The medieval demonographer, Martin Delrio, in his Disquisitionum Magicarum Libri Sex, gives this definition:
“An art or skill that, by means of a not supernatural force, produces certain strange and unusual phenomena whose rationale eludes common sense…”
What follows is an interesting (but very dry and scholarly) essay on magic by Harry Wedeck. I did have to pull out my dictionary a couple of times – he does love those big words – but it made me think, gave me a wider perspective, and because of this, I think it deserves a read. So here it is:
Magic is protean. It has multiple names, numberless forms. It is thaumaturgy (the working of miracles) and goety (invocation of spirits). It is witchcraft and it is religion. It is superstition and legend, tested by its potency, its primary effects on the individual, sometimes on the community, and not rarely on large ethnic groups. It enters into private domestic life, and pervades the tribal community. On occasion, it dominates, in its malignant impact, an entire nation, upheaving governments, creating devastation and civic chaos.
It pierces the very basic roots of existence, and sometimes forms itself into a religious cult, capable of overthrowing an established religious system. Impalpable sometimes, at all times secretive and cryptically esoteric, its powers rest in the grip of small dedicated hieratic groups; or in the control of an arch adept; or even, as in ancient Italy, as in the antique Chinese dynasties, in the supreme ruler himself, who is both first citizen and thaumaturgic (miracle working) priest.
Two aspects of witchcraft manifest themselves: White Magic, and the Black Art. Certain demonographers, and magicians as well, have assigned to White Magic an ethical motive: to benefit both the living and the dead. Black Magic, on the other hand, is completely malefic in its operations and its intent. It performs maleficently against its victims, against enemies, and contrary to the normal, commonly accepted view of the orderly sequence of cosmic rhythms in harmony with beneficent mankind.
Fundamentally, magic is the imposition of the human will on the phenomena of nature: and that imposition extends, in the actual practice of Black magic, into a conflict between two forces, one beneficent, and other malefic: constantly at war, over the entire cosmos. That was the primary concept of the ancient cult of the Manichean’s, of the equally mystic cult of Zoroaster.
Witchcraft in its necromantic (communication with the dead), thaumaturgic (working of miracles), and apotropaic (warding off evil) diversity, has invariably been a significant phenomenon of all cultures, at whatever level of development.
It has never been a mere academic diversion. On the country, it has been an integral element, coloring and molding religious, political, and social situations and attitudes. And its impact, in these three directions, has been impressively pronounced in a very realistic sense.
In early ages there was no demarcation between religion and magic. Religion was largely magic, for all religion was directed toward communication with diving agencies and toward a degree of cooperation of these deities for the advantage of man. The pagan rites, the mystic ceremonials of the priestly castes – Egyptian and Assyrian, Hittite and Babylonian – the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Dionysian performances, the cult of Mithra, the festal glorifications involving dedications and sacrifices, paeans (songs) and supplications and invocations – were associated with thaumaturgic arcana (mysteries).
The flow of folk thoughts and tendencies was all directed toward a projection of the self beyond the material, normally observable limitations of the human frame and the human spirit. Ancient witchcraft and wizardry in all their multiple permutations and impacts, like their modern counterparts, constituted virtually an ultimate faith.
Magic was (and still is) a stubborn credo that would not be refused. It was belief without reservation. Whether belief in beneficent principles or in actively malefic potency’s, is another matter. But it was credence that equated man with these agencies, unseen, yet real, that governed the cosmos. It was, in short, man’s attempt toward divinity.
And through the long and perplexed centuries, although magic assumed crudities and accretions of bestiality and demoniac contacts, it was basically the spiritual means, though perverted, made manifest toward this consummation. Magic was the epiphany of man’s ultimate faculty.
It may be said that ritual is the very heart of magic. For it is through ritual that we achieve our magical results. Ritual is a magical procedure or ceremony we perform in order to change the environment. Usually we think of ritual as bearing on active magick, although certainly, it can also affect passive magick.
Most often the change achieved is subjective (it may be subtle) and in the physical world. Outsiders may put them down to coincidence, but the effects are very real. Magical goals for a ritual should not be taken lightly.
