Since the beginning of time, man has been fascinated with the supernatural, with the idea of just pointing a finger and having everything that you desire. The concept of magic is in every culture and in every form of media — but do you believe in magic? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word magic comes from the Iranian magos and is akin to the Old Persian word magus, which means sorcerer. Sorcerer and the root word sorcery have very negative connotations, as it is power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits. That is not what I am talking about and we will clarify the difference. The dictionary defines magic as “the use of means (such as charms or spells) to have supernatural power over natural forces” or “an extraordinary power or influence from a supernatural source”. The third definition is “the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand”.
For our purposes today, we will be talking about “magick” with a “k”, to differentiate between Pagan ritual magick and a magician’s illusions. Among Pagans, and particularly among those who follow Wicca, magick is a part of their spiritual path. I realize that the reputation for using magic is a major attraction for many people to explore the Wiccan path. They think that they are going to be handed some fantastic power that will gain them what they want without much effort on their part. Surprise! This is not the way magick works.
The simplest answer to “What is Pagan Magick and how does it work?” is this: that it is a concentrated mental effort (visualization) to bring about a physical, visible change in something (realization). In other words, if you can picture it in your head, it will occur in the physical world. And what might surprise you is that prayer, in the most Christian sense of that word, can also be defined exactly the same way. However, instead of praying that a god will work the change for them, Pagans “raise energy”, or call upon the natural power that is all around us (sort of like “The Force” in Star Wars) and work with that power to make a change occur.
It should be made very clear that this natural power is neither holy nor evil. It exists, like electricity. What makes it good or bad is the purpose for which it is used. Part of the learning process for Wicca is that everything (and I do mean everything) that you do comes back to you at least three fold. So hexing or cursing someone is NOT a good idea since that negative intention will come back to bite you in the…you get the picture. This is also stressed by the Wiccan Rede, which states “And it harm none, do as thou will”. This is not total liberty to behave however you want without regard to others. In fact, it can be more restrictive than any of the Ten Commandments if you have to really stop and consider the consequences of your actions. Part of Paganism’s greatest strength is that it requires you to take responsibility for what you do. You can’t blame it on anyone else or some external evil entity like Satan.
There are limitations upon what is considered acceptable magick. Your magickal purpose needs to be extremely clear or you can end up with other than the desired results. You have to focus on what you are trying to do; you have to have a very specific goal in mind. Adherence to the Three-Fold Law and the Wiccan Rede means that it should come as no surprise there are also warnings about performing magick upon other people without their express consent. This means it’s not a good idea to use magick to attract a mate — and love spells have a notorious reputation for backfiring on those foolish enough to try them. Just about the only exception to this is self defense, where you would be casting out negative energy from other people — and you need to word things so that you are not interfering with their free will, only preventing them from hurting you. Another more subtle concept is that you should not work magick that interferes with a person’s destiny, even your own. Most Pagans agree that we are here in this life to learn a lesson. A bad situation may be our lesson and to use magick to avoid it could prevent it from being learned. It can end up being worse later on if we don’t experience it in the proper time frame.
It is also useless to attempt magick that is clearly pointless. If someone has terminal cancer and it is their time to die, trying to work a healing for their body is simply not going to work. You can do magick for a spiritual or mental healing to help them accept what is coming, to have the strength to see it through or to ease the pain to bearable levels without interfering with their path. You can phrase things in such a way that a healing can take place if it doesn’t block what is supposed to happen for them, but that should not be the main focus of your magick. Again, clear purpose and good motives go a long way towards making things work out as you plan.
Magick does not require a lot of trappings to work. Oh sure, you can have the wand, the candles, the black cat and the cauldron; you can chant or sing your desire or make a long, involved and rhyming poem to spell out what you are doing — but it won’t work any better than if you did it with only yourself and the pure intention of a single thought. Whatever it takes to make the visualization for you, that’s what gets used. If you need blue candles to perform a healing, then burn them. If written words that rhyme make it real, put them to paper. Part of the reason that the working of magick within a group ritual usually has visual and auditory clues is to help get everyone present on the same page, so to speak. More preparation may be required but the increased number of people working on the same thought can generate more power and a greater chance of success.
It might surprise you to know that the Universalist Unitarians’ time of “Joys and Sorrows” is a way of working magick — there is a shared thought and each of the other members adds to the power of that thought. This concept of merely sharing a thought and creating magick brings us to a point that is important and doesn’t seem to occur to people: magick is not confined to only those who have some arcane knowledge, nor is it an external power that requires special abilities to use it. ANYONE CAN DO MAGICK! It exists in each and every one of us. Magick is not supernatural, meaning occurring outside of the natural order. Magick is very natural and normal; it is in everything that we do and everything that we are. To me, magick is just science that we can’t explain yet. So don’t look for magick, know that you ARE magick.
(Copyright 2004 KGC)