This will ruffle some feathers, and some will insist I am wrong, but the reality of the matter is, quite simply, this…
Magic and “Spirituality” are NOT One and the Same!
The two may be part of the same broader fields of metaphysics, esoteric studies, and so on, but they are distinct and separate disciplines. There may be a closer link between magic and older concepts of “spiritual”, but regarding the commonly accepted meaning of “spirituality” in the current era, the words and related activities magic and spiritual/spirituality are NOT synonymous.
Magic is a Method not a Moral Code
I don’t know why I would need to state the obvious here, but I think I do. I hear and read just far too much insinuation that practicing magic instantly puts one on a spiritual path, and this is a strange fantasy I think we can trace back to the 1800s.
The “lodge magic” of the 19th century appears to have been couched obnoxiously within Christian language and some ideology from Christianity. The churches of the world no doubt condemned every last one of these lodges, but whatever. I wonder if the need to overcompensate, or somehow reconcile their religious training their with magical interests was the root of all this quasi-Christian weirdness? Maybe it was just (they hoped) good PR at the time.
The New Thought movement near the end of the 19th century did little to help. Perhaps eager to show themselves as goodly folk alongside the Sunday school crowd, or in fact as the truly good, above the likes of these scoundrels who’ve perverted the words of god all these years and blah blah, New Age writers unleashed a torrent of “light and love” bullshit and somehow aligned themselves with Western Magic in the process.
I am simplifying and omitting a ton of context and perspective here. I may have to return to this topic with a properly thorough article, but today I’m just dropping my thoughts in a short post.
Fast forward to the post-modern era and we have a century plus change of sappy, fairy-tickling crap, often delivered quite smugly, which propounds the righteousness of magic and magicians. Commonplace among this virtue-signaling nonsense are statements of how any use of this or that symbol/method/power/entity et al that is not “pure” or that is of an “aggressive nature” will instantly fail.
Are you kidding me???
Here’s the root of my problem with this kind of “goodie-good” garbage. Who the hell am I, or who is anyone else to tell you what is and is not “pure”? Can you see how this is just self-aggrandizing horseshit?
Not to mention the arrogance of telling you anything you do will fail instantly…
I’m not going to touch on the excessively pious rhetoric of the Grimoires, which tend to be seeped in Christian terms and relentless appeals to the biblical god. This is different for a range of reasons and doesn’t really qualify for the same criticism. (Critical remarks are warranted, just not the same commentary I’m on at the moment.)
What Does “Spiritual” Mean?
The issue I’m bitching about really comes down to an issue of definition, and how word meanings change with time and cultural shifts. The word spirit, for example, has historically referred to unseen entities, disembodied intelligences, ghosts of the departed, angels & demons, and so forth. If we drill into that a little, we find earlier use of spirit and the terms preceding it plus those adjacent to it in other languages during its early adoption and development, the initial intent was “breath, breathing” etc.
The sources I’ve reviewed in the past indicate this as being tied to breath of life, particularly in reference to the divine breathing life into mortal forms. From here reference to immaterial or supernatural beings and the concept of “inspiration” or in spirit, spirit breathed into, etc. emerge.
Along the way, spirit became a useful reference to the essence of a matter or to the extra-physical substances like ether and vital force that are dealt with in mystical work or magical practice. I prefer this latter application, incidentally.
By virtue of much of what has been said in this section, magic can be called a spiritual pursuit. Certainly we delve into concepts like the etheric principal and often deal with immaterial (not really accurate, non-physical may be better.) critters who do seem to have life but are not physical or biological in nature.
The Problem is in the Virtue-Signaling and Forced Morality
The issue I have with all this is that, in general, people like to imply that being spiritual somehow means you are by default “a good person”. If someone needs to tell me they are a good person, I tend to wonder why.
Do our actions not demonstrate the quality of our nature and intentions? I don’t need to tell anyone I’m anything, they’ll figure it out when we interact.
I hate to see new people caught up in a wave of someone else’s issues on morality, which is another word for self-righteousness, in many cases.
A Focus on Methods not Morals
As I said at the start of this post, magic is a method for accomplishing x, y, or z on various levels the user may wish to act upon. It is a set of tools and skills that can be used for good, bad, ugly, or ambivalent purposes. If you want to excel at magic focus on techniques, understanding, and lots of practice.
You won’t be awarded any special magical privilege for preaching morals and making sure everyone knows what an enlightened and good person you are.
For that matter and as I sort of touched above, things spiritual are simply those phenomena of a non-physical existence that nonetheless have a very real quality and can impact our material lives. I don’t see why this got all tangled up in the tickling of fairy-giggles and vomiting excess uses of the term “unconditional love” in every conversation.
Anyway, I think I butchered this post, but I’m way behind on my work so must let it ride for now.