The successful practice of magick depends upon strong belief. The simplest ritual of them all must be belief itself. If you can believe in your desired results strongly enough, that act is a magical ritual which will achieve your results. Even a very complex ritual is no more effective than strong belief.
By: Phil Hansford
Creative visualization is a powerful magickal tool. Here’s a nice technique for using creative visualization when working magick.
When you want to magically achieve something, first picture it clearly in your mind. The more definite and specific your idea of what it is the better. Picture yourself having it or doing it. Visualize it as vividly and as intensely as you can and hold it in your thoughts for a few moments. Concentrate on it intensely (it may help to hold your breath). Feel the energy of desire welling up inside you.
Then suddenly feel the image or desire released from your mind. Feel the energy filtering through the image and intensifying it, as if the image is a ‘stencil’. Imagine the energy exploding out from you into the macrocosm in all directions at once, and feel the universe ’tilt’ as it reacts to the force. (At the same time it may help to release your breath suddenly). Feel the energy draining from you.
Finally, believe that your purpose has been accomplished; that it HAS HAPPENED, perhaps saying something such as “so mote it be”, or “it is done”. And then, forget about it. You must let go of it in order for it to come to fruition.
Sometimes magick goes awry. Your spell doesn’t work the when or how you expected it to, or maybe it works too well and you have the experience of “be careful what you ask for you just might get it.” Maybe nothing seems to happen, or worse yet, the opposite of what you did the spell work for is your result. Here’s an informative article about what might be happening when your magick doesn’t work like you wanted it to, or thought it should.
Often as not a ritual may produce side-effects, usually something similar to, though not exactly the desired goal. If the true goal is delayed (as sometimes happens) we may see the side effects first. And if for some reason the goal is not achieved at all (‘missing the target’) the side effects may be pronounced.
For example: You use magick ritual to hurry shipment of an anticipated package in the mail. Side effect – the next day an unexpected package (the wrong one) arrives instead.
Here’s another example: You use magick to cause a certain person to phone you. Side effect – for several days all sorts of people phone you.
When Nothing Happens:
We may say with certainty that “something always happens” when we perform a magick ritual. But like everything else, magick follows the ‘law of results’. This means that results often require effort of some kind. And if you don’t put any effort at all into the desired goal, you may not get any results. And, of course you can help your magical results by working on the physical level toward your goals. Don’t expect them to fall into your lap by themselves.
Difficult goals have greater resistance (magical inertia) to overcome. If the ritual doesn’t produce the desired results there is a good chance that the reason for the failure is within ourselves. It is important to be certain there is no contradiction between your inner model and your magical goals. Sometimes self doubt and mental contradictions (wanting and not wanting at the same time) may interfere. If this is the case, you may want to rethink your goals or do some inner work before recasting the spell.
A peculiar quality of magick is time displacement. Results of a ritual are not usually instantaneous. There is often a delay of 12 hours or more. Difficult tasks or weakly performed ritual are more likely to be delayed. In most cases a slight delay is alright, and it gives us time to get used to the coming changes. And sometimes the effects of a ritual appear to extend to before the ritual was performed!
When Magick Backfires:
Because of the way magick works, a ritual may create an emphasis in what is sought, and a de-emphasis in everything else. Balance is therefore important here. Once the magical result is achieved it may be ‘bound’ to you and difficult to get rid of should you later decide to do so.
For Example: You use a magick to help you find and buy a new house. Years later when you decide to sell it, you are unable to do so.
Consider your magical goals wisely so you don’t get stuck with something you don’t really want. Note that theory says you can always unbind through ritual what was bound to you…theory says.
The Opposite Occurs:
Sometimes the environment appears to react against the magick after the results are achieved. This is particularly noticeable in using magick to affect the weather.
For example: Your performance of a ritual to produce a sunny day produces a sunny day. The next day is sunny, alright, but the rest of the month is cold and overcast.
Here the weather seems to react to the magick in the opposite way to re-establish its natural balance. It is something like pushing a pendulum to one side and releasing it — the pendulum swings to the other side.
