Category: Mystic groups and systems
Magic is defined in text books to mean ‘the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will’. And so it has come to be regarded by today’s principally western commentators. The magic used in entertainment has definitely come to be that. Tricks, sleights of hand, illusions, some fun, some not so fun. The whole tradition of magic in medieval Europe, for example was strongly influenced by literal adaptations of the Spanish Arab schools whose work included ‘magical’ documents.
But we must go back in time to find the original origins of magic. Magic was once a training system, based upon experience, very very closely aligned to mysticism. Magic, as it once was, not only assumed that it is possible to cause certain effects by means of certain techniques, but it also taught the person how to do this.
It did indeed include in its repertoire sets of practises that might be classified as ‘magical’ in the sense of causing some apparently ‘supernatural’ things to happen. But these were only achieved via the branch of magic in which we should be interested - that part which involved the teaching of how to produce ‘new perceptions’ and to ‘develop new organs of human development’.
In effect, the branch of magic which deals specifically with spiritual experience.
So magic is both a system and a set of training techniques to achieve spiritual experience, together with a set of procedures to achieve certain effects once spiritual experience has been obtained – prophesy, walking on water, levitation, healing along with a number of similar types of 'miracle' that might be grouped under the general heading of environmental control. Jesus was a mystic magician. Sai Baba was also a mystic magician. They might be able to control the weather, for example, raise the dead, and 'teleport objects' [including themselves].
Why is magic of especial interest?
In the first place, it has not been taken over by institutionalised religion, so although true magicians have ethical codes by which they work – DON’T HURT and LOVE - there are no huge [pointless] moral frameworks or apparatus for control, nor are there any power bases or political organisations set up to exploit magical knowledge.
Magic is thus very close, for example, to the system Jesus proposed in the original New Testament version of his teaching. No religious buildings; no power bases; and spiritual experience in your lifetime for all, irrespective of colour, creed, sex, abilities, nationality, sexual persuasion, age, weight or height! Everyone can go to heaven using magic.
spiritual progress [does] not depend on religious or moral codes, but is like any other science. Magick would yield its secrets to the infidel and the libertine, just as one does not have to be a churchwarden in order to discover a new kind of orchid. There are, of course, certain virtues necessary to the Magician; but they are of the same order as those which make a successful chemist.
In the second place, ‘Magical texts’ tend to get ignored by the academic and religious as being either ‘evil’ or so riddled with superstition that they are not worth bothering with. So we have a set of ancient texts that have not been tampered with. They remain an unadulterated record of what had to be done. Those who preserved these books have deliberately made sure that they are preserved in their original form by scattering references to the devil and satan fairly liberally about the text and by adding the odd preposterous examples of what was achieved – usually involving blood, guts, pain, cauldrons, slime, and anything scary enough to see the squeamish off. So the books of magic are a faithful record – if you ignore the off putting parts - of what you really do to get a spiritual experience.
Alchemy and magic share a lot of the methods and a lot of the symbolism.
In the third place, the texts have stayed unadulterated and unchanged by the belief, amongst those that have helped preserve them, that not a single line of text should be changed. What has been drummed into the followers of magic is that the ‘spell’ depends on totally faithful adherence to the original text. Change the words and you lose the magic, which to a large extent is true.
All magic documents are heavily coded, with symbolism and allegory both being used extensively, as such for those who believe without knowing the underlying symbolism, the texts indeed do look like incomprehensible books of ‘spells’ which can only be made to work by a ‘magician’.
But this has been to magic’s enormous advantage, because the symbolism protects the practises for all but those who understand and adhere to the right approach, working safely and to the codes of conduct, and the believers protect the text, in the fervent hope that they will one day be able to ‘recite’ the spells too – as long as they never change the text. Most people who follow magic still do not understand – and this is good – that magic books are instruction manuals. Interestingly some people can send themselves into a trance state by reciting the spells and following the rituals, without understanding a word of what has been written, so the effect is somewhat similar to a chant or mantra.
Principles of magic
Practically all true magic works via heightened emotion.
There are some schools of magic that work on positive emotions, some on negative emotion. Morgan Le Fay, for example, appeared to get good results on jealousy and hate. Very high negative emotion works, and I have included generic descriptions myself which cover scary rides as promoters of spiritual experience – so I cannot criticise the schools, but there are better techniques based on more positive emotions.
