I’m sure that most of you who read the title and who aren’t familiar with the topic thought at first of Black Magic and Satanism or about the esoteric scene that boomed in the past decades, so I’m here now to clear this misunderstanding that spreads a distorted view of these dogmata.
Let’s begin with Occultism: The word “occult” itself means hidden or secret, thus is Occultism the dogma of the hidden or the knowledge of the realm beyond the human world (the hidden world behind this world). The occult itself is neither good nor bad, white or black, but undoubtedly it can become one of those two forces, exactly like destruction can be good or bad depending on the place and the situation. (1)
Magic (or Magick; like I prefer to write it and you’ll see why) on the other hand is the art or practice of that knowledge. In the dictionary we can find two basic definitions of the word “magic”. One is the definition most people relate to and that you can experience when you go to a magic show or to the circus:
❝The art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.;❞
The second comes the ‘spiritual-mental’ definition slightly closer:
❝The art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature;❞
This, still, is more like a poetic definition that reminds you of TV shows like Charmed, so let’s look at Carl Jungs theory about unus mundus for a second and see if we come the actual most realistic definition closer that is used by today’s magicians. By the way, for those who never came across psychology studies, Carl Jung is a very well known psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology, a school of psychology.
Carl Jung’s theory of unus mundus (meaning “one world”) implicates the connection of all things in the universe, which means that if you change yourself, your surroundings will change too. Here we draw near the magickal art: the more you align your soul, your thoughts (will/intent) and your attitude to your wish, to the reality you desire the more effective the incantation/ritual will be. The incantation itself, or other techniques, in this case are simply the act that makes this alignment possible. This alignment, being aware of it or not, changes your consciousness and by changing your consciousness in a certain manner you are changing yourself, your habits and everything around you to your desired way thus shaping your own reality. And this concept includes also the control of supernatural agencies (actually it is more like asking not controlling) and the forces of nature, but in case of the forces of nature, there are too many factors that need to be aligned that it becomes nearly impossible for a simple human being.
In relation the most genuine and real definition of magick from my point of view is the one of BOEL(2):
❝Magick is the science and art of provoking deliberately changes in consciousness, which enable to shape reality in the desired way.❞
And I actually would like to go one step further and say:
❝Magick is the science and art of provoking deliberately changes in consciousness, which enable to shape reality in the needed way.❞
Because not always our wishes or prayers are being fulfilled like we wanted, but exactly like we needed it ;D
So, to underline the difference, that you saw now, between the artificial magic and the spiritual-mental magick I like to write them differently.
Witchcraft is like Magick the art or practice. We can find in the dictionary the following definitions:
❝the art or practices of a witch; sorcery; magic❞
❝the art or power of bringing magical or preternatural power to bear or the act or practice of attempting to do so❞(3)
Witchcraft, simply put, is the art of manipulating and channeling energy with one’s intent/will in order to achieve a goal or manifest a change in one’s life. It seems the same as Magick, doesn’t it? But there is a difference: While Magick (from my experience) tends more to use the kabbalistic traditions and angels in its incantations and rituals, Witchcraft tends to use nature-linked beliefs such as pagan, celtic, and many other traditions or with the focus exclusively on instruments like candles, crystals, herbs and so on. Still you can use both with whatever religion you have or as an atheist. Both give results, they only have different techniques and methods as they are two different base systems (both being since the beginning of time). I myself perceive Magick with a lighter energy, while Witchcraft seems to me more earthly.
We saw there is nothing religious about it, still a lot of people confuse it with Wicca, which is a religion (see below). But it totally depends on you if you want to incorporate the religious factor or not. (for a more detailed explanation about witchcraft see here)
Wicca is a polytheistic Neo-Pagan nature religion inspired by various pre-Christian western European beliefs, whose central deity is a mother goddess and which includes the use of herbal magic and benign witchcraft. Or so it says in the dictionary. With Wicca often an old Witch is pictured that lives deep in the forest in a little wooden house with an herb garden on the backside, and, most people think of it as a very old tradition (like millennial), but what they don’t know is that Wicca actually isn’t that old. They are confusing it with Witchcraft. Wicca, in contrary to witchcraft, was first introduced by Gerald Gardner in 1954 in his book “Witchcraft Today” for which the pagan culture and rituals were the fundamentals. Today exist various types of Wicca like for example the Celtic Wicca that incorporates the Celtic mythology, the British Wicca based on the British traditions or the Dianic Wicca influenced by the Feminist Movement and many more, each of them having their own interpretations and thus their own variations.
Esoteric comes from the Greek “esôterikos” and is made up of the word esô meaning”within”, thus esoteric means “belonging to an inner circle”. Esoteric originally referred to the secret teachings of Greek philosophers, versus public or exoteric ones. (4)
Today’s esoteric scene is a mixture of many different traditions, but also of individual teachings or isolated techniques, therefore it represents a very varied landscape in which it can be difficult to navigate. Most of the esoteric books and teachers do not offer a complete system that can be studied over a long period of time. All this may be reasons why so many people get here a little and there a little look, but basically get no consistent path and arrive to practice some sort of “part-time esoteric”, remaining continuously on the same spot and thus giving up disappointed, because they are not able to fill the inner emptiness that they feel.
So this “part-time esoteric” often lacks a sound foundation of knowledge and skills, such as a deep knowledge of the human soul, which is needed to enable a sustainable spiritual growth of the soul, and it also often lacks spiritual and ethical guidance for the everyday life, which can be applied in the context of work, family and leisure daily. Esotericism in that way becomes only a hobby or, worse, will be practiced as an end in itself, and Spirituality becomes an exception.
Complete and comprehensive systems such as the Buddhism are in turn, difficult to access, especially for the western people, since they don’t have contact with the culture and traditions on which it is based. It may be difficult, but not impossible. As for the Western Mystery Tradition, that is more suited for the western people, it may be less difficult, but still very demanding. Many people lack the dedication and perseverance. In addition the Western Mystery Tradition is often either covered with prejudice or completely unknown, so that many people don’t even consider this spiritual path. (5)
I hope I could give you a better light on this topic and I’m curious about your thoughts, or if you have a question, you can leave it in the comments. Have a nice day/night
(2) The Brotherhood of Eternal Light is an international Mystery school that teaches the Western Mysteries.