It’s safe to assume that everyone has had an interest in magic at some point in their lives. As children we’re more likely to think that a magic wand we got for our birthday is imbued with special powers. As we get older, believing in such magical possibilities becomes harder and harder.
As cold reality crushes our dreams, it can seem as if there is no order in the Universe and no way to master its secrets. We become cynical to the possibility of otherworldly powers, especially those we can put under our direct control.
How could we possibly manipulate this cold, senseless reality through our own pitiful human faculties? Well, I’m about to show you that through magic doing so is quite possible, and I’ll tell you exactly what I mean by that.
The Definition of Real Magic
To understand whether magic is real or not, we first have to define it. According to Oxford Dictionaries:
Definition of magic – the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.
So the term magic is not precisely defined, since many things can fall into the categories of “mysterious” and “supernatural”, as we’ll explain soon. What we can claim with some assurance however is that casting fireballs and summoning skeleton warriors is unfortunately not possible in this plane of reality. So if that’s the sort of thing you consider as “real magic”, I’m afraid to say that it doesn’t exist, at least not as far as I’m aware of it. And I’m yet to find a single occultist who thinks such things are possible or one that could offer any proof of such powers.
Having said that, let’s focus on the other part of the definition: ..the power of (apparently) influencing events.. If one considers magic as the ability to manipulate people and events, sometimes through mysterious or supernatural methods, magic is definitely real and I’ll show you some examples in the following paragraphs. As Styxhexenhammer666 says, everybody uses magic all the time, they’re just not aware of it:
Examples of Real, Everyday Magic
Many occultists will tell you that magic is all about planting strong impressions on your own mind or the minds of others. Here are some examples of everyday magic:
Let’s say that you got a little chubby and want to lose weight. If you’re not motivated enough to go to the gym or eat a healthy and wholesome diet, you’re probably not going to accomplish that goal. So how do you get that extra motivation? – By implanting strong suggestive thoughts and emotions into your mind, which will make you go to the gym and eat healthy, and as a result lose that extra weight. This goal is usually accomplished by thinking about all the wonderful benefits of having a six pack, watching motivational videos on Youtube or listening to some heavy metal music to get pumped for a workout. You’re essentially influencing your own mental state and performing magic while doing these activities.
Listening to and playing music was always seen as magical in a sense. It was used to procure extraordinary effects, even by well known magicians such as the great Renaissance thinker Marsilio Ficino who used it for spiritual enlightenment and medicine. We can also look at war drums and church choirs as having a profound psychological effect which was directed for a precise purpose of improved courage and piety.
Practical magic consists of two parts: cause and effect. In the previous case of everyday magic the desired effect was weight loss, and the cause or method of achieving this effect would be eating less calories, exercising and perhaps using some of the psychological aids mentioned before. All of these causes can be considered as parts of the magical recipe that if followed properly will lead to the desired effect of losing weight.
Likewise, studying even in it’s rudimentary form is a cause with the effect of obtaining new knowledge. Reading itself is a cause which can lead to many effects, and is therefore magical in a sense.
My point in saying this is to show you that magic doesn’t have to be creepy or complicated in order to be considered magic. It’s simply the case of finding a cause-and-effect relationship and using it for your own benefit. I’ll explain the significance of more occult forms of magic in the following paragraphs.
Now let’s see an example of everyday use of magic on other people. The most clear example is marketing. If you want to sell a product, you need to convince people that they need your product and that it’s the best choice on the market for them. To do so, you need to make an advertisement. What is the point of advertisement? It’s to manipulate people into buying a specific product! If they buy it, you can clearly say that your magic performed effectively!
Religions operate in the same manner. Even if Christianity or Islam aren’t factually correct, they’ve managed to convince people that they’re the absolute Truth. As a result, they’ve become living realities and the ultimate Truth for millions of people for centuries. It goes without saying that both can’t be true at the same time unless they fall into the line of reasoning we’re using here. Mainly that magic deals with the subjective part of human nature. As George Constanza says: It’s not a lie, if you believe it.
But it’s a good question to ask: why more mysterious and occult forms of magic even exists if they’re not necessary?
Oh but they are! There’s a very simple explanation for the dark and creepy forms of magic; more occult magic can provide a stronger and longer lasting impression on the mind than basic everyday motivation can. It can also be used for other purposes, which are mostly psychological.
My First Magical Experience:
I remember a divination ritual I performed years ago as if it happened yesterday. It had a profound effect on my life because it directed my actions and became in a sense a self-fulfilling prophecy. First I meditated until my mind got quiet. Then I got myself into a trance by imagining myself walking around a giant tree 7 times counterclockwise.
At that point I saw an opening in the tree and walked inside it, went down a stairway and entered a green field. In the middle was my guardian angel (or perhaps a demon?) who told me what I should focus in life. He told me that it’s to practice and research the occult and everything related to magic. Then I returned up the stairs and slowly got myself out of the trance state.
It was a very vivid and dare I say, magical experience. Was it of an entirely psychological nature, or was there a dash of mystical, otherworldly influence intertwined with my own imagination? It’s hard to tell, and that’s the ambiguous “what if” of magic which makes it so difficult for scientifically minded individuals to accept.
