What is a Magical Operation? It may be defined as any event in nature which is brought to pass by Will. We must not exclude potato-growing or banking from our definition. Let us take a very simple example of a Magical Act: that of a man blowing his nose. — Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice
Aleister Crowley defined magic as the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will. He called this magic magick (mainly because it sounded cooler), a word that was to become famous and internationally used by occultists and magicians alike. In this short essay I will seek to explain my very own and personal definition of magic, with the aim of proving why it is logical and preferable to believe in magic. A cause of epic proportions indeed.
Our views and the way that we view our environment and internal proceses is shaped by our beliefs – and in turn these mold the way we view reality. Everyone has a slightly different view of any one thing – an identical occurence experienced by any two individuals will create two different ways in which those individuals perceive what’s happening. Both individuals will therefore experience something different even though the outside influences acting upon them are identical. Their different ways of looking at the occurence will create two different realities in which they live. In other words there is only subjectivity in an individual’s existence (and even though we all breathe air and gravity has the same effect on all of us, we perceive this and use this in different ways) – objectivity is the attempt of philosophy and science – an attempt doomed to failure since objectivity based on subjectivity is imperfect and therefore inobjective.
Having understood that we all shape our differing realities using our beliefs (or our beliefs shape our realities) we can move on to explain why this should concern us at all.
Let us take an example – we have man a, a scientist, a materialist and an avid enemy of all things mystical, spiritual, religious or magic. He lives his rather normal life working a rather normal job, building a rather common career for himself. He does not experience coincidences and a warm summer day brings little happiness to his heart. He is cautious and quickly forgets anything that happens to him that would cause him to question his scientific/materialistic beliefs. We could almost say that his life is lacking in wonder, childish amazement, and pure happiness without a cause.
Then we have man b who is a rather open-minded (apologies for using this word – in this case it is not an excuse for gullibility), enjoys everything that comes his way and while he does not frown upon science (he may indeed be a scientist himself), his view of the world gives ample opportunity for amazement and wonder. His life is full of inexplicable coincidences, every event in his life has a sense of purpose behind it, and every bad event is simply an obstacle that is supposed to act as a source of learning and growing. You could almost say that man b enjoys his life to the fullest and loves the fact that in his reality there is no need to hide things behind the need to explain them. He is a very flexible man.
Which one of the two men/women are you? Which one is enjoying life more? Which one will break down under stress and pressure or death of a loved one, while the other finds ways to change his situation to serve a better purpose? Which one is happier? Which one is knowingly lacking, without being able to define what exactly it is that he is lacking?
I do not wish to say that man a or man b will have different lives or that their environment will react differently to them – they may even go through identical lives. They will take away different lessons though and be differently inclined to change. Actually, they will lead different lives because they will make different choices based on their differing beliefs, identical occurences will therefore create differing effects. Personally I have made the conscious choice to be man b, who I shall finally label a magician.
Magic to me can be defined by a single word – change. Anyone who is willing to undergo change for whatever reason and with whatever result is a magician. The benefits of accepting change – or even seeking it – are simple to explain. Positive change is preferable to the less positive state preceding the change. Negative change is reversible due to the understanding of the magician that he has been the cause of the change in the first place – on one level or another. Consequently the magician can turn a negative event into a positive one, sometimes it simply takes a different view or outlook. Changing the way we perceive an event results in different emotions being produced – so it is possible to change fear to happiness or hate to love (or vice versa). Not to mention that the only way to find what it is worse and what is better is through experiencing both.
Magicians believe that change can also be created outside of the things over which they have measurable control – in other words they can create change in things or events that the scientist would not believe are changeable. Keeping in ming that both the scientific and the magical belief-systems mold the reality in which the two live, it is not too far-fetched to say that the magician can affect more of his reality than the scientist. Where the scientist can only change what he believes is changeable, the magician can change anything.
I will end by giving you two examples of change in my past week that prove my theory. Last week I was caught on a bus without a ticket – just two days before I was showing off to my parents by telling them that I have found a way to travel in London for free. I usually get punished for arrogance. And at first, after being caught without a ticket, I felt rather shit because my capture cost me 20 pounds and social ostricization from my fellow travelers. As soon as I understood that not only was I loosing money but also my good mood, I accepted what happened to me and seeked a way to improve my situation. Instead of sulking or being aggressive (and creating negativity in me and in the people who caught me) I became rather friendly and had a half an hour conversation with the ticket inspectors. They took me to a cash point so that I could pay them (which they wouldn’t have allowed if I was a dick about it) and they told me a lot about a career about which I previously knew very little. They were very nice and when I left them we were all in good spirits, laughing and cheerful. Not what you would expect from a criminal and his capturers. In this instance I created change through acceptance of the things over which I had no control and through changing my view of the situation.
The second instance happened this weekend when I accompanied my girl-friend to a goth wedding of her friend in Birmingham. Instead of being scared or negative about having to spend money and meet new people with a negative outlook on life I intensely wished for certain things to happen during the weekend. I wished to meet a diverse group of people, to meet people who shared my interests, to meet a magician, to discuss my views on spirituality with a Christian and some other things – they all came to happen. Now I do not care whether I caused these things to happen through wishing them to happen, or whether I was simply looking for them and therefore found them among the numerous other things present at the wedding. All that matters is that they happened. I somehow suspect that in a different state of mind I would have fared much less successfully in an initially hostile environment.
And this finishes my essay. I hope that some readers will be as excited as I was when it finally dawns upon them that they indeed are magicians.
For a more thorough de-personalised definition of magic look here.