I have previously made a pretty big deal about the distinctions between magic and mysticism. Much of this todo was about seeing myself as more of a magician than a mystic, or something along those lines.
It’s hard to be sure at this early stage, but I may have changed my mind a little on this topic. After all, the line has been somewhat blurred between the practices of magic and mysticism for quite a while now.
Certainly, in common usage the terms are abusively interchanged with no concern for the technical specifics. These days if you carry a bunch of rocks in your pocket and think synchronicity is really cool you qualify as a mystic, and if you take one of those rocks out and recite a quick incantation, you’re a magician.
Fine. I can live with it.
I will continue to draw specific lines in my writing, for the benefit of the astute reader or my fellow nerds, however you wanna look at that. The key distinctions, perhaps the only to really matter, are in the nature of the active pursuits.
For, if I am painfully honest there’s a lot of crossover, for lack of a better term. Anyone who practices magic for a significant amount of time is bound to collect quite a few mystical experiences along the way. In fact some would argue that it’s impossible to practice magic without such experiences.
What is a Mystical Experience?
Simply put, these are encounters with the world of spirit, which can mean anything from seeing the face of God or Goddess to channeling the life force energy of another being through your hands or even hearing the voice of someone who has previously died.
Mystical experiences, of course, are available to anyone, anywhere, requiring only that one be open to them. Perhaps a magician, stirring as he or she does the cauldron of subtle energies that create and sustain reality as we know it, is in a better position for mystical experience than an agnostic plumber or carpenter. A plumber who consumes lots of psilocybin, on the other hand, or a carpenter who is highly spiritual, perhaps even believing he is the son of God, may give our hypothetical magician a good race towards the experience of the divine or embodiment of spirit, which are the sorts of things a mystic aspires towards. My interest is more in the employment of mystical techniques vs. magical techniques, than in the inspirations and realizations we may attribute to mystical forces.
Mystical methods vs. magical actions is the dichotomy at the root of the whole “is it magic or mysticism” discussion. Interestingly this comes down to what we could, if we wanted, call a direction of intention consideration.
What if it’s All A Matter of the Direction Your Intention Flows?
The mystic raises her consciousness beyond the mundane world and into the so0-called higher realms such as the astral plane, where she hopes to encounter divinity, spirit guides, or other aspects of a spiritual reality.
The magician remains on the material plane while conjuring or drawing down from the higher, astral, etc. such energies, powers, or spirits as he needs to accomplish his magical work on Earth.
At least this is what we are told when we begin studying the mysteries. It helps us make sense of things and keep things in their proper place for discussion, which I am all for.
But is it truly so simple?
I’m not sure, and the reason I’m not sure is simply this:
I have, from the very onset of my magical study and practice, spontaneously found myself “going out there” into what I can only describe as the ether or astral (or both, or neither?) at least to initiate the magical process. At times I have the experience of the bulk of my magical work within an operation taking place in the beyond realm, returning my consciousness to this everyday world only near or upon completion of the work.
Of course sometimes I have the traditionally explained experience of drawing energies down to the mundane world while my feet remain rooted here and now. Quite often, however, I find myself projecting, seeing, travelling, whatever we need to call it “out there” or “into the higher realms” in the performance of magic.
What am I, a self-professed stickler for the rules and correct grammar, to do with this???
Even more unsettling is, when I deliberately enter into mystical practice, say astral projection by example, I sometimes have the reverse of the above-mentioned experience. That is, prior to any ascension into subtler spaces I experience a definite mustering, or drawing down, of subtle and mystical energies into my physical form, only thereafter proceeding in conscious experience to shift into what I may call an astral state.
Could this be resultant of a career, early in life, as a drug aficionado?
Might it be the result of early religious training or paranormal experience?
Maybe I just learned the shit backwards in the beginning when nobodyh was around to tell me otherwise?
Hard to say for now. All I know is that a recent moment of self-honesty, clarity, or whatever has forced me to deal with the subjects in less rigid terms. Where this goes we shall see together and in time on the lonely pages of this humble blog.