Understanding some basic magical distinctions
At a glance: what you’re getting yourself into at LRM
Magic varies greatly in terms of methodology, philosophy, approach, and application. Both nerds and pedants have toiled endlessly breaking magic down into smaller and smaller subgroups and categories, addressing every imaginable variation in painful detail.
I like to keep things clear and specific, but too much metadata gets in the way of what really matters, which is of course the actual process of study and practice. I therefore keep classification and categorization of magic, both on this site and generally in my own pursuit, very simple.
Classes of Magic: High and Low
I like the typical classification of high and low magic. Not only is this dichotomy ubiquitous and comfortable, but it’s also very easy to navigate.
High magic refers to ceremonial, or ritual, or formal magic.
Low magic is folk. natural, or casual magic.
Th high/low is not a measure of quality or dignity, but more a statement about the cost of operating, in terms of preparation and general fuss. Formal magic incurs a high cost in the form of prepping candles and incenses, creating altar sigils, composing ritual incantations, etc. whereas low magic is quite “affordable” in this regard, and can often be done right away with no prep or bother expected before the main operation.
If a cost analogy bothers you, think in terms of either high maintenance or low maintenance.
I recognize some authors like to break this down further based on how often and in what language one says god’s name during practice, but I find that disruptive rather than helpful.
Magic by Category: How Many are Useful?
When I think about ideas like Sympathetic Magic (like attracts like, and so on), I consider this more of a technical approach or methodology, perhaps an ideology or philosophy in some context. A category is a meaningful divisor, and frankly I just see too much crossover from one attitude on magic to another to separate many of these into distinct categories.
Consider, sigil magic and candle magic (two techniques, as far as I’m concerned) share far more in common than they restrain from one-another. The tools used are different, sure, but with small adjustment you could use either set of methods within the framework of the other.
I ask: what is the nature of your objective with candles and sigils? What are you working to attain or achieve? From the answers to these former and latter questions can I derive the category of magic at hand.
My task in doing so is admittedly made simpler by virtue of the fact that I only employ two categories inn my assessment of magical operations. These are Practical and Esoteric.
- Practical Magic seeks to get things done, whether in day-to-day terms or on a grander scale. Find a job or find a spouse, even find the politician most responsible for making a mess of project this-or-that.
- Esoteric Magic is about exploring or enhancing, or just experiencing, the deeper aspects of magical being. Travelling to the Other World, expanding psychic awareness, meeting a new spirit associate or deceased loved one could all qualify under the esoteric umbrella.
In general, the content on this site and in the lessons is pretty eclectic, or consisting both of casual and formal magic. Likewise I practice and teach a mixture of esoteric and practical operations, appropriate (I hope) to the task at hand.
I refer to my art, in situations where I must label it, as eclectic magic or eclectic sorcery*. My approach is most often casual, but sometimes ceremony and formality are needed. In terms of geographic or cultural influence (not discussed above) I primarily draw from the Western tradition, as my peeps are English, Irish, German, so Northern Europeans. I do, however, integrate some Eastern concepts and methods, stemming from my interest in Asian martial arts and the Hindu writings,
Sorcery as a form of magic (different than class or category, and not covered in the post above) refers to an art that draws inspiration and power from an individual’s psychic matrix and from spiritual energy, which includes working with and calling upon named entities for various purposes, both practical and esoteric.