Magick is doing.
Okay, that's probably not very enlightening. Permit me to elaborate. Aleister Crowley, a famous (and in many ways, infamous) magician, defined magick as "The Science and Art of causing Change in conformance with Will". Actually, that's a pretty good working definition. Crowley indicated that "Every intentional act is a magical act." This is a portion of the definition of magick which will create rifts amongst practitioners of magick. I, however, do subscribe to this philosophy.
Later in this page, I will discuss three components of magick:
There are other things related to magick that we can discuss first.
It also establishes an aura of "ancientness" to the term, a trait frequently found to be desirable to practitioners of occult magick.
What are those funny dots (.·.) for? This symbol is called an "asterism", and is generally used where periods would normally be used in an acronym when the acronym is supposed to stand for something secret or mystical in nature. For example, the College Of Thelema is properly displayed as C.O.T., but the Temple of Thelema is properly displayed as T.·.O.·.T.·., since the T.·.O.·.T.·. represents a mystical or holy subject. There might also be a secret associated with the acronym; I don't know.
What is the .'. used for? When raw text is the only option available, such as in E-mail or newsgroup posts, a lot of people use .'. to represent an asterism. I have also seen it represented as :. or .: in some cases, and even .. upon occassion.
What path of magick do you study? I study and practice Qabalistic High Magick. The primary goal, initially, of this path of magick is to acquire the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. There are other elements of this style of magick, naturally, but this is the fundamental goal in initiating this path. Later, after the Knowledge and Conversation has been achieved, one is allegedly made aware of the greater tasks one is to perform in this world.
What is the Qabala? Kabala is a Hebrew word which means "To Receive". Qabala is the same word, but spelled differently to delineate between traditional Hebrew Kabala and Western Mystery Tradition Qabala. Qabala forms the basis for Qabalistic High Magick, but is a philosophy which covers much more than the magick itself. Qabala has suffered a long and muddy history, but, in ways which are as amazing as the legacy of the Bible over such a long period of time, Qabala has managed to survive thousands of years of upheaval on this planet.
Supposedly, the first written Kabalah was scribed by Simeon ben Yochai and his son while in hiding from the Romans approximately 70-85 C.E., but the contents of the two quintessential works they produced, The Zohar (Book of Splendor) and Sepher Yetzirah (Book of Formation), are allegedly based on mysticism which dates back to, and possibly before, the Egyptian enslavement of the Jews.
It is probably important to note that Qabala has evolved over time, and there are many variations on the details of Qabala in the world. Though there is a Judaic bend on Qabala, since the Jews have been the keepers of Kabalah for thousands of years, the common branches of Qabala are not Jewish, and definitely differ from the "Kosher Kabalah" followed by the traditional Mystic Jews.
To a large degree, this is the study of magick. But a true magician does not simply study magick; it must also be practiced. One might say that, after learning about the actions and reactions of a particular genre, the magician then attempts to formulate a mechanism by which a desired change can be effected. Finally, after all prudent research is complete, the magician endeavors to cause the desired change.
Whether or not the magician is successful is not always the point. It is the effort that separates the magician from the student. Results, however, can be the defining element for a successful magician.
When attempting to cause Change in conformance with Will, there are many factors that need to be considered. Will is a complicated subject. To summarize, however, I will say that the interworkings of Will reflect levels of respect that people have for one another; to respect a person's Will is to respect the person; to violate their Will is to show them disrespect. It is difficult to explain this in a short manner. Go to my page on Thelema for a longer explanation.
It took me years to come to what understanding of Will I have today. Though I feel I have a pretty good grasp of many of the deeper concepts of Will, I probably still have a lot to learn.
However, what is important to know, at least in my path of study, is that if one is truly acting on their Will, they should, at least in theory, not come into conflict with anyone else's Will. Note that this does not necessarily imply that they will not come into conflict with another person; it simply suggests they will not be in conflict with their Will. Conflict breeds growth and strength, so some conflict is often necessary for the evolution and advancement of a person or group, even though the conflict itself may be distasteful to the individual.
The purpose of practical magick is to effect Change in the world. To what end, of course, is completely defined by the practitioner. In my Path, the generally intended goal is to support The Great Work, or the encouragement of the evolution and enlightenment of humankind.
That is not to say that magick cannot be used to gain personal empowerment; it can and is used for this purpose. This is probably a desirable goal in any regard, since personal empowerment enables a person to more effectively accomplish things in this world, which then, in turn, more strongly supports The Great Work.
Please note that "empowerment" is not the same as "power". Power is for meglomaniacs. Empowerment is for the true human being. They are not even in the same category.
This, in a nutshell, is the practical side of the study of magick. It is the study of how things in Life work, and a fundamental desire to learn the details of these interactions to a level not generally discovered by the average individual. Finally, it is an attempt to use the knowledge of these interactions to accomplish great things in this Life.
I find magick to be closely linked to the Divine source. This may be due to the nature of my training, as well as my upbringing. But many of the magicians I respect have disclosed to me that they have also experienced a deepening of their spiritual beliefs as a result of their study and practice of magick.
It may be interesting to note that not all of them even view their spirituality from the same religion as mine, and yet this style of magick nonetheless deepens their spiritual resolve.
The first goal of my path of study in magick is to gain the Knowledge and Conversation of one's Holy Guardian Angel (Hereafter, KCHGA). There are many other things which take place on the path to attaining to the KCHGA, and these frequently fall into the practical and occult areas of magical study. Afterwards, I am told, much more work needs to be done, and much more needs to be learned, none of which is likely to be possible, or even conceivable, until one attains to the KCHGA.
One branch of my path of magical study involves trying to actually reach the face of God. It is considered to be among the most difficult styles of magick, and also the most dangerous. This style of magick is called The Enochian. I do not have enough personal knowledge to discuss this matter in any reasonable depth, and as yet I am not certain the Enochian path is where I'm heading.
I don't know what else to say right now about the spiritual side of magick, except to say that if you look for it, it is most very definitely there.
As to the nature of the occult side of magick, the belief is essentially this: There are things in this universe we do not understand. Some people in the past have discovered a consistency about certain actions/reactions in the world, ones which seem very strange and disconnected. In pursuing the study of the relationships of these actions and reactions, they discovered specific procedures which tended to bring about specific effects. These actions, carefully and properly executed, caused Change in conformance with Will. The study, practice and refinement of these actions is called "Magick." The execution of many of these procedures is called a "Ritual".
Deeper research into these Rituals began to show connections to the Divine Source (God). The holiest and purest of practitioners claim to have been able to get extremely close to Divinity, and also to understand something of the nature of Divinity.
Thousands of years later, we find magick in Hebrew Mysticism, The rites of the Roman Catholic Church, and in many of the religions and practices found in what can be collectively referred to as Folk Traditions.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the interest in magick by the common folk, and not coincidentally, in many of the folk traditions which have quietly coexisted with Judaism and Christianity for thousands of years. Among these, the most popular reborn religion is probably Wicca, and magick seems to be a fairly integral part of the Wiccan family of religions as well.
I am not Wiccan, so I cannot give much detailed information on Wicca.
The occult side of magick involves the study of Will, Karma and Rituals. There are many magical lodges which "initiate" new members and train them on what is known of magick. There are also many magical orders who are not trainers, but who act more like a fraternity, sorority, clan or club, giving magicians of all types the ability to find each other and share their experiences in a comfortable environment.
That about wraps up my diatribe on magick.