Is magic real?
One simple question which opens up a myriad of others, what do we mean by magic, do we mean illusion and entertainment or are we speaking of practices and/or rituals that change our material world?
Indeed, how can we define reality, is it something that fixed and immutable or is reality fluid and dependent on our experiences?
Is magic real or illusion? Is magic real or fake?
Questions, questions let’s dive deeper.
For the sake of this blog let’s assume that we all understand that magic designed for entertainment, the kind of magic we see on our televisions or on YouTube, is just that, illusion for entertainment. What we’re talking about here is does magic designed to change reality, really exist?
“ The science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will”
“ Real magic falls into three categories: mental influence of the physical world; perception of events distant in space or time, and interaction with non-physical entities.“
I would add a fourth category to these definitions, that of using magic to spiritually and magically evolve yourself.
“Magick is the art of causing change internally and externally in accordance with the Will. Magick is the art of transformation into a sense of divine consciousness, thus it is meant to improve and assist.”
When I come across this kind of question, I usually have to assume that it’s been asked by someone who hasn’t experienced the ecstasy of collective magical ritual, or a solo connection with a god or goddess, demon or angel, for magic, by its very nature, is experiential.
- Magic is the art of organizing reality your way and the stimulus of spiritual growth.
- Magic super -charges your spirit to blossom into its highest potential, stimulating your spirit with your will, desire and power.
- Magic is the honoring of your independent path, infusing your life and spirit with its genius.
Given this, it’s very hard to know whether magic is real from a position of objective observation. If you were to accept the central thesis of science, that nothing can be known unless it can be externally and consistently tested and tested by many people, then magic would surely fail what scientists would call reality.
Yet, neither magic or spirituality function that way, the working of magic in your daily life develops a relationship with the very magic itself, thus changing you and changing the magic and its results
“ It follows then that the more you do magic[k], the more you will encounter revelation and the more you will be transformed.“
Therefore, to know the magic you have to be the magic, and although Dean Radin (quoted above) would argue to the contrary that is, he has argued that science can prove that magic is real, most scientists refuse to accept that. Therefore for the sake of this blog, let’s say the only way for you to know if magic is real, is for you to go on your own journey as a magical practitioner.
I’ll write some reviews on Dean Radin’s work in up coming blogs.
Incidentally, as a chaos magician, I would answer the question of whether magic is real both with a yes and a no, but let’s leave that hanging in the air for now and move onto the second half of this equation: what is reality?
What is the nature of reality
In the Western world, what is reality has been a central political question, in one way or another, for centuries.
Historically a mixture of the state and the church dominated these considerations, only the priests could communicate with God directly and the monarch was the defender of the Faith. Reality was defined by biblical interpretations and these interpretations were dominant.
In the modern Christian (or monotheistic) world there are two competing ideologies both politically and institutionally tied to the state: Christianity (Protestant and Catholic) and science.
Christianity tends to view magic as evil and anti-God. Its dualistic concept of the all - powerful God and his nemesis Satan places both magic and magical practitioners (witches, magicians, sorcerers, shamans and sometimes energy healers) squarely in the camp of the hell bound devil worshipers.
The jealous, all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent Jehovah, apparently views people with esoteric knowledge in need of saving or, if unsuccessful, confines them to an eternity of fiery condemnation and damnation in the afterlife.
The story of the first two people according to the Old Testament, Adam and Eve, shows how Satan tempted Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, resulting in Adam and Eve been cast out from paradise by God, even the earliest monotheistic stories reduced those who flirted with knowledge to a rejected status in the world.
For more on how Jehovah or Yahweh, the jealous God and the myths of evil became so culturally and politically powerful, read the works of Michael W Ford.
Science, the rebellious child of monotheism, usually dismisses magic as illusion or delusion, its (science) dual history of development was both as a method of inquiry based on reason and investigation and as an ideology, a definition of reality.