Idries Shah – The Sufis
Magic is worked through the heightening of emotion. No magical phenomena take place in the cool atmosphere of the laboratory.
When the emotion is heightened to a certain extent, a spark (as it were) jumps the gap, and what appears to be supernormal happenings are experienced. Familiar as an example to most people are poltergeist phenomena. They occur only where there are adolescents or others in a state of relatively continuous nervous (emotional) tension. They hurl stones, seem to cancel the force of gravity, move tremendously heavy objects.
When the magician is trying, shall we say, to move a person or an object, or influence a mind in a certain direction, he has to go through a procedure (more or less complicated, more or less lengthy) to arouse and concentrate emotional force. Because certain emotions are more easily roused than others, magic tends to centre around love and hatred. It is these sensations, in the undeveloped individual, which provide the easiest fuel, emotion, "electricity" for the spark to jump the gap which will leap to join a more continuous current.
When the present-day followers of the witchcraft tradition in Europe speak of their perambulation of a circle, seeking to raise a "cone of power," they are following this part of the magical tradition.
There are only a small number of techniques involving a high level of positive emotion – making love and sex magick being two of the more obvious. In the category of an event that can cause all sorts of spiritual experiences through a mixture of pain and high positive emotion, childbirth must come high in the list. So magic, making babies and having babies all go together!
A very brief history
Magic or magick is to be found in every civilisation throughout the world. It has existed for thousands of years and can be traced back to Neolithic times. As many of its adherents are capable of out of body experiences, they share knowledge and have a relatively common set of beliefs.
Magic existed in the Norse and Celtic cultures, for example, and was sustained by the Druids in places such as the UK and Ireland. Magic is to be found in many shamanistic cultures. Magic in Europe took a hefty blow, however, as Christianity spread and much of the magic in Europe and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages had to be reconstituted from eastern sources. Interestingly enough, some magic was obtained from the Sufis who in turn obtained it from the far east via the trade routes opened up by Islamic conquests. Again, in an ironic twist, it was the Crusades that helped to replace and renew magical practise in Europe.
The only time of outright war during the Crusades was in the time of Saladdin (1174-1193) the Sultan of Syria, when Sufis suffered and were persecuted and the Crusaders were fought. But at other times a form of ‘truce’ reigned.
The Knights Templar, for example, set up many links with the Arabs and many Templars of higher rank were even initiated as Sufis. It is through these links that magic was given a new boost and reintroduced secretly and in coded form. The following from the Manual of Sex Magick, however, describes how the Templars were treated, showing that coded texts and secrecy were indeed essential.
Magic was also preserved within the system of alchemy. As you will see in the section on alchemy there are three main kinds of alchemy – medicinal, actual chemical and metallurgical experiments and then forms of mystical philosophy. But alchemy also hid within its broad framework magic as we have defined it here, the use of high levels of emotion to invoke a spiritual experience and the alchemists used their codes to write on the subject.
One of the major problems with magic, as it is with just about every mystical system, is that it in general involves the use of sexual energy. This is not the only energy or emotion used, but it is by far the most obvious [and popular!]. But from the very early days of both Christianity and Islam, all forms of sexuality were repressed, treated as morally wrong, and only considered acceptable if the result was for pro-creation. These are diametrically opposite views, so it was, I’m afraid, inevitable that those in authority would persecute, torture, imprison, and kill those who opposed this view – and they did – in Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle East.
So Magic is yet another system that has struggled under the tyrannical suppression of institutionalised religion and political systems to keep its approach intact.
Even Aleister Crowley, in the true spirit of the magician, used coded language as late as the late 19th century and early 20th century in England. In his more audacious and ‘outright shocking’ books are to be found thinly veiled attempts to communicate methods of sexual magick, often using words like "blood", "death" and "kill" to replace "semen", "ecstasy" and "ejaculation". And the reason he used these words is exactly the same as these words have always been used in magic, to ensure the meaning is not corrupted, to repel those who would make this a religion and to repel the scientific meddler and political interferer.
Take for instance the highly repeated quote from his thickly veiled Book Four:
It would be unwise to condemn as irrational the practice of devouring the heart and liver of an adversary while yet warm. For the highest spiritual working one must choose that victim which contains the greatest and purest force; a male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory.
Do not take this literally, remember the intention is to turn away the fanatically religious and the scientist.
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