A Word About Magick

What is magick? As witches, we toss this term around quite a bit, sometimes referring to it as if we all know exactly what it means. The truth is, there is no one shared truth.

As a second-degree priest of a Traditional coven (that is, one that relies on a tradition for its inspiration, teachings and rituals, not necessarily a “conservative” one), I have met numerous seekers who have walked past our Eastern Gate to enter our circle, many with vastly different notions of what magick really is.

Vivian Crowley, in her erudite book, Wicca, refers to “making magick,” that is, influencing the outcomes of life events through the use of, ritual, objects and meditation, in short, affecting the macrocosm via the microcosm (by the way, you’ll see magick spelled with a “k” in wiccan and pagan circles in order to distinguish it from the slight of hand of an entertainer who does card tricks, for example).

By this definition, much confusion and misinformation can arise. We must remember, that Wicca, as a spiritual path or even a “re-ligion” (from the Latin, “religare”, “to bind back”), has as its goal the spiritual growth and development of the seeker. Often, at the heart of this journey is the development of awareness and understanding of self. To the Wiccan, this is paramount, because the Craft has as its most vital, central tenet, the belief in the primacy of personal responsibility. Without getting into a fierce theological (or thealogical) argument here, the link between personal responsibility and spiritual growth has to do with the notion that we are all, each and every one of us, divine. We are both God and Goddess. As my mentor, Lord Merlin, Elder High Priest of my coven, has reminded me on numerous occasions, “our gods need us as much as we need them; that is why we do not kneel before them”. As immanent deities, we possess the power of the divine within ourselves. Therefore, there is neither dependence nor blame that can be levied on our God or Gods. Nor can we blame the devil for our actions.
As witches, we feel called to understand the role of our ego in concert with our shadow self, with our unconscious self, that which we may not know very well. This is very much akin to the integration of Masculine and Feminine, of God and Goddess within ourselves.

So what about this externally focused, “influencing” that ritual magick seems to have as its goal? Well, I can tell you that external influencing through magick definitely can occur. How it works is still a mystery, but there are things we can do with our own minds that would amaze you, if you chose to spend time to develop the discipline to be able to execute this rarified method of imparting change on your circumstances.

But I can also tell you that the blind attempt to control others or things around you is the realm of the ego. Think of magick like a sharp wit. If ego takes over, that wit will likely harm others. You might use it to “win” an argument with your spouse. If you’ve tried this, and won, you know that this is a false victory.

The fact is, ego makes for lousy magic. It wants to do it to satisfy itself, to protect our own image of our self that is not our real self. To feed this need is to move away from integration, which is to say that we move away from spiritual development. And believe me, your subconscious is fully aware of what is going on and it will try to exert a braking force on this process, sometime through sabotage. To my way of thinking, this process is pretty close to what we witches often refer to as the Rule of Three: that what you send out will come back to you “times three”, for good or ill.

I once did an elaborate working to extricate myself from a job and company that was not nourishing my soul, or my psyche. I wanted to eliminate workaholism, stress and the feeling of emptiness. I did it during the correct phase of the moon and the planetary hour of the day. It really was beautiful. I could feel it working.

Then, within two weeks, BLAMMO! The magick produced results. With no warning I was laid off from my job. But I didn’t want to lose my job, I wanted just to make it better. As the Rolling Stones said, “ You can’t always get what you want. You get what you need.”

Magick is always about hooking into the stream that is naturally occurring in the Universe and touching that vibrating web from a place of centeredness and with the intent to learn and grow. Much like a practitioner of martial arts, you do not push, you flow. This is the spiritual self, the seeker, the one open to learning, the questioner. This posture creates an open energy field that the energy of the Universe can understand because it is all about love.

If you try to impart your ego on this process, in my experience, the Universe will at best, ignore your intent, but will acknowledge the ball that you’ve thrown. It will treat the process as if you’re looking for answers and lessons. It will stay in love and assume your energy field is open and grateful. And it will deliver many things to you, whether or not you’re ready to hear them. It does this because it is ego-less. It is the collection of subconscious selves.
Personal responsibility cannot be escaped in this view. Anything you do magickally, ritually or mystically is driven by your true intent, about which you cannot lie; not to yourself nor to the Universe, to the Lord and Lady. To Spirit.

So, operationally, the best you can do, and this really is the best, is to focus on the transformation of self. Magick done with the intent to learn, seek, question, and understand is all about personal growth. And, here’s the thing: the best way to change your environment, you will find, is to focus on changing yourself, for only then can you impart vibrations on the Cosmic Web that will bring about true change. Ultimately, magick is about transformation of the magician.

This is, by the way, one of the reasons why witches do not proselytize: to do so would be to put the focus on the growth of others and undercut one’s own ability to recognize where they themselves need to focus on their own growth. Witches do not look to “save” others. They look to save themselves.

So, I ask you to consider for a moment, to not cast spells for world peace. Instead, cast intentions for inner peace and understanding. Ask for clarity about what it is to live inside of peace. You will do more for world peace than you can ever know. That is the kind of “witch craft’ that reflects the true meaning of the “craft of the wise”.

Bright blessings,


Samhain, 2005.