Some of the most advanced work and theories when it comes to magick are currently appearing in blogs on the web. Because much of this is “cutting edge,” there are going to be disagreements. As long as these are arguments based on logic (a series of premises or ideas that lead to a conclusion) as opposed to simple personal attacks (“You’re wrong and your mother dresses you funny”), this is a good thing. People present their arguments, the logic goes back and forth, and people reading the information can come to their own conclusions.
Recently there has been a spate of posts debating the value and even the reality of what is commonly called “magickal energy” and working with that energy. One of the earliest comments that started this “bloghaha” is in this post (WARNING: contains adult language and may not be safe for work) by Frater A.I.T. His basic idea is stated in his headline, that if your personal practice doesn’t include energy work, you’re not doing a good job.
Rufus Opus, in his blog post here (again, watch out for the language!), correctly points out that classic books such as Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult [Philosophy], the famous Renaissance grimoires, the Corpus Hermeticum, and many others do not have instructions on energy work or even visualization. Frater A.I.T. responds in a comment that in these books energy work is mentioned, but it is called “prayer.”
Patrick Dunnâwhose work I admire so much I even included some ideas from his writings in the new edition of Modern Magickâadds his own concepts to this issue on his great blog, Postmodern Magic. In one post he very justifiably attacks some of the silly claims that try to attach scientific “proofs” to aspects of magick, specifically the relating of magickal energy to the piezoelectric phenomenon found in quartz crystals. He writes:
If you have to explain magic by claiming it has some scientific explanation, it is no longer magic. âEnergyâ is physical. Magic is about the metaphysical. What is metaphysical? Whatever is other than matter. Whatâs other than matter? Consciousness.
So Patrick’s take is that the concept of energy is not relevant to magick. He describes a post that discusses magickal energy and writes, “But why not just say they are conscious? Why use ‘energy?’ Itâs not physical energy by any means…”
There are lots of great comments going through the internet leading to the question, “Is the concept of magickal energy valid or should it be abandoned for something else?” Which point of view is correct. So I’m going to put in my two cents.
The NLP Solution
Neuro-Linguistic Programming, NLP, is a set of techniques that includes ways to improve communications. NLP begins with several presuppositions, one of which is this:
THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY
This is sort of obvious. If you look at a map, it’s clear that it’s not the physical territory the map represents. And yet, don’t we often hear people say, “That’s not on the map?” My GPS recently took me far away from my actual goal. The map is definitely not the reality. What maps (usually) do is help us understand the reality and deal with it a better than if we didn’t have a map.
Language is a map, too. Language allows us to communicate ideas, but the language itself is not the ideas. My language may be very precise, but unless you understand it, my language-map isn’t going to do much good. So the closer the map is to the reality, and the closer your understanding of my language-map is to your language-map, the better you will be able to understand my ideas.
This is one of the reasons for the new edition of Modern Magick. Not only does it have new art and about 40% new material, it has been completely re-written. The purpose is to make the new language-map of the book match the language-maps of modern readers. It keeps Modern Magick modern.
The classic books didn’t talk about visualization and energy work because that wasn’t part of the language-maps of those eras. In my personal studies I’ve seen the language-maps of occult books change based on the era in which they were written. I’ve seen occult books with language-maps based on deities, spirits, electro-magnetism, atomic energy, nuclear energy, psychology, and many others.
So which, if any, of these language-maps are the most accurate ones? Does magick work with energy? Should we abandon the concept of energy and use “consciousness” or something else? Which one is right?
They All Are Right
Yep. Each model is a paradigm that, if logical, is complete within itself. It won’t be accurate within another paradigm. If you are working within a paradigm that magick deals with altering consciousness, the concept of magickal energy will make no sense. If you work within a paradigm that magick works through the generation, direction, and application of something called “energy,” the concept of consciousness becomes meaningless. If you work within the paradigm that all magick is worked through appealing to deities and they cause magick to happen, then the concepts of energy work and consciousness are irrelevant.
This is why I suggest that when people begin a study of magick they should learn one systemâone map. After they thoroughly learn that system, they can expand to include other systemsâother mapsâand understand and work with them more readily.
I would encourage you to read some of the posts linked above as well as the posts they describe. Come to your own conclusion and follow the map that best meshes with your own map, always understanding that the map is not the territory, it only helps you get an idea of the territory.
Most important, however, is this: