a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Magick, Science and the Great Work

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.chaos,alt.magick
From: tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (tyagi mordred nagasiva)
Subject: Magick, Science and the Great Work (Was Re: Insane Proposition)
Date: 13 Oct 1994 23:37:20 GMT

Quoting: | (Jon Charles Gilliam) 

|>I still say that the object of Magick as science isn't 'prediction'.
|>It is ENJOYMENT or, perhaps, TRANSFORMATION...

|   The object of science as a way of practicing magick is prediction,

I disagree.  I think that predictive power is a SYMPTOM of the ideal
goal of Science (*not* modern Science specifically).  The ideal goal
of Science as I see it is KNOWLEDGE (I regress to the literal root of
the term).

|...that's different than the object of Magick as science.  

I don't think so.  The symptomology differs amongst the fragmented
aspects of our culture, but the core ideal of Magick *includes* that of
Science (as the former I take to completely include the latter), and it
is expressed within modern Western magical tradition in the following
phrases: 'Knowledge and Conversation (of the Holy Guardian Angel)' and
'Love is the law, love under will'.  

The first (K & C...), includes Science with its orientation to Knowledge.
The second (Litl...), includes Science as a mechanism of will.

|   Perhaps the difference is on the one hand finding Magick through the
|primary focus of a scientific view of life, and on the other finding 
|science a useful means of going about working with a magical view of

There is no 'scientific view of life'.  Science is a means by which we
generate views and then move beyond these to a Knowledge (Gnosis) which
transcends any of the specific worldviews.  What you are calling here
'a scientific view' seems to be what I'd call 'a materialist worldview',
and I agree that Magick may be found within it, yet only of a limited

There is no 'magical view of life'.  Magick involves both the means of
generating views in preparation or exercise of Knowledge and the action
of working with *and* within those views to manifest a Conversation.
What you are calling 'a magical view' seems to be what I'd call 'a
spiritualist worldview' or perhaps 'a psychological worldview', and I
agree that Science may be a useful means of going about working within
these perspectives.

|>|   Here's the rub, I think.  In Science, 'progress' is something that
|>|groups can come to a consensus about, and can work together to accomplish.
|>The Church of any religion can bring about a 'consensus'.  All it has to
|>do is restrict the available resources from those activities which might
|>lead to a lack of 'progress'.

|This presupposes an idea of progress on the part of The Church.  

Not necessarily.  It does presuppose a PREFERENCE for certain activities
and expressions which I think conform to the economic and political
values which the Church, as a powerful social entity, seems to have.

|My concern was more about how a group of magicians, each baseing their 
|separate ideas of progress around their own ideas about magick, can come 
|to a consensus of what progress should be collectively without sacrificing 
|the spirit of their own separate conceptions.

A working group of magicians must either fix a particular dogma about which
to experiment or accept a variety of worldviews as natural.  The former
leads most quickly to institution (especially in the West it seems), while
the latter appears to consistently break down as a result of powerful social
programming regarding the stability and eternality of 'Truth'.  

That is, we are conditioned to understand 'Truth' as a fixed set of symbols
more often, at least in Western culture, instead of a fluxuating and variable
concretization of living energies.  This is why Magick and Science have
diverged in the West, where in the East they have tended to more often remain 

It is also why a sequence of identified 'traditions' of Magick have emerged
as time wears on.  'Chaos Magicians' seek to *underscore* this variability 
of method and doctrine -> "Nothing is true.  Everything is permitted." <- 
even while popular authors within their midst take steps which threaten the 
very current of the 'tradition', fixing symbols in written form and 
prescribing ritual behavior and organizational structure.

What many Chaos Magicians don't seem to understand is that there has always
been a cadre of mages who favor this living, nondefinable and ineffable
Truth (as with mystics), and that 'Chaos Magick', inasmuch as it associates
itself with *anything* definite (even the variability of the expression of
Truth!) will go the way of all the magical currents which came before it.

'Consensus' within a magical group need not be some sort of agreement on 
how to describe and understand the cosmos or any part therein.  Such a 
'consensus' would only require an interactive sharing of the ideals
and reflections as they manifested to the members of the group itself.

