IMPORTANT: Be sure to have your journal handy so you can make notes, pose questions, record synchronicities, etc.
The magical act is the fundamental unit of all magical work
Work done in magical context is first of all presumably and properly done while you, the magician, are in a magical state, and furthermore is broken down and classified into magical acts. In the proverbial nutshell, these are the two considerations this course will focus on.
The Magical State, while the necessary beginning point of magical work, is only the beginning, and while reaching said state is indeed a magical act, it must be followed and supported right away by one or more additional acts, otherwise we are not doing any magic, but instead simply meditating or engaging in mysticism. To be more precise, magical results are the product of magical work, or action.
Put into a short list format, we thus have:
Enter or attain magical state.
Perform magical act or acts.
The Simplified Formula for Magical Success is Enter a Magical State, and then Perform One or More Magical Acts, the latter being either Individual Techniques or Complete Operations (See Below)
Yesterday’s lesson was all about the altered or magical state of being required before you can correctly and potently conduct magic. Today we will cover the magical act in basic form.
Magical work is classified in numerous ways by lay folk and initiates alike. When they read words like “sorcerer”, “witch”, “wizard”, and so on, most people think of additional terms such as cantrips, spells, ceremonies, conjurations, enchantments, charms, and rituals. The second group of terms applies to the active use of magical energy, the “doing” of magic.
We may pause here to note that, by virtue of the term itself (magical act) and as emphasized further by the statement “active use of energy”, inherent to the magical act is a measure of work. Act of course indicates action. Energy by definition is the potential for work, thus use of energy must be the performance of that work. The exact measure or amount of work will vary from act to act based on many factors but effort and possibly labor are requirements for the operation of magical processes.
Phillip Cooper, in more than one of his fine books on magic, begins by emphasizing this simple formula:
INPUT = OUTPUT.
The reward you take from magic is equal to the energy you put in. A level of commitment unique to each practitioner and some measure of discipline are necessary to succeed with magical studies and practice.
There’s My Spill on Work as a Virtue. Now for the Technical Breakdown:
Magical operations, or the working of magic for specific outcome(s), are the product of one or more units of activity called magical acts. The magical act is the unit of magical work, without which there would be no coherent way of organizing magic intention into useable methodologies.
Two Primary Types of Magical Acts
There are easily dozens of potential categories we could form to catalog various sorts of magical acts, but in the interests of simplicity and streamlined learning I’ll order all magical acts as either Minor Acts or Major Acts. For this discussion and throughout the course I’ll utilize the additional terms Techniques and Operations, with techniques being the “smaller” or “fundamental” acts mentioned earlier in this post and operations being the bodies of magical work performed to achieve results in some area of the magician’s life.
To put things into a nice, clear focus, consider the following table. The main point is the position and structure of the primary types of acts, with subsequent table fields serving as examples.
As you can see, Operation is the primary term or category, and so we can always discuss magical work in terms of operations to cover all bases. The heading operation will include spells, rituals, and any other sort of working (working is an interchange for operation I use often).
You will also notice the lines coming from “Ritual” and connecting to the subheadings “Centering” “Banishing” and “Incantation”. These are the minor and major acts that work together in the greater schema to form the overall operation, in this case a ritual.
For example, an evocation of planetary power, which is an operation of ritual magic, might be performed in two parts, the banishing/clearing rite and then the actual summoning of cosmic forces and evocation of a particular planetary power. Both of these “parts” are major magical acts constructed from multiple, minor magical acts. You have one operation, the planetary evocation to serve whatever intention, broken into two performing parts to handle set up and delivery, so to speak, with the whole of the thing built sequentially, so in a start-to-finish order that makes sense and serves your purpose, upon a procession of magical acts.
Breaking things down even further you would find the various minor acts as well as the two major acts all consist of individual techniques or sets of techniques. Arranged in specific sequence and applied with particular emphasis magical techniques weave the magical acts and operations of your work.
