Monday, April 12, 2010

A course in magic rituals: Introduction

To learn about esoterism in general and magic rituals in particular we need to make a difference between divination and magic; within divination between determinism and forecasts and within magic between black magic and white magic or "sympathetic"

Popular beliefs hold that magic promises to transfer unknown energy to the hands of the practitioner so he makes things happen, which is a true with many reservations, so in this series of posts I will use my definition of "magic", because most people don’t find it shocking and it covers the main of those reservations: magic is the artistic method to make changes occur in accordance with the will of the practicioner. The definition implies: (1) there is no need to be a witch (neither Jewish nor Buddhist nor Sufi) to practice magic because magic is an art, not a religion, (2) it is not necessary to have specific religious beliefs and magic is not opposed to any, (3) is a method and as such is charged with rituals, (4) a basic component is the will of the practitioner.

Magic is an art not a science and should be accepted that way. Just as there is no guarantee that a painter produces a work worthy of DaVinci using the same tools, there is no guarantee that a magician repeats again and again the same results. Yet being an art does not mean magic does not develop its own methods, although called them rituals. Are rituals an irrational belief? Look at the preparations for a surgery, or at the manuals and handbooks in your office which someone will call"the Bible” or how we sing the national anthem before a sporting event. Take a look at your bench of tools, check how packed a suitcase, look on your way to exercise or even the way to pick up a date on a Friday night and you’ll see your life is full of little rituals.

Many great minds had no problem accepting his magical thinking. If August Kekule had believed that interpreting dreams is demonic we would not know the structure of benzene. Wolfgang Pauli, Nobel physics, researched parapsychology and attributed to magical thinking the discovery of the principle that earned him the award. Isaac Newton did not investigate physical, but alchemy. Albert Einstein began to think of relativity when he imagined himself riding a thunderbolt.

Ah, that's creativity but no magic, claim his followers resisting that word. So back to the definition: the quoted scientists and others like them applied themselves to solve a problem and developed their own methods. Once the problem was solved they became titans of thought and the scientists who followed them, not dissimilar to the parishioners of a church, said they have enormous powers. Magical ones...

Not true!, will cry their self-appointed defenders. "They used established scientific principles." These principles were set once the work was done, but the scientific community don’t like to be reminded the usual first rewards of these giants were the laughs of their colleagues. In the world there must be leaders and followers and our vocabulary betrays our mythical thinking: visionaries, monsters, prophets we call the leaders. If the principles are the same (and are) and are available (they are) then why so few people make paramount findings? I say for them the magic worked and they hadn’t had problem with the word: they choose a problem and focused their will to deliver a solution away from the established knowledge.

Our understanding of magic and its relationship with us and the universe has improved so use that knowledge. Magic is not better the more ancient it is, that thought is what makes the magic seems a relic. Sure, it’s great if you learn from greeks, assyrian or egyptians if you can avoid charlatans, but even so egyptian magic is not powerful just because it’s egyptian!

Part of the magic is not to intervene directly in the physical world, just collect information, while staying there is divination; if you want to do things in the real world, it's magic strictly speaking.

Now, within divination, determinism assumes that a person's life is written from start to finish and instruments such as tarot are to peek some pages ahead. Most twentieth-century tarot scholars oppose the idea and the principle of Heissenberg makes it impossible. This principle says that a researcher (the consultant) is part of the investigation and he affects and changes it. This means the consultant in the present is not a different person from the consultant in the future and as soon as he knows his future that will affect and change the composition of probabilities of that future. On a more personal note, I have chosen to believe that I am master of my fate and I can build my life as I please, believe otherwise would rob me what the magic has given to me, responsibility.

In he forecast the consultant takes an in-depth look at his present and sees the development of things from that position. He doesn’t like it? He can make the necessary changes. This brings forward a very particular version of fate when the consultant wants a different result without any change, which is impossible.

This in terms of divination. Now magic. Black magic intrudes on the free will of another person and even if the intentions are the purest. Black Magic is not black for ethical reasons but because it brings energy from an external entity to the practitioner to accomplish something, instead of committing his own resources and will. All religions have that clear when asked the applicant to provide some input of his own instead of waiting for a divine manifestation (have faith, yes, but also do something by yourself is the crystal clear message in most sacred books). Whether it is angelic, demonic, pagan or santeria or any other sort, if the practicioner wants to invoke an energy external to himself to achieve his goals and get it to deny the will of another person it is black magic, even if used to heal someone.

White magic or sympathetic magic combines need and desire of the individual. Few would deny that we have an inner energy that once (and correctly) mobilized accomplish extraordinary achievements for its owner. White magic not endorse metaphysical powers to certain items, its rites focus the energy of the applicant in a more efficient way: any tool that helps the applicant to achieve this focus is appropriate; conversely any ritual that makes him feel uncomfortable and collides with his beliefs should be changed or abandoned. A magician must take pains to guarantee a petitioner won’t become dependent on the magician or the rituals; the petitioner must never ask anything that refuses anybody free will nor expect an outcome that does not cost effort: magic is not the negation of effort, is the capitalization of the effort.
In the next post in the series we’ll start to see the elements of the rituals

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