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Reading Between the Lines

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on June 28, 2010 | Comments (3)

Magick is not something taught in school. All forms of magick are foreign to most people’s daily lives. Certainly there are some magickal practices that have filtered into daily life (often in partial or incorrect form and sometimes referred to as superstitions), but for the most part magick is something unique, special, and unusual.

What little most people know of magick before they study it usually comes from movies, novels, or comic books and serves as plot points only. It doesn’t reflect the reality of magick. Similarly, those who are simply against the practice of magick—because it would disrupt their personal view of the world—misrepresent the way magick works, the way magick is learned, and the reality of magick.

As a result, learning magick is something totally foreign to most people. People tend to learn magick by rote. They memorize ritual instructions and lists of correspondences. Use this herb to improve a relationship. Use that talisman to get peace at home. Perform a certain ritual for a healing. For thousands of years, this “I do it because the teacher or book says so” has been the way magick has been taught and learned.

But in our modern world this form of teaching and learning tends to leave out a simple question and its answer:


Why does that herb work to improve a relationship?
Why does that talisman bring peace?
Why does that ritual result in a healing?

In the past, teaching was frequently done through rote. But in this modern era it’s just as important, if not more so, for students to learn how to think, not just what to think. This means that teachers, in my opinion, should be teaching why students should do a practice, not just how to do it.

Personal Responsibility

One of the things we should learn from magick is that we are each responsible for our own actions. This means students of magick need to ask teachers and authors, “Why should I do this? How does it work? What does it mean?” This is easier to do when you are taking a class or workshop in person (or perhaps on line). When reading a book, it’s more difficult. It can take so long to write to an author and get a response that it may be easier to answer those questions by reading between the lines and figuring it out yourself.

Let me give two examples based on the famous Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Most of the instructions begin by telling you to point to your forehead and say a word, followed by actions and other words. Why? What are you doing? What is the meaning of the actions and the words?

In Modern Magick I read between the lines and answer these questions. The words clearly show that you are merely a representation of the Divine and not some sort of übermensch. The motions allow you to move the energy from the Divine through your body. But where does this come from? In modern books it comes from the Divine source that is seen as manifesting above the head. You begin by visualizing the energy manifesting above you, then draw the energy into your head. You don’t just point to the forehead, you take the energy above you and pull it down into your head. The last part of this action is pointing at your forehead. From there the other actions move the energy through your body.

If you don’t understand this, if you don’t work with this energy,
you’re just mumbling and waving your hands.

Later, you form a circle of protection around you. Is this enough?

[Geek warning!!] Do you remember the second Star Trek film, The Wrath of Khan? Khan is in a ship chasing Kirk and company. Spock tells Kirk, “He’s intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two dimensional thinking.” Kirk understands and immediately orders his ship to sink down. Khan moves past and Kirk’s ship rises behind Khan and blasts him.

So if you make a circle (a two-dimensional figure) of protection, what’s to stop unwanted energies/entities from coming at you from above or below? Nothing! So read between the lines. Allow that circle to fill three dimensions (forming a sphere) by expanding above and below.

If you just copy what a teacher or author says, you’re not doing modern magick, you’re doing hero worship. When you (or your teacher) answers why you should do something or why you should believe something and it makes sense to you, the result is that you can do magick with reason, understanding, and power.

Reader Comments

Written By InnerWhispers
on June 29th, 2010 @ 2:03 am

I agree absolutely with what you say. I’ve read many spell books, but when it comes to creating a spell for myself I tend to use what I believe in, what makes sense to me, rather than anything fixed by someone else. My own words will be more heartfelt, more filled with intention, and if orange represents freshness rather than warmth to me, then that’s how I’ll use it. If something is truly felt and understood from within, it is far more likely to work.

Written By Kyle
on June 29th, 2010 @ 6:20 am

Speaking from experience, I have been guilty of “mumbling and waving” my hands. I have approached magick very scientifically (not unrightfully so, as it is a science). But I run into trouble there sometimes. In science class, if you’re mixing chemical #1 with chemical #2, one mL off could ruin the whole experiment. This has encouraged me at times to go through rituals by rote, lest I mess something up.

I know that I’ve sometimes focused too much on the externalities of magick that I forget that magick, too, is an art. You need to engage your feelings with it as much as you do your brain. This encourages pondering on the “why does this work?” and not just the “how do I make this work?”.

Written By dbananza
on June 29th, 2010 @ 9:22 am

My mum and I have been assigned the task of schooling my 10-year old niece and nephew in these ways, and this is the very kind of stuff I’m going to present them with. 🙂 I’m all about freedom of – and the particular gifts of – rational thought co-existing peacefully with what is basically an often-irrational or “non-logical” (in current scientific terms) method.

I’ve used this ART (for that’s what it is – a combination of logic and poetry) to produce empirical effects, so I’m not worried about that. But I’m still at the stage of wondering whether an effect can be REPLICATED.. that is the first thing a child will stump me with, I’m sure!! All those Harry Potter movies…

Given that the particulars of so many situations and people are unique.. what do you think? Have you replicated an experience successfully…and is it even necessary? It’s a whole different way of thinking out of this box that I’m going to try and teach the kids.. where ‘here and now’ is the point of Power.

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