Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.Aleister Crowley
Magick is the art of causing changes in consciousness in conformity with the WillDion Fortune
Magick is the ability to change energy at will.Starhawk
Magic is the projection of natural energies to produce needed effectsScott Cunningham, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Real magic is your relationship with immanent divinity, and it is how you craft yourself as a Witch….Making magic is a dynamic process by which you co-create reality with deity. And ultimately, all real Magic is a manifestation of the Divine.Phyllis Curott, Witch Crafting
Which of these definitions of magic/magick is correct? Which way to spell magick is correct? I will be using the spelling of magick with a “k” because I do think that makes it a little more clear that we’re not talking about Harry Potter/Charmed/anime type magic. I am going to further add to the pot by giving my definition of magick: magick is uniting your energy with that of the Divine towards a specific goal.
I do believe that all of these statements about magick are right. Crowley’s and Fortune’s definitions describe what goes on in the consciousness, the will and the mind when magick is performed. For magick to be effective, your mind, heart and will have to be engaged. You have to change your consciousness. Magick performed towards a goal you don’t care about won’t be successful; you will fail at raising the necessary energy.
Starhawk and Cunningham address the force behind magick itself, what it is. Magick is directing energy towards a goal. That energy already exists in the Universe, you are not creating it in a vacuum. That’s why we talk about raising energy and not creating energy. The energy in magick is not supernatural in the sense that the Divine energy is interpermeated in the world around us.
And that is where Curott’s quote comes in. Wiccans believe the God and the Goddess are in some way part of the world around us, and they are in us. They are not purely “out there”, they are also “in here”, something that is known as “immanent divinity”. Our relationship with Them should be part of how and why we use magick. Some people say the energy in magick is simply an impersonal force that can be manipulated for good or for evil, depending on the will of the practitioner. This is the position of many non-Wiccan witches who do not accept harming none as part of their practice. But to a witch, like a Wiccan witch, who believes that the energy in magick is the manifestation of the Divine, to harm none is a given, and to harm with your magick would be a sacrilege.
So we have the original desires that begin magick, the changes in will that cause changes in consciousness that begin the moment you decide to do a spell. Then you have the force that powers your magick. You have the ethics and the relationship behind the force that powers your magick. What is the bridge to directing this energy towards a goal? That is where spell ingredients come in, yes, but more importantly, that is where visualization and intent come in. You need to know what you want and keep that intent very clear in your mind while you are manipulating spell ingredients. You need to visualize the results that you want and keep that visualization through raising and directing energy. Otherwise you’re just releasing energy into a void.
There is a show called “The Librarians”. You can watch it on Hulu. The characters hunt down magical artifacts and face different magic situations. On the show, the new librarians are taught that magic works by “power, focus, and effect.” That’s not the worst explanation in the world as to how magick works. Power= the energy we raise through changing our consciousness through the desires of our mind, heart and will and through the various activities we do to raise energy (chanting, singing, drumming, dancing, etc.). Focus= when we visualize our goal and direct that energy towards that visualized goal, maybe through pouring it into something that acts as a focus for that goal, like a candle. And that, if we did it right, will lead to an Effect=the goal we raised the energy for and visualized.
This can all seem very abstract, so let’s go through an example. Let’s say I’ve been having a flare of a chronic illness I have and I want it to go away. This may seem like a weird example, but it illustrates a couple of things about successful magick that are important. First of all, I make sure I’m taking all my medicine as prescribed, following my doctor’s instructions, and doing my best to medically treat my illness. Why? Because Wicca isn’t into faith healing. We don’t demand miracles from the Goddess. Solutions to problems you do magick for will most likely come about through what appears like “normal” means. After I’ve done that, though, I decide that I’ll do a healing spell to aid in my healing. From that moment on, I’m doing magick, on some level, because I’m directing energy and intention towards a goal. I check my magickal supplies and I have a blue “chime” candle, some lavender essential oil, some rosemary, and some myrrh incense. Lavender, rosemary, and myrrh are all associated for healing, and rosemary is kind of an “all-purpose” herb that can be used in a pinch, if need be, for other herbs.