This effect can also occur if you have a belief system in the “no pain no gain” theory of life, or that to “win some” you have to “lose some.” To quote Emerson – “For everything you gain you lose something…” This does not have to be true in magick, however, it is a scientific truth that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So be cautious when effecting magick for large changes and remember the importance of balance.
That being said, it might also be true that circumstances in your life have to change before the desired magical goal can take effect. A house cleaning of sorts is required, it’s out with the old before the new and greater good can come in.
For example: You do a ritual for harmony in the home and the next day your husband (or wife) asks you for a divorce.
Finally, 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’ such as red meat and cheese, ground yourself by connecting with the earth and nature, and use your religious background or old belief system for support. But remember too, that weird experiences are not necessarily bad experiences.
By Phil Hansford
Many Wiccan books discuss the taking of a Wiccan /magical name. The ceremonial bestowing of such a name upon the initiate is a part of many initiation ceremonies. Afterward, the new Wiccan is usually exclusively called by this name within the circle.
Magical names are quite popular among Wiccans; so popular, in fact, that many Wiccans have two or even three such names: a public Craft name (used at Wiccan gatherings, when writing articles, and so on); a secret name (the one bestowed during initiation), and perhaps even a third name which is used only when addressing the Goddess and God, and is known only to Them and the Wiccan. Wiccans who are members of more than one tradition may have different names for each group.
For many Wiccans, taking a new name (magical name) is an outward symbol of her or his devotion to Wicca. It’s seen as a part of the process of rebirth into the religion.
To cut to the heart of this matter: is it necessary for you to adopt a Wiccan name? If you wish your Wicca to correspond to conventional Wicca as far as possible, yes. If you feel freer than these constraints, adoption of a special name isn’t necessary. Once again, the decision is yours alone.
The major reason for utilizing a magical name is that it represents the Wiccan you. For some, use of this name gives them a sense of power and mystery which they may otherwise not feel. We live in such a mundane world that it can indeed be difficult to ‘switch on’ the magical side of our nature. Thus, use of a Wiccan name may assist in altering the conscious mind and preparing it for ritual.
Some people take an entirely different approach: they legally adopt their Wiccan name. Thus, Sally Thompson becomes Amber; Frank Jones, Greywolf. This name may even appear on driver’s licenses, leases and other documents. This legal avenue is inadvisable unless you’re completely open about your religion, since such a name will naturally draw attention to its bearer. Though many state that they’ve chosen to use their new name to the exclusion of the old one purely for spiritual reasons, most are also making a public statement regarding their religion–and not all of us are ready for such a step.
How do you find your magical name?
There are many approaches. Some Wiccans adopt the name of a Goddess or God, in honor of Them. Others look into their family’s cultural history and choose a name from the associated folklore: a person with British ancestry may opt for a name culled from British folklore. Many contemporary American Wiccans incorporate an animal in their name, such as ‘Howling Wolf’ or ‘Sweeping Eagle’. Flower and plant names (such as Rose, Oak Keeper, Grove, Fir, Ash) are other possibilities.
You may also simply make up a name. Many Wiccan names consist of two words that have been put together. Such names are usually quite descriptive. (Silverhair, Shadowdancer, Mist Walker)
Some famous Wiccan names have been published. Gerald Gardner publicly used the name Scire. At least one of Doreen Valiente’s magical names was Ameth. A well-known High Priest adopted the public Craft name of Phoenix.
Still other popular names include: Morgan, Morgana, Morgaine, Morgraine, Lugh, and Arthur; Ariadne, Diana, Hermes, Poseidon, Cassandra, and Triton; Selket, Ma’at, Osiris, and other Egyptian names.
Among the most commonly used names are Amber, Phoenix, and Merlin. Calling out one of these names at a Pagan gathering will usually cause many heads to turn.
So there are plenty of possibilities from which to choose. If you decide to use a Wiccan name in ritual, always use it. Use it in prayer. Use it in rituals. Write it, in runes or English, on your tools. You may even wish to perform some sort of name-adoption ritual. This could consist of casting a circle and invoking the Goddess and God to be present and asking Them to recognize you by your new name. Use of a Craft name may not give you any additional power, but it’s a traditional practice, and many enjoy it.
