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Magic: Science, or Art?

by Debra LeRoy B.Sc. DIHom. FBIH

"Natural magic or physical magic is nothing other than the deepest knowledge of the secrets of nature." (Del Rio, 16th Century)

It is interesting that these words were spoken nearly 500 years ago. Since that time, nothing has really changed. There are probably as many definitions of Magic as there are folks who claim to understand its secrets. The word "magic" is derived from pre-Zoroastrian Persia: "Magi" meaning "wise."

What Magic is NOT is a clearly defined art, or science. There are few rules to adhere to. I believe that it is the intent of the practitioner that influences the final outcome. Natural magic, that is magic that comes from the heart, and is done without harmful intent, is the most powerful. Magic is all things--for some, it is an art, for others, it is a science. In ancient civilizations, the role of the Priest and the role of the Magician were interchangeable.

As Pagan culture became superseded by monotheistic religions, the word "magic" became a synonym for the primitive belief system of the old religions. Aleister Crowley defined magic as, "The science and art of causing changes to occur in conformity with will." A rather more enlightened definition was coined by Dion Fortune: that magic is, "The art of producing changes in consciousness in accordance with the will."

The Kabbalah offers probably the most insightful exploration into the nature of magic, and the mind of the magician. In theory, Kabbalists have proven that the energies involved in practical magic operate in the realm of Yesod (foundation) on the Tree of Life. Yesod is the realm in which dwells the lower self, or the ego. As well, the energies operate in the realm of Netzah (nature) and Hod (intelligence and imagination). Yesod, Netzah, and Hod make up the triad of Yetzirah (formation), at the lowest point on the Tree of Life.

This theory would suggest that the magician is acting in the lowest realm of spiritual endeavor. This would also postulate that the latent forces of nature are acted upon (or manipulated, if you will) by the magician's imagination, and driven by the desires of his/her ego.

If we subscribe to this theory, it would not be too difficult to understand the significance of visualization and manifestation. Visualizing is a very powerful tool. Literally, anything that can be imagined, and visualized, can become manifest. Yet another example of being careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Therapists also use forms of visualization to treat everything from phobias to insomnia.

Ancient Egypt and Babylonia are probably where ceremonial or High magic originated, as both cultures possessed highly developed magical systems. After the decline of these civilizations, the ceremonial systems were preserved by the scholars of Alexandria. From Alexandria, the manuscripts filtered through Byzantium, to later be carried to Europe by the returning crusaders. By the time this knowledge entered the middle ages, the manuscripts and ceremonies had been augmented by a hierarchy of angels and demons from Judaic and Christian cosmology.

In my reality, magic may be used for positive purposes, or for negative purposes. It is the intent of the practitioner as to which way the scales will tip. Yes, there are individuals who choose to work on the darkside, and you will find these individuals in every walk of life, with some in very prominent, authoritative positions. However, in my experience, they are far outnumbered by practitioners who work on the positive side, and incorporate magic to embellish healing and spiritual growth.

Magic has long been condemned by orthodox religions as being 'primitive,' 'Pagan,' and 'evil' simply because it preserves some of the elements of the ancient religions. However, it does seem to be an acceptable practice if we change its name to 'creative visualization,' 'mind over matter,' 'self-hypnosis,' or 'the power of positive thinking.'

In the words of Paracelsus, "Man is superior to the stars if he lives in the power of superior wisdom. Such a person, being master over heaven and earth, by means of his will, is a magnus, and magic is not sorcery but supreme wisdom."

Copyright © 1998 All Rights Reserved.

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