andred/herne symbol - pentacle on hexagram gods' names in runes
Magic is perhaps one of the most awkward things for non-Pagan people to accept in the realm of Paganism. For some reason most people are willing to understand that you worship gods and even talk to spirits but as soon as you mention magic they look at you as if you are mad or think you are joking!
Perhaps the reason for this is that outside of the Pagan or occult communities magic has come to have a different meaning.

To most people magic is associated either with the stage magician or with the works of entertainment authors/TV/Film. True magic is like neither of these, and as a result many have taken to writing it as 'magick', in the style of Aleister Crowley, to differentiate it from the illusions and card tricks variety.

Personally I prefer to keep the traditional spelling, not that I have a problem with the letter 'K', but at least then my 'spell' checker doesn't throw a fit!

So what is magic?

There are probably nearly as many definitions of 'magic' as there are of 'Paganism' however many boil down to approximately the same core meaning, and my own is no different.

My definition of magic is:

The act of causing change to occur by the application of and direction of will either solely or with the assistance of external forces.
  • To work magic is to make a change either in 'reality' or in 'attitude'.
  • This change may be achieved by the intervention of spiritual beings   (gods/spirits/angels/demons/fey) or the channelling of energies (spirit/manna/elemental forces/quantum forces/psi).
  • The medium for directing this change is the will, either of the individual or the combined will of a group, though when external intelligences (spiritual beings) are involved their own motives may influence the result.
  • Rhymes, chants, wands, candles, poppets, crystals, athames, rituals and spells are all tools that aid in a working by focussing the mind and thus sharpening the will.  They are not essential in themselves but can facilitate a more effective state of mind.

Belief is the strongest tool available.

All magic has its cost. This may simply be fatigue but can be much more. Remember all actions create reactions, like the dropping of a pebble into a pool of water; the web of life is no different.

Magic works in its own time and in its own way. You might find the end result is not what or when you expect. Sometimes the only noticeable result is a change in the attitude of the originator of the working.

ln many ways  using of magic fulfils a similar purpose for a Pagan as does the act of prayer in other religions. While Pagans may also pray to their gods, the use of magic maintains a personal interest and a sense of responsibility.

As stated above, the strongest of tools is belief, particularly the belief of those involved in the working.  Those others do not believe has no more relevance than those who do not believe in a particular faith: it is simply up to them.

One thing that must be remembered is that magic is not without limits. The universe is the way it is because of the interplay of uncountable forces, to make any change requires these forces to be either manipulated or overcome. Just as water will flow along the path of least resistance, it should come as no surprise that magic should do similar. It should then be understandable that it is easier for magic to work by influencing natural processes rather than by imposing a spontaneous change: it is also safer too.

It is probably this aspect of magic, working subtly within natural mechanisms and leaving no obvious evidence, which results in much of the scepticism from non-believers.

It should also be noted that the working of magic is a manipulation of the natural order and as such, for someone who honours Nature, should only be considered when no other option is suitable or when all other available avenues have been tried.


Magic you say is a tool of your will,
So tell me now why you are poor still?
You can't fool me; you are far from a witch,
Else you'd cast a spell and now you'd be rich.

Magic is real and powerful, that's true,
But to me, I think, it means different to you.
Now I know you will claim this is but an excuse,
But to use power unwisely, is nowt but abuse.

Unwisely you say, well that's peachy keen,
But of this 'power' no proof have I seen.
Rise up that pencil; make it spin in the air,
Work some dark mojo, if you can or you dare.

Why would I do that? What would it serve?
Magic's not like that. Boy, do you have a nerve.
It's not what you think, no flashy TV effects,
It's much more subtle, and worked with respect.

Ha, you're a phoney, the whole thing a lie,
You have no magic; you're no different than I.
Why carry on with this stupid pretence,
Have you tried therapy? You know it makes sense.

Believe what you will, it's your loss not mine,
Dismiss magic, if you want and that is just fine.
But don't call me mad, for that is not true,
It's simply that I see things different from you.

© Kev the Cosmic Fool 2005
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