What is Magick? Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Christopher Penzcak, and Mind Witch Mama Weigh In


Either directly or indirectly, I’m pretty much talking about magick all the time.

What can I say — it’s the paradigm through which I view the world. The big bang? Magick. Falling in love? Magick. The dissolution of all foundations paving the way for change? Magick in action, baby.

There’s something comforting about seeing the world through a magickal lens. If nothing else, it helps me champion the notion that I’m not a helpless pawn in the ever-unfolding chess game of intelligent design. Rather, I am my own player in a sea of players, and as such, I am an active agent in the creative dance of the universe.

In trying times, we often find comfort in narratives, be they the myths of cultures past or the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world we inhabit as the present plays itself out. I started playing with magick during a very challenging time, and in many ways, it helped me rekindle the fire of my genius. My magickal story is one of personal triumph, and as long as it is, I’ll keep telling it to myself to guide my soul through the darker tunnels of its experience.

But what is magick really? How can you define something that you cannot see, smell, taste, or touch? Throughout history (well, since the late 1800’s, at least), a slew of magickal practitioners have offered their own definitions. The first comes from Aleister Crowley, leader of the famous (or infamous depending on who you’re speaking with) Golden Dawn:

MAGICK IS The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.

In other words, magick is what you do to make things how you want them to be. Not bad, and it certainly works for a heck of a lot of people who cast spells.

The second definition comes from Dion Fortune, a rather badass occultist who was largely active in the 1940’s. I like that her definition focuses on shifts in consciousness and places the “art” of magick at the forefront — I myself am a much more intuitive rather than formulaic practitioner, so it jibes:

Magick is the art of causing changes in consciousness in conformity with will.

Christoper Penczak is a witch that’s currently active and has written quite a few books on the subject of magick. He reclaims Crowley’s centering of science and combines it with Fortune’s focus on consciousness to arrive at the following definition:

Magick is a system or technology that allows us to change our consciousness, and through that consciousness, effect tangible change in our own lives.

Now, I recognize the hubris of placing myself beside such elevated company, but as a practicing witch who’s been working with magic for eight years, why wouldn’t I offer my own fledging definition? After all, I’m the voice behind these words, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way:

Magick is an awareness of unified consciousness, and the power and harmony that organically arises through the continued practice of unifying with that consciousness.

The more I practice magick, the less I feel that my ego’s “will” has anything to do with it. I often receive what I casually ask for speedily and miraculously only if my desire is pure and I’m not overly attached to receiving it (you can read about a few of these miraculous events here). Once I try to impose my will on the universe, things become heavy and hard and ever outside of my reach. Once I just say, “Screw it — all I really want is happiness, love, creativity, and ease,” it all starts falling into place.

I’m aware that this sounds a lot like the law of attraction, and who knows — maybe it is. I’m still over here casting spells, spending time at my altar, chatting with deities, and pulling tarot cards for guidance. Maybe all of that “witch” stuff is what happens after I’ve surrendered to the flow of life, connected to the cosmos in deep and meaningful ways, and let my genius rise up and take the helm. All I know is that the more I trust in my creativity, listen to my heart, and challenge myself to believe, the closer I get to having a really awesome life.

xoxo Mind Witch Mama

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