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Sara Super Id's definition

How do you define magic?

The use of occult arts in order to achieve results.


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.
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.
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.)
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.
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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