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Questions i was asked about magic

To: alt.lucky.w,alt.magic.folk,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.magick.tyagi
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Questions i was asked about magic
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 12:58:54 GMT

(followups set to alt.lucky.w)

> > 1) Where does magic derive its power from? Is it derived from gods,
> > spirits, general essence, the psyche of the mage, all of the above
> > or something I left out?

I practice folk magic, so i shall reply from that perspective. In most
folk-magic you will hear prayers to a deity, but not much overt interest
in mystical concepts such as karma or reincarnation unless those are
inherent in one's chosen religion (e.g. Hinduism). Likewise, the concept
of "the psyche of the mage" is not one you'll hear a lot about. Other
adjuncts of current Western religio-mystical belief, such as the
division of the self into a triune body, mind, and spirit (with special
rules governing the debelopment of each sector of the self) are also
notable by their absence from most schools of folk-magic. 

One theory behind magic -- especially object-oriented folk-magic, is
that certain objects, including but not limited to natural curios such
as roots, herbs, minerals, and animal parts, have within them a certain
a-causal link to some realm of human endeavour, often by virtue of their
shape, colour, size, or scent. Thus, to give two examples, violet
leaves, which look like hearts, are used in love magic, and lodestones,
which are natural magnetic rocks, are used to "draw" wealth, love, or
luck to the holder. These operations may be carried out with or without
reference to religious entities (gods, spirits, saints).

An overlapping, but actually slightly different form of magic involves
human-made artifacts -- amulets, lucky charms, talismans, and the like.
These can be made by the magician him or herself but are often prepared
for clients by a conjurer, craft-worker, or jeweler.

> >     Are there gods, spirits, etc. that live independantly of us?

I don't know. I function as though there were, and that works for me. 

> > 2) Are there general rules, axioms on which magic rests, or does one
> > make it up as one goes along?

Each culture (or social sub-culture) seems to have its own rules
regarding the workings of magic, but many of these rules are found in
more than one culture. For instance, ritual cleaning and bathing occurs
in the magic of most cultures, including urban ceremonial magick (with a
k) and Sicilian folk magic (without a k). But some forms of ritual or
rule are not as widespread. For example, footprint or footstep magic
(performing magical operations on others through use of their
footprints, shoes, or by scattering material where they will step on it)
is typically an African magical custom, which is found also in
African-American magical practice.

However, once the rules of each system of magic are internalized by the
practitioner, a grat deal of improvosation may be done for any given
ritual or magical job of work. The mark of a good magician in his or hr
own school of magic is his or her ability -- to boprrow an analogy from
music -- to seemlessly improvise a tune within the chord structure of
the system being used.

> > 3) This one is to me the crux of the matter -- is reality objective,
> > consensual, or completely dependent upon the 'eye' of the beholder?

What i tell my customers and clients is this: even if you use magic only
to concentrate upon your desires and to pray, you will at least have
clarified what it is you want. If a spell works for you, however, as it
very often does, then you will not only have clarified your desires, you
will have achieved them.

> > 4) How does one work magick -- is it one's own belief in the forms
> > used that counts, one's usage of primal symbology, or manipulation
> > of a sixth sense etc. ?

For most folk-magicians, symbology is very important -- far more
important than such modern, urban concepts as extra-sensory perception
or a sixth sense. 

Folk magic often works by assuming that objects have inherent power and
that one can determine the form of that power through a special form of
symbology sometimes called "the doctrine of signatures" -- which means
that natural objects contain visual, tactile, or olfactory clues as to
their best magical uses. 

Take hoodoo for an example: in this system of magic, if you want to win
the lottery, you might carry a mojo hand containing a John the Conqueror
root, a dime with your initials scratched on it, and a lodestone dressed
with magnetic sand. 

Why? Examine the symbolisim: 

The root looks like a man's testicles and implies generative personal
power. The lodestone attracts the magnetic sand and implies the act of
drawing money closer. The dime symbolizes money coming your way, and
since your initials are scratched on it, that money will be meant for
you alone. 

You could also burn a green candle for money-luck. 

Why? Examine the symbolisim:

In the USA, the colour of folding money is always green, and to farmers,
green grass means plenty of rain and a good harvest. 

Finally, you could anoint that candle or mojo hand with
Fast Luck oil. 

Why? Examine the symbolisim:

Fast Luck Oil contains cinnamon, and that is hot, so it draws money fast
but not over the long haul. It aslso contains Pyrite, a metallic ore
that looks a lot like Gold, and so acts as a "decoy": for money. 

See what i mean? Entire systems of magic exist -- and are used by
millions of people -- in which there is no perceived need to postulate
an extraordinary belief in a "sixth sense" or develop a philosophy of
"incarnation," or undergo a dissection of the self into triune portions
called body, mind, and spirit.

Folk magic is not the only magical path around by any means, so look at
other options (ceremonial magic, religious magic, and so forth) before
you settle down to study the path that is right for you. When you do,
you will find only ONE meta law behind all magical systems: the belief
that magic WORKS.

Good luck,
cat yronwode 

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