These processes work together from to determine the nature, direction, and value of your applied magic. You’ll want to mind the details and
Consider the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (or LBRP), a major act in this example or a complete operation if performed as a stand-alone act. If the LBRP were used for part one, or banishing/clearing within the planetary evocation, the magician would need to be proficient in the Kabbalistic Cross (minor act), tracing of the pentagram in air (technique), vibration of God Names (technique), the Invocation of the Archangels (minor act), perhaps basic wand strokes (techniques), and other acts/techniques depending on one’s interpretation and delivery of the ritual, or based upon the paradigm and/or system the magician works within. From this closer perspective, i.e., from within our overall working – a planetary evocation – we examine the Lesser Pentagram Ritual as both a minor act or component part that will help make up our primary operation and a maj0r act relative to the lesser acts and techniques upon which it is built.
Proceeding into the operation the magician executes what we have tentatively dubbed “the second act”, or the conjuration/summoning/evocation procedure. Here we may find the drawing of star forms (techniques) such as hexagrams and heptagrams, calling of the planet and/or its deities, angels, etc. (minor act) and probably an incantation (technique or act) of some sort.
Note that anything herein I have designated a technique is so done to indicate it as a smaller and “building block” element within not just the greater operation, but indeed in building even the minor acts. Any of these smallest acts, or techniques as I describe them, might be used as a stand-alone action/solution or otherwise employed to create a desired effect upon reality in the hands of a magician who understands their application.
Items which I have labelled acts in the previous paragraphs are simply (and perhaps slightly) more complex, generally made up of two or more steps. We see in this example that even these more developed processes, complete operations in their own right, build upon one-another to create the overall working.
I’m plainly telling you here that my use of the terms “technique” and “act” are not quite arbitrary but certainly are tenuous. I just want you to know that I know this, in case you’re taking issue. I’ll explain all this below so stay with me.
Here’s an expanded look at the table of Magical Acts that includes Techniques.
Techniques are found at the bottom of the table above. Some of these are simple, while others more complex. These are the building blocks you will learn and refine and ultimately use to build your magical and mystical* skills.
A suite of simple yet highly impactful exercises (organized techniques) that I use and recommend can be found here. You should practice these or similar exercises on a daily basis for at least the next 90 days to build a firm foundation and a sense of comfort with your own personal energy matrix and the channeling of subtle/magical energies.
* (from above) Magic and Mystical or Magic vs. Mysticism
The terms magic and mystical/mysticism are often used interchangeably, but this is inaccurate. While both of these terms deal with realities beyond our mundane and day-to-day experiences, when compared from a technical perspective they represent polar opposites. Magic is the contacting of “higher” or otherworldly forces to bring said forces “down” into this material experience. Mysticism, on the other hand, is the raising of oneself or one’s consciousness “upward” and into the “higher” or otherworldly realms to interact with forces that exist therein. Check this post for a slightly longer explanation.
I mentioned incantation in the above example, labelling it as either an act, or technique, or both. An incantation or spell, spoken magic etc. can be a minor r major act depending upon the context. This is as good a time as any to do a quick breakdown of what a magic spell is and I’ll do so while further illustrating the point of today’s lesson (tada!).
Magic Spells as Magical Acts
While it’s possible that a spell can be a single magical act, generally speaking a spell will consist of multiple magical acts. In other words, while a magic spell is a magical operation, the magical act is the fundamental, or smaller and more basic, unit the operations are made up of.
A magic spell is probably the operation within magic that most people are (at least casually) aware of. What is this operation, from a technical perspective?
The word spell comes from the Germanic spel, which indicates profound speech, such as a religious sermon. Interestingly, magicians of the Middle Ages are said to have originally used the word “spellings”, to indicate entries into their magical tomes (known as Grimoires but allegedly once called Grammars, thus “spellings and grammars”.) to preserve the proper spelling and grammar of magical incantations, names, and phrases.
There is techniqueto the uttering of magical words and the rhythmic application of your words as power that acts upon causality. This practice is an art unto itself and many successful magicians are proficient in little else, not interested in ritual or physical components and content to pursue the path of VERBA MAEA POTESTATE! (My words are power!)
