What is Magic?
Wiccans and other followers of modern religious Witchcraft use magic extensively. Wiccans and Witches define magic in many different ways and use it for a number of different purposes, but despite that diversity of opinion finds that the general result upon the practitioner is a positive one. Its power may come mainly by suggestion and the focusing of attention.
It can be characterized as assertion of the will. Working of magic is often dependent upon being part of a social group which supports the belief. We tap into the essence of the divine when we attempt to get closer to our gods, or when we work magic.
In "Power of the Witch", Laurie Cabot writes:
Certain things are everlasting. Magic is one of them. It comes from the Persian and Greek roots Magus and Magos which means wise. The English word "magi" meaning wise men, comes from them. (1)
She also writes:
Magic is knowledge and power that come from the ability to shift consciousness at will into a nonordinary, visionary state of awareness. Traditionally certain tools, song, music, colors, cents, drmming, fasting, vigils, meditation breathing exercises, certain natural foods and drinks and forms of hypnosis. Dramatic, mystical environments, such as sacred groves, valleys, mountains, churches, or temples will also shift consciousness. In almost every culture some form of visionary trance is used for the sacred rituals that open doorways to the Higher Intelligence or for working magic. (2)
Wikapedia.com offers this explanation:
- Natural forces that cannot be detected by science at present, and in fact may not be detectable at all. These magical forces are said to exist in addition to and alongside the four known forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force.
- Intervention of spirits similar to these hypothetic natural forces, but with their own consciousness and intelligence. Believers in spirits will often see a whole cosmos of beings of many different kinds, sometimes organized into a hierarchy.
A mystical power, such as mana, that exists in all things. This power is often said to be dangerous to people.
- A mysterious interconnection in the cosmos that connects and binds all things, above and beyond the natural forces.
- Manipulation of symbols. Adherents of magical thinking believe that symbols can be used for more than representation: they can magically take on a physical quality of the phenomenon or object that they represent. By manipulating symbols, one is said to be able to manipulate the reality that this symbol represents.
- Like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the Law of Contact or Contagion. From the first of these principles, namely the Law of Similarity, the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it: from the second he infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not.
- Concentration or meditation. A certain amount of restricting the mind to some imagined object (or will) produces mystical attainment or an occurrence in the brain characterized essentially by the uniting of subject and object. Magic, as defined previously, seeks to aid concentration by constantly recalling the attention to the chosen object (or Will), thereby producing said attainment. For example, if one wishes to concentrate on a God, one might memorize a system of correspondences (perhaps chosen arbitrarily, as this would not affect its usefulness for mystical purposes) and then make every object that one sees "correspond" to said God.
- The magical power of the subconscious mind. To believers who think they need to convince their subconscious mind to make the changes they want, all spirits and energies are projections and symbols that make sense to the subconscious. A variant of this belief is that the subconscious is capable of contacting spirits, who in turn can work magic. (3)
However you define it magic requires dedication, concentration, and belief. Prayer, miracles, and magic are all pretty much the same thing. Whether you pray to God in a church or cast a circle and invoke the Goddess, you are still directing divine attention.
Finding your way around
1. The Power of the Witch: The Earth, the Moon, and the Mgical Path to Enlightenment ~ Laurie Cabot (with Tom Cowan) Pg.9
2. Ibid pg.16
3. Magic (paranormal), Theories of Magic