It has been a few days since I have written. I was in my hometown visiting friends and family before the term begins. I won’t get the opportunity again for at least a while. During my visit, I asked my friends’ advice on topics to write on. So, today I am writing about what constitutes magic, and also giving a big shout-out to my friends back home for helping me add to The Bloganomicon!
Magic comes part and parcel with paganism in the western world today yet still; pagan religions don’t have a monopoly on magic. The practice of magic and mysticism also permeates mainstream religions. Roman Catholicism has it’s universal ritual of the transmutation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and Judaism gave us the Qabalah. Magic takes many different forms and does not always involve incantations, waving wands, and invoking the ancestors.
So, what fuels the magic of other religions? Is it the same thing that fuels our magic? Does the magic of nonwestern pagan and Abrahamic faiths work just as well as ours?
Well, let’s investigate!
In occult traditions from Wiccan groups with kitchen witchery to Hermetics and high ritual magic, there is a universal tenet of “Do What Works”. Even the great Aleister Crowley is quoted saying, “It is the mark of the mind untrained to take its own processes as valid for all men, and its own judgments for absolute truth.” (A. Crowley, Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on The Book of the Law) Hence, the advice of doing what works (for you) in all introductory magical texts. Magic is, therefore, primarily individual – but still the question of why it all works remains. How is it possible that so many magical traditions can all achieve the same goal with thousands upon thousands of different methods?
The answer, frustratingly enough, is found within.
The secret to fueling the fires of magic is you. To get your magic going, regardless of the form it takes, all you have to do is ask yourself three questions, “What is my intention of this spell?”, “Do I really want this?”, and “What will make my spirit soar so high that I am sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I have the power to get it?” In simpler terms, you have to know what you want to happen, you have to truly want it, and you have to know how to build up enough power to get it. Scott Cunningham in his book, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, gives a similar description of this process, but goes into much further detail about the practice of magic and the different sources of power.
If you can master this process, then you will have attained a basic understanding of how magic works. You may now be asking yourself, “Why did they bother to write all of that out? It all seems rather simple!” My answer to you comes via a mundane world example. It is Friday night, and you’ve had a shitty week, you are sitting in front of the computer, and a notion strikes you. You want cake. You decide that cake is a great idea, but to get the cake you will have to bake it yourself as all the stores that sell cake are closed. You start thinking about all of the reasons you shouldn’t have cake be they calories, sugar content, or your personal bunglings of attempted cakes past. You still want cake. However, you now realize that even though you have braved your inner, decidedly anti-cake, demons, that to bake a cake you must leave your chair and get up and expend energy to make the cake. You are lazy and tired tonight, and you stop there. You are a lousy cake magician, and your ritual is a failure and all you get is, “or Death”. You see, not as easy of a process as you thought. Now, imagine that instead of stopping you realize you need to inspire yourself to drum up the energy to bake the cake. You focus on how much you really like cake, how good it tastes, the positive cake memories that would cause tremendous euphoria if paired with eating cake, and how relaxed you usually feel after cooking. Success! You can now manifest a cake! You had the intent to bake it. You defeated the demons that said, “No Cake” because you really wanted it, and. Finally, you knew how to motivate yourself (as well as how to bake – I hope that was implied, if not you need the motivation to read a cookbook first), to get up and BAKE IT!
The differences in magical practices amount to the differences in what motivates you, the tools you use, the innovations you make to what you have learned such as seductively using Dark Chocolate when the recipe calls for milk (Mmmmm), as well as the flavor of cake you make. Do what works for you, and if you have friends that like cake the same way you do, start a religion! Err … baking club.
So, is all magic, including that of other faiths, fueled by the same stuff? Absolutely. Can a Christian or a Hindu person bake a cake or cast a spell as well as you or me? Yes, no exceptions.
Now get up, and bake that cake (DAMMIT!)! I hope this has been as informative for you as it was entertaining for me to write.
With Blessings of Saint Betty of Crocker, may you never hunger.
Ps. Thanks to my best friend for his grammatical skills and introducing me to Grammarly.