A Post About Magick, Mysticism, Revelation, Inspiration, Consciousness, and Your Secret Self
NOTE: In this post, I will use words like “just” or “simply” in the sense of “this is all that might be going on here,” or “there need be nothing more elaborate at work here than this.” Do Not Be Fooled: That there is nothing more elaborate at work does not mean that the working is not truly A Profound Working. Rest assured that this does not decrease the beauty, mystery, and other-worldliness of the realms and powers I am suggesting are truly at work.
Did you know that magick with a “k”, Aleister Crowley’s preferred spelling of it to distinguish it from the magic of tricks and stage illusions, may in some sense be otherwise indistinguishable from clever illusion? Just as all statements are true, false, and meaningless, simultaneously, in some sense, we can see ways in which magick and magic are identical. In our modern skeptical age, information abounds to substantiate this: The practice and study of magick has not uncovered a single reproducible result that changes how scientists think about the forces at work in the Universe. Mind you, the Freemasons and Rosicrucians could still be hiding something. And so, any inflated claim that magick puts supernatural powers at the sufficiently adept Adept’s beck and call is, on close inspection, just that: an inflated claim. “Magick” then reveals itself – or Toto reveals it once again by dragging aside the curtain – to be a convenient abbreviation for “Magic Trick.”
Think of the important societal implications of this! Fundamentalist Christians and even Good, Ordinary People Who Stay at Home on Sunday no longer have anything to fear from witches, Satanists, supernatural cultists, et cetera. There simply is no scientific justification of any belief that these people and the forces they are “calling up” have any special power. Mind you, those Christians also might discover that their own claims of supernatural “power in the Blood” are unfounded, but that is, for this essay, parenthetical.
Yes. Feel free to start throwing objects at me. I deserve it. But now that I’ve highlighted the Falsity and the Meaninglessness in what we call Magick, let this tarot-reader-who-always-tells-his-querent-he-is-not-a-fortune-teller go into the Truth of it.
We (humanity; scientists; society; conscious beings everywhere) …
… do not know everything. Moreover, we generally do not know how much we do not understand about that which we do not understand. And human consciousness and what the Self is are areas of science for which this appears still to be especially true.
To deflect to the example of my ongoing Mathematical Study, not only is integer factorization an infamous unsolved problem, but we also do not know how simple or complicated the next big breakthrough in it will be. I defy any mathematician to prove that such a yet-unknown advance or revelation will not astonish the community with its simplicity. How would one know this in advance? Even “If it were simple, someone surely would have come up with such a breakthrough by now” lacks evidence, and history contains counterexamples.
Why am I bringing this up? Why is this talk of the unknown relevant? I mention it because, at its core, at the level of its teachers’ and practitioners’ most disarming honesty, Magick Is An Inner Working. And our innermost selves, as well as the nature and function of our consciousness, remain at least somewhat Undiscovered Country. The Change that Crowley teaches practitioners to make by exercise of their Will appears – by anyone looking at the genuinely effective exercises he prescribes – to be inner change. There may be no demonstrable property, unknown to science, capable of having won a Big Cash Prize from the estate of The Amazing Randi or the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
But, after all, nobody has cracked all the RSA Challenge Numbers, either. And none of any of those skinflints are offering their cash prizes any more, so this is just a bitter diversion by a little white guy who ain’t a millionaire yet … anywayssss …
Maybe if we’re looking for Magick to grant us powers like Genuine Fortune Telling or Transforming Lead Into Gold, we’re looking at its essential alchemy the wrong way. Maybe we’re looking at Tenth Level shades of meaning the way a First Level Initiate might do.
Maybe there’s no problem at all with saying Magick Is Real.
Because there isn’t. And there is. And who cares?