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Catholic Magic is an Oxymoron

To: alt.magick,alt.magick.chaos,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.moderated,alt.christnet,alt.religion.christian,soc.religion.christian,talk.religion.misc
From:  (nagasiva)
Subject: Re: Catholic Magic is an Oxymoron (Was Re: Asatru newsletter)
Date: 15 Apr 1996 17:50:58 -0700

kaliyuga (header adjusted; cc'd to FiatLVX moderators for possible repost)
49960415 tax day (US) (the Sourceress):
|>|>...Catholicism encompasses Magick....the fact that the Catholics don't 
|>|>realize that that's what it is has absolutely nothing to do with it.... (nagasiva):
|>|...Catholicism, at least of the Roman variety, does not in the least 
|>|contain magic, since magic is a spiritual practice which the Church 
|>|does not control.  If it were *found* to contain magic, you can
|>|be sure that the magic would quickly be controlled or exorcised and the
|>|perpetrators subject to repetence or excommunication. ;> (the Sourceress):
|> I didn't say they "called" it magick, I said that's what it is.  

You said Catholicism 'encompasses magick' and I merely pointed out that
it doesn't at all do so consciously, since consciously the Church
distinguishes between its practices and those of others on the basis 
of relation to their deity, a clearly biased attitude if what you are 
saying is accurate.

|> when Catholics do it, they call it religion, and when other people do it,
|> then it's magick and it's bad.  See what I'm getting at?

Oh very much I do.  That was my point too, though.  I'm beginning (in my
studies of magick's history) to survey the various meanings of the term 
and I wonder if its variation causes a fracturing within the occult 
community as we huddle together out of the inhospitable storm of 
ignorance in some part fostered by this Church).

At one point magick seems to have been identified with a particular Persian
religious caste, known as 'magi'.  Later, it appears this was reassessed
as to have been part of at least four different middle-eastern religious 
sects, centering in priest-magicians (Babylonians, Persians, Egyptians 
and Jews).  These specialized in their rites and therefore were different 
than the Greeks and Romans, whose priesthood were more impermanent, at 
least according to Cavendish (_The History of Magic_).

Beyond this it gets divided up by 'type' of magic where and when the
Church authorities determine it is allowable or in their interest to engage 
(e.g. in the case of alchemy, which the Church appears to have not only 
endured but in some cases openly sought the aid of such arts -- it often 
terms them 'natural magic' when it approves; cf a similar relationship
with Science in its early development: Galileo, etc.).

It gets split into 'white' (which the Church supports) and 'black' 
(which the Church opposes) and it has fluctuated since then.  I think
today the RCChurch is opposed to black magic of any sort and most forms
of white magic, the exceptions of which it would probably categorize 
as 'folk medicine' or 'folk magic' (botanicas, all kinds of charms, etc.)

Either that or there's a whole lot of hypocrisy amongst Portuguese Catholics.

This appears to be the popular usage of the terminology and, especially
outside the occult community, when one speaks of 'magic' as black and
white or as related to the Church of Rome, then you are delving into the
authority of the Church and its language, as specifically expressed by 
the Pope and his assistants.
|...By all of the ways that I define magick ....  the Catholicism certainly 
|uses the same kind of techniques used in magick.  

Really?  Technique in what KIND of magick?  See, there is all this Medieval
material that has to do with summoning and controlling spirits/demons which I
really don't think you're talking about (Enochian, Goetia, etc.).  

Then there is this Wiccan magick with goddess-worshipping and what the 
academics are wont to call 'low magic' on account of its typical material 
concerns, the foundation of an earth-goddess religion.  I doubt the Pope 
would be really happy about that either, but you never know.

In regards a great deal of the medieval magic as masticated from Jewish
tradition to come into the instruction-books of ceremonial magicians,
I would say that most magical systems are much more active in the central
rite than modern Roman Catholicism tends to allow.

