WHAT IS MAGICK?
Hakim Bey's definition, from Chaos: The Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchy is: The systematic cultivation of enhanced consciousness or non-ordinary awareness & its deployment in the world of deeds & objects to bring about desired results.
This definition goes a long way, but what awareness is to be considered "non-ordinary"? And why limit the changes to the realm of "deeds & objects", to the exclusion of the realm of the psyche?
"Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will."
This is very insightful and sufficiently broad, yet (unlike Bey's definition) it fails to capture the side of magick that deals with increasing understanding.
Let us then say: Magick is the cultivation of awareness and the application of this awareness in accordance with desire.
More specific definitions such as Israel Regardie's "Magick is the science and art of using altered states of consciousness for causing changes to occur in conformity with the will" or Dion Fortune's "the science and art of causing changes to occur in consciousness in conformity with the will", or D.M. Kraig's "the science and art of causing change (in consciousness) to occur in conformity with will, using means not currently understood by traditional Western science" are to be resisted as needlessly and fatally limiting.
Another nice definition is this:
"Magick is the power of human beings."
Having thus described magick, several points are clear to us:
- Every deliberate act is an act of magick. Whether scientifically-minded Westerners would ordinarily consider it possible (like making an enemy ill by poisoning him) or ordinarily consider it impossible (like making an enemy ill by sticking pins into an effigy) is utterly, utterly irrelevant.
- Magick is practical and embedded in the Life-World; in this it is distinct from mysticism or transcendentalism. Magick is applied mysticism.
- As understanding increases, power increases. (This truism may be seen in humanity's technological development.)
- Magickal action begins in consciousness as will, desire or intent, and then applies itself to the world by mens of a certain process. It is this process which the magician strives to master.
- There are two sides to magick. In one, the magician is the receptacle of understanding. This is called 'high magick', theurgy, yoga or gnosis and is traditionally symbolized by the magician's cup, the cunt or the ? of the interrobang. In the other, called 'low magick', 'results magick', 'sorcery' or 'thaumaturgy', the magician imposes his will upon the universe. This is symbolized by the wand, the cock or the ! of the interrobang. The aim of low magick is to acheive desire; the aim of high magick is to increase understanding and transcend desire (not, as some writers on the subject have thought, to transcend reality).
I don't care to argue that magickal methods create "spooky action at a distance". For now at least accept how well designed they are to create a psychological effect. All the occult trappings of robes, candles, incense, spirits, mantras and that jazz can be seen as nothing more nor less than a rich and complex symbolism, representing, in the magician's brain, the process of bringing about the desired effect. Metaphor is the language of the subconscious, and talking about things as archetypal symbols, rather than in boring, digital language, is a way of accessing the powerful resources in your subconscious. Symbolic maps of existence equate the macrocosm - the universe - with the microcosm - man. For example, Baphomet represents - in the macrocosmic, universal aspect - the cycle of creation and destruction and the activity this gives rise to. In the microcosmic, psychological aspect, Baphomet represents sex, desire, striving, death and violence. So by talking in symbolic language, the magician overleaps the false division between the self and the universe. It's like that. And the magician's playground is not objective reality or pure consciousness, but the union of the two: existence. In existence, things are already interpreted, already meaningful. To a conscious, human subject, everything is a symbol and every symbol is a thing.
With greater understanding you will come to realize that, though the things spoken of in magickal practise, such as spirits, gods and memes are entirely unreal, so is everything else.
The fact that practical magick does not require a belief in the supernatural is superordinately proven - yep, superordinately - by the fact that Chaos Magick believes in nothing, man, nothing! Here is an excellent essay by Philip H. Farber on this point. If you believe in things like spirits, then interpret what follows in those terms; if you live in a scientistic reality-tunnel, interpret everything that follows as a means of deliberately causing change within your nervous system. Either way, accept that there is much you cannot explain. We are not here to give explanations; we are looking for results.
If you examine your existence and find that it is composed entirely of ideas and symbols, it would follow that you can reshape your existence by reshaping the representations in your mind you reshape your reality. Magick consists of so organizing symbols, colours, images, numbers and so forth as to create the desired change in reality. This is why we have said above that Magick is but another word for Art; Magick and Art both involve taking an desire and bringing it to reality through symbol-manipulation. (Though the magician typically works with a stronger intent in mind than the artist does.) Understand now why Ben Mack, one of the most successful marketing executives in the world said that "Marketing is the legitimate face of magick."
Robert Anton Wilson gives an excellent introduxion to magick in The Illuminatus Trilogy, Appendix Lamed, pages 446-456. Parts II and III of Book 4 by Î¤á½¸ ÎœÎµÎ³Î± Î˜Î·Ï�Î¯Î¿Î½ is one of the few other introductory books on magick worth reading.