So I light my incense at the beginning of my ritual, cast a circle (always preferable to do if you can if you’re going to do magick-it makes raising energy and keeping it in until it’s directed much easier as well as its other benefits), invoke the aid of the Elements if I wish and the God and Goddess, and begin my spell. I start by grounding and centering myself (if you don’t know how, just Google it, there are many articles and videos out there on how to do it- it’s a very simple but very important practice. My own article on it is here). This is very important so that I am not wasting energy. Then I think of my intent for my spell and I keep that in my mind. Then I “dress” my candle- I rub a couple of drops of the essential oil into it and then sprinkle the rosemary on it, while I say something like:
Lavender and rosemary, lend your aid to me today
Help me heal, help me be whole
Then I place the candle in the holder and light it, saying something like:
Goddess of the healing waters, the soothing moonlight, the bountiful earth
God of the vibrant sun, the fertile ground, the healing plants
Please hear your child today
Please bring healing to me my
If you desire to call upon a particular God or Goddess (maybe you have patrons, maybe you want to call specifically on gods or goddesses known for healing), just put their names in. As I do so, I visualize myself healthy, smiling, active. I see myself doing activities I haven’t been able to do. As much as possible, I picture the exact degree of healing I’m hoping to obtain. I hold that picture in my head while I sit before the altar, and I chant, slowly at first, but then gradually increasing in speed and/or intensity:
Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna (listen here) Or maybe:
Come to me, Lord and Lady, Heal this spirit, Heal this Soul. Come to me, Lord and Lady, Mind and Body shall be Whole. (listen here)
While I’m chanting and holding the visualization in my head, I tighten the muscles in my body. Or if I feel like it, I can walk or dance around the altar, gradually increasing the pace. When I feel I have tensed my muscles as much as I can, danced as much as I can, chanted as intensely as I can, and most importantly- held the visualization as long as I can- I release the energy- I stop singing and exhale deeply in the direction of the candle and picture it rushing into the candle, picturing the energy from the herbs, the oil, and the energy that I have raised and the energy of the Divine and the energy in the candle all going towards my goal.
Finished, I let the candle burn itself out (you don’t have to wait until the candle is burnt down before you close your circle). I complete my ritual and close my circle. Make sure you ground yourself after the ritual, to let any excess energy go back into the Earth. Eat something afterwards, something protein based, if possible.
Should you talk about your magick? Many authors say no, that it takes energy away from the spell you are trying to accomplish, and it allows for outsiders’ doubts in magick to affect it. Scott Cunningham says the energy has been released towards that goal regardless of whether you talk about it or not and that worrying about whether others’ doubts can affect magick can cause you to doubt magick, which is a much bigger problem. I’m with Cunningham in going against what seems to be the majority on this one, and while talking about your spell all over the place isn’t a good idea- it’s braggy and annoying, if nothing else- telling your partner or your best friend what you did last night isn’t going to sink your spell. If you’re married or live with someone in particular, you may cause more conflict by keeping it a secret and that can cause problems for your spiritual practice as a whole- not a good idea. Magick is a force that is as old as humans. I doubt it is so frail that it can’t handle a mention over morning coffee.
Many beginners are in a hurry to cast spells. And the media feeds to that. Browsing on Amazon, the topic “Wicca” books are mostly not books about Wicca at all, but are spell books. Out of the top 20 Wicca books selling right now on Amazon, only one of them is actually on Wicca- nine of them are spell books, six of them are on divination or prophecy or psychic powers, and the rest are on witchcraft. Only “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft” is actually on Wicca. And yet understanding the tools of grounding and centering, visualization, raising energy, and directing energy are critical to having successful spells. I would also argue that understanding the basics of the Wiccan religion takes priority over spellcasting. Raymond Buckland said in his book, “Wicca for One”, that witchcraft was called “The Old Religion” after all and that the worship/reverence of the God and Goddess is what separates a witch from a magician.
For Additional Reading: