Esoteric Magic, Practical Magic – What’s What?

practical and esoteric magic

It’s a fair question: What’s the difference between practical magic and esoteric magic? What do these terms mean?

I can make this super simple for you as follows:

Practical magic is about getting things done. Protecting a home, finding new money, confounding a stalker, healing, summoning a spirit, are just a few examples of how you would apply practical magic.
Esoteric magic, on the other hand is about doing magic for the sake of magic. Ritual work as a form of skills practice, casting spells to increase magical power & capability, studying the arcane traditions in an effort to understand the great Mystery of life are examples of esoteric magic in action.

It should be obvious that both methods have a place in the world, indeed in the life of an individual magician. I live by practical magic and make a point to use esoteric magic to refine my Art, and for the pure joy of performing the magic.

The Magical State Briefly Explained

What do I mean by magical state?

A Magical State (sometimes M. State or simply M. hereafter) is the condition of unified mental and physiological high performance the magician intends to enter or create in order to undertake magical operations. The circumstance is one of clarity, adaptability, and prowess in all areas of function, as mind and body become One inseparable process.

M. State is quite like the alpha brain waves state. Discovered by Hans Berger in 1929, Alpha waves are slow yet high amplitude neural oscillations (various rate at which the brain vibrates – forgive me neuroscientists of the world, for I am but an ignorant beast doing my best to discuss your fancy-pants scientifical observations.); Alpha waves are measured at between 8 and 12 Hz and they produce a state of alert relaxation, characterized by ease of information processing and articulate creativity alongside optimal physical performance and coordination.

This is the “flow state” or “Zen” of the musician and athlete, wherein the individual can effortlessly express himself through actions that might qualify as challenging feats under other circumstances. I liken this condition to the Zanshin of the Samurai warrior, or the shamanic state of consciousness practiced by the indigenous spiritual leaders in remote parts of the world. You have experienced this process many times, whether you know it or not.        

For most people, the first few minutes after waking up from a good sleep is an Alpha period. The blissful exhaustion that follows a great workout, the thought-free, perfect elation emerging approximately 60 seconds after orgasm, especially if you’re with somebody you genuinely love at the time, and even that mildly euphoric and hyper-aware classification known as “fight or flight” can produce the Alpha rhythm of the brain. 

M. goes beyond the Alpha state, involving the introduction of subtle energies and currents and potentially fields of intelligent force. While it shares altered states of consciousness with the shamanic state, M. is of a magical and not mystical orientation.

Induce or Enter M. State

Obviously if we had to await the spontaneous occurrence of a magical state we would rarely get any magical work done. You can choose when and where to initiate M., thus having it readily available when you wish to undertake practical or esoteric magic.

Three methods I recommend for creating M. are:

  • Meditation and focused intent
  • Affirmations and excitation
  • Psychoactive substances

Mindfulness meditation, breath awareness, etc. can be combined with or followed by intensely focused determination. The idea here is to reach a flow or steady state and then push off that and begin your work, entering magical state via the Will in action.

Affirmations, practiced often are conducive to the timely creation of M. “I am wizard blood”, “strong magic lives in me and it demands expressing”, and similar statements can get results. Music, dance, sex, or working out are examples of excitation you might add to your affirmations when you need to induce M.

Finally, it should be obvious that consuming products like Marijuana and Silis Iben will produce their own M. States quite reliably. The issue here is whether or not you can focus and direct the state produced by these strong substances.

Simply practicing your magical motions, routines, and so on will in time develop a knack for attaining M. “Practice often” is a favorite motto of mine for this very reason.

Tri-Angelic Assembly

Spiritual Guidance, an Easier Path

Not all magical practitioners subscribe to a model of spiritism or to the notion of guardian angels and/or spirit guides. Many magicians do hold beliefs of this nature, so I think it’s a point worth touching on from time to time.

For many people, it’s easy enough to buy into the idea of spirit guides, guardian angels, and so forth. These same good folk, sadly, often are very dissatisfied with their attempts to communicate with or be aware of the presence of such creatures.

If you’re not a gifted clairvoyant or clairaudient, you may have no way of ever knowing about the spiritual beings sending you guidance and information on a regular basis. Point of fact: the majority of feedback and insight you receive from such sources is likely to come in more subtle forms, including but not limited to:

  • intuition or inspiration
  • synchronicity or co-incidence
  • profound shit the other humans bring to your attention at the perfect time
  • signals from your pets or critter friends (if you’re hip to all that)

It’s actually pretty rare to see or hear a spiritual being giving you clear information or counsel. For this reason, many will ask: just how the hell am I supposed to communicate with, or know an entity I cannot see or hear?