A spell is a stand-alone incantation or an operation that includes as a crucial portion of its body of work the incantation, or verbal application of magic. Incantation is derived from a word that means “to chant or sing” and indeed many spells to this day revolve around rhythmic chanting or singing to raise or enhance the energy to be “cast” or sent forth to produce the intended outcome. Magic words, or words of power, are part of the incantation process; these power words constitute magical techniques for building the incantation, just as the incantation is a magical act within the overall spell.
When a spell is a single act, it is usually a simple incantation used outside of ritual and with minimal other components. Examples include a brief incantation applied with a crystal or a dash of herbs, or perhaps with a simple gesture like stomping on an image, doodling a symbol, or waving your hands to the West to indicate the setting sun. There are MANY potent incantations, or if you prefer, magic spells that take only a few seconds to cast, yet can change your day dramatically.
Exercises that Build Technique
Here are a couple of examples of exercises or practices that ultimately build techniques, which in turn you can use to construct magical operations.
A good, strong grounding exercise that trains you to center your mind and drop your weight, connecting with the Earth and your personal base of power in the process. This could then be worked into many techniques as the starting or setpoint for execution.
Basic, breath awareness meditation for stilling the mind and relaxing the emotive state, among many other benefits, is a precursor to many meditative techniques and states. Such states/techniques as concentration, visualization, and mindfulness are based upon basic breath awareness practice and in turn are applied toward many different acts of magic.
Projection of energy from your core or center and out of your pointing finger is another great “basic” or foundational technique. This evolves to sending the same energy out through a wand or staff, and then to drawing shapes with the energy or charging items or areas with a beam of specifically charged force. It’s easy to imagine how such techniques might be used to fashion more complex actions, which could then serve as the backbone of multiple operations.
I Want to be Supremely Clear on this Next Point!
This is the farthest thing you can imagine from a perfect system! It’s laden with issues, like the overlap between the two categories you will undoubtedly find as you learn more about magic. This is for instructional and (hopefully) improved learning purposes only.
As you gain proficiency you will likely drop my terms and come up with your own way to categorize your study and practice. You might be thinking, why the labels in the first place; is it really necessary to be so specific?
Yes. Magic depends hugely on the understanding and use of words, in one form or another. The art is already damaged, insofar as the ease of transferring knowledge of it, due to the fuzzy terminology and absence of sanctioning bodies. I feel it is important that we at least attempt to get into phase with our language so we can know succinctly what is being communicated for, no matter how badly some may wish it otherwise, the hard truth is…
Magic turns and hinges upon REAL forces and mechanisms, meaning it is possible to miss the mark or set a similar but different force than you intend into motion. The details matter if you want to produce meaningful and beneficial results.
Furthermore, my aim is to teach you some basic nuts and bolts you can use to build your own magic. I don’t want you just repeating some spell I put together, but rather to be able to create your own spells for whatever you wish because you understand the underpinning such operations rely and work upon. Here again, details shall matter!
I hope this information has been helpful to you thus far. I’m sure you’re ready to dispatch with the abstract notions and get your hands into some magic. In Lesson Three (tomorrow) we will do exactly this by jumping right into your first magical act!
In the meantime, if you want a little “action” before tomorrow’s lesson check out the following links to learn a magical technique or two (or three!) that will aid you not only in this course, but also help you throughout the rest of your magical career.
For if you can’t place yourself at the center, you will be lost. Likewise, without grounding you will have no base of power and stability. These basic but powerful techniques can improve your magic and change your life!
This was initially an advanced exercise I simplified for intermediate students so relax into the moment and just have some fun with this one. No harm is done if you don’t get it and you’ll probably catch right on if you put no pressure on yourself and enjoy the process.
Magic is serious business but should also be fun IMO.
That’s it for Lesson Two. You can proceed to Lesson Three if you like. Or, you can check yourself with the quiz below.
Quiz for Lesson Two:
It’s straightforward and multiple choice. Give it a go to see how much you’re absorbing as you read.
I’m sorry but you didn’t answer correctly enough for a pass. Don’t get frustrated, I set the pass bar to 90% on most of these quizzes. I recommend reviewing the lesson again before you continue but this, of course, is up to you.