We live in an age where guilt is more often encouraged then pride, where we are encouraged to dwell upon our ‘negative’ points and habits. This is not the way of the Witch. As Witches we must learn to be as honest about our plus points as society would like us to be about our minuses.
Advertising, probably the most pervasive kind of propaganda, encourages us to think of ourselves as ‘less than perfect’ unless we look and dress like the people in the adverts and possess all the things that the advertisers would like us to spend money on. It is worth bearing in mind that if we truly needed these products then there would be no need to put them into commercials!
However, to return to the ‘personal housekeeping’, write a list of 20 of your plus points, things you are good at, and 20 minus points, things you would like to improve. Try not to be influenced by stereotypes – many female Witches include ‘outspoken’ on their list of negatives, while males will describe the same quality as positive! If you absolutely must include your physical attributes on the minus list, then make sure that these are things which you can sensibly expect to change, but don’t fall into the advertisers’ trap. From the perspective of the Witch it is far more important that you should come to terms with the person that you are, rather than worry about the way people see you.
One of the first tasks of the Witch is to understand and accept themselves, with all their good and bad points, because it is only when you understand yourself that you will be in a position to understand others, and therein lies a good portion of Witches’ Magic.
Now, edit the list of the “minus” points by creating sentences that include both the trait that you feel to be negative and the following phrase …. and that’s ok because.
Here are some examples:
- I am a terrible housekeeper, and that’s ok because… I hate cleaning the house.
- I have no self confidence, and that’s ok because… I have plenty of time to to learn how awesome I really am.
- I am over weight and out of shape, and that’s ok because… if I really wanted to do something about it I would.
- I am very stubborn, and that’s ok because… one day I will learn how to become more flexible.
Now, read the “plus” points list and pat yourself on the back, and spend a little bit of time feeling good about yourself. Take all your negative traits, own them, forgive yourself for them. Now, burn or bury both lists. You don’t need a list to tell you who you really are.
By: Kate West and other sources
Here are some words of advice for novice spell casters:
- By aligning your energies with the lunar cycle, and tapping into the natural tides and currents of life, you will increase the effectiveness and power of your spells.
- Because the moon turns the tide and our bodies are mainly composed of water, we wax and wane with the moon.
- Generally, psychic energy is highest when the moon is waxing (becoming full) and weakest when it is waning (diminishing).
- To attract something into your life, work when the moon is waxing.
- For banishing spells and to remove negativity and bad situations, work when the moon is waning.
- The most important ingredient of any spell is love.
- Thought and prayer are very powerful, and what makes the magic work is faith.
- Any spell you cast should come from the heart, and you should direct your thoughts like an arrow toward a magnet.
- Spells work in spirits’ time. What is sent out mentally leaves an etheric trace, which adds power to the spell when repeated or reworded.
- Both words and thoughts are a powerful vibratory force. You must believe that what you wish for will come true, and you must not be afraid that it will.
Combined with the Law of Names is the Law of Words of Power. This law is greatly used today, some think its usage is over exaggerated. Words or terms like teacher, professor, doctor, technician, priest, the Pope hold some people in awe.
For example, many, especially Catholics, are just as overwhelmed by the Pope as ancient people were of the village witch doctor or sorcerer. They believe him to be holy and possess a higher power which illustrates the Pope or witch doctor only possess the power which people give them. If their authority was not recognized by the people their power would be worthless.
In the above example the Pope who is widely recognized is given respect. But, the reverse can also be true, strange and mysterious words can effect people differently. The word “abracadabra” can have a great effect on some people, especially those uneducated or who believe in magic, particularly when it is spoken by someone they respect. The word “abracadabra” has no meaning by itself; however, its significance comes from its mysteriousness to the listeners and the authority of the one saying it. It the listeners have little or no regard for either the word or the speaker then “abracadabra” loses all effect on the audience.
The power of the sound of words is demonstrated in chanting which was used by ancient peoples as it is by Neo-pagans. Chanting is the repetition of words and sounds which usually are meaningful to the ones chanting them. It is employed in religious, ceremonial and magical rites. Chanting, often combined with dancing, drumming, rattling and hand-clapping is generally performed to alter the consciousness and raise power.
Found at: The Mystica