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A Philosophy of Magick


A Personal Philosophy of Magick: As I Understand It Today

Recently, one of our members (who will be left unidentified….right, Rowan?) reminded me about something that I had written a few years back.  I had, until she sent it back to me, completely forgotten that I had taken the time to explain “the philosophy of Magick” (or “how it works and why it sometimes may appear that it doesn’t!”) to a new member, who was having a hard time with something that she was working with at the time.  The latest request was that I take the personal material, which may have identified the member, out of what I had written and then post it on our website.  I was touched that she had even kept what I had written because I had deleted it immediately after I had sent it, and then promptly forgot all about it.  I’m also enjoying working with this project because it is giving me the opportunity to define, to myself, just what it is that I understand about “Magick” now, several years later.  This is not “how to” go about creating Magick.  Because I can only speak to what I experience, it is about what it means to me, in a personal way.

 We all change.  We all grow.  And it is good.

 So – what do I understand now, in the weeks before Ostara, 2011.

 What is “Magick”?  The most often quoted answer to that, from Aleister Crowley, says that “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”  (from “Magick in Theory and Practice”)  Christopher Penczak, who is someone for whom I have a huge amount of respect, says that Magick “is simply manifestation through energy and intent” (“The Outer Temple of Witchcraft” pg. 24).  He reminds me that “Magick” can be thought of as a form of prayer.  It creates a connection between me, and my “will”, and whatever and whoever I may see as Deity and Their Will.   As one of my favourite tracks on the “Chakra Healing Chants” cd (Sophia) says “Father Mother God…may my will and Thy WILL be One”.   The word that Christopher Penczak uses is “partnering” – strengthening the connection between the Deities, the realm of the physical earth, and myself so that change can be made manifest.  It isn’t MY will, alone, that is creating the change.  It isn’t someone else’s will, or even Their WILL, that is acting over my will.  It is the partnership of my will and the force of creation, that which I see as being The God and The Goddess, which brings about change.  As someone who spent my childhood and adolescence steeped in the more rigid Christian practices, and who has spent a couple of decades looking for a Spiritual home where I would be free to explore and grow and find my own voice, this is huge! The expectation that I am a mature, intelligent and responsible human being who is capable of carefully and ethically considering change, that I am strong enough to put into motion the energies that will bring about the change, and that I am evolved enough and wise enough to then accept ownership of the results of that change, feels very different than that which I have previously experienced. It is empowering.  It adds to my life, rather than making me feel constricted and boxed in by a litany of “thou shalts” and “you musts”.  The only “thou shalt” in my life is “Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill – an it harm none, do what ye will.”  We all know that living by The Rede is a lot harder than it may, at first glance, seem.  It takes a lot of careful consideration, and the more that I consider it the bigger it gets,  but I love the way that it puts the responsibility for my life right where it belongs – with me.  That part, the part that says that I am always responsible for my actions, keeps me in check, particularly when I remember the fact that I must always “Mind the Threefold Law ye should – three times bad and three times good.”   It would seem that everything; every thought, word and deed that I send out into the Universe can, and will, bounce back at me.  Every single time, without exception.  So I had better be very conscious and very careful about what it is that I send out there.

 Go ahead, Sage, and work all of the Magick that you want.  You have that right and you own that power.  But, before you start, just be very, very sure that you really know what your “prayer” is about, that you have carefully considered the energies that your prayer will put into motion, and that you really, REALLY are prepared to accept all of the results of that prayer. Please be very sure to always include the words “For the higher good of all” when you pray because WE pay attention to every beat of your heart and breath that you take. WE always answer your prayers…..but We reserve the right to sometimes do it in OUR time and in OUR way. Although it may sometimes appear that WE have not paid attention to your prayer, if you are patient and open and honest with yourself, you will always come to understand that WE have listened and have answered you, but perhaps in a way that you had not expected.

 Hmmmm….perhaps it would also help to have a good sense of humour – for the days that I get to experience the full force of some of those unexpected bounce-backs.  It might also help to remember my current favourite quote:  “Nobody can go back and start a new ending, but everyone can start today and make a new ending.  Maria Robinson”

 So, let’s assume that I am considering working some Magick to create some change in my life.  First, I need to carefully think about what it is that I “want” and if I really, REALLY do want it.  That is not always as easy as it may sound.

