Technique of harnessing the secret powers of Nature and seeking to influence events for one's own purpose.

If the influence is beneficial it is known as white magic, but if it is intended to bring harm to others, or to destroy property, it is regarded as black magic.

Magicians employ a variety of ritual procedures. Sometimes, as in imitative magic, they seek to imitate the end-result desired by using models of real people or objects, or by dressing in ceremonial regalia in order to identify symbolically with a particular deity.

In certain black magic procedures, it is believed that harm can be inflicted upon a person by burning a wax doll or sticking pins into it, as if it were the real person. Sometimes "positive" effects are sought by similar procedures. The 'Magus' --- a classical textbook on magic--- includes a "scapegoat" ritual for transferring illness and pain from a sick woman to an unsuspecting frog: "Take the eye of a frog, which must beextricated before sunrise, and bind them to the breast of a woman who be ill. Then let the frog go blind into the water again and as he goes so will the woman be rid of her pains..." Here, removing the eyes of the frog confirms the magician's mastery over the animal, who can no longer jump for freedom. The woman's breasts, with their life-giving milk, represent health, and the casting of the frog into water is a ritual act of cleansing. Taken overall, the frog literally carries the disease away.

Modern Western magic, especially as practiced by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, has as its main function the self-initiation of its members and must be regarded as primarily a form of white magic.
However, there have been cases of alleged magical attack and ritual practices that summon bestial or demonic forces, which clearly are more related to black magic.

White magicians seek to activate the spiritual archtypes in the unconscious mind by identifying with such life-sustaining deities as Osiris, Thoth, Apollo, Ra, and Horus (male), and Isis, Aphrodite, Hathor, Demeter, and Persephone (female).

Black magicians worship such animal-human prototypes as the Devil, the Horned God, Lilith, and a variety of other personifications of darkness and evil.

See also Celestial Magic; Ceremonial Magic, Contagious Magic; Defensive Magic; Destructive Magic; Enochian Magic; High Magic; Image Magic; Imitative Magic; Low Magic; Mortuary Magic; Natural Magic; Protective Magic; Sexual Magic; Sympathetic Magic and White Magic

Magic, Black

Magic performed with evil intent. The "black magician" or sorcerer calls upon the supernatural powers of darkness--- devils, demons, and evil spirits--- and performs ceremonies invoking bestial or malevolent forces intended to harm another person.

Black magic invariably involves imitative magic, in which there is said to be a link between a person or object and something sharing its resemblance (e.g., a wax figure or doll).
Injuries ritually inflicted upon the figure with pins or nails heve a harmful effect upon the person it represents.
Some magicians claim that the technique is only effective when the sorcerer has enough will-power to use the ritual figure as a focus for inflicting negative thought-forms on the person under attack.

Magic, Celestial

Belief that the planets are ruled by spirits that influence people.
For example, in kabbalistic magic, the planets are ruled by the following archangels: Tzaphkiel (Saturn); Raphael (Sun); Haniel (Venus); Michael (Mercury); Gabriel (Moon); Sandalphon (Earth).

Magic, Ceremonial

Magic that employs ritual, symbols, and ceremony as a means of representing the supernatural and mystical forces linking the universe and humanity.

Ceremonial magic stimulates the senses--- sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch--- by including in its rituals ceremonial costumes, dramatic invocations to the gods or spirits, potent incense, and mystic sacraments.
The aim of ceremonial magic in its "highest" sense is a transcendental experience--- transporting the magician beyond the limitations of the mind towards mystical reality. However, as a term, it is also associated with medieval magical grimoires, which describe procedures for summoning spirits.
These books, which are designed to confer power rather than transcedence on the magician, include the Key of Solomon, the Grimoire of Honorius, and the Grand Grimoire.

In modern times the most complete system of ceremonial magic was that practiced in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Magic, Contagious

The belief that objects that have been in contact with each other still have a link, and that one can be harmed magically--- for example, by a magical rite performed over one's fingernails, hair clippings, or possessions.

Magic, Defensive

Magical rituals and spells used to defend oneself from harmful sorcery or evil influences.

Magic, Destructive

Virtually synonymous with black magic, any magical act intended to destroy people, property, or crops, or to affect people's lives in a harmful way.

Magic, Enochian

System of magic derived from the work of Elizabethan occultists Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley, who met in 1581. Dee and Kelley made use of wax tablets called almadels engraved with magical symbols; they also used a large number of 49-inch squares filled with letters of the alpahbet. Nearby, on his table, Kelley had a large crystal stone upon which he focused his concentration and entered a state of trance reverie. In due course, "angels" would appear, and they would point to various latters on the squares in turn. These were written down by Dee as Kelley called them out. When these invocations were completely transcribed, Kelley thenreversed their order, for he believed that the angels communicated them backwards to avoid unleashing the magical power which they contained.
Dee and Kelley considered that the communications formed the basis of a new language--- Enochian--- and these magical conjurations were subsequently incorporated into magical practice by the ritual magicians of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, who used them to induce trance visions on the astral plane.

Magic, High

Magic intended to bring about the spiritual transformation of the person who practices it.

This form of magic is designed to channel the magician's consciousness towards the sacred light within, which is often personified by the high gods of different cosmologies.

The aim of high magic has been described as communication with one's holy guardian angel, or higher self.
It is also known as theurgy.

Magic, Image

The use of a magical image--- a doll made of wax, clay, etc.--- in magical spells.
In black magic harm may be inflicted upon a victum by forming the magical image and then pricking it with pins, breaking its limbs off, or consigning it ti a fire.
See also Imitative Magic.

Magic, Imitative

Form of magical practice in which the anticipated result in real life is mimicked, or imitated, in ritual.

The most common form is through image magic, in which an image of areaal person may be subjected to hostile acts (pins, burning, etc.) in the hope that real injury and misfortune will befall the victum.
The technique can also be applied to mental images. For example, a phobia could be visualized as a hostile creature (e.g., a spider, snake, or dragon) and "shrunk" in the imagination in the hope that the symptoms of fear would disappear with it. This technique is used in some forms of psychotherapy that involve techniques of "active imagination".
For example, in guided-imagery techniques used in cancer treatment, the patient may be asked to visualize the cancerous growth as a "dragon" that is gradually overcome by the patient in the form of a "knight in armor". These treatments often prove to be remarkably successful.

Magic, Low

Magic intended to produce a utilitarian or domestic effect. Examples would include attracting an influx of sudden wealth, a new lover, a change of occupation, or an uplift in one's fortunes.

Magic, Mortuary

Magical rites and ceremonies performed in order to ensure that the deceased person will have an enjoyable life in the afterworld. Mortuary magic was highly developed in ancient Egypt.

Magic, Natural

Magical spells, enchantments, and conjurations believed to have an effect on Nature (e.g., bringin muchneeded rain or thunderstorms, affecting the wind or other aspects of the weather, contacting nature-spirits, or influencing cycles of fertility).

Magic, Protective

Spells, rituals, and enchantments designed to counter the evil effects of black magic.

Magic, Sexual

Magical rituals and ceremonies that invoke the principle of fertility, and which usually involve sexual acts that simulate the procreative union of the gods.

Magic, White

Magic performed for a spiritual, healing, or generally positive purpose, as distinct from black magic which is performed for self-gain, to inflict harm or injury, or for other evil purposes.

Back to Top