There’s that timeless loop, know a spirit’s name so you can assert at least some measure of control over them, or at least be sure your communications are received by them. Again, how can you get a name if you can’t sense their presence in the first place?

Enter, Zodiac Angels

Zodiac angels provide an easy and definite way to communicate with at least some form of spiritual being that is connected with you. The idea holds that, by reaching out to your zodiacal angel or angels you will:

  1. probably benefit from some direct guidance
  2. be leaving a spiritual message, so to speak, that will be passed along to your individual angels or guides

I like it. I have used a simple tri-angelic assembly for some time now and it works far better than my previous attempts at cornering my guide (the prick).

Tri = 3

Angelic uh, cuz they’re angels

Assembly, I have assembled them into this construct.

To replicate this for yourself, simply find your Sun Sign, Rising Sign, and Moon Sign using any good Astrology book or by doing a Google or Bing search for “Rising Sign Calculator”, and so forth. A quick breakdown on these terms follows:

Sun sign is your primary sign; the mover and shaker of your persona.

Rising sign is a tad complicated, but can be seen as a mask you wear, your idealist personality.

The Moon sign is your secret persona, linked with your subconscious.

Each sign, having a zodiac sign, will also have an angel tasked with looking over those born into its sign and keeping the integrity of said sign. Check out this list on Angelarium.

Zodiac Angels are / are not…

These angels are not typical guardians of individuals, nor are they guides to humans per se. They can and usually will give you general counsel if asked, and will do so in the context of your nature as Libra, Taurus, etc. They are all about keeping their thread stable in the universe, so in return you should strive to emanate “well” at the frequency of their/your sign.

I think you’ll find this exercise (ongoing) useful, especially if you have struggled with spirit guide communication to this point. A more clear grasp of your intuition and of synchronicity related to your inquiries will come quickly. From there, things will take individual turns and twists.

It’s a good starting point to find or make sigils for each of your three, and begin each day with a brief meditation, greeting, etc. to or involving your Tri Angelic Assembly.

Try it on and LMK how all goes.

From Which Tree Is a Magic Wand Taken?

What kind of wood makes a magic wand? Or, what tree are you supposed to cut a magic wand from?

If you want to skip my opinion because you came here hoping to find historical advice from traditional texts, etc. etc. click here

I’ve been asked this question a time or two, and I’ve seen it asked online. Some of the answers posted to the Web, even some I’ve overheard while browsing a metaphysical shop, range from silly to appalling.

Allow me, please, to make this easy. First thing: there is no “requirement” that a wand should be wooden at least not from the perspective of the natural laws that allow magic to operate. Stone and metal wands can be quite nice.

I admit, however, I find wands of wood to be the most efficacious (I also admit I’ve been looking for an excuse to use that damn word for days now.). What kind of wood we talkin’ here?

I’m afraid you have only two options:

  1. wood from a living tree or shrub
  2. wood from dead tree shrub

This post won’t touch on what you might use dead wood, as in dead when you found it, for your wand. Perhaps later.

That leaves only one category; living trees or shrubs. The question of which tree or shrub can be answered with the question of, “Well, what do you plan to use this wand for?”

Trees, like everything else cataloged by mad wizards and witches over the centuries, can be viewed from the perspective of their correspondences, i.e. the elements, zodiac, planets, spirits, etc they are magically linked to. Most comprehensive tables of correspondence will include a few trees, as will books on fairy magic, natural magic encyclopedias, etc. Take the time to study so you can choose wisely and specifically.

Check this list of trees and their magical properties by Tess Whitehurst, an author whose content on this topic I respect immensely.

Since you took the time to click on over to this post, I’ll throw you a few easy ones as well. The following are good choices for general purpose magical wands, in no special order other than the first one is totally the best in my opinion… but yeah after that no special order at all.

  • Holly
  • Poplar
  • Oak
  • Ash
  • Birch
  • Hawthorne

But what do the “ancient” traditions have to say?