 The simple and quick Magick, as in “Thank you for my parking space” is one thing; the bigger prayers can be something entirely different.

  The parking space work is an easy example:  if it is an emergency situation, I “want” a parking space close to the hospital entrance and there is not much room for doubt about the fact that I “need” it, too.   It could be that someone else may need the space closest to the door more that I do, and that is ok, but I do need to be close, too, so I make my prayer and focus on seeing the space waiting for me when I arrive.  Now, if I’m fussing about a parking space at the mall, it’s an entirely different story.  I am well aware that getting out and walking is in “my higher good”, so I would usually consider it a waste of my time, and more importantly Their time, to be engaging in that work for myself; that changes, of course, if the circumstances are such that I really can’t walk, or if I have some with me with me who can’t walk very far.

 What about the “big Magick” – the really important work in our lives?   The philosophy is the same, but it takes a whole lot more careful thought and preparation before we just haul out our tools and our wonderful witchy-stuff and jump into the spell.

 Do I really know what it is that I want – and this is not as simple as it may at first sound?  Am I completely clear about what it is that I wish to create? Do I really want it? (This is also a hard one because our subconscious will often block what our thinking mind sees.  Those of us who practice the healing arts have all had the experience of having the healing energy that we are channeling blocked by the recipient – usually completely without their conscious knowledge.)  Am I sure that my spell will not, in any way that I can foresee, cause harm to anyone else?  Am I absolutely willing to do the work that will be asked of me as this spell is worked to its conclusion…and am I certain that I have already done everything in my power to bring the results that I’m looking for – because it would be downright rude of me to ask Them to help me if I am not willing to help myself.  Am I prepared to accept the consequences, all of the consequences, of my spell?  If so, I will also be very sure to include the intention that my spell, my prayer, is sent out with the vision that it be for the highest good of all and that it harms no one, including me.

 Let’s say that I’ve carefully thought about all of this and wish to work a spell.  I’m very sure about what it is that I am about to create and that it is my right to create it.  I’ve probably already done some meditation and divination work, as well, so that I feel confident that my preparations are complete and I’m free to go ahead.

 I could, at this point, simply stand in front of my altar and have a little chat with The God and The Goddess.  I could tell Them all about it and ask for Their help with it, combining my will with Their Will.  I could simply give it over to Them and let it go.  Period.  It can be that pure and simple.

 Being a Gemini woman, however, my mind can sometimes get sidetracked by other thoughts, so I find it helpful – and fun – to work with other tools.  By researching and then bringing together other tools, such as crystals and candles and herbs and oils, I strengthen by attention and sharpen my intention.  Then, by creating and using chants, I keep my mundane mind busy and focused so that my true self can do the Work.  This is not to imply that all of the “stuff” is not important, in its own right, because it is a big part of how we work our Magick and we love it.  It is good to bring in the Elements and the energies that we create when we combine our will with other forces.  Words, because they represent our beliefs and our intention, have a power of their own but that is not what it specifically means in The Rede verse “to bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme”.  This verse is referring to the fact that we know that we speak in rhyme because it keeps our conscious, monkey-mind busy while we are joining our energy with Their energy to do the Work.  I like to believe that all of the “stuff” that we use in Spell work serves the purposes of keeping my analytical mind busy while, at the same time, delighting my inner child, so that my heart can fully engage in The Work.  That delighted inner child is the part of me who absolutely and completely engages and believes that she is directly related to all that is Divine and Magickal.  The God and The Goddess can speak directly with her and it is through her that the rest of me can hear Their voice.

 So, always focusing on the end result of my intended work,  I’ve spent time happily researching correspondences, gathering together lovely bits and pieces, and I’ve put together the words that perfectly express my intention. I’ve checked my astrological forecaster and have, so to speak, my planetary forces all in alignment.  (Again – I’m a Gemini…this is how I operate!)  I’ve cleansed my altar space and I’ve bathed and purified myself.  I’ve meditated and calmed my inner self.  I’m ready to go.

 I do my spell work.  What next?