Magick being the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will, the magician must answer the very heavy question: What do I really want?
Magick means unifying every aspects of your existence in accordance with The Will. Magick means redesigning your thoughts, your memories, your habits, your emotions, your circumstances, your beliefs, every word, every act, every symbol and every phenomenon so that they serve The Will. From the 'Maifesto of Surrealism' - "At any given moment we have only a distinct notion of realities, the coordination of which is a question of will." And from The Great Beast's 8th lecture on yoga: "Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will. How do we achieve this? By exalting the will to the point where it is master of circumstance. And how do we do this? By so ordering every thought, word and act, in such a way that the attention is constantly recalled to the chosen object."
Acting without lust of result
To cause change in conformity with your will, you must first be very clear about what your particular will is for the working. So any act of magick starts by formulating a specific statement of your intent. You must also have the ability to focus your mind completely on the task at hand (trained by concentration meditation). One of the paradoxes of magick is that, while one must act according to the will, one must not be too attached to the results of one's actions. "Lust for result" creates anxiety, fear of failure and other disruptive reactions. Having decided what you want, you must act with the non-attachment to results described in The Bhagavad Gita (especially Chapter 5) and trained by Pure Being meditation. Austin Osman Spare called the required attitude "does not matter - need not be". Jan Fries calls it "friendly indifference". It will be difficult for the beginner to understand how empowering the Will can be compatible with abandoning lust for result. Work the work of magick and you will soon find out for yourself.\ Martial artists will understand this principle.\ Non-attachment to results can be acheived by meditating on death. In Hagakure, it is written, "If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way."
The Practises of Magick
If you wish to practise magick, it is vital that you record all your work and its effects in a diary. This must be emphasized. By writing down what magickal work you did, why you did it, how it went, favourable and unfavourable factors and the results you got, you allow yourself to track your progress. It also serves to motivate you to stick to the work, as it will be apparent how much or how little you've done. If you go a day without practising, write in your diary "Did no work today". Really, you can't practise magic without keeping a magickal diary.
Banishing refers to any technique used to enter a mental space of focus and calm determination. It sets aside distraxions and is therefore useful for preparing for other work. It should be learned first.
Meditation is indespensible to magick. It is an irreplacable tool in developing the concentration, insight and non-attachment needed for success.
The mastery of astral projection is one of the foundational techniques taught in both Western magick and shamanism. Lucid dreaming is an admirable substitute. Hypnosis and image streaming are other valuable tools for working with non-physical "reality". Regular practise of these techniques (especially image streaming) strengthens the imagination. Having a really vivid imagination will make all magickal work effortless and enjoyable.
Sorcery is a branch of magick that interests some more than others. It is by no means necessary to magickal development, but is an interesting game.
Magick being the reduction of all existence to simplicity, it is important that you learn some sort of symbolic system to which you can relate all phenomena. This simplifies and organizes your mind and allows you to see how ideas evolve from one another. The process and its purpose is described in the page on Qabalah. The I-Ching and runes are admirable symbolic maps of reality. Many modern chaos magicians say that developing one's own symbolic system is superior to using traditional ones. I have found no evidence for this; the Qabalah is perfect.
Various methods of altering consciousness should be experimented with, explored and mastered.
Ritual "is" a form of applied performance art. A ritual might combine poetry, music, your chosen symbolic system, altered states of consciousness, NLP, acting, social pressure, dance, costumes and lighting. In a well-designed ritual, all these elements will be co-ordinated and aligned with the Will. So to invoke Jupiter, you'd look at your symbolic system and find that Jupiter is represented by the number 4, the colour blue, cedar and opium. So you'd smoke a little opium, set up four blue candles around the circle, light some cedar incense, wear a blue robe, decorate your working space with images of Jupiter and begin the ritual at 4:44. during the ritual, you could play music with a Jupiterian feeling-tone and read a call to Jupiter. See how every element is calling the attention to the object of the Will? Circumstances are so engineered that the mind has no means of escaping the force of Jupiter, and in these surroundings, you intoxicate yourself on drink, on drugs, on poetry, music, strange drugs or whatever it is.
Invocation means calling a spirit (or "energy" or "archetype" or whatever label you choose) into yourself. This can be used to loosen the ego, as when a prude becomes possessed by a sex god, to utilize powers for practical purposes, as when a boxer invokes a war god before a fight, or to gain wisdom, as when a tantrika invokes Krishna. Invocation can be done ritualistically or astrally.
