Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Advanced Search

Magick, Modern Magick, and “The Tongue of Evil”

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on February 9, 2010 | Comments (3)

One of the reasons magick is unsuccessful for many people is because they fail to understand something I’ve described many times: “Magick isn’t something you do. Magick is something you are.”

Part of this—the important part for this discussion—is understanding that magick is going on 24/7. We’re all doing magick all the time. It is because our thoughts and practices are not focused on our goals that we send contradictory signals onto the astral plane, the level of reality where things manifest spiritually in ways that must inevitably result in their physical manifestation.

The example I like to give is that of a person who spends five minutes a day doing a ritual for increased wealth. Then, for two or three hours a day, all he can think about is being broke, his bills, his lousy job, etc. After a month, he’s still in bad financial shape. His conclusion: magick doesn’t work.

I’d say it’s just the contrary. His magick worked perfectly. Although the magick may have been more effective during that five-minute daily ritual, the hours and hours he spend focusing on failure gave him exactly that.

This means that merely doing a ritual isn’t enough. If you do a ritual to lose 10 pounds and then go on an eating binge of pizza and fried chicken, your actions are not in harmony with your ritual. I believe that for successful magick we need to harmonize our thoughts, words, and deeds. Crowley briefly describes a process for doing this in Liber III vel Jugorum which appears in his Magick in Theory and Practice. Written in Crowley’s brief, instructional style, it’s only about 800 words long.

I also talk about this concept in Modern Magick. I had actually been trained in the process many years ago within a Thelemic group before I discovered Crowley’s specific book (it wasn’t on our reading list). The idea presented both in Crowley liber and in my book breaks down into three things: control of deed, word, and thought.

To learn control of deeds, you simply vow not to do something (or to do something) regularly, such as only opening doors with your left hand. If you have a “break” and open a door with your right hand, you punish yourself. Crowley recommended slashing your forearm with a razor blade. Personally, I think that’s more than a bit harsh and over the top. I recommended carrying a small notepad and for every “break” you make a mark in it with a pen. Another suggestion is to keep a rubber band around your wrist and in response to a “break” you should snap it, hard, against your skin. The goal or any of these methods is commonly know today as “negative conditioning.” You change your behavior so you don’t experience something negative.

Following this procedure, you do the same sort of thing to harness your words (for example, don’t use the pronoun “I”) and finally, your thoughts. Spend a week with each, then repeat the cycle until you have very few “breaks.” These things sound fairly easy but are actually progressively more difficult. Be that as it may, this type of training, I believe, is good for anyone on a magickal path.

I don’t know the source of this practice, although I’m going to guess it’s something that Crowley learned from Alan Bennet, one of his teachers, who became one of the first modern Western Buddhists. Kabalists may be interested to know that there is an ancient mystical Jewish tradition about this practice which is in complete alignment with the Buddhist concept. In Hebrew it’s called l’shon hara, and it means, “The Tongue of Evil.”

Although most commonly a prohibition against gossip, l’shon hara is actually a prohibition against thinking, talking, and acting in an “evil” manner. Specifically, it prohibits such things as:

Speaking words that are mean
Speaking or writing criticism of another that is unneeded
Giving overly severe criticism
Losing your temper
Spreading rumors
Speaking negatively of people “behind their backs”
Sharing something confided in you without permission
Listening to someone who is saying any of these things

According to the Talmud, l’shon hara harms three people: The person who does them, the person who hears them, and the person victimized by them. Perhaps curiously, it’s not considered evil if you speak such things openly in front of three or more people. I’m going to guess that this “rule” may be based on the concept that if you spread enough garbage around, you’re going to be found out, and on a physical level your negativity will end up having no value.

On a magickal level, the result of not being in control of your words, l’shon hara, is that you won’t achieve your magickal purpose.

In sum, I would have to disagree with Crowley’s statement that “every intentional act is a magickal act.” I think that’s limiting. Instead, I would say that everything we think and do has magickal impact. By becoming aware of our thoughts, words, and acts—by making them all intentional—we can lead a more successful and fully magickal life.

What do you think?

Reader Comments

Written By Kristen
on February 13th, 2010 @ 4:37 am

I think you are right – magick isn’t just about saying a few words or performing a certain ritual, it is about the “will power” you put into what you want. That could even sound very unmagickal and very mundane but it is all about the will (which is also tied up with the intent). Magick doesn’t require anything special, so I have found and so I believe – maybe the two are intertwined, the strong belief and the strong outcomes – these are also carried through with the strong desire and the willingness to make it so. This, I believe, doesn’t require the term magick to even come into consideration but if it is magick, then so mote it be!!

Written By Christi Plemons
on February 13th, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

I could not agree more! If all matter is made up of vibrations, and we use the vibration rate or ourselves to affect objects on different planes of existence, whether using imagination or physical part of ritual work…i.e. LBRP….. then wouldn’t one conclude all vibratory energy that we send out is affecting objects on the other planes? I could be wrong… I always reserve the right to change my mind based on the knowledge I gain. I just know that quantum physics has come a long way in showing the connection of the mind and the environment around you. I would conclude that thinking negative beliefs is a form of subconscious intent and hence vibrations being sent with intent. So if we are doing the ritual for money and sending out anxiety for lack of it… I would naturally conclude that we are sending mix messages to the astral plane. This would lead me to believe that my thoughts and words are negatively affecting my magickal work. I would always look inwardly first… before just giving up or believing that a psychic attack is the culprit.

Just a thought…

Written By Kyle
on February 13th, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

This is very interesting.

But what about most of us who screw up from time to time? We have a coworker we can’t stand, and although we know it’s not right, we gossip behind her back. Somebody hurts us and we curse him. We are a victim of an attack and we imagine hurting them back worse.

If every thought is magickal, then we’ve just done some pretty black magick! If we are trying to reform ourselves, great, but we’re still humans and some damage could be done by the time we catch ourselves in the lashon hara act.

With harmful thoughts, words, deeds, is there any way to stop the damage (to us and to the target) once we’ve been lazy and let them slip?

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address

Verification Code:
Please enter the words that you see, below, into the box provided.

Previous Post: