I pride myself in the fact that I am an avid skeptic. This is sort of tragic in a way because I am not alone in this feeling and in my skepticism I tend to overlook important tools and methods that aid in truth-finding. In my diligence I can romanticize skepticism and distract myself from reality and ignore the reason I am a skeptic in the first place.
There need to be more skeptics, because even though they get roasted constantly for playing devil’s advocate for even the most trivial of things, they make these roasters confront issues that they might actually care about.
I’m sure it is pretty obvious what this has to do with the practice and study of magick. Yes, magick with a ‘k’. I try not to fall into the intellectual trap that is metaphysics, but I will say that magick is a great philosophical ally. While I am not going to cover a history of magick and its practitioners, I will mention what I have absorbed from studying it.
I will not entertain its supernatural claims, but the framework of magick is fantastic. My understanding of magick, or “high magick” if you’re a real nerd, is that it is an approach to human mysticism that entails influencing people and events in the world through intention, ritual, and the use of symbols.
To point to a specific example, I’ve heard magicians in my own life and in media that I consume use the case of christianity. The biggest current celebrity the world of high magick and youtuber, Damien Echols explains that christians are magicians in their own right. With the ritual of communion as an example, christians take this time to metaphorically ingest the body and blood of their idol. They don’t usually do this because it’s fun or because they take it literally. Someone like Echols might say they do it because it is supposed to mean something and because they believe something spiritual does occur when they take part in this ritual. Doing this act with the right intention is supposed to evoke something from God or send a symbolic message to God or the congregation . Communing is the whole point here. This action is supposed to cause a reaction.
A high magician does the same. Influential pieces of writing, videos, music, media at large: These are the tools that magicians use. Using sounds and symbols in their rituals, i.e. the act of writing, the act of recording video, etc. These media are what incept ideas into people’s minds and make them do certain things. Magicians seek to exploit this fact. With this understanding of the definition, we see that rather than physical, or chemical influence/manipulation of individuals and the world, those who practice magick seek the subconscious, psychological means of doing so. So yes, to answer your burning question, Things you hate – like reality shows – and things you love – like my mom’s cooking – are magick.
This concept piqued my curiosity some years ago as a freshman in college. The question I didn’t think to ask back then that I have been pursuing now is “This is a cool concept and all, but what is the efficacy of it?” This I do not have a clear answer to. It would be extremely time-consuming and meticulous to conduct a sound study on this. So as my lazy self usually does, I’ll just make up my own mind and not care to really persuade anyone else. The subjective use is just as valuable to me as the objective use. By believing in the concept and efficacy of magick, I am thereby open to its influence.
My only current insight into how effective ritual magick is, is through the works of writer, Alan Moore. This is the creator of works such as “V for Vendetta” and “Watchmen.” These graphic novels are works of magick according to Moore. They are meticulously and purposefully composed. Color scheme, panel arrangement, the plot, the storytelling elements, the dialogue. All intricately woven into a work meant to evoke some sort of reaction: A feeling, an idea, a decision.
I don’t know if I am truly “playing checkers” and Moore is “playing chess.” I wonder what it is that people like Moore wish to use their magick for, and whether such methods have been undeniably successful. What is clear to me is that to learn these answers is to, by their nature, ruin the efficacy. This is precisely why magicians never reveal their secrets.