What Makes Magic Different?

Here’s an excerpt from Jason Miller’s Magick Monday Newsletter – that I’m posting ON Monday for a change!

Expectation of how something is going to be is a great compass to hold, but when you get the map of the land you start to see how it diverges from how we want it to be. When we actually hit the road and experience the terrain it diverges even more. It can be tempting to just toss out those expectations, but I urge you not to!

Bottom line is that if what you wanted to get out of magic, or anything, is not really there then you should move on to something else. When my best friend got into magic, after a year or so he brought up this same dilemma and it turned out what he really wanted was offered more in martial arts than in magic, so he switched. This can be hard, especially after investing years of work, but be mindful of getting dragged down by sunk costs fallacy. It’s better to cut losses than keep throwing good time and effort after bad.

I love magic, and in many ways Strategic Sorcery is my attempt to make it more like my early expectations than what I was presented with. Those early expectations are still my compass, and now that I have a chance to shape the terrain, I am taking it!

Magic is a loose word. Like “meditation” the word can mean almost anything. Its also a term that as a lot of baggage that people want to avoid. When a Catholic Church advises purchase of a specific statue, battery of prayers, novena, and set of actions with the explicit intent of selling your house and finding a new one: is that a spell? They say no, I say yes. Thats magic.

I once was allowed to witness my friend getting initiated into a Vietnamese Practice where Spirits possess the students to teach Kung fu and Qi Gung. After the ritual which involved incense and specific hits at certain key subtle body points, Master Phan came over to me and said “I hope you don’t think this is some kind of magic or vodou, it’s not”. With respect, yeah, it is.

So when you look at prayers and meditations and see those in magic, realize that magic is part and parcel to pretty much every religion in history. There are differences though. The magician expects a response or a result. Not hopes for it – expects it. If we don’t get it, we come at it again. In religion, its gods agency, in magic it’s ours. Of course, some people approach magic with an eye towards leaving it up to god or the spirits to decide what to grant or not. To me “thy will be done” is not magic, but to others it’s the best magic. If they don’t get what they asked for, they assume the Gods/Spirits/Angels/etc are giving what they need rather than what they want.  This isn’t how I think of magic, but again, the word can mean almost anything. That’s why I prefer Sorcery as a word.

You mention that emphasis on vibration and moving energy has fallen out of fashion. It has, but who cares? Like my favorite Quebecois clothing company: Fucklamode! This stuff is exceptionally important to me, and its why I love chants and harmonics and why almost every class I teach has rituals relating to the subtle body.

In the 80’s and 90’s it was “everything is in your head”.  In the aughts and teens it was “its all spirits and nothing but spirits”. Now its…. whatever we make it. Every trend has important contributions, heaping piles of bunk to disregard, and misunderstood gems that will need to be recovered a few trends later like proverbial babies from the bathwater.

Don’t worry about the market, or the trend, or the “occulture”. Do what you do and let others keep up with your vision or “tsk tsk” you lack of fashion at their whim.

In the Sorcerer’s secrets I talked about three levels of magic, the Physical, The Astral, and the Empyrean. In my Level Up course, I divide this up into seven levels: Physical, Etheric, Astral, Symbol-Space, Mental, Causal, and Perfection.  For this piece lets just stick with the division of three.

Different traditions emphasize different levels in their work.

Folk magic emphasizes physical materia, but also prayer to gods and spirits to empower that work. We can say that they emphasize level 1 and 3 but leave level 2 more or less alone…. Or do they? I was taught to breathe on things to bring them to life, and to concentrate on them with full focus, this has an effect on energy no doubt!

GD and Thelemic stuff tend to not use much materia beyond the tools for the rituals. Here is where those vibrations and energy are found. Christ, some magicians I know do nothing but draw geometrical shapes in the air of their bedrooms…. So maybe the emphasis is on level 2 and 3.

In Tibetan Magic I found a system that emphasizes all three levels more or less equally. Right or wrong, this has informed how I approach ALL magic. What happens when you add a bit of emphasis on energetics and astral work into folk magic? What happens when you add physical links or dressed candles into GD or Thelemic rituals? BOOM! Or maybe fizzle, I dunno, you tell me. Part of it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Those trying to preserve a tradition are often at odds with those trying to keep moving forward. Such is the way of the world

Every 5 years or so, its good to take your original expectations out of the box and have a look at them. Does the reality live up to the expectation? Does it surpass it? What can you do to make it more like your original vision? Is it worth investing time and effort into that? Would you be happier dropping it entirely or is there a magic shaped hole in your soul that needs to do this?

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Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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