rest.
Proper banishing is necessary before beginning any magickal operation?
To walk into a room and do a magickal working, without cleansing the space of the energies present - the residual energies from a Saturday night party, for instance - is to stir up energies one may not wish to deal with, or expect to deal with. By "neutralizing" the area first, the space is then more conducive to successful magickal operations.
How important is an "altered state of consciousness" during magickal operations?
The concept of the "altered state" messes with people's heads sometimes - both literally and figuratively. The idea that this might happen can scare those in the early stages of magickal practice. The first time it happens, it can be overwhelming and confusing. But this is only because, during the altered state, a connection is forged between one's person energies and the universal energies (however they are described by the individual). This is the realm where magick happens. Without the altered state, very little magick can take place. Again, however, proper preparation will make handling the altered state less frightening and more useful.
It is possible to successfully work spells from the first book a person picks up?
It has to be admitted that this is true, but it is not always wise. A person's motivation for flipping through a book and casting a spell should be seriously considered. Phil Hine offered his "SWOT" (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) technique for magickal workings, as a way to better determine whether the spell or ritual should be performed at all. Problems of love, money or power which a person sees as being solved by casting a spell may need to be rethought from the perspective of how that individual can first exert personal effort to find a solution. Careful preparation is always necessary. Spellwork should never be "rushed".
The first step to becoming a practitioner of magick is to go out and get all the "required" ritual tools?
Magick can happen in the middle of nowhere, with nothing more than a breeze blowing and the sun shining. Tools are just that - aids. The magick comes from within the practitioner.
What role does "Will" play in Magick?
The Will is the determining factor in Magick. The Will decides what needs to be done, the action takes place, and that is Magick. Self-knowledge allows the Will to be true to who the individual really is, and to have the proper motivation for the given working. Through personal balance, the Will is strengthened, and the actions more focused to the desired end.
There are many magickal paths; a person does not have to be a "witch" to work magick?
Some people shy away from the term "witch", because modern society still refuses to see the truth about Wicca and witchcraft. Others travel a path that does not involve witchcraft, but does make use of magick. It is up to the individual as to how he describes himself, or what unique magickal path she may follow. No two people will ever follow the same identical path, but each has the potential to successfully work magick.
Is there an advantage to group magick over solitary magick?
Each of these types of magick has advantages and disadvantages. In solitary magick, there might not be "enough" energy to successfully complete a working (say, if one was intent on ridding the entire world of the AIDS virus). But for highly personal endeavors, solitary magick is often more preferable.
Group magick, on the other hand, can generate an exponential amount of energy for a certain purpose. Yet, if someone in the circle is off balance or not paying attention, that energy can end up being misdirected, even with the best of intentions.
It is for each individual to determine in what setting he or she is most comfortable.
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