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The Classification of Magick

The Classification of Magickal action otherwise known as spellcraft.




Within what is commonly referred to as magick there are a wide range of methods and practices, which often work according to different principles and processes, and which are utilised towards different ends. To attain success in any endeavour you must have a clear conception of what you are working towards, choose and appropriate methodology, and subsequently have a good understanding of what you are doing and why you are doing it.

In order to identify the different categories that magickal practices may fall into we must first answer the broader question|: What is magick? Aleister Crowley defined magick as "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will", but as he goes on to say "in common parlance the word magic has been used to mean the kind of science which ordinary people do not understand", meaning, of course, the science of things which ordinary thinking says do not belong to the natural order i.e. the 'supernatural'.



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In the majority of cases when someone talks about magick thier meaning conforms to the common definition which regards it as the science of the supernatural, but this is not always the case. That which is now science was once ragarded as magick. There are many examples of 'magickal' practices from ancient cultures which can now be explained in the terms of such disciplines as psychology, hypnosis, NLP, and even the science of manipulation exemplified by modern illusionsim (see The Ninja and the blurred lines between witchcraft and illusionism article). Many of these practices can stil be found in modern magickal / occult teachings; and in addition to this it is also true that many magickal techniques which we would still recognise as involving spiritual or 'supernatural' forces use the subconcious mind as a medium of connection between human experience and spiritual reality and therefore contain a psychological element. Therefore the first category of magickal action / spellcraft which we must recognise is that of psychological magick.
 
At this stage it is necessary to state that in undertaking the endeavor of classification I have used 3 different methods, yeilding 3 distinct sets of categories. The first method is to distinguish types of magick according to the principles by which they work. THe second set classifies types of magick according to the proceses and methods by which they are employed. The third set is distinguished according to the nature of the end purpose of the action.
 
In the first set of categories, distinguished according to theory and principle, I have already identified the category of psycholgical magick. Also within this set are three further categories: Theurgical Magick, Sympathetic Magick, and Reflective magick.
Theurgical Magick is based entirely on the ability of spiritual beings to influence the material world. In this kind of magick the magus seeks to cooperate with and / or empoweer certain angels, godforms, demons, or other spirtual beings, and to aid, direct and control the manifestation of thier will in the material world.
 
In his famous book 'The Golden Bough' Sir James Frazer considers sympathetic magick in some detail, and in agreement with his work I would suggest that this branch of Magick can be further divided into two sub-categories whic he calls Homoeopathic magick, working according to the law of similarity, and contagious magick, working according to the law of contact.
 
The law of similarity indentified by Fazer states that a connection exists between similar things which can be used for magickal purposes. actually this conception is rather crude, and can be refined according to modern understanding to give a more accurate formulation. Therefore within my system of classification the law of similarity shall be renamed the law of resonance. This law states that there is a resonance between the morphological processes of similar forms which can be used to amplify a given tendency or characteristic at a distance. similarity of substance, purpose etc. are relevant only in so far as they impact upon form and morphogenesis. The natural principles involved in this form of magick are explained admirably in the work of biologist Rupert Sheldrake, and in particular in his work entiled ' Morphic Resonance: A New Science of Life'.
The classic example of the law of resonance, and indeed of sympatheitc magick in general, is the use of the 'voodoo doll' (which in its popular form actually originates from northern european witchcraft and not the african religion of voodoun).
 
Contagious magick works according to the principles that when two things are brought into contact with one another a certain degree of osmosis occurs, in which each one is infused to some degre with the essence of the other, and that this creates a bond which is maintained after contact is broken. The degree of this bond is determined by length of contact and the degre of emotional as well as physical connection which occurs betwen the two (presuming that one of them is capable of emotion and they are not both just innanimate objects). A good example of Contagious Magick would be the use of a treasured possession by a psychic in order to trace a missing person or diagnose ilness.
 
Reflective Magick works according to a principle which is elucidated most eloquently in the following quote from the physicist Fritjof Capra, who is here considerring the philosophical ramifications of quantum physics:
 
'The fact that all the properties of particles are determined by prinicples closely related to the methods of observation would mean that the basic structures of the material world are determined, ultimately, by the way we look at the world; that the observed patterns of mater are reflections of paterns of mind.'
 
This gives rise to the idea of 'direct' or 'instant' magick, in which the paraphenalia of ritual magick are considered to be props, and are secondary to the powoer of mind to directly influence material events through this principle of reflection.
 
The second set classifes according to method. These categories need less explanation so I shall simply list them:
Invocation, evocation, talismanic magick, magickal pacts, incantation, direct magick, goetic magick, astral magick, natural magick.
 
There is a degree of crossover between these categories (talismanic magick, for example, may include invocation or evocation), and there may be others that I have missed. Generally the method is clear within any practice, so there is less need for me to provide information here.
 
The third set is the classification according to purpose or end result. Within this set are:
 
Black Magcik: Which is inspired by hatred and is malignant for the sake of it.
 
Ego Magick: Which may be either helpful, harmful, or indifferent towards others, but which proceeds according to the personal desires of the operator and is never either altruistic nor needlessly malicious.
 
High Magick: Which is an extension of the concept of morality itself, seeking to manifest a particular ideal, simply for the love of that ideal rather than personal satisfaction.
 
And finally Transformative Magick: Which concerns itself solely with the growth and transformation of the operator, and extends no direct influence beyond the participants themselves.
 
The classification system given here is fluid, and many magickal practices will contain elements belonging to more than one category, even within each set.



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