Let’s be clear, when science grew out of the Enlightenment, it was (and indeed, still is) a vital part of our evolution as a human race. The scientific method has brought many improvements to the people of the world and like any mask of reality (see below) has brought its challenges too.
My beef with science relates to the ideological role it plays in society, often its proponents present themselves as if they were the latest incarnation of the priesthood and interpret, and dictate what reality is, yet won’t reflect on their ideas objectively. Like religion, science usually won’t examine its own treaties, particularly in relation to what reality actually is, and like religion, it all too often claims intellectual and moral authority around the question of what is real.
Rupert Sheldrake, an established and brilliant scientist in his own right, presented a major challenge to the ideological assertions of science.
In his book, The Science Delusion, he challenges a number of unproven assumptions made by the priests of science:
- The idea that science has pretty much figured out the nature of reality and everything, and all it needs to do is fill in the gaps.
- The idea that nothing is real unless it has been exhaustively tested.
- The idea that consciousness and thoughts are just chemical reactions in the human brain...
to name but a few.
Rupert Sheldrake, like a number of other eminent scientists (Deepak Chopra, Judith Orr, Bruce Lipton to name but a few) are often shunned, attacked or dismissed for their views, yet their criticisms go unanswered.
Rupert Sheldrake’s TED talk for example, on these very questions of reality was banned for being unscientific.
Rupert Sheldrake Banned Ted Talk Video
So What Is Real Reality?
Think about what happens if you place your hands on the table, each of us experiences the illusion that our hands, skin, fingers, feel the texture of the surface we are touching. We know, however, that electrical messages (information) are sent from sensors on our skin to our brains or minds, in fact our hands don’t feel the table at all, our minds do.
The same is true of our other senses, our eyes don’t see, ears don’t hear and tongues don’t taste etc., they all transmit eléctro-chemical messages to our minds.
So what is reality?
Well there’s one thing is for sure, even if there were such a thing as objective external reality, we would have no way of experiencing it. Literally everything happens in our minds.
Neuro Linguistic Programing (NLP) states that our conscious minds have the ability to perceive 134 bits of information a second, yet our unconscious minds can manage 11 million. I have no idea how those figures are calculated, but the difference is staggering.
NLP asserts that our unconscious minds delete, distort, or generalize information that they pass to our conscious minds based about what it is we consciously or unconsciously believe.
The idea that reality can be dictated by religion or science appears to be at best very questionable. As Anil Seth, a neuroscientist explained in his Ted talk on YouTube: Your Brain Hallucinates Your Conscious Reality:
“...we’re all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it ‘reality’”.
Reality should be seen as something fluid then, something created by consciousness itself. The question is magic real becomes can we manipulate reality since it all takes place in our minds?
The Key To Spiritual Power
So what if magic is real, and a key to your spiritual power?
Since it seems unlikely that you can dismiss this concept through the usual channels (religion, science, other people’s opinion as shown above) and magic probably needs to be experiential, perhaps the only way for you to answer this question is by doing magic for yourself.
So, what types of magic are there?
Magic has been around since the dawn of human history, from the cave paintings to the powerful shamans of the tribes. There are many kinds of magic that have evolved over millennia and beyond, much has been lost due to religious suppression, but we are remembering old magic and finding a great deal more new magic too.
In his fascinating book Lucifer And The Hidden Demons – A Practical Grimoire From The Order Of Unveiled Faces, Theodore Rose explains this well:
“ ...the finest academics are producing the best works of magical research that have been written, eclipsing the texts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”
Indeed, over the last 50 or so years the magical knowledge accessible has evolved dramatically, hence if you choose to discover for yourself your truth about whether magic is real or not, there’s probably more information available to you than ever before.
What are the benefits of magic?
For me, it is the opportunity to reach beyond societal and familial programming, to beat my own spiritual path and define my own reality. It frees me from being answerable to a God /god or the ethical pronouncements of others. It’s the journey towards my own highest potential and the acceleration of my evolution.
