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Sara Super Id's definition

How do you define magic?

The use of occult arts in order to achieve results.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
mageoflamancha
May. 1st, 2010 03:48 am (UTC)
this really helped me clarify my own thoughts on how to boil down my thoughts on what fits as magic. Thanks!

Can I ask, what do you see as occult arts, and has that changed as certain methods have become more mainstream?
sara_super_id
May. 2nd, 2010 03:07 am (UTC)
I think most of the mainstream magic and witchcraft is over-glorified self help techniques. I still find occult knowledge to be more often obscure, discounted, and misunderstood. And as I have seen many a practitioner say, the mysteries are hidden in plain sight. I disagree with the majority of magic users who say, its all intent. I have heard this many times in magic communities and else where. I disagree. I think magic is an occult art and there are many skills and talents involved.

(There is nothing non-useful about self help techniques, they just aren't occult arts, though I wouldn't say they cannot be utilized with occult arts. I certainly think the practitioner needs to know thyself, and self help techniques are good for that. The practitioner needs discipline, again self help is good for that, also focus. Etc...)
mageoflamancha
May. 2nd, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
Here, here and an "aye verily" thrown in as well.

If wishing were enough to make it so there would be be millions more national bestsellers, and more people winning the lottery than buy tickets.

The hidden, roll-up your sleeves, work for it part is not only ignored, but shouted down most of the time its been brought up far too often.
ianphanes
May. 2nd, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
Agreed.

What I find most amusing is when real knowledge is laid out clearly and simply, and people just will not understand it because it isn't what they want it to be.
rapscallion
May. 1st, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
That's interesting. Does it only apply to that which intends to produce results? And what if one fails to? It seems a pretty good definition, if one is willing to commit to the implications.
sara_super_id
May. 2nd, 2010 03:10 am (UTC)
Some times one does not succeed with their magical attempts--that does not make it not magic. It is just magic that didn't work for one reason or another--like a car that doesn't start. There could be any number of problems.

I don't think it is magic if it isn't intended for results. It might be something else in the same realm of mystical and occult study that is not magic persay. I think magic is about some sort of result.
ianphanes
May. 2nd, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
Does getting awareness that one didn't have before count as "results"?
sara_super_id
May. 3rd, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
No doubt.
sara_super_id
May. 3rd, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
I am thinking from your question of things like looking through a hag stone to see fairies.
sara_super_id
May. 3rd, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Although, there are many different awarenesses to open up to and many ways to get there.
ianphanes
May. 3rd, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of things like scrying (finding out what someone else is doing); divination (finding out what actions to take to avoid problems); psychometry (finding out information about the owner); invocation (being able to interact directly with a deity); or even something as simple as trancing to be able to detect the flows of energy in a ritual.

All of those involve getting information or allowing non-ordinary perception, but none of them involve changes in external reality. Which I why I was wondering how broadly you define results. Some individuals would acknowledge those as results; others would limit results to changes in external reality.
sara_super_id
May. 3rd, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see. I was careful not to limit it to external results.

I don't want to limit the idea of results too narrowly, nor do I want to keep it to wide.

I don't think praying is magic. I think praying is not an occult art. However, pray can have results. So it isn't just results orientated.

Lighting a candle at the Church at the candle station with a prayer, still not occult. It is an augmented prayer with a focus. I don't doubt its effectiveness, but I wouldn't call it magic.

Thinking happy thoughts to change your outlook on life, not magic, but good psychology and self help.

Recording some events in your journal, while a spiritual and possibly a ritual event, only "results" in writing on the paper.

I like Mage of LaMacha's definition which describes a non-linear effect. I think that takes my definition a step further to describe results that are not mundane. I write in my journal in an occult language, there is letters on the paper, but I did not write them for a spell, I did not go for any results beyond recording some events. With a more specific definition, that is not magic.
rapscallion
May. 2nd, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
That seems more like ritual that doesn't work... I think the magic part comes in where the effect actually happens (even if it's not as you intended). But I have to concede that you're consistent, even if my definition doesn't match yours.
ianphanes
May. 3rd, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
Um, not all magic is ritual. Thus, not all failed magical attempts can be classed as failed ritual.
rapscallion
May. 6th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
Not all rituals are rigid endeavours with cloaks and altars. Your assumptive tone about my understanding of ritual doesn't take into account the fullness of what I'm talking about and thus fails to address the issue.
ianphanes
May. 6th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
What do you mean by ritual? Please give your definition of ritual.

