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What Is Magic?

[from ]

Chapter 1:

Subject: What Is Magic?
    (Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice)
   This sweeping absurdity, making even so much as wiping your ass a
   magical act, is by far the best concise definition. To truly
   understand what is meant by it, I refer the reader to the introduction
   of Magick in Theory and Practice. No one says it better than Crowley.
   In his absence I offer the following.
   How is it that something with such an irrational reputation can be a
   science? In what medium is this art expressed? How does one 'cause
   changes to occur?' Why spell magic with a 'k'? What is Will?
   There are several reasons to spell "magick" with a "k". The first is
   to differentiate the topic of this text from parlor magic (illusion
   and sleight of hand for simple entertainment). Crowley used the term
   to set his system apart from those of his contemporaries, for whom he
   had lost respect, and is now used by some to denote "Real Magick" as
   differentiated from "inferior" forms. As I sometimes use the term, it
   connotes the Magick of Thelema. I do not assume that when I write the
   word "magic" my readers think that I am writing about pulling bunnies
   out of top hats.
   Magick is the technology of reality engineering.
   As stated above, magic is a deliberate technology. Crowley's
   definition of magic as a science and an art is just a more cryptic way
   of saying the same. Science is the reductive process that gives us
   theory. Art is the creative process that gives us application, or
   practice. For our purposes, technology can be defined as the
   practicable application of a theoretical science. The result of the
   marriage of science and art is technology.
   Let us now look at the second part of this immortal phrase. "Causing
   changes to occur" can be rephrased with a greater sense of immediacy
   as "reality engineering". Magick is a process by which the magician
   (or reality engineer, if you prefer) obtains access to deep levels of
   consciousness that enable him or her to influence phenomena at the
   point of its conception to guide or control its final manifestation.
   The medium that the Artist works in is reality.
   Many describe magic as a force or power, like electricity or
   magnetism. This is slightly amiss. One does not have "magic powers".
   One can obtain "occult" ('hidden') knowledge, and with that knowledge
   he or she may learn to manipulate powers and forces associated with
   the magical process. The ultimate nature of these "forces" may never
   be fully understood, hence the reference to the "occult" which merely
   means "hidden". They do, however, go by many names, such as: prana,
   gnosis, magis, chi, L.V.X., spirit, love, kundalini, chao, and a host
   of others. Some of these terms describe discrete energies. Some
   describe phenomena with overlapping characteristics. Some work alone,
   some in concert with each other. Or they may all refer to the same
   thing. Or not. We don't really know.
How It Works