Evocation means calling forth a spirit, not into yourself, but to stand before you so you can interact with it. You can call forth pre-existing spirits, such as traditional pagan gods, canonical angels or fictional characters. Or you can design and create your own; this is called creating servitors and is explained here. Evocation can be done ritualistically or astrally.
We must insert here the simple but very emphatic warning: the above practises are all esoteric and, in themselves, perfectly useless. If you wish for magick to be a tool for mastering Life, rather than a New-Age delusion, you must have an exoteric, worldly practise to which you apply your magick. It is absolutely necessary to use consensual reality as a testing ground of your magick, otherwise there is no way to verify or assess your practise and you'd end up hopelessly unreasoning and superstitious. If magick is not causing a measurable, obvious increase in the quality of your life, you should be doing something differently. Look at your job, you relationships, your health, your art and your hobbies and use magick to make them grow.
Ego magick is magick used to restructure and loosen up all the rusted, encrusted pattens of behaviour, habit, thought, emotion, desire and belief that forms what you'd call you "personality" or "self" (but most practitioners of magick have read too much psychology and Eastern philosophy, so they call it "ego".) Ego magick exercises include doing things you find repulsive or scary to habituate yourself to them, using NLP to change your emotions, swearing vows, working with dice, or using the Neither-Neither technique to annihilate your beliefs and desires.
The Formulae of Magick
A magickal formula is a model of how things pass from Will to Reality. You can sell lots of books to Americans by making up a magickal formula, calling it Six Keys To Power or 10 Steps to Success or something like that, and grinning broadly on the cover. Contrary to what some writers think, there is no single formula for all magick; different formulae are appropriate for different workings.
In 1937, Napoleon Hill published a book called Think and Grow Rich; Teaching, for the First Time, the famous Andrew Carnegie Formula for Money-Making, Based upon the Thirteen Proven Steps to Riches. The formula consists of 13 principles: Desire, faith, autosugsestion, knowledge, imagination, organized planning, decision, persistence, the master mind (what William Burroughs called the 3rd mind, an occult 'group mind' that arises when people do mental work together), sex transmutation, subconscious alignment, psychic influence and telepathy. Now if you think that's anything other than a magickal formula, you're a simpleton.
The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage works on a simple and supremely powerful formula: invoke often and enflame yourself with emotion. The reader is referred to Robert Anton Wilson's The Illuminatus Trilogy, Appendix Lamed, pages 446-456, which is an excellent discussion of magick according to the Abramelin formula. The formula is perfect for ego magick and (as Pope Bob points out) is the formula by which all advertizing works: create an emotional response in the audience and do it again and again.
The formula of the tetragrammaton is explained here.
I.A.O. (related to The Ultimate Comment's formula of MIAOW) represents Isis, Apophis and Osiris, the Egyptian deities of Nature, Destruxion and Redemption. Magick worked according to the formula of I.A.O. passes through three stages:\ Isis represents things in their harmonious, normal, undamaged state. A plant growing in the field with normal sunlight and nutrition will not do anything spectacular, but will be healthy and normal and dandy. So in the stage of Isis, we set about working our Will and things are fine. But then along comes the destroyer, Apophis, and fouls things all up. The original enthusiasm is overwhelmed by lethargy, anxiety and hatred for the work. Finally comes the stage of Osiris, the immortal god risen from the dead. Enthusiasm returns, but it is not like the stage of Isis. The experience of death and resurrexion has forged something greater than was possible before, and the work progresses with mastery and joy.\ If you've ever practised any skill, such as a musical instrument, for long enough, you've probably gone through these three stages. At first, the training is pleasurable and you make smooth progress. This is the honeymoon stage, that of Isis. Then comes a period of boredom and frustration, in which you seem to not be progressing at all and lose motivation. Many people give up here, but if you follow through, you will come to mastery, to the stage of Osiris. So I.A.O. is the process through which all human work naturally passes. By compressing this long journey towards mastery into a brief ritual, the magician simulates enlightenment and trains himself for it. Can you dig it?\ The Hymn To Pan is an example of the formula of I.A.O. applied to invocation. The first part of the poem surges with rapture and beauty. This is the stage of Isis and goes as far as the line "Come with flute and come with pipe". Then comes the stage of Apophis, full of despair and death. This culminates in "I am borne to death on the horn of the unicorn". Following death is ressurexion - the stage of Osiris, when the magician, having died as himself, is reborn as the Great God Pan.\ (In the shape of the letters I.A.O. there is no occult meaning.)
- Chaos Magick
- NLP and magick
- Nihilism, metabelief and magick
- Aleister Crowley
- Austin Osman Spare