Church of Good Luck
And Museum of Good Luck
Sermon #3 What Is Magic?

What Is Magic?


Many people quote Aleister Crowley’s definition: “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”.  Crowley elaborates on this definition with a number of postulates and illustrations, which serve to make his definition seem almost scientific.  However, it only works if you wish to include scratching your posterior because it itches, or removing unwanted mucous from your nostril as Magick. As satisfying as these activities are, I personally do not consider them Magick. In fact, most of what Crowley defines as “Magick” would simply be called “doing something” by plain folks.   This definition makes Magick seem overly effective because it includes all of the obvious and proven methods of doing anything.


So both Magic, (dropping the “k”), and plain old “doing something” cause Change to occur in conformity with Will.  However, Magic differs from other ways of getting things done.  Specifically, it uses supernatural means and methods - ways of doing things that cannot be tested by scientific methods.  Magic uses the forces of the Unseen World to influence the Seen World.  The spirit world, demons and angels, the power of roots, spells and incantations - these are the tools of Magic.   


I propose this much narrower definition of Magic: “the use of supernatural methods and materials to accomplish goals”.  This definition includes most methods of hoodoo, shamanism, sorcery, witchcraft and so on but it does not include those of biology, pharmacology or electrical engineering.  In fact, Magic does not include any method that uses accepted principles of cause and effect either currently elucidated or testable by the scientific method.  Only the supernatural qualifies.


Perhaps one reason Crowley formulated his definition as he did was because he wanted to be able to point out obvious examples of effective Magic.  Understandable, considering that using our narrower definition it is impossible to prove a single instance of effective Magic!  In fact, if you had just one bit of Magic that worked reliably you could win the famous Randi Prize, claim the $1,000,000 reward and gain global renown.  But wait a minute Rev. Jim – you wonder – isn’t this the Church of Good Luck?  Aren’t you a Reverend, a Doctor of Divinity and a Certified Practitioner of Hoodoo?  Why do you devote yourself to something that doesn’t work?


Here is the thing - there is a very big difference between “not proven to work” and “doesn’t work”.  Let’s go back to last week’s sermon and the difference between knowledge and belief: knowledge can always be proven false, while belief cannot be proven false or true. Magic is the method of belief.  It is belief put into action to gain results in both the Seen and Unseen Worlds.  As such, Magic can neither be proven true nor false. 


Magic is the method of divination, the tarot and I-Ching, the spirit communication and the séance.  Magic is the method of folk belief: the evil eye that sours the cow’s milk, the fertility rite that guarantees the harvest, the water nymph that calls the fisherman.  Magic is the method of superstition: the rabbit’s foot in the pocket, the lucky lottery work out, the mojo bag.  Magic is the method of religion: the transubstantiation of wafers into the body of Christ, the exorcism of demons and the forgiveness of sins.  Perhaps an even more suitable definition of Magic is: “belief put into action”.


So, like belief, Magic is way to work with the uncertainties of the Unseen World, a way to cope with cruel Fate, a way to focus energy on creative solutions to our daily problems.  Many practitioners of Magic will attest to the benefits and positive results they have gained from their practice.  Perhaps it makes a problem look more manageable and allows a solution to be devised.  Or maybe the focus outside the self provides a fresh perspective.  Sometimes just the aesthetic experience of working with potions and incense is so enjoyable it lifts the spirit. And maybe sometimes, just maybe, a miracle occurs.


This week’s message in a nutshell:  put your beliefs into practice!  Depending on what you believe, that may mean conversing with your Holy Guardian Angel, saving a soul through prayer, or doing a honey jar spell.  Whatever it may be, have faith, be open to results and most of all – enjoy it.  Become a Magician and work with Unseen Forces!  Anyone can do it, too - how awesome is that?

Good Luck Always.

Reverend Jim

Back to Sermons
Back to Sermon #2 - Belief and Knowledge (and how to tell the difference)
On to Sermon #4 The Master Key