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Magic & Magic Words: Misunderstanding the Mechanism
By rockhouse wizard Posted in Magic in General, Magical Theory on July 21, 2023 0 Comments
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For most of the planet’s first-world population, I think it’s fair to say the very idea of magic as presented on this blog is absurd. There is no such thing; it’s all fantasy and self-delusion, ad infinitum. This view of magic on the part of mainstream society is granted.

Even many people who engage habitually in what the skeptic would call “magical thinking” are often dismissive of magic as a formal study and process. Law of Attraction groupies, for example, if polled on their views regarding ritual magic would (in my opinion based on my experience) likely relegate the practice to a quaint religious undertaking and insist adepts thereof are deploying their psychic powers of manifestation and using ritual processes as some sort of crutch to support such psychism.

Where are the Gears and Levers?

Among those segments of the population who accept the possibility of magic, and within circles who disbelieve the actual phenomena but presume to understand the mindset and approach of its practitioners, I think there is a basic yet critical misunderstanding of how the magician engages with his or her magic. In other words, there is significant ignorance about the mechanisms in play.

This is made somewhat awkward by the fact that said mechanisms, most likely, cannot be fully identified in the first place. Unlike material processes there is no ability to look under the physical hood, so to speak, nor to apply a measuring device or visual recorder so the driving and causal energies and processes that make magic happen can themselves be observed and judged.

The Mumbo Jumbo of Magic Words

For this reason, the inherent inability to indicate clearly and objectively the mechanism(s) of cause and function, magic shall ever remain “unscientific”; yet it produces results that are real, as in measurable, predictable, and repeatable. From this intellectual predicament, we get such foolishness as the idea of “magical words” that can, all by themselves mind you, create tangible and observable effects in and on the world around us. Why not? If we can’t demonstrate mechanism not only can we barf out any explanatory goo we like, we can also assign power to arbitrary elements of the process, i.e. words of intrinsic magical power.

This is problematic for the student who is given the dubious prospect of sounds generated by the diaphragm and articulated via vocal cords and enunciatory lip and tongue movements being magical by default. In essence she is asked to accept the words themselves carry magical charge. that’s quite a buy to ask of her, even given the fact that she has already purchased the notion that magical effects upon reality can be generated through specialized procedures.

Piss-Poor (un)Scientific Criticism

The idea of inherently magical words is also certainly troublesome to the self-aggrandized usurpers of smugness, those public intellectuals who are outspoken critics of all things magical. “Ludicroius” they’ll proclaim, and who can blame them?

“Studies” and debunking stunts, performed by college students, have relied heavily on the notion that magicians believe certain words can be spoken with enthusiasm, intention, high emotion, and so on and as a result certain magic will be released. Rituals have been performed while participants shouted and shrieked with much ado, and yet no magic emerged.

Such demonstrations of processes unworthy of the tag “science” amount to little more than straw man arguments!

In other words, the folks putting on the show and ending up (a surprise for sure!) with no magical impact are disputing a claim that hasn’t truly been made in the first place.

You Might Dispute What I’ve Just Said

I understand some students of magic do believe words can themselves be intrinsically of a magical nature. I concede that some of the central lore supporting modern magic, from the Corpus Hermeticus to various teachings of Kabbalah, explicitly state that words, when pronounced correctly (or “vibrated” correctly, etc.) have power to create reality, access the divine realms, and so on.

However, no piece of lore or fundamental instruction that I have ever seen suggests a word by itself, sitting written on a piece of paper or casually exiting the mouth of some random individual, has any implicit or explicit magical power.

Please Let Me Explain

Generally speaking a word only has power when it is understood by the hearer, reader, etc. Normally this understanding would come about via the part of our brain that deciphers and processes language.

Even if the language and meaning are unknown, tone of voice, emphasis, and non-verbal components of communication enacted alongside the word might convey enough clarity for a word or words to hold power. Furthermore the situation in which words are used, or the circumstances surrounding the words offer additional context for the potential understanding to take place.

What if neither language nor context are sufficient to convey a word’s meaning? Can that word still have power? This is to me a dubious prospect.

Surely a fierce grunt can strike alarm, and a piercing war cry in no language at all can chill the blood. These aren’t words, which are defined as building blocks of language and verbal or written communication.

Can Words Have Power Without Understanding?

Perhaps, just as context and non-verbal communication can impart some meaning, words might also have a resonance with the human psyche. I can’t say if this is true or not. Can archetypal words, for lack of a better term, affect us whether or not we are consciously familiar with them and even without additional context to enhance communication?

Perhaps and perhaps not, but we may set that aside for now because I’m referring to words that allegedly impact not only consciousness but indeed objective reality. You may believe magic can only directly have an effect upon consciousness, and that any objective change in the material world is an indirect effect of the magic brought about by the affected consciousness acting in some way upon reality. In this case the inquiry we are undertaking would hinge upon whether or not certain words can interact with the psyche in the same manner as archetypes or genetic memories. While that is an interesting exploration in its own right, and I lean towards the notion that such interactions are a likely possibility, this is not the matter I am here scrutinizing. The question of this post is: can a word without context or additive from its user be a magical force?

To Answer with Another Question

Classless, I admit, but I’ve never claimed to be of noble blood nor a fair player of games. I would like to answer this question. with another question.

Can a word by itself, read or spoken with neither understanding nor explanation of its meaning, bring a magical effect to bear on both human consciousness and the world in which we live?

My answer-in-question-form:

Based on all we know about what is required of us to perform even a simple magical act, how could a word without meaning to the speaker or hearer or reader et al possibly render a magical effect on anything?

Consider what we know to be true regarding what any of us must do to effectively weave magic into the tapestry of reality, whether it remains hidden or is plain for all to see:

  • We must alter our consciousness to a state conducive to the contacting and directing of magical energies.
  • We must have a clear intention,
    • supported by an affirmative expectation
    • and bolstered by an immovable, irresistible Will.
  • We must not only Will the defined and desired result
    • but be willing to live in the space of our object made manifest
    • and allow the magic to pass through us in some manner, whether that be through our body, aura, home, daily life, or any combination thereof.
  • We must tend to our form and execution and make both as close to perfect as we are able.
  • We must embody the resolution and actualization required to finish the matter.
  • Finally, we must forget the whole affair and walk away, leaving the magic to do its work via the channel of least resistance and in that context, the most relevance.

You may be possessed of a greater imagination than I. Maybe, though quite doubtful, you even have a deeper love for words than I and thus yearn painfully to see at least a few of them earn the stripes and status of truly magical forces without the intervention of a human magician.

If so I respect your position and disagree with you wholeheartedly. In my simple mind there is just no way in hell or heaven any word can, without the enduring help of one of our kind, fit the excessive bill of existing as an independent magical force.

Not a single bit of serious lore in our history offers us the chance to fudge on any item in the above listed requirements for performing a magical act. Nor have I ever known success in the least when I have cut such corners on the same list of processes.

I just don’t believe any word could handle the workload all by itself, no matter how damn beautiful, alluring, and let’s be real fucking magnificent some of them can be.

There is magic in you, and more magic “out there” on the higher planes. Words can be the devices or vehicles with which you access and move magic; hell they might even contain magic of their own.

They (words) cannot unleash the arcana by their mere utterance. YOU or some other magic-user must provide the charge and the conduit for appropriate energies before any “magic word” can truly be magical.

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