Magick as it *includes* Science does not require that anyone agree with
the mage that the way she tends to see the cosmos (including all thoughts
of 'progress' or even of 'Magick' itself).  In fact this can easily
become a DETRIMENT to the working mage, in that such feeble intellectual
constructs may be given unwarranted emphasis due to shared emotional
attachment, the Work being lost in the fray thereafter.

|>'Progress' is no more clearly defined within modern Science than it is
|>in modern Magick.  The difference is that modern Science is simply more
|>widely accepted, along with its (unproven) axioms and (ultimately 
|>relative) value scheme.

|'Progress' is more clearly defined in modern Science -- that's why a
|paradigm is important.  It distinguishes credible areas of study from
|quackery, and allows allocation of resources to projects most likely to
|make progress in the light of what the paradigm identifies as relevant.

I agree with you here to the extent that the abstract mechanism of modern
Science (that is, the institution) does appear to have a (what I'd call
'materialist') agenda which proceeds from a favored worldview/paradigm.

However, if you ask scientists *within* that institution what *they*
consider to be 'Progress', then I think you shall come up with some very
complicated responses.  Many scientists do not continue to agree that
the (ultimately relative) value scheme of modern Science serves human

This is why such organizations as the 'Organization of Concerned 
Scientists' and 'Scientists for Social Responsibility' (I'm half-
remembering and guessing at their names here) have come into being.
They have stopped seeing an increase of technical knowledge and
ability as a 'good thing' and have begun to seriously question the
foundations of the modern (materialist) Scientific paradigm.

|   A point often made about Magick is that the lack of a consensus 
|paradigm (or, perhaps rather, the multitude of paradigms available to
|draw upon) provides its great flexibility.  If the whole manner of approach
|to a situation is somehow personally unsatisfactory, a possible solution
|is to scrap the whole lot of preconceptions behind the situation, and
|start over from a wholly different perspective.

I think you may be purchasing the 'one-perspective-one-person' mentality
which seems to dominate the culture in which I live (Western).  While you
might be implying an alternative when referring to Magick above, it appears
that you have only pointed out that magical approaches appear to stress the
variety of choice among paradigms offered to the mage.  

I think that the path of Magick is much more than a trip to the Paradigm 
Supermarket.  To me it is working within ALL (or many) of those worldviews, 
as we are able, in order to FREE OURSELVES from reliance upon singular and 
intellectual constructs.  That is, it is not so much that we might 'start
over from a wholly different perspective' so much as 'absorb the essential
elements of a multitude' (like securing a number of reigns upon Shai-hulud,
the Sandworm of Arrakis in Herbert's _Dune_).

|Given that this paradigm-transcendence is a major strength of magick,
|how can that be preserved in the power structure necessarily created when
|a group of people with separate opinions about how magick should be
|approached come to a consensus?  

It seems that our definitions of terms are at variance and I will continue
to promote my own in response to your direct questions. :>  Paradigm-
transcendence need not involve an abandonment of any particular paradigm.
As with the sanyassi, or wandering beggar-saints of India, one might
renounce one's hold upon the world(view) and gain the world.  That is, we 
might be able to separate ourselves from IDENTIFICATION with any specific
view even while utilizing all of them at our disposal at any time this
seems valuable.

Within such an approach, 'consensus' does not necessarily reflect a group
agreement as to what is 'right'.  Indeed, even in politics 'consensus' is 
only the result of the sharing and group-meld.  When intellectual and
emotional fractures occur within the group which cannot be resolved through
mediation and sincere attempts to communicate among the dissenting parties,
then the GROUP fractures.  This fracture is PART of the consensus process,
in that irreconcilable differences lead to a breakdown of tribal integrity
and such a breakdown is a *beneficial* result, ending stagnation.

|With Science, Magick breaks in and takes over when the current paradigm 
|makes everybody uncomfortable, and a scientific revolution takes place 
|with a magickal paradigm shift.

As Science is *part* of Magick it can never 'break in and take over'.
In modern (materialist) Science the pressures which emerge from the
magical community are only healthy interference with the attachment to a
chosen paradigm.  Magick, as such, extends beyond modern Science, even
though the latter has elements of the former (notably those which
remain 'pure science' as compared to a devolution into politics) within

These elements sometimes kick and scream, as an overburdened heart might
fibrillate at exertion which surpassed a body's capacity, or as the engine
of an automobile might cough and sputter or die at acceleration while
hauling a tremendous load.