 This is, for sure, the hardest part for me.  I let it go.  Completely and absolutely, I hand it over to The God and The Goddess and let our combined energies get to work.  This doesn’t mean that I am not in control of my own life’s Path, because I most certainly AM in control of the choices that I make along the way.  What it does mean, is that there is a possibility that I don’t know the whole picture.  It is quite possible that there are forces at work that I have not yet seen or recognized and that if I insist that the picture of the how the Work should look must only be one way, then I am closing the windows of opportunity that may have been presented to me.  So we say something like “this or something better” and “for my highest good and the highest good of all”, and “harming none” and then let it go.  We are sure that there will be results but we do not know how or when those results will appear.

 I know that my Magick creates ripples of energy that flow through time and space.  My every thought, word, and action creates an effect that will touch every other being.  In that respect, I AM the centre of my universe, but that doesn’t mean that it is always all about me.  I love the fact that my Magick is often connected, without my conscious knowledge, to others’ Magick.  I love the fact that my life is constantly connected and reconnected to the lives of others and that those connections are all about how we can contribute to each other’s worlds.  It pleases me to imagine that The God and The Goddess join with my Magick and then look around to see who else could benefit by joining their Magick to mine.  In this way, it is entirely possible that my Magick is connected to every other act of positive Magick that is working everywhere around the world.  From my personal Universe, I like to see it rippling through all space and throughout all time. These are connections that I could not possibly bring about just by my own planning, so as the old saying goes, I let go and let God/dess.

 And then the fun begins because I just never know what opportunities will arise and who I may meet along the way.  If I can relax and remain open and trusting, and if I am disciplined and strong enough to take action when it is called for, and if I am wise enough to recognize the difference between “opportunity” and “distraction”, then my Magick will grow into something that is amazing.  It may not be what I had originally seen…actually, it often is very different, but it is always good.

 This is all a lot more work than I had originally expected.  I’ve watched the television shows…don’t I just choose some of my favourite crystals, light some candles and some incense, chant a few words and then POOFFF – it happens?  Magically I get whatever it is that I want, with no more effort on my part?  After all….I am a witch!  See my tools?  See my pretty robe and shiny jewelry?

 Exactly that – I AM a Wiccan High Priestess.  As the years go by, and as I learn more and understand more deeply, my duty to act responsibly grows.  My belief is that the three-fold Karmic ball of consequence will bounce back to me larger and faster because I DO know better.  I am aware and conscious, so it is up to me to behave like a Wiccan High Priestess.  Spell work, prayer, is powerful work and I am very sure that my work will be immediately noticed and acted upon, so I’d better be very sure that I’ve thought it all through before I say the words…or even think the thoughts, for that matter.  We like to say that intention is everything and that is true, but as I mature in my chosen Path, I can’t get away with sloppy Work.  I don’t get to duck the return of that Karmic ball of consequence if I have been lazy with my preparations.  If I am going to claim the title, I also get to accept the responsibility that goes with it.

 David Rankine (What is Magick?) is quoted as saying “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 fulfill your potential.  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.  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 environment.”

 Aleister Crowley (Magick in Theory and Practice) says “Every intentional act is a Magickal act….Every man (woman) must do Magick each time that he (she) acts or even thinks, since a thought is an internal act whose influence ultimately affects action, though it may not do so at the time.  Every thought, however swiftly suppressed, has its effect on the mind.  It stands as one of the causes of every subsequent thought, and tends to influence every subsequent action.”

 While I may really only be able to see how my Magick works in a retrospective way, by looking at where I am, in present time, and where I was when I “spake the rhyme”, I believe that it will work, each and every time.  Even if my subconscious blocks it, because I don’t REALLY want it, it has worked by helping me to become clearer about what it is that I do and do not want in my life.  If it does not appear to work because it turns out that it was not, after all, in my best interest, then it HAS worked because it has forced me to look at my life and how I make choices.  If it is slow to work because I am afraid of the changes that it will bring into my life, then I am being presented with the opportunity to do the necessary inner work to face the fear.  However it comes, it is always Magickal.

 With each Ritual and with each Spell, I grow stronger and wiser.  The whole process, this growth, which is within me and without me, is my Magick – my gift from The God and The Goddess - and I am blessed.