For me, ritual always includes *something* (setting, objects, actions, words) that is both external and significant. My definition of magic, by contrast, does not always include anything external.

Let me provide an example to make my distinction clear. When walking on the quad yesterday, a frisbee came toward me. I consciously put energy to direct chance away from it hitting me. I did no actions, neither spoke nor thought any words. In my definitions, that counts as magic but not as ritual. Would that count as ritual to you? Would that count as magic to you? Would whether or not the frisbee hit me make any difference as to whether or not it would count as magic to you?

If your definition of ritual is broad enough to not require any externals, then I think you're stretching the usual semantic domain of the word enough that you need to present your definition every time you bring it into a discussion.
sara_super_id
May. 6th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
I am facing this same difficulty in many communities, that people are not using the dictionary definition of words and therefore communication is very difficult. English has suitable words to cover almost everything we talk about, so why not use the correct word instead of paring down to just a few words with meanings so expansive they begin to mean nothing.

The definition I like of ritual, is Joseph Cambpell's: "A ritual is the enactment of a myth." The dictionary definition is similar, but involves a key word "procedure".

I do not think that would apply to the directing of the frisbee, because myths are stories, and directing the frisbee might be magic or telekinesis. It wouldn't be a spell, because spells, by definition require words. And you didn't use words-so I think magic or telekenesis fit the bill.
ianphanes
May. 7th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
The definition I like of ritual, is Joseph Cambpell's: "A ritual is the enactment of a myth."

I disagree with Campbell's definition, as my studies have shown me that ritual and myth can exist independently. When Campbell wrote, there was an ongoing scholarly debate which attempted to prove that either ritual is an epiphenomenon of myth (Campbell's position) or that myth is an epiphenomenon of ritual.


It wouldn't be a spell, because spells, by definition require words.

Personally, I don't limit spells to magical workings with verbal components. For example, I frequently do candle spells where I don't use any words. The choice of candle(s) express my intent adequately.

Thinking about this, I think I tend to be verbally oriented in religious practice and kinesthetically oriented in magical practice. Thanks for bringing this up--you've spurred me to see myself more clearly.


[D]irecting the frisbee might be magic or telekinesis.

In my case, it's not telekinesis, as I have no gift for that. I do, however, have a gift for bending probabilities, which is how I was approaching the frisbee. I discovered this in high school when another practitioner I knew was trying to hit me with playing cards that he was spinning toward me, and *none* of them were hitting me even though he was releasing them only about a yard from me. It was reasonable likely that any one card wouldn't hit me. However, it was very unlikely that twenty in a row would fail to hit me. I was highly entertained. He was highly frustrated. (Which made me more entertained.)
rapscallion
May. 8th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
I disagree with Cambpell's definition as well. Although if we take it to include procedure, I think it could easily include the conscious direction of the frisbee. However, it's not that I'm unwilling to be precise, it's that I'm unwilling to elaborate to a great degree when I've been snapped at.

However, to ianphanes, I would say that the way you performed "magic" without "ritual" is the only way I ever perform magic and that even if I were to include props or "externals," they would be tertiary to the crux of the thing. The actual production of the effect comes from within. The externals, in my view, are there solely to produce an internal state of readiness for performing the magic itself.

And what I was pointing out in the previous comment was that while I disagree with sara_super_id (I think the word magic can only truly apply when an effect occurs, and anything else is attempted magic at best, or as I said "like ritual that doesn't work," and I did intend that like to be an important semantic component of the sentence), that her view seems to be well-formed and consistent - taking into account my question about whether attempted magic which fails can still be called magic. At that point, it isn't a failure of her definition, but a difference of opinion. I just wanted to explore the area which seemed open to wiggle room from her original statement, and she clarified.
ianphanes
May. 9th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
No snapping was intended. (I'm not even sure which comment you perceive as snappish. Can you clarify, please?)
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