    When deliberate magic works, it is only when the practitioner has a
   solid, meaningful theory of reality that holds satisfactory
   justification for it to work, as with all constructive and deliberate
   technologies. This is only possible when one has a sensitivity of
   awareness capable of perception above and beyond that which is
   necessary for mundane functionality. This is the nature of the
   relationship between Yoga and Magick. Dedicated yogic practice can
   stimulate dormant portions of the psyche that are useful and often
   crucial for successful magic. It also creates the discipline of mind,
   and body, integral to ceremonial and ritual magic.
   One very common (and very useful) theory of magical operation is based
   on the interconnectedness of all phenomena.1 This has been understood
   by adepts throughout the ages and is slowly becoming recognized by
   some of the more mainstream scientific community. The model of quantum
   mechanics ties in beautifully with the magical model. One relavant
   aspect of this model is the idea of the observer-dependant universe.
   The connection of all phenomena is so integral to the structure of
   reality that there can be no such thing as an external and separate
   observer. Some schools of thought go so far as to say that nothing
   exists until it is observed, and that perception creates reality.
   Although this need not be literally true in its extreme, solipsistic
   sense, deep meditation on these concepts will almost certainly lead to
   at least a glimpse of the states of consciousness obtained in some
   magical workings. What is important here is not the absolute validity
   of the models, but rather the states of mind that are produced by
   embracing them. We need not, and must not, confuse the map for the
   territory that it represents.
   Due to the problems of Foundationalism and Epistimology, we can never
   rationally know if our models are true. However, we may call them
   valid if they give us a useful perspective or yeild effective tools.
   Spinoza and Einstein gave us a dual aspected aproach to reality, but
   neither one provides a satisfactory explanation for how it works.
   Fortunately, we do not need one. Experience will show that changes do
   occur in accord with the will regardless of how we conceive it. If one
   must have a name for it then posit a God or soul, or a substance like
   Aethyr or a particle like Third-Eyeons or something. This may help to
   rationaly grip the mechanics of magic, but let us not cling too
   tightly to our definitions and assumptions. Ultimately they will just
   get in the way. Here again the proccess of yoga assists by giving us a
   sense of connectedness to phenomena while at the same time removing
   the egoic need for rational justification. One of the most common
   impedements to the magical process is simply the ego of the magician
   getting in the way and seperating him from that which he seeks to
   All phenomena are connected by their common roots. On the cosmic
   scale, we are learning that all "things" in the universe are
   controlled and molded by atomic and sub-atomic (and even smaller)
   components. These components are so deeply perceptually removed from
   our own unsubtle physical reference points that our sense organs
   cannot directly access them. Nevertheless, they still carry on
   governing the very fabric of reality, seemingly oblivious to our
   buffoonish ignorance. One can learn the laws that govern forces and
   construct immensely powerful tools from this technology without
   necessarily knowing the ultimate nature of the force in question, as
   we do with electricity and magnetism. What electricity really is has
   never been satisfactorily determined. We only know that it is an
   awesome force that we have learned to make jump through hoops for our
   All of one's actions are generated from deep levels of consciousness.
   These states and the processes peculiar to them are deeper than our
   rational intellect can directly access. This makes psychology a
   crucial building block of magick.2 Through various means the magician,
   the shaman, and the yogi alter their consciousness so that they may
   perceive beyond the mundane.
   Reference has now been made to things that may be perceived "beyond
   the mundane". Before leaping to conclusions about phantasms of the
   imagination and delusions of grandeur, consider the following. The
   bodies that allow us to be functional do so by limitation. Our skin
   limits the area that our innards may occupy. Our pupils limit and
   control the amount of light that is transmitted through our eyes to
   the brain. A river is an area of land that limits where water may
   flow. Limitation is pre-requisite for functionality. The same
   mechanisms that allow for perception to take place do so by blocking
   out the vast majority of information available. This allows for a
   narrower focus, and thereby a magnification of the information that
   is allowed to pass through the filter of sensory mechanisms. Because
   the information that does get through our neuro-filters tends to
   occupy our entire field of perception, it is usually regarded as more
   important. It is usually temporal-spatial information. It allows us to
   walk down the road and not bump into stuff. Since this information is
   so functionally important, it is a short step to the idea that if you
   cannot perceive it, it does not exist. This is where our egos lead us
   astray. It is very much like being in a movie theater. The image on
   the screen is much larger than life and occupies your entire
   consciousness. It is also a limitation and a distortion. It is a lie.
   If it is well constructed, it may be a lie that helps us to experience
   truth. The magician seeks first to understand the projection process
   (mysticism), and then to run up to the projection booth, fire the
   projectionist, refocus the lens on the projector, throw the film in
   the garbage and replace it with one of his own design! Some of us even
   like to leave the theater on occasion.
   With the proper training (or combination of insight and experience),
   one can learn to percieve and eventually influence phenomena that
   occur in realms beyond mundane perception.
   It should now be clear what religion has to do with magic. If the
   perception of the individual actually creates phenomena then belief
   would seem to be an integral component in shaping the phenomenal
   world. And indeed, it is.
   Now that we have sufficiently rationalized our beleif system and all
   that is out of the way, we can deal with the more important matters:
   What is will and why is it important to the Mage?
   Dictionary definitions of the word give us "desire", "inclination",
   and the like. While this is relevant to the art and science of causing
   change, the Mage uses the word in a somewhat larger sense. It is more
   like "willpower", the unshakable forward velocity of an aware entity
   and its undivided surety and persistence of existence. This greater
   sense of will is much different from the transitory whim of human
   desire, which is mostly a by-product of the ego. The various forms of
   yoga are useful for helping the individual to achieve states of
   consciousness that allow him or her to know the difference between the
   higher will and human whim. This higher will, as distinguished from
   human desire, is sometimes called the True Will. This True Will is the
   inexhaustible, infinite energy source that is the center of the Mage's
   craft. It is the Gnosis, or the experientially centered focus of the
   individual Mage as identified with the universal, or divine. Here,
   mundane and the divine are one. From that center, the mage can then
   change him or her self and change the entire phenomenal universe,
   because here they are one and the same. Piercing with the Will like a
   boulder into a lake, connected ripples carry the energised message to
   the entirety of the body of water.
   It should now be obvious that knowledge of one's True Will is
   essential for effective magick. When one leads with the True Will,
   everthing else falls into place, riding the wave that the mage has

	[email the author: (Andrew Spitzer)]

   Page created by Andrew Spitzer:
   Changes last made on: Thu Apr 18 21:00:54 1996

[EOF; reproduced to archives with permission of APS]

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