I agree that it is Magick which makes everybody uncomfortable in this
situation, yet the problem is not Magick but the attachment to the
materialist paradigm.  A 'scientific revolution' is merely a restructure
or major revision in worldview, indeed a 'paradigm shift' of major
purportions.  Inasmuch as it *is* scientific (and not a coordinated ruse)
so it is 'magical', since all things scientific *are* magical.

|   But, Magick has no such fall-back mechanism to restore its 
|paradigm-independence.  Magick, once it admits to progress on anything
|but a personal, transcient basis, is no longer Magick, but something
|else -- probably either Science or Religion.

You appear to equate and/or associate 'Magick' with paradigm-independence.
I'd agree that what is today identified as 'Magick' probably does exhibit
this quality moreso than the modern scientific or religious communities.
However, paradigm-association (in/dependence) is nothing but a symptom of
the health of a culture's Science, and Magick includes an additional 
artistic component.
The notion of 'progress' is a favorite among linear, Western theoreticians, 
and it seems that we still haven't learned from the beauty of the cyclical 
rhythms which are incorporated within the philosophical systems of the
East, such as in China and India.  As Magick transcends any notions of the
cosmos whatsover (being the mechanism of both generating these notions and
of acting within them), it does not 'admit of progress' excepting within
a very particular and limited intellectual schema.  

|>|...can groups of magicians come to a consensus about what 'progress' is 
|>|so that they can work together without losing the arational, deeper 
|>|essence behind their rhetoric?  
|>...Groups of magicians can surely come to consensus on the value of 
|>their rites.  This is what makes 'covens' or 'orders' coalesce: 
|>consistent value in combined workings.
|...You and I can agree on the value of our common rites (although ...for
|totally different reasons), and perform them together.  But once we
|begin to examine some rational model of why those rites are valuable, or
|plumb the depths of our souls to begin to progress past those rites to
|what is newly relevant in our lives, that's where the conflict over what
|constitutes progress begins.

Such 'conflict' only pertains within groups in which the participants have
yet to separate their identities from their perspective of the cosmos.  
A separation of space-time infuses every humanoid experience, and this will
always lead to dispute among those of us who cannot understand that which 
lies beyond our individual vision.

Rational models are only of benefit to the mage in that they either serve 
as security-nets for the unstable or high towers for the adventurous.  They 
are unsuited for dogmatic adherence if one wishes to seriously involve 
oneself in a magical group of any adeptship.  The standard of *group* 
progress (if one is truly needed) must then become the comparison of 
personal benefit derived from the experience of group activity, just as is 
true for any social interaction of a specialized nature.

|>Magick which becomes institutionalized IS organized religion.

| the individual participant in organized religion, who is also
|a magician, making his magickal progress in spite of the structure of the
|organization, detached from this structure, or in harmony with this

I'd imagine that such an individual must vary considerably in hir
relationship to the religion of which she is a part, for she is what I
refer to as a 'shaman', bridging the Worlds (not only the rational
worlds/paradigms but also the personal and social worlds as well as
the various separate social worlds of hir participation).

| [magick] is detached from this structure [religion], and ...
|once magick is institutionalized, 

I think that this varies depending upon the adeptship of the mage.  For
those who can be said to have 'Crossed' or 'Delved the Abyss', i.e. what
in the Hermetic tradition are called 'Masters of the Temple', I don't
think that this is the case at all.  In fact the Magister Templi is able
to move through social structures fluidly, reconciling apparently
opposing energies while continuing a very important Conversation: what 
is often called the Great Work.

|...only by the most unlikely chance that this individual magickal 
|identity is harmonious in expression with the instutionalized structure.
|it is no longer in essence an aid for the magician except as it presents 
|an obstacle for the expression of her individual magickal identity, 

The 'identity' is no longer an issue for the Master, and whether or not
a social structure is called or appears to be 'institutionalized' has no
bearing to hir or hir fulfillment of the Great Work, the Summum Bonum,
True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.

tyagi nagasiva

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races