Short version: Archaeological evidence indicates the Druid class used Ash, Holly, and Oak. Many of the stand-alone grimoires preserved from the Middle ages point you to Ash or Hazel/Witch Hazel. The “Solomonic”

(Lesser Key of Solomon, et al) books for the most part require nut-bearing trees; I know I’m forgetting another reference from the woerks given Solomon’s namer, I just don’t care enough to look it up right now..

Anyhoo… there are a few for you’re just hooked on the notion of following instructions set out in a completely different time and culture. No doubt, any of htese would be solid choices, but I refused to limit myself long ago (seriouslly, my god I am getting old) when I started this gig and I’m pleased with the results thus gleaned.


Check out my basic magic wand user guide to learn a few simple methods for getting great results with your wand art. I’ve found literature on this point sorely lacking, so I decided to fill in the gap, so to speak.

Magic and Mysticism

magician and mystic
Image by Solarus from Pixabay

Is there any difference between these two paths?

The two “M” words in today’s occult rhetoric, magic and mysticism (or magician & mystic), are often used interchangeably. Is this proper? re these just two different terms used to talk about the same thing?

Definitely no; it is inaccurate to use these terms as synonyms. It is, of course, possible for an individual to be BOTH magician and mystic, but the paths themselves are distinct.

Will Parfitt, among others, describes mysticism as moving upwards, from material reality and into the subtle realms, finally to the divine space of God. In some ways it’s like a metaphysical escapist attitude (my words, not Parfitt’s). This is the common ideal espoused by many new age students of today; transcend normal reality with its pain and suffering and enter a spiritually enlightened state in unison with the divine.

Continuing with Parfitt, magic, he tells us, is about staying grounded in this reality while reaching into the heavens and bringing spirit or divinity into everyday experience. So the magician isn’t trying to escape heavenward, she is looking to improve the world by bringing heaven here to us mortal folk, even if only in small increments within her own life.

This, I believe, is a pretty good measure and comparison for the terms and paths of magic and mysticism. I will add a bit only to accentuate, not really to alter what Will has given us.

Mystic religions or spiritual paths are defined by the concept of direct experience of, or contact with God by the practitioner. This means taking the priesthood, or middle men, out of the way and going directly toward the divine source via whatever practice and meditation the system in question prescribes. By this definition, modern-protestant Christianity is a mystical path, and so of course is neo Paganism in its best (IMO) forms.

Magic, in all its wonderful forms, is often discussed as a vehicle for spiritual growth or a path for reaching god. This is a fairly modern development, as the magic of our ancestors was about getting things done more than it had anything to do with illumination or enlightenment. Most often when you hear or read about the spiritual path of magic, you are actually being sold mysticism under the wrong heading.

As mentioned, a person can definitely pursue BOTH of these paths. I do, as do many of the good folk I associate with. I just find it important to clarify the differences. (I know… how grossly Western of me 😉 ).

Magic, an Explanation

Many people today are not even aware of the existence of magic outside of books and movies. Everyone is of course familiar with the stage magician and illusionist, with his mesmerizing card tricks and other assorted trickery. As a child I couldn’t get enough David Copperfield and I’ve always found Houdini very interesting. Prior to my young adult life my only reference point for real magic was the idea of “devil-worshippers and witches” , as described to me by well-meaning but clueless Sunday school teachers.

The Real Deal

Isn’t it curious how the art and practice of magic, the journey of shamanism, the path of the mystic, have managed to survive for millennia now, through the modern era and right to this post modern shit show we inhabit today? The deeper how and why of that is for another article, but in short, it survived because it’s f-ing real, and the keepers of the secrets have continued to pass them along to the next generation.

What’s What…

In terms of what magic is, i.e. the how it works kind of definition (well, somewhat), check the article on this page. This post is more about how you go about producing magic (truncated version) and too… sort of… how it works.

Let me get that last bit out of the way right here: we can’t tell you for sure how magic functions, as we cannot open the side panel and observe the mechanics in process. I can tell you a spell forms your ideal on the Astral or Causal plane and by Will you bring this image down a spiral ladder of Elements or energy phases, but I can’t demonstrate that objectively. Any discussion of functional nuts and bolts outside of you the magician, so to speak, is purely conceptual, to help you build focus and frame methodology.

Work Ethic, Not Destiny

Magic of any sort is a skill. Yes, you may have a certain level of talent or innate aptitude, but you must learn and practice to fully realize your potential. Don’t worry if you lack inborn talent; I sure as hell did. I began this journey as a clumsy oaf who couldn’t manifest anything but frustration and creative profanity.

