THE PHYSICS AND ETHICS OF MAGICK
What we truly and earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense, we are. The mere
aspiration, by changing the frame of mind, for the moment realizes itself
– Anna Jameson
Magick has always been part of Witchcraft. From the dawn of humanity it has been
a tool used to help alter the forces which shape our lives. Today’s Pagans have
reclaimed this viewpoint; we are not merely helpless masses of flesh, void of
any personal power, groveling at the mercy of the fates.
The precise content of our spells has changed over the centuries, but not
the methods, and certainly not human need. It is interesting to note that the
magickal desires found in weathered grimoires are the same desires we have
today, principally: love, security, health, and fertility.
What Magick Is and How It Works
Our detractors try to tell us, and anyone else who will listen, that magick is
inherently evil; that it utilizes “unnatural” or evil forces in order to work.
They believe that mere humans cannot naturally possess any power of their own;
therefore it must be obtained from some supernatural source and, they
illogically rationalize, any force that would aid human desire must therefore be
wicked and ask a perverse allegiance in return. This source was personified as
(need I say it?) their Satan, or anti-God.
It is this inherent power, one with which we are all born, that is the
force behind successful magick. Often we may combine this personal energy with
that of nature (by using herbs, stones, etc., as our catalyst and focal point),
or with that of the elemental world (by aligning our inherent power with that of
faeries, elementals, or of the elements themselves), or by working in tandem
with the creative power of Gods and Goddesses. But no matter how many of these
combinations we try, we, the practicing magickians, are the ultimate source of
Belief in magick as part of religious practice was an accepted part of
everyday ancient Pagan life, and flourished for many, many centuries before
Satan became an accepted theological construct of Christianity nearly two
thousand years ago. For the old Witches, magick was not viewed as an operation
of supernatural forces since, logically, nothing supernatural could exist.
Whether one believed the universe was created by a sentient deity, or wished to
believe that it exploded into existence of its own accord, the fact remained
that certain natural laws operated from which no deviation could occur. Cats
don’t sprout antlers overnight, autumn does not suddenly appear to follow
winter, and a maple tree doesn’t become an elm at will. Everything has its place
in the time/space continuum – including magick.
Magick has long been understood by its practitioners to be no more than
the manipulation of natural forces not yet understood by either science or
psychology. To create a spell we teach ourselves to sense and “see” these
energies, and invest them with our own energies in order to bend them to our
will. On the physical plane we can see this same concept used in the martial art
known as Judo. Through Judo one is taught to take advantage of the natural
energy and momentum of one’s opponent, making it possible for a ninety-pound
woman to toss a two hundred-pound man over her head. The natural energy that
makes this feat possible is there, waiting to be harnessed and directed to
release itself to the desired outcome.
Look around you. Right now. Put down this book and note all the items in
the place you are in at this moment. Note all those modern miracles of
technology you take for granted that would have gotten you hanged for being in
league with the Devil only two hundred years ago: your car, your television,
your CD player, radios, electric lights, even a simple ballpoint pen. All of
these things would have been seen as manifestations of magick by virtually
everyone, and as a sign of the presence of evil by more than just a few. But for
those who understand – or pretend to understand – the factual scientific
principles on which these items work, they are not “magickal” at all. They are
simply things which operate through natural scientific principles.
It is highly likely that the magick of today will be the science of
tomorrow, that eventually we will discover what it is about the energy of the
trained magickal mind that can manifest wishes and desires. As scientists and
psychologists continue to study the evolving human mind, they may unlock the
secrets of creation from a single directed thought. This conceptual hinge upon
which all magick is hung may be seen as being overly simplified, but it is the
basis of all spellwork. Everything that exists – everything – had to first begin
as a single thought, and somehow those thoughts had to be directed, both on the
mental and on the physical planes, in order to manifest as reality. (Even Judeo-
Christian mysticism teaches that we are merely thought-forms in the mind of
God and, when he ceases to think about us, we will perish.)
Five basic ingredients are needed for any successful spell.