Theodore Rose (quoted above) expresses it from a more cautionary point of view:
“ Striving for an enjoyable and fulfilling life without the powers of magick brings depression, sickness and an overpowering feeling of having gone astray.”
So, if magic is your key to spiritual power, what other considerations do you have, or to put it another way, which path brings you the greatest growth and freedom?
There are many classifications of magic and, obviously, it would be beyond the scope of this conversation to discuss them all, so let’s pick up on some of the ideas that have surfaced since the repealing of the Witchcraft Act in the UK in the middle of last century.
In terms of magic, there’s the right hand path or White Magic as it is also known, the left-hand path, often called Black Magic and somewhere in between Grey Magic.
There’s also another path that came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s with the emergence of Chaos Magic.
Within the confines of this particular blog any discussion of the ideas behind these paths is bound to be incomplete, I have included them in order to give you a taste of the thinking on your own path to self.
Furthermore, the purpose of our website, Magic Self and Spirit, is to support those people who seek their own independent spiritual path and a logical starting place is the question: is magic real?
White Magic: The Right Hand Path
Due to popular culture, many of us are used to the surface ideas that the goals of white magic are selfless and seek to influence events and the evolution of humankind for good.
The range of this thinking is indeed wide:
- Christian magic and the works of people like Alice Bailey in the first half of the 20th century,
- to perhaps the magic of white light and angels (and much more besides) of practitioners like Dion Fortune and the magical schools that grew from her work.
- The magic that emerged from modern Wicca since Gerald Gardner, a neo-pagan perspective.
Although, it has to be said, there’s a whole area of white magic that may well not be that pure and selfless and should best be described as grey.
For Alice Bailey, particularly in relation to her treatise on white magic, it seems that her goal was to spiritually evolve herself and others to become one with the divine being:
“ I suggest that just as self consciousness is the goal for all the subhuman forms of life, and as a group of consciousness, or the consciousness of the Heavenly Man, is the goal for the human being, so for him, also there may be a goal, and for him the achievement may be the development of God consciousness.“
-The consciousness of an atom
This kind of white magic is passive (in fact all white magic in this context is entirely passive) the magician builds a relationship with the holy guardian angel and seeks to integrate herself as one with the godhead, surrendering every part of self to divinity.
Although white magic functions as a science working with sacred symbols on ancient pathways, whether the pathway be the Qabbalah or the Barque of the sun god Ra, often these magicians work with Secret Chiefs (so called evolved spiritual beings related to the Golden Dawn) who seem to have some kind of authority over their paths. It’s a journey of renunciation or transformation of the self into the godhead.
This kind of white magic is dualistic, favoring light over darkness, good over bad and right over wrong. Sure, it’s a sacred path but the question that presents itself is, if the divine is an all powerful and perfect being, is white magic anymore than a ritual based mystical path and indeed necessary at all?
Throughout some of the right hand path training that I did, I felt that it was always about other people (and spirit beings) defining who I was and what I should be doing. It was always a sense that who I was was wrong, ultimately I moved away.
The other kind of white magic that’s prominent, is neo-pagan, primarily the Wicca of Gerald Gardner and Alex Saunders. Wicca is a nature based spirituality and has some obvious connection with other witchcraft and pagan traditions.
Yet its magic is still about worship and the elevation of the goddess and the god over self. Its magical rules are ‘to do no harm’ but it does not appear to be strictly selfless magic, so in that sense we can perhaps label Wiccan magic as grey magic as referred to above.
What is Black Magic: The Left Hand Path
In the same way as the idea of white magic is part of our culture, black magic is often defined as its opposite. Popular culture sees black magic as working with supernatural powers with the intention of hurting others or to do evil and/or selfish things.
In all honesty these ideas are delusional, black magic just doesn’t accept the moral and ethical structures of monotheism, particularly Islam and Christianity. If you were to reflect on the histories of both of those religions it wouldn’t be a great stretch to realize why.
