Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More "Magick" that Isn't

With two terminology posts in a row I must be turning into a curmudgeon or something. "You kids spell your damn words right!" Thankfully this one is probably my last on the subject, at least for awhile.

Every so often some nightclub performer comes along and decides to call what they do "magick" in order to, I guess, sound cool or something even though what they are doing is clearly stage magic. Another of these is apparently on the loose, named Odes Odhner.

Odhner calls what he does "magick," something that blends traditional nightclub-type magic, with majik, a kind of magic that examines occult practices of the present and past.

Hang on a second there. What the hell is "majik?" That can't be a real word!

See, when Aleister Crowley proposed that "magic" be used to describe stage magic and "magick" be used to describe the spiritual practices of theurgy and thaumaturgy he was simply reverting to the Elizabethan spelling of the word. It's English, just with a more archaic spelling. But "majik?" It's clearly Odhner's own goofy terminology, and Kelly-Anne Suarez, the journalist writing the article, buys it without a second thought. Maybe she just couldn't be bothered to check.

Here's a quick reference for future lazy journalists.

Magic: Stage magic, as practiced by nightclub magicians, mentalists and so forth.
Magick: Spiritual practices drawn from the Western Esoteric Tradition.
Majik: A completely made up word, or one of the above written by someone who is borderline illiterate.

See the difference?

I think I'm probably done with this topic as the terminology becomes more muddled every time I look into it. In my opinion Crowley's use of two (and only two) distinct spellings makes sense, but once you start throwing in every possible phonetic variation in order to look "edgy" or "cool" or something else that translates as "just plain stupid" the whole thing becomes a losing battle for anyone who values precision and consistency.

It's too bad, really. Complaining about this may seem overly pedantic, but if folks could agree on standard spellings for their terms it would make the Internet a whole lot more useful for those of us who do actual magical research.

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Anonymous said...

A sign of the times, I'm afraid, where "C U L8R" is acceptable and perfectly good names like "Michael" are morphed into "Mykal"

Ananael Qaa said...

I know, which is why I'm pretty much done with this issue. There's no way that I'm going to get any significant number of people to change their spelling habits, and looking at the latest search engine results that battle would probably be lost even if I had a real media presence.