What is magic?
Let's ask the dictionary for that! A quick google search gives us this;
- 1. The art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effects, or forces by invoking the supernatural.
- 2.a. The practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature.b. The charms, spells, and rituals so used.
When people speak of magic, they generally think David Copperfield or Christ Angel. Then the second image they generally get will be that of Harry Potter or Gandalf. And then finally if generally brings the image of lunatic new-agers believing themselves to be gods and being all powerful because they're more enlightened and further along the path of reincarnation or other similar nonsense.
One of the biggest problem of magic is that it's generally hard to get into since most of the information that exist can be quite contradictory or it just sounds F'n stupid especially when people involves gods, fairies and etc.
So what exactly is magic?
Aleister Crowley, probably the most well known occultist of the 2oth century defined magic as follow; "Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will."
That is rather vague and kind of confusing as it can apply to anything including flipping a light switch. I'm going to try explaining a bit. The most important part of magic is causing change to occur according to what you desire by accomplishing some form of ritual. There are a virtually unlimited numbers of ways to get this done.
What is probably the most important thing however is not tools, skill or the proper instructions or even supernatural powers existing. What is most important is desire and conviction. Magic do not work if the magician has doubts it will.
Many people don't believe in magic or the supernatural. If these things don't exist, then magic doesn't work, right? The answer is it doesn't even matter. Even if all the powers spoken of don't exist, they do not need to. Magic is at it's core a psychological experience. Much like sugar pill placebos can help people who are sick, magic can do the same.
The mind is a powerful thing, and the body does react to what it is told by it, even if it's false. Placebo and Nocebo effects are tools of magic, if someone is lead to believe that something will heal or harm him, it will often work!
How do you do magic?
There are many, many ways to do magical work. Shamans use trances to contact the spirit world and bring down it's powers, pagan witch perform rituals using correspondence between things to bring down effects, Chaos magicians use sigils to vocalize their desires and using trances focus on them. Ceremonial magicians command the force of divinity and bend it into shapes while theurgists summon angels or demons to do their bidding.
There are different ways to go on about this, but the principle remains the same; Focusing on an objective, creating a bridge to reach it mentally and bringing it back. They use formulas that fit within their paradigm that don't necessarily needs to be literal. Calling down angels, demons or gods can often just be a metaphor or an image to represent a certain concept.
Gods, angels, demons and squids.
Although I've studied quite a few belief systems, Chaos magic is one that I'm quite fond of. For reasons I'll explain another time.
But to a lot of magicians, when people speak of supernatural beings, let's say hermes. They are not speaking of a man in a toga and sandals sitting by a magical pool waiting for someone to call. Hermes, represents an idea, the idea of communication, knowledge or travel. To wish for hermes' blessing doesn't mean one wants him to flick his finger and send some mojo but for his particular attributes to come back to the caller.
Similarly, if someone is possessed by a god or a demon, it doesn't mean that there is literally one of these beings within him. It's possible to conjure up these beings as a new persona to take on. Sort of like when a good actor plays a role, the person stops playing the role, but instead becomes the role.
The reason why we don't see a lot of atheists or buddhists being possessed by christian concept of demons is that they don't believe in them and thus would not accept to take on that persona.
People who work with summoning magic will often realize that you can get possessed by beings who are completely imaginary beyond any doubt. One if he knows how could summon Batman if he so wishes to and becomes possessed by him.
Magic or Magick?
Anyone who's ever hung around any magical community will notice that many people spell magic with a K. This often seems weird but it has a semi-historical origins. The K was added to the word magic by Aleister Crowley who wanted a way to easily differentiate Stage magic from actual magick.
Personally, I write it correctly without the superfluous letter because I've yet to see anyone who ever confused the two for more than a microseconds because as soon as anything aside from the word itself is said, you generally can know which is being talked about.