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Critical Thinker's Dictionary

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magick

Magick is the alleged art and science of causing change in accordance with the will by non-physical means.

Magick is associated with all kinds of paranormal and occult phenomena, including but not limited to: ESP, astral projection, psychic healing, the cabala, and chakras. Magick uses various symbols, such as the pentagram, as well as a variety of symbolic ritual behaviors aimed at achieving powers which allow one to contravene the laws of physics, chemistry, etc.  Magick should not be confused with magic, which is the art of conjuring and legerdemain.

The religions based on the Old and New Testaments have long associated magick with false prophets, based upon the belief that Satan regularly exhibits his powers to and shares them with humans.* Using powers which contravene natural forces is good if done by or through a god (white magick), according to this view. Such exhibitions of divine power are called miracles. If done by diabolical forces, it is evil (black magick).

The idea of being able to control such things as the weather or one's health by an act of will is very appealing. So is the idea of being able to wreak havoc on one's enemies without having to lift a finger: just think it and thy will will be done. Stories of people with special powers are appealing,  but for those contemplating becoming a magus consider this warning from an authority on the subject:

...magick ritual (or any magick or occultism) is very dangerous for the mentally unstable. If you should somehow 'get out too far', eat 'heavy foods' . . . and use your religious background or old belief system for support. But remember too, that weird experiences are not necessarily bad experiences. [Phil Hansford, Ceremonial Magick]

On the other hand, weird experiences are not necessarily good, either.

The magic of performing magicians is related to magick in that performers use tricks and deception to make audiences think they have done things which, if real, would require supernatural or paranormal powers, e.g., materializing objects such as rings or ashes, doves or rabbits. Some magicians have attributed their feats not to magic but to supernatural or paranormal powers, e.g., Sai Baba  and Uri Geller.

Of course, the beauty and magic of nature has nothing to do with magick. There is the magic of the birth of a healthy child; the magic of true love. There is the magic of getting out of bed in the morning through an act of will. Unfortunately, this only seems to be magic to those who do not have this power. Those of us who can direct our bodies through acts of will too often take this power for granted. We fail to see the wondrousness of simple things, like wiping the sweat from one's brow. We take for granted the act of opening our eyes to feast on the sublimity of glaciers and oceans or the beauty of sunsets or meadows of wild flowers. These are truly magical deeds and, when contemplated, hold enough wonder to fill universes. But for many, it seems, such real magic will never be enough.

See also miracle, Satan, sympathetic magictrue-believer syndrome, wicca, and witch

note: The word 'satan' means adversary in Hebrew. But just as the Hebrew word 'adam' (which means man in Hebrew) has become Adam, so too has satan become Satan.


further reading

books

Carus, Paul. The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil (Gramercy, 1996), reproduction of the original 1900 edition.

Lamont, Peter and Richard Wiseman. Magic in Theory (University of Hertfordshire Press, 1999).

Randi, James. The Magic World of the Amazing Randi (Adams Media Corporation, 1989).

Sagan, Carl. The Demon-Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark (New York: Random House, 1995).

websites

Ceremonial Magick, copyrighted by Phil Hansford. It has 11 chapters on such subjects as astral projection, esp and psi, chakras, the cabala, psychic healing, pentagrams, rituals, etc.

Jerry Andrus, a lifetime of magic

Last updated 19-Dec-2013

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