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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

MAGIC (aka Magick, Majic, Majick)

Books can (and have) been written trying to define "What is Magic?".   In many ways Magic is defined differently by people of different faiths.   The most common thread is that Magic is exerting our will to manifest things for ourselves and others... or put another way, the use of a certain ritual action to bring about the intervention of a supernatural force, either in human affairs or in the natural environment, for a specific purpose.

Another useful definition is Magic is "the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with will".   This is the definition given by the occultist Aleister Crowley, who was one of the most influential occultists of the early 1900's.   Crowley also introduced the spelling of Magic with a "k" to distinguish it from stage Magic.   Also, 'k' has a numerological value of 11, which is considered the number of Magic and the moon, and stands for "Kteis" - the female genitalia - and refers to the feminine principle in Magick.

Belief in Magic has existed universally since ancient times, and varies in form from primary rituals involving the well-being of an entire community, to minor, peripheral, private acts of Magic.   Performing works of Magick can be as elaborate as an hours-long ritual, or as simple as a quiet offering prayer.

All forms of Magic were traditionally secret arts taught only to Initiates, although in some cultures Magical knowledge can sometimes be bought and sold or can be passed on through inheritance.

A distinction is usually made between Black Magic, which is often understood as the use of Magic to bring misfortune or death, and White Magic, which is often understood as the use of Magic to ward off such attacks as well as to prevent natural calamities.   However, neither of these definitions is entirely accurate. (see BLACK MAGIC)

Generally speaking, in occult theory and thought, Magic is not considered to be either good or evil, it is the Magician's intentions that make the difference.   The very earliest forms of Magic were designed to produce some desired effect, such as rituals for successful hunting.

This simple Magic, also called Sorcery or 'Low' Magic, involves practices such as tying and untying knots, Candle Magic, and the use of wax images or little dolls or poppets.   Sorcery is also called Sympathetic Magic - by imitating the desired result, it is believed the practitioner will make the event happen in reality.   Sympathetic Magic usually requires some personal effect of the 'object' of the spell.   For example: In the case of a healing spell for a sick friend a lock of hair, a fingernail or article of clothing may be sought.

Some practitioners, though by no means all, believe it is also important that the 'object' be aware of the spell, which increases the likelihood of a successful result.

Magical acts may be performed by individuals on their own behalf, or a Magician with specialized knowledge of the rites that may be consulted.   In some societies, associations of Magical specialists exist.

Magical practitioners may be called witch doctors, Wizards, Sorcerers, diviners, witches, Warlocks, wise women, Cunning Women, and so on.   However, it should be remembered that each of these terms has a specific definition and meaning, and one can often get at least some idea of an individuals Magical 'belief system' by the term they use to describe themselves.

By the Middle Ages in Europe Magical arts had become divided between Low Magic, such as Sorcery, and High Magic, which meant exploring the Esoteric Traditions of the Kabbalah and Hermetica, often through elaborate Ceremonial Magic.

In Ceremonial Magic the aim of the ritual is to commune with God or a deity to achieve a higher consciousness.  

The spiritual and mystical elements of Hermetic knowledge and the Jewish Kabbalah are aimed at facilitating the communication between human beings, spirits and the Divine at different levels of spiritual consciousness.

Magic was discredited by the Scientific Revolution in the 17th and 18th centuries, but interest revived in the 19th Century, and various occult societies and Magical fraternities were established.

Wicca and other forms of Neo-Pagan witchcraft, include both Low Magic or Sorcery (but not Blood Sacrifice) and High or Ceremonial Magic.

A Biblical Perspective:

The Scriptures clearly prohibit Occult practices in any form.

The use of Magick and other forms of Occult practice usurp the rightful place of the Scripture in the life of the Christian.   It attempts to give direction and guidance to the individual.   The Bible is clear on the subject.   Magick and other forms of Occult practice is an abomination to God.   Some would have us believe the Bible endorses certain forms of Magick as an art that offers mankind an understanding of his true self, an opportunity to create his or her own reality to suit his or her personal spiritual goals.   The following Scripture indicates otherwise.
"When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.   Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices Divination or Sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead." - Deuteronomy 18:9-11

Scripture also calls each of us to place our faith in Jesus Christ rather than the created universe.   The book of Colossians reminds the individual to "see to it that no one takes you captive through vain philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of man, according to the elemental principles of the universe, rather than according to Christ." - (Colossians 2:8)

see also: MAGICK, Theory of; WITCHES' PYRAMID; MAGICK, Laws of

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One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc
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