Magic is Highly Psychological
I hope we can now come to terms with the idea that magic exists at least in a psychological form. The power of magic on this level depends on how powerful of an impression it can imprint in your mind or the mind of others.
To get up from bed in the morning, you probably don’t need a strong magic ritual. You just need to remind yourself you have to go to work or go to the toilet. Perhaps the only magical instrument you need is an alarm clock. But if you have a really ambitious and difficult goal that requires a lot of work, strength, patience and faith in your abilities, you may need some extra assistance. That could be starting your own business, writing a book or conquering the world as a politician.
In that case, asking for help from a demon or an angel through a proper magic ritual can produce an effect powerful enough that it tangibly help you in achieving that goal. It can provide assurance that there is a powerful otherworldly being assisting you on your journey which can give you the confidence to actually make your dream a reality.
A movie that provides an excellent exploration of both psychological and supernatural magic is “The Ninth Gate” by Roman Polanski. This scene in particular is excellent, where the collector of literature on Lucifer performs a ritual convinced that he’ll become a god. Unfortunately the ritual involves burning himself alive, which he does to his own detriment:
Is supernatural magic real?
Can magical practices like voodoo, telepathy and love spells of which the target individual is often not aware of work?
This is highly debatable even among magicians. Those who believe that such magic can produce desirable effects also view the world as being permeated with a single, unifying energy (in traditional societies known as anima, chi, prana etc.). The concept of the Force in Star Wars is based on these ancient beliefs as well. If we’re all connected, it might be even scientifically speaking possible to influence other people in this manner.
The discoveries of quantum physics have opened up these and many other strange possibilities which were too easily dismissed by previous generations of scientists. Those who worshipped Newtonian physics which is based on strict and unflinching laws of Nature. Aleister Crowley, the famous English occultist had this to say about the relationship between science and magic:
It is also true that science and magic were treated as one and the same thing for the better part of human history. Famous European scientists such as Roger Bacon, Emanuel Swedenborg and Isaac Newton were all very interested in occult sciences. It’s mainly because until modern times, people thought that the world was organized according to certain divine principles. If these principles were understood properly by the philosophically inclined individual, he could influence them through the proper magical methods. But this worldview fell out of fashion as Enlightenment, Darwinism and materialism took over the minds of the European intellectuals from the 16th century onward.
Mainstream Religions are Based on Magic
The Catholic Church wasn’t too helpful in this manner either, prosecuting all those who offered alternative paths to spirituality throughout the Middle Ages. Speaking of the Church and religion, let’s not forget that the Bible is full of magic. Moses caused famine and separated the sea, Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water and resurrected others before raising from the dead according to the narrative.
The only conceivable difference between these acts and magic is the claim made by the religious authorities that this isn’t the type of magic performed by a magician, but rather magic performed by God through a human vessel. It’s a clever tactic used by priests to uphold their spiritual monopoly by condemning others as heretics for practicing ungodly forms of magic.
If you’re under the impression that the Bible is kind of outdated at this point, consider a more recent example, known as transubstantiation which shows that religions such as Christianity are not exempt from magical ritualistic practice:
Transubstantiation (Latin: transsubstantiatio; Greek: μετουσίωσις metousiosis) is, according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the change of substance or essence by which the bread and wine offered in the sacrifice of the sacrament of the Eucharist during the Mass, become, in reality, the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
This is a perfect example of magic. If the participant in the sacrament truly believes that he’s eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ, it can obviously have a powerful psychological and spiritual effect. Whether it’s factually correct that the body and blood of Christ is present or not is quite irrelevant, since it worked, and that’s all that any magician cares about.
So when Catholics (or any other religious group for that matter) claim that they’re against magic, it’s really the case that they’re just bothered by the magic of others. Usually because they want to have a monopoly on spirituality and the social power that comes along with it. Roger Scruton’s rant about the dangers of Harry Potter comes to mind.
To summarize this point; there’s essentially a theistic and an atheistic way of interpreting magic and many nuances and points of disagreement even within those two categories. To categorize all the different opinions on magic and ways of performing magic would take hundreds of pages to accomplish.
Final Word: Is Magic Real?
I hope this article has shed some light on the reality of magic. The main point I wanted to get across is that it’s impossible to say whether magic as such is real, because the term magic is used by different people to describe different things.
The essence of magic boils down to causal relations. If you need money, you get a job. Having the job is a cause of which a paycheck is an effect. More occult forms of magic are employed to amplify the cause in order to produce a greater effect. This amplification can be purely psychological or it can be supernatural, there’s no final verdict on this matter so far.
Within the magic community there have always been disagreements on the extent to which more occult forms of magic is real and at what point it becomes little more than blatant superstition. However, what all magicians and even the general public can agree upon is that our beliefs are very powerful, since they determine our actions. Our actions on the other hand shape the world. Even as a purely psychological force it should never be underestimated. In fact it can be considered as the most powerful psychological tool we have at our disposal.
Furthermore, people literally yearn for magic, they swallow up fantasy and mystery in the forms of literature, movies and music every day. It’s a fine line between enjoying something in the form of pure entertainment and taking it a step further. As far as my personal beliefs go, I’ll end this piece with a general warning for aspiring magicians: Those who are aware of magical powers should use them with the full awareness that their efforts always have profound consequences, both positive and negative, on their own lives and the lives of others.