Don’t buy into the idea that you must be born a wizard or witch in order to take up the art. That’s simply horseshit. I have a friend (owner of my favorite metaphysical shop) who calls this sort of thinking magical elitism. I do believe in the notion of “wizard born” or “witch blood”, that is, genetic / familial predisposition toward magic, but this is little different from a family with mechanical or athletic inclination running through the generations.

Any human being has the capacity for psychic development, mystical practice, or the study and application of magic. Ultimately your work ethic and not your inborn destiny or lineage will determine how effective you are as a weaver of arcane tapestry.

Formal or Casual Methods

Formalized magic takes place in ritual or ceremonial settings. Everything, literally, from the direction you face for certain movements to the placement of each item involved, is set neatly out in a formula specific to the work at hand. clear orderliness and structure permeate this art.

Natural or folk magic is done often on the fly, spontaneously or as a general practice throughout the day. Fewer rules and more flexibility, perhaps in exchange for less “reach” into the unseen realms characterize this practice.

Desire and Consciousness

All magic begins with a clear, if not burning intention, linked either to desire or requirement. Next, an empty state of mind and being. Clarity and presence in the now, and a full focus of mind, feeling, even body toward the goal or intent.

The magician enters a state of concentration, presumably having chosen his or her methods and tools ahead of time. Concentration lends to meditation, entering an altered state of consciousness, from where one – through education and practice – will enter into other realms of existence.

Maybe these other realms are layers of consciousness, or they could be among the multiple dimensions physicists like String Theorists try to explain to the rest of us. Whatever they actually may be, they serve as the formative medium for the reality we wish to produce with our Work. We create precisely what we want in the other and through specific methodology bring this ideal closer and closer to manifest reality here in our material world, until at last it lives alongside us.

Hopefully this makes some semblance of sense to you. If not, just hang in and keep coming back, or following the email course. Something brought you here, so don’t give up without at least giving that something a chance to explain itself through insight and revelation gained with a little perseverance on your part.

What Books are Good for the Beginner Occultist?

I get this question from time to time and it’s definitely a good one to nerd out on. Perhaps a surprise (then maybe not) I’m not as well-read as your garden variety pedant/occultist, but I still have enough context and library space to offer some interesting recommendations.

I should clarify a bit of deceptiveness on my part with the title. By occultist I purely mean magician of some sort, i.e. one who cast spells or engages in specifically magical operations.

Without much detail or fuss, here is my short list of books to help both total newbs and those who have taken their first magical steps already.

Recommended Books In no special order:

  • Basic Candle Magic by Phillip Cooper
  • Basic Sigil Magic by Phillip Cooper
  • Tree of Life by Israel Regardie
  • Elements of Qabalah by Will Par
  • Techniques of High Magic by King & Skinner
  • Basic Practical Magic by Brandi Williams
  • Complete Book of Magical Correspondences by Sandra Kynes
  • Magician’s Companion by Bill Whitcomb
  • Everyday Magic by Dorothy Morrison
  • a few more but have to stop here because Word Press “block editor” is a buggy piece of shit, won’t respond even to magical efforts to adjust, people around me soon in danger from rage building up.

Saturn Before Thursday’s Sunrise

I sat in the half-light this morning as the sun approached the horizon from the far side. During this hour of Saturn, just prior to the dawn that brings forth the hour and day of Jupiter, I contemplated the concepts of restriction and expansion.

Would the soul be found there, between those two forces, just as the Sol dwells there at this hour? The notion feels truthful, but what precisely does it mean?

Are such tides as the weak nuclear force that binds our atoms in place and electromagnetism that provides the core physical energy for the sustainment and growth of our bodies, be representatives of Saturn and Jupiter? What about gravity and dark energy, in their cosmic tug of war that determines whether the known universe is expanding or contracting? Time and space?

I’m clearly no physicist, and probably botched the rhetorical question. I’m convinced, however, there is something here in this sleep-deprived little musing of mine, and as insight shines the ray of gnosis upon the matter I’ll surely report back.

Mostly I just wanted to share the thought and say THAT, my friend, is what I love about this Work, this practice of magic. Never-ending are the tiny and elusive glimmers of something far greater than I could have ever conceived of when I began this journey.