I'm not talking about those who apply themselves to all the various 
living practices like the devout family in Indiana I met whose rosaries 
and blessings and whatnot were an important part of their social tradition 
on par with orthodox jews).  I'm merely analysing here the rituals 
themselves and what parts the typical religious vs magicians play, 
are ALLOWED to play, by the RCatholic authorities.  Let's be frank.

When it comes to the Mass, the Church retains absolute authority on the
dispensation of the rites which include the Mass, and I'm sure that it
would back me on that also.  There is a great biblical story about Simon 
Magus which demonstrates how important such things are to the Church
(whence ariseth the term 'Simony', since he wanted to buy the formula 
from them, as many other magicians might have otherwise, and was soundly

No, the central *magical* rite of Catholicism is out of the hands of its
ordinary worshippers, even while they participate in less active roles 
such as the kneeling and prayers and responses.  I have attended a few 
Masses of varying traditions.  Never did I find the same concentrated 
focus in the moment within the pews of the church as within the magic
circle, though there may be some who do.  

Is it transformative for the individual?  Quite possibly.  Is it as
active a role (and thus as 'magical' in this more technical sensel)?  
I'd have to say no.  Christian priestcraft is a specialized field, 
just like the previously-mentioned 'magicians', and the normal Roman 
Catholic leaves this specialization to the priest for a *reason*: 
because she doesn't want to handle the energy herself on behalf of the 
parishioners.  Compare this to any other kind of technical specialist 
who serves for the unskilled masses.

Would you want your mother hosted by a relative stranger when she comes
to visit?  Same goes for God when He comes down into the Church and
changes that wafer and wine into flesh and blood for the Eucharist.
The priests are God's hosts as much as is the wafer into which they 
direct theurgistic energies.  

They are servants, not really 'initiates' in the sense of taking their
own actions like medieval Church clergy, who aimed Masses at one another
and took payment for performing funeral rites as a means of directing curses.

|...They want something that doesn't rest on the hierarchy that is the Church; 

I doubt this would be a problem if the Church accepted magical practice on
the part of its adherents, but at this time I don't think this is so.

|or they want something that doesn't have the bloody history of the Church; 

Most of the time I think people who go into magical practices are doing so
in order to trespass the forbidden, and in this way the Catholic Church has
done wonders for the recent popularity of occultism.  I would think it would
itself appreciate my firm focus upon the issue, since it would no doubt
advise any Roman Catholic who is caught up in the practices of popular
occult traditions to desist and consult a priest for confession and 

|or they want something that stressing personal integrity rather than an 
|externalized enforcement.  

This is often the case with converts with whom I have spoken.  Their own
family's religion 'was just a hollow ceremony without feeling'.  It 'didn't
have meaning for them', 'wasn't sufficient for their needs', etc.  Often I 
have heard the worst criticisms of the former religions from the converts, 
and usually uneducated.  It is for this reason that I have occasionally very
strongly challenged extreme statements about current religious authorities,
including RCatholic.

I don't want people to get away with awful lies about the Church, pro or con,
either striking it as the Great Master behind every evil (akin to what was
done to Jews by Christians, historically) or the good press of coming off
as more accepting (its rites are *magical*!) than it really is.

|Tyagi's definition of magic as a spiritual practice that the Church cannot
|control valid.  ...Catholicism and magic are then inimical to each 

My main aim was to illustrate this as a function of how the definition of 
magick has changed over the years and why this might have been the case.

I think it may not be worth our time to arrive at one definition of the term.
Easier to accept a broad range of definitions, learning more about the art and
science piecemeal than to have to find some way of getting all the mages in
the discussion to agree (yeh, right) or sifting to decide on The Perfect 
Definition (TM).

And for this reason I find it valuable to hoist the Church upon its 
own terminology, since I find it offensive and want the strength of what it
conveys to the average listener, who has no knowledge of these arts and
sciences, to shine through to the occult world without deception.  I think
the Roman Catholic Church is an opponent of Catholic magicians and I'd like 
to get confirmation or rejection of this hypothesis.

