Magick

Magick, in the broadest sense, is any act designed to cause intentional change.[1] The spelling with the terminal "k" was repopularized in the first half of the 20th century by Aleister Crowley when he made it a core component of his mystical system of Thelema.

"The Anglo-Saxon k in Magick, like most of Crowley's conceits, is a means of indicating the kind of magic which he performed. K is the eleventh letter of several alphabets, and eleven is the principal number of magick, because it is the number attributed to the Qliphoth - the underworld of demonic and chaotic forces that have to be conquered before magick can be performed. K has other magical implications: it corresponds to the power or shakti aspect of creative energy, for k is the ancient Egyptian khu, the magical power. Specifically, it stands for kteis (vagina), the complement to the wand (or phallus) which is used by the Magician in certain aspects of the Great Work."[2]
For Crowley, the alternate spelling was used to differentiate it from other practices, such as stage magic. Magick is not capable of producing "miracles" or violating the physical laws of the universe (e.g., it cannot cause a solar eclipse), although "it is theoretically possible to cause in any object any change of which that object is capable by nature".[3]

Crowley preferred the spelling magick, defining it as "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will." By this, he included "mundane" acts of will as well as ritual magic. In Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter XIV, Crowley says:

What is a Magical Operation? It may be defined as any event in nature which is brought to pass by Will. We must not exclude potato-growing or banking from our definition. Let us take a very simple example of a Magical Act: that of a man blowing his nose.
Crowley saw magick as the essential method for a person to reach true understanding of the self and to act according to one's True Will, which he saw as the reconciliation "between freewill and destiny."[4] Crowley describes this process:

One must find out for oneself, and make sure beyond doubt, who one is, what one is, why one is…Being thus conscious of the proper course to pursue, the next thing is to understand the conditions necessary to following it out. After that, one must eliminate from oneself every element alien or hostile to success, and develop those parts of oneself which are specially needed to control the aforesaid conditions.[5]
Since the time of Crowley's writing about magick, many different spiritual and occult traditions have adopted the spelling with the terminal -k, but have redefined what it means to some degree. For many modern occultists, it refers strictly to paranormal magic, which involves influencing events and physical phenomena by supernatural, mystical, or paranormal means.

Crowley defined magick as "the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will."[6][7] He goes on to elaborate on this, in one postulate, and twenty eight theorems. His first clarification on the matter is that of a postulate, in which he states "ANY required change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of Force in the proper manner, through the proper medium to the proper object."[8][9]

Crowley provided some further statements about the nature of magick as he defined it (from the Introduction to Magick, Book 4):

"Every intentional (Willed) act is a Magical act."
"Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one's conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action."
For Crowley, the practice of magick—although it equally applies to mundane things, like balancing the checkbook—is essentially to be used for attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of one's Holy Guardian Angel (which he believed was the first step necessary for spiritual attainment). Since achieving this state with one's "Silent Self" can be extremely arduous, magick can be used not only to reach that particular goal, but to clear the way for it as well. For example, if one needed a particular dwelling to perform the operation, one could use magick to obtain a suitable home. Crowley stated that magick that did not have one of these goals as its aim was black magic and should be avoided.

Although he referred to magick as a "high" art, Crowley himself did not use the term "low magick." Rather, he compared magick—which he saw as the essential method for achieving enlightenment and doing one's sacred Will—with practices he referred to as witchcraft or sorcery. The essential difference, from Crowley's point of view, is one of intent, where the purpose of a magical event is either in service to the True Will (which he referred to as the Great Work) or to the individual ego. Within this framework, ego- or vanity-driven practices like love charms, fascinations, or fortune telling tend to fall into the latter category.

W.E.Butler defines magic as "bringing about changes in consciousness [of the operator] at will".

Crowley made many claims for the paranormal effects of magick; however, as magicians and mystics had done before him and continue to do after him, Crowley dismissed such effects as useless:

So we find that from November, 1901, he did no practices of any kind until the Spring Equinox of 1904, with the exception of a casual week in the summer of 1903, and an exhibition game of magick in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid in November, 1903, when by his invocations he filled that chamber with a brightness as of full moonlight. (This was no subjective illusion. The light was sufficient for him to read the ritual by.) Only to conclude, "There, you see it? What's the good of it?" — (Crowley, The Equinox of the Gods)
Even so, Crowley realized that paranormal effects and magical powers have some level of value for the individual:

My own experience was very convincing on this point; for one power after another came popping up when it was least wanted, and I saw at once that they represented so many leaks in my boat. They argued imperfect insulation. And really they are quite a bit of a nuisance. Their possession is so flattering, and their seduction so subtle. One understands at once why all the first-class Teachers insist so sternly that the Siddhi (or Iddhi) must be rejected firmly by the Aspirant, if he is not to be sidetracked and ultimately lost. Nevertheless, "even the evil germs of Matter may alike become useful and good" as Zoroaster reminds us. For one thing, their possession is indubitably a sheet-anchor, at the mercy of the hurricane of Doubt— doubt as to whether the whole business is not Tommy-rot! Such moments are frequent, even when one has advanced to a stage when Doubt would seem impossible; until you get there, you can have no idea how bad it is! Then, again, when these powers have sprung naturally and spontaneously from the exercise of one's proper faculties in the Great Work, they ought to be a little more than leaks. You ought to be able to organize and control them in such wise that they are of actual assistance to you in taking the Next Step. After all, what moral or magical difference is there between the power of digesting one's food, and that of transforming oneself into a hawk? — (Crowley, Magick Without Tears)

There are several ways to view what magick is. Again, at its most broad, it can be defined as any willed action leading to intended change. It can also be seen as the general set of methods used to accomplish the Great Work of mystical attainment. At the practical level, magick most often takes several practices and forms of ritual, including banishing, invocation and evocation, eucharistic ritual, consecration and purification, astral travel, yoga, sex magick, and divination.

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