1. The desire or need for something
2. An emotional investment in the outcome of the spell
3. The knowledge to work the spell
4. The belief that it exists on the mental/astral planes
5. The ability to keep silent
Without desire and need there can be no spark of the imagination that
fires the emotions to drive the spells. Without magickal knowledge a Witch has
no idea of what to do to make the magick. Without belief that focused thoughts
create a reality that can be brought into the physical world, there is no magick
Keeping silent about magickal work is another very old belief. It may have
stemmed partly from fear of discovery by the Witch hunters. On another level
there is an old adage that energy divided is energy lost. In other words, the
more you speak to others of your work, the more energy you lose, energy which
could otherwise be channeled into your desired outcome. You may also find
yourself talking to someone who does not believe in the power of magick, or has
some vested interest in your failure, perhaps jealousy or a need to “prove” the
unworkability of magick. Such people can do great damage to your magick by their counter-energy. Never mind that they do not believe in what you are doing. We all have the power to project energy, and their mental output can work against you.
Those who do not understand the principles of magic fear the mysterious
source of the manifestation more than the manifestation itself. If we look again
to the natural laws of the universe for answers, we find there is really no
mystery. All of us were taught the basic law of physics in junior high science
MATTER CAN BE NEITHER CREATED NOR DESTROYED, IT CAN ONLY CHANGE FORM.
Unlike television Witches, such as the ever-popular Samantha Stephens, we
cannot wiggle our noses and create something from nothing. In order to manifest a house on a vacant lot we do not – and cannot – create matter. Rather, we set up energy patterns that draw the energy to us and shape it into the form we want to see. This would involve consorting with a good contractor rather than with demons. The language that has evolved around magick over the centuries also tells us that it is not an instantaneous event, but a process of building piece-by-piece. Various mythologies tell of Goddesses of magick who are spinners and
weavers, creating their reality step-by-step as a seamstress embroiders a
tapestry. With her patience and persistence a rich picture is born, and it is no
accident that we have adopted the words spinning, weaving, casting, working,
crafting, and creating to describe our spellwork. There is no rule anywhere in Paganism to tell us how much or how little magick we must weave, or even that we have to make magick at all. If you are not sure about its working principles, or feel that you are not ready for magick in your life, then don’t do it. If you continue to follow a Pagan path the time will eventually come when you win find yourself casting a spell as easily as you call upon your deities.Once you decide to create a spell to meet a need, begin constructing it by following these twenty-four steps:
1. Clearly understand and define your magickal goal. Write it down or state it
out loud to help form it solidly in your mind. By doing this you begin to invest
the spell and the desired outcome with your emotions and energy. If you have
more than one need, you may wish to spread them out. You can work more than one spell at a “session,” but doing so will dissipate and scatter your energies,
leaving less for each spell. If you feel you must do multiple spells, limit them
to three and try to relate them in some way, so that the energy you raise
remains as focused as possible.
2. Be sure of the ethics of your hoped-for outcome. Approach the spell from
all angles to satisfy yourself that you are not violating anyone else’s free
will or being manipulative. Many Witches like to do a divination first, to be
doubly sure that their spell will not have any unforeseen ramifications. If the
results of the divination are negative, try rethinking your intent to see if you
can circumvent the problem. Then do another divination and see what comes up.
3. If you wish to use a specific element as a focus for your magick, decide
which one is most appropriate and collect items to represent that energy.
4. Plan how you will visualize your goal and believe in what you see. The powers
of the mind are only just now beginning to be explored by science. We have all
heard stories of terminal patients who have healed themselves, and of faith
healers who use belief to manifest miracle cures. Visualization uses that power
to form mental pictures that are invested with personal energy and emotion. It
is the soul that breathes life into all magick, and the soul that is the most
important element in its outcome. The moment you start visualizing the
resolution of a magickal need is the moment you begin to create the changes in
your deep mind necessary for the magick to manifest.
5. If you are working with advanced natural magick you will need to prepare a
long-range plan in accordance with the above guidelines. This will entail
checking moon phases, laying in enough supplies for the duration of the spell,
and planning how the energy can be sustained through each day.
6. Gather candles, stones, or whatever else you intend to use as a catalyst for
your focus or to direct the energy you will raise. Empower those items with your
personal energy by projecting into them the energy of your goal. Keep in mind
that these tools, including your cherished ritual tools, have no power in and of
themselves. The power is not in the tools, but inside the Witch trained to use
them. Without you, they are useless. They merely provide a way to focus your
energy and a means for directing it towards its goal.
7. Decide upon your “words of power,” the words or chants you will use to help
focus and raise energy. You may write them out, or simply remember key phrases you wish to use as you improvise. Some Witches like to create simple poems so they will be easier to remember.
8. If you wish to use a special deity or mythic figure in your magick, decide on
which one or ones, and on how you will evoke, invoke, and/or honor them. You may wish to write out special prayers or blessings and memorize them.