Compare the attempted deception of saying 'the Mass is magical' to what in
Islam is called 'taqiyya', where language is shifted so as to provide the 
*illusion* that the Muslim conforms to the social norm when in fact aside 
from the main spiritual interactions (if any, by some reports there is not 
too much conflict between the Shi'ites and Sunni Muslims who live near to 
one another), there is a significant rift between each in theory and practice.

The Roman Catholic Church benefits from the *illusion* it has created
within the minds of a great host of Christians that magic is not a part
of Christianity, and that the competing religious practices which it 
resembles and in some cases from which it derives, which it CALLS magic 
and eshews accordingly, are worthy of opposition.

This is an abomination if it is still true, and so I ask if it is by
claiming it from my (minute) knowledge!  I don't figure I'll change
anything, but I will bring to bear the issue of 'Roman Catholic mages'.  
I challenge the very notion and wonder how any Roman Catholic can
claim that their Church supports magick in any way (excluding it to
its own specialist priesthood, only males, etc.).

|...By my definition [i.e. when you use the term you mean by the term],
|magick a set of practices meant to bring about change, positive 
|change.  The change in question can be personal, emotional, physical, etc.  

I like this definition very much, though its inclusivity is overbroad for
many a mage.

|...isn't the combination of the mysteries and sacrements supposed to 
|bring about positive changes in people? 

Yes, and the activating force of that rite is the priestcraft, who are
specialists.  They are doing what outsiders would call 'magick', but the
people who are accepting the eucharist aren't considered, generally, to
have contributed to this energetically, as in a Gnostic Mass or a Wiccan 
ritual, for example.

|...The Church uses some very magical tools to do [help people become
|more 'Christ-like', moving away from sin].  The weekly repetition of 
|the ritual of the Mass can stultify ["sin and pettiness" (sin)], 

Great, so the priests are doing magick in that sense, I agree, but
the Church would not, I'll wager.  I'll bet the RCC is very hesitant
to identify with anything close to 'magic'.

| can also allow you to know the procedure so well that you can 
|enter the ritual without stumbling over when to genuflect.  

What immediate change does the genuflection result in such that it would
conform to *your* notion of magick?

|Some people do the Middle Pillar ritual every day for a similar reason.

You are idealizing this, but I accept your suggestion.  There are certainly
some for whom the rite of the Catholic Mass is a transformative experience,
though I must admit I sometimes wonder of the value of the alteration.

|Catholicism claims to rest on the authority of God.  My friend was insisting
|that that one fact took the religion out of the realm of magick.  By his
|definition, magick must *not* posit any external deity --  evocation only,
|and no invocations allowed.

His claim runs contrary to the history of magick as I understand it.  
On these grounds the Church is merely discerning its own lines of authority.  
Is that all there is to this religion stuff is who gets to wave the wand?
Is his assertion the essential debate point of Catholics?

Your friend must not have been considering magicians those who do all the
active work and don't accept the notion of a separate deity from the God
of Christianity.  Apparently there is quite a long history of Christian 
magick of this type throughout Europe amongst Rosicrucians and Hermetics 
drawing on God, IHVH, Jesus and the Host of Angels to do what are at times
consider blasphemous acts (summoning spirits, etc.).  

|...the psychological techniques used by the Church are pretty parn 
|similar to those used by magic(k)ians.

What techniques are used?  Any mind-control cult can run its sheep through
recitations and coordinated movements.  If any RCatholic claims that the
Mass is magical for those *other* than the priest and his attendants in
the transubstantiation, please explain what *about* the Mass qualifies it as
'magick' and whether you think the Church would agree with your assessment
of how the rite should go.  I suspect the supplicants are expected to
adhere to a greater degree of receptivity and reflection on penitence than
some sort of magical act.  If they knew about variations they might want
to do something about it (counsel their attendees, etc.).

Corrections welcome.
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