Friday, August 15, 2008

Not Much of a Secret

Despite the blaring all-caps of the title, this article completely fails to deliver and spreads more misinformation about magical practices, at least by implication.

Magick, its method of operation. Magick like it has been defined in one of my previous write-up is the outer reality of the inner act.

So far, so good. The article goes on for a couple of paragraphs about the persecution of magical practitioners by religious authorities, which I won't elaborate upon here except to add that I'm in agreement with the author that such persecutions are unwarranted and damaging to the magical arts.

Then we get to the "secret."

Now, the secret behind the working of magical feats is you. You are the power behind it all. These reveals that all human beings are in one time or another practical Magickians But the society always have a way to finding suitable names for their actions, as they would call this “Luck” They refer to magickal feats as Lucky arts.

This is the author's great revelation? It's pretty much the same thing that Peter Carroll was talking about back in the early 1980's. That "secret" is pretty much exposed - Liber Null and Psychonaut and Liber Kaos sold quite well as occult books go. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the entire New Age perspective on affirmations, miracles, and so forth is built upon the foundation of this particular belief. New Agers are a lot more numerous than magicians and their beliefs are actually pretty widespead, especially in certain communities.

In my experience, personal power is an essential part of the equation but not the whole story. The weakness of the "personal power only" perspective is that it ignores what I call macrocosmic resonance. Simply put, there are certain sets of symbols and names that appear to work better than others for practical effects and psychology alone doesn't appear to explain the discrepency, even when including more esoteric ideas like Jungian archetypes. How magick appears to work is that some entities are out there in the macrocosm and others are not, which means that the power behind magical effects does not depend solely upon the magician.

Here's where I think the article really runs off the rails, though the paragraph is kind of confusing and I could be reading it wrong.

If we go back to the definition of Magick, we human beings are always thinking, imagining, wishing and so on and so forth. Have you the Wiccas/pagans asked yourselves, by what means does your Magickal feats materialises most times? We most have read series of books on Magick, where Magick is said to require serious concentration, imagination and visualization. What and who is Mankind? How did we assume forms and figures here on earth? I will leave the rest here for the students of the art to complete.

If the author is suggesting that all there is to magick is imagining something or wishing for it he is flat-out wrong. I'll go back to my martial arts analogy, even though I probably overuse it a bit. While the power behind karate comes from the individual, just wishing for it is not enough. You need to study katas, exercise regularly, and commit yourself to disciplined practice in order to make any headway with the art. Magick works the same way. Much of the power of magick does come from you, but it needs to be nurtured and developed - through "serious concentration, imagination, and visualization" performed regularly over time.

The philosophical questions at the end of the paragraph don't seem to be related to the rest of it, and I'll float one final question. Given the title of the article, how does "leaving the rest here for the students of the art to complete" make any sense? I can't imagine maintaining a relationship with a teacher who did things like this:

Teacher: "I will now tell you the great secret of magick."
Student: "What is it, master?"
Teacher: "The power behind magick is you."
Student: "Really? How can that be?
Teacher: "Work it out for yourself."

See, if I was going to work it all out for myself, why would I need a teacher? Or, for that matter, someone to expose the "secrets" for me?

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