9. Decide when you want to do the spell. This can be any time you personally
need the magick, at the time when your coven regularly meets, or you may wish to take into consideration moon phases and/or other astrological influences. If
your life is as busy as most people’s today, you may have to choose the only
night when you will be free and alone. The timing is much less important than
the energy you bring to the spell.
10. At the appropriate time, gather what you will be using and go to the place
where you will perform the spell. This can be at your altar, indoors or
outdoors, at your coven meeting site, or anywhere else that feels appropriate,
comfortable, and private.
11. Cast your circle and, if you like, call the quarters, or do as you would
when opening any other ritual. If you are using advanced magickal techniques you win definitely need to employ these visualizations to be effective.
12. Your magick is now beginning in earnest. Invite whatever elementals,
faeries, spirits, or deities you wish to have present as you work. They should
always be welcome, but they are not necessary for spellwork.
13. Clear your mind and begin visualizing your goal. This is probably the most
important step in the spell-casting process and you should invest the mental
image with as much energy as you can muster. Recall your need and make your
emotional connection with it as deep as you can, on as many levels as possible.
14. Raise energy within yourself and pour it into the magickal object(s) in
whatever way feels right to you. This can be done as a mental projection,
through dance or song, or intense visualization.
15. Do whatever physical actions your spell requires. Some need no special
actions, but many require some basic movement, even if it is only lighting a
candle. Use your words of power, light your candles, bury your herbs, mentally
charge your stones, and/or raise your cone of power.
16. Take advantage of natural phenomena that can help you raise energy. A storm, for instance, is an excellent source of energy that any Witch can draw upon to help feed a spell. Allow yourself to become part of the storm and feel yourself psychically drawing on its vast stores of energy as you seek to raise your own energies or cone of power.
17. When you feel you have put as much energy into the spell as you possibly
can, send the energy out to do your will. You can visualize this as a cone of
power being sent out, or use any other mental image you like. Body language
helps, too. Relax, throw up your arms, raise a tool, kneel, send out a cone of
power, or do whatever else makes you feel the energy go forth. Be sure to direct
it out from you visually as well.
18. You should finish your spell with words such as the traditional “So Mote It
Be.’ Mote is an obsolete word for “must’ The phrase is synonymous with “Amen,”
“So It Is,” and “It is Done” It is a statement of completion and an affirmation
that you know your magick is successful. All magick is worked from the point of
view that the desired goal is already manifest – it will not come to be, but IT
IS. Always phrase your magickal desires in the present tense; for example, “I
have love in my life now,” or, “My bins are now paid in full.’ Talking of magick
happening in the future will keep it forever in the future, always just out of
19. Meditate briefly on your goal. Again, visualize it as already manifest.
Smile, breathe a sigh of relief, and know the magick is already at work for you.
20. Thank and dismiss all faeries, spirits, and deities who have come to witness
or aid in your magick.
21. Ground your excess energy into the earth and open your circle. Excess
energy, raised during your spell work but not fully sent away from you when you
sent it to do its job, lingers on and around you, The best way to ground this
excess is to place your hands palms down on the earth, into a bowl of soil, or
on the floor of your home. Physically and psychically feel the excess energy
draining out of you. Know that it is being absorbed and dispersed into mother
22. If you have ritualized your spell, dismiss your quarters or do whatever
other endings your rituals traditionally require. If you are working your magick
with a coven this is standard practice.
23. Record your spell in your Magickal Diary or Book of Shadows with the date,
time, weather conditions, and any astrological data you wish to include. This
will be useful later when you have done enough spells to look for patterns. For
example, you may see that your most efficacious spells were done on Sundays or
when it was cloudy or snowing, or when you had faeries present, worked with a
particular deity, burned green candles, or when the moon was full. Everyone has
different affinities. These patterns will help you pick the best times for your
24. Back up your desire on the physical plane. This is a must. For example, if
you have done a spell for healing don’t avoid seeing your doctor. You will need
all the help at your disposal to overcome your illness, and magick and medical
science make great partners.
Until you achieve your magickal goal you should spend some time each day
focusing on it by dearly visualizing it as a fait accompli. These added boosts
of daily energy can often mean the difference between success and failure.
**This is an excerpt from Lady of the Night – A Handbook of Moon Magick &
Rituals by Edain McCoy, 1995. If you like this information, please buy a copy of
this book. It will make a great addition to your book collection. ISBN 1-56718-