Black magic is an umbrella term that covers a range of practices from voodoo, traditional witchcraft, Satanism and Luciferianism (and many more besides).
The whole question of evil has much of its roots embedded in the Judeo Christian Muslim history. A small and rather violent shepherd tribe from what is now southern Israel, spread its influence and power by conquering other tribes in native lands. In a tiny leap of logic it’s god (Yahweh) became the one true God (as obviously they had won the war) and the gods of the other tribes were cast out as demons and therefore became what they called evil.
Some black magic, and the religions attached to it, are in a literal sense adversarial, identifying their practices as the opposition to this conquering god. Magic working with the demonic beings is common place and freedom and spiritual growth is identified as rebellion against a repressive deity. This then, in simplified terms, is the traditional left-hand path.
Black magicians don’t often see their practice as evil, for them it’s more about hidden knowledge and spiritual power, take for example the writings of Michael. W. Ford from his book Dragon Of The Two Flames.
“... our definition of black magic is different: Black is the ‘hidden’, that has associations with knowledge and power. We care little for cursing and the idea of white magick is pure idiot fantasy!.. we heal, protect and empower ourselves and assist ones we care for: We don’t see that as ‘white’ ...there must always be a balance of creation and destruction” [ibid]
Other black magicians, of which Michael W Ford is one, see the concepts of angels and demons (for example) as the higher and lower parts of self. Angels are messengers from the higher mind, while demons are the expressions of the unconscious mind. Working with both is about balance of self and therefore personal growth and power.
The vast unconscious mind melts into the collective unconsciousness, symbols and rituals in the form of a massive psychodrama unlocks the magic of the All and power is experienced.
Incidentally, both black and white (or at least grey) magicians work with demons. The first in harmony and honoring, the others in a circle of salt, with large swords chanting ancient names of the Hebrew god whilst threatening demons with entrapment. Guess which magic is more effective.
Chaos Magic differs in a number of ways, there’s no strict system you must follow, as you would expect there are really no rules, it’s a philosophical approach, a point of view.
Indeed, any two Chaos Magicians would have different thoughts about how they can execute their magic. It’s an individual approach to magic usually based on the practicality of what works.
In contrast other magical systems often work differently. Although there’s now a lot of information available, many of the other systems of magic; the Thelema of Aleister Crowley, the Secret Chiefs of the Golden Dawn, Dion Fortune and the more modern Mystery Schools, or the higher levels of Wicca, have a range of initiatory secrets which are inaccessible to outsiders and preclude the personal, totally independent magical paths I am encouraging.
Because, as discussed above, reality is at best fluid, an hallucination, the ability to work with beliefs as if they are just tools is both powerful and liberating.
Imagine the Magician card from the tarot. The Magician with one arm pointing to the heavens and the other to the earth, stands in front of his altar.
On the altar are a range of magical symbols and tools. Imagine now that there are many masks on this altar and that each mask represents a different structure of beliefs. One may be a religion, another, a representation of spirituality, a form of magic, or a philosophical or political belief system.
All belief systems are dualistic, right/wrong, good/bad, real/unreal and they’re all congruent, that is they all work. If you were to wear one of these masks, follow its rules and actively live as if they were true, then you could choose to experience whatever the central benefits were of that particular mask. You may choose to experience the benefits of unconditional love from Mother Mary and ignore all the negatives of a Catholic mask for example, or you may choose the experience of magical and spiritual empowerment from a Luciferian one.
The point is that once you’ve used the mask to create the quality or experience you so choose, you can cast it aside and wear another mask and create reality in another way.
Reality then is not just a thought or a belief, it’s a lived experience, it’s through thought, word and deed or desire, will and action played out together that you realize the key to your spiritual power.
Do I believe magic is real? Why yes and no, it really depends which mask I am wearing at the time.
“ There are only two ways to live your life, one is though nothing is a miracle. The other is although everything is a miracle.“