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Religious Faith as an Element of Magic

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.pagan.magick,alt.magick,alt.occult.methods
From: (nagasiva yronwode)
Subject: Religious Faith as an Element of Magic
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2000 19:21:49 GMT

Note followups

50001107 Vom Mercury returns from retrograde!

"Sepher Lucifer, Sephiroth" 
> Is faith in God, or a god, or godess, or a pantheon in religion 
> really necessary in the work or even the outcome of Magick and 
> summoning of entities? 

that's a complex question. I'll take it bit by bit.

Magick -- 
	a) Crowley's Magick
		I'm answering this separately because you spelled the
	term with a 'k'. Crowley's text is somewhat inconsistent, but
	on the whole it seems clear he meant to convey to the reader
	a support of skepticism regarding all theoretical suppositions,
	inclusive of cosmology or theology. that is, while he may talk
	about gods quite a bit, he doesn't claim that the successful
	student of his system should believe certain things. in fact,
	within "The Book of Lies" there is a lovely little passage
	underscoring the value of doubting everything.

	b) General Magic
		traditions vary with respect to practical methods and
	whether a faith or belief in the spell or ritual to be effected
	or some agent which will effect it for the theurge. there are
	many magicians who at least integrate gods and spirits into
	their practice, if not simultaneously engaging in worship.
		broadly, we may distinguish between those (often modern)
	magicians that contend that belief in the tools catalyzes the
	effects they may be used to achieve, and those who contend that
	magical tools contain inherent power regardless of belief. the
	most disputed magical tools are those ordinarily used for other
	purposes, such as herbs (herbalism), minerals (resources,
	jewelry, etc.), and more conventional objects presumed to be
	imbued with special power due to their cosmic role or importance
	(e.g. the Holy Grail, the Spear of Destiny, etc.). 

		it is in no wise widely agreed with either perspective,
	and few have conducted truly scientific analyses to investigate the
	claims one way or the other. what does seem indisputable is that
	belief can have (and at times derail) certain transformative 
	personal effects upon the personality. belief effectively installs
	a perceptual filter upon all of our experience, like those
	studies in which humans were fitted with mirror-glasses and
	learned to live successful while viewing the world upside down.
	the belief in spirits or gods may be an indicator in willingness
	to believe in magical ability. those who attempt to obtain their
	magical ability from gods may find that belief in them is indeed
	a prerequisite. or they find the opposite is the case. :>

	C) Summoning
		the summoning of entities seems to presuppose the
	existence of such entities. however, what one may mean by the
	term 'existence' can have a great deal of latitude. materialists
	may accept that elements of the individual psyche exist and 
	have a kind of 'reality', though they would probabaly not be 
	considered independent or capable of transpersonal influences.
	there ARE materialist magicians (usually understanding the
	practical methods of magic to be capable of psychological and, 
	not uncommonly, mystical results -- cf. Abraham Maslow and
	the transpersonal psychologists for information on mysticism
	that might be attractive to certain materialists).

		as with magic/k above, belief does not seem to be a
	prerequite for all practitioners -- some are convinced that
	the techniques will work regardless of whether you happen
	to believe in them. the important thing is doing the spell,
	the ritual, or whatever is necessary to get what you want.
> Do I reall have to believe in the "all powerful" YHVH or Adanoi? 

I think that it would be helpful if you did were you at all
interested in Solomonic magic (such as are described in quite
a few grimoires), yes.

> or should I pray to Jehova or Jesus Christ to make magick work? 

whether these names (and those immediately above) refer to different 
beings is contested by the faithful. the theurge (a magician who
seeks to draw power from a specific deity) should probably pay
tribute to the god (or God) from whom they expect a response, but it
would be interesting to conduct an experiment which did not do so.
> Or to Zeus or Thoth or Baulder, Hera, Set, etc... to protect me? 
> aid me? help me? 

you can, this is an option. is it a requirement? good question.
perhaps it depends on you and your abilities.

> I dont undersatnd religion. I am NOT agnostic, 
> although i may sound I am, I am not. I personally believe in the 
> human spirit, and the "higher self" are human, My god is myself. All 
> humans are "god". I firmly believe this. 

then you have reduced the status of a god to a very limited being.
this may sound fabulous, but it is comparable to describing an
ordinary office worker as a "hero" and pretending that they are
comparable to storybook heros like Heracles or Jesus Christ.

> ...If belief in religion is necessery in magick, 

it isn't. this much is clear. belief in the efficacy of the items
described as achieving the effects (inclusive of gods) may be, however.

> then somone please tell me how it affects it and what function it 
> plays. Thank you.

I've done what I can above. this can quickly stray from discussions
about practical methods to the theoretical and debatable. suffice
it to say that there are some religions that divide themselves from
magic, some which integrate magic but only in a hidden and hypocritical
way, some which seem to regard magic with a tentative but undenouncing
regard, and some that actively profess the support of magic (for
example, neuvoreligions like Neopaganism and Thelema). 

on the other hand, there are some magicians who suggest that religion
or religious iconography and worship is required, some who are neutral
on the matter, and some who exclaim the destructive power of religion
as regards the entire edifice of magic and its kindred occult arts.

the spectrum of magic and religion is wide and, at times, confusing.
some maintain a relationship between religion and magic of dependence
(religion depends on magic for its existence, magic is based upon
religious ideas and practices, etc.) antagonism (religion is a trap
where magic is a liberating mechanism, magic is irresponsible ritual
where religion carefully regulates theurgic and therefore legitimate
miraculous acts), or even identity (religion is the social practice
of magic, magic in the form of mysticism is the center and source of
all religions). the terms are not defined with precision and there
are countless disputes concerning their relationship.

blessed beast! (nagasiva)

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