What Is Magick
© copyright 1999, 2000, 2001 David Rankine
What is magick? Forget all the fallacies and stereotypical pre-conceptions
taught to you out of fear and ignorance and approach this question with an
open mind. You will probably find it is not what you have been taught to
think. Magick has been defined as "The art and science of causing change to
occur in conformity with will *1" which could be put more simply as making
desired change happen; or as "energy tending to change"; a definition I use
is "magick is conscious evolution through directing energy". This does not
really explain magick though, so I will try to elaborate on these phrases
An aim of magick is to train the mind by harnessing and making more
consciously accessible such higher faculties as intuition, inspiration and
the creative imagination, and by drawing on the power of the unconscious -
to try and use more than the 10% of our brain's capacity that we do.
Magick assumes belief in, or rather experience of, subtle energies. We can
only see about one seventieth of the light spectrum, yet what we cannot see
still affects us - such as x-rays and ultraviolet light. Similarly, magick
is about focusing more subtle, non-physical energies, and directing them to
create change. To go about this requires experience, and training to improve
the power of the mind, and specifically, the will.
Acts such as meditation, breath control, voice work, body work,
visualization, drama, ritual, and others, are all designed to improve our
body and mind, to better sharpen us and balance us, and to enable us to
perceive and wield more subtle energies.
In the same way, an individual is as strong as their will, and the more
balanced and integrated a person is, the stronger their will (note, this is
probably one of the main reasons why so many magicians have experience of
counselling and/or psychology, recognising the help these processes can
give, both through training and experiencing them. This also acts as a
removal of farcical social stigma often attached to these processes).
Practising magick tends to act as a deconditioning mechanism and can be a
subtle process, the longer you practice, the more you change and the
unnecessary inhibitions, stigmas, guilts and sin complexes that society
builds in are removed. This has the effect of releasing their energy into
the psyche, where it can strengthen the individual.
The more physical side, such as yoga, bodywork, dance and massage, also
removes the tension held in the body as body armour, and releases this and
removes energy blockages which impair full efficiency and may result in
Possibly the major difference between magick and many of the religious paths
to spiritual growth is that magick is more dynamic, and places the emphasis
on you to work for change - there are no gurus in magick, rather there are
fellow students with different perspectives and experiences - we learn from
each other, as in other areas of life.
Magick tends to work a lot with symbols, as these are the language of the
unconscious, and this is an area of tremendous power to tap. Symbols have
many functions, and one of these, released through magick, can be the
ability to confound the ego and the censor mechanisms, and enabling us to
perceive more subtle truths, or experience direct revelations. Although we
may not be able to fully explain how symbols work, we know from experience
that certain symbols seem harmonious with certain types of energy.
For example a magician may tell you that if you want to attract love you
should wear green, and rose perfume, perhaps wear copper, like a bracelet or
necklace, etc. These are all things attributed with Venus, who is associated
with love, and so the principal is one of contagion - sympathetic magick, or
making something happen by working with items linked to it. This is one of
the oldest and most commonly practised forms of magick. Working with the
symbols of a type of energy does seem to attract that energy.
A cautionary word here, magick is often seen as a way to hidden powers, and
entered for the wrong reason, the "I want sex, power and lots of money"
syndrome. Now there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves, but
when you do magick you will discover that you tend to get what you need
rather than necessarily what you want.
When you do magick you generally use techniques to alter your state of
consciousness and raise energy, and then direct that energy to create a
desired result. The channel that energy takes as directed by your altered
state of consciousness is not necessarily the path you might expect in your
normal everyday state. Magick does bring you power, yes, but it is power
over yourself, not other people. It is the power that is important, to grow
and to create positive change.
This does not mean there is anything wrong with using magick to gain more
physical things, there is nothing wrong with doing a ritual or spell to get
a job, whereas trying to make a specific individual go to bed with you would
be wrong. Magick is very much about intent, and if your intent is to get
work, you are not imposing on people, whereas if you were trying to make
somebody do something that they would not naturally do, you are imposing on
If you did a ritual to attract love without specifying a person, but opening
yourself to the opportunity to meet someone where love may arise, and to
feel more attractive and better about yourself, you are not imposing, you
are trying to create positive change.
Magick is a commitment to yourself, and it requires determination,
perseverance, strength, openness to change and absence of rigidity, a love
of life (including yourself), and a desire to grow and fulfil your
potential. It may be that you already have all these qualities and do this
already without calling it magick - magick is not about labels, and those
who think and talk as if it is unfortunately put some people off. Magick is
learning about the natural flows of energy in the universe, and working in
harmony with them to effect positive change, both in yourself and in your
Some people ask why magick is spelt with a 'k' on the end. This is to
distinguish it from magic, associated in the popular mind with illusionism
and prestidigitation, stage magic. Magick is not about illusion, it is about
creating real change, and the 'k' signifies this. K is the eleventh letter
of the alphabet, i.e. the one beyond ten. Symbolically this is very
powerful, as we work in base ten, and eleven represents the unseen, or
hidden energies - the subtle energies of magick, eleven is considered to be
the number of magick.
Magickal training and experience bring forth the energies of the
unconscious, and so it is no surprise to see that symbols become more
important as you develop, providing not only the language of dream and the
unconscious, but also helping create a more flexible perception grid of the
universe. To grow spiritually, it is vital that you remain flexible and do
not become dogmatic, rather that you are open to experience and willing to
question your ideas and beliefs as a result of those experiences.
Magick can be a painful process. It is not easy to maintain the discipline
and honest self-critical approach all the time. It can also be hard work
dealing with the energy released without being knocked off balance
sometimes. The important thing in these cases is to remain honest and keep
at it. Nobody said magick was easy! It takes a lot of practice and hard work
and pain, but the rewards are spiritual and mental growth, the joy of life
and the beauty of unconditional love. Beyond the limits there are no limits!
© copyright 1999, 2000, 2001 David Rankine
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Next: Ethics and Etiquette by Morgaine