Why “IS MAGICK REAL?” is the Wrong Question

One of the first questions that people ask on Occult forums and discussions boards is: What exactly is Magick? For the answer we can look to many sources who have tried to give a clear, precise and working definition of what it is. Aleister Crowley defined Magick as: “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” and later added that “Every intentional act is a Magical Act”. Donald Michael Kraig changed this to: “Magick is the science and art of causing change (in consciousness) to occur in conformity with will, using means not currently understood by traditional Western science”. Gordon White sees Magick as “Probability enchancement”, and someone, somewhere, for the life of me I can’t remember who, defined it as “the art of getting lucky on purpose”. Alan Chapman believes “Magick is the art of experiencing truth.”  but also very correctly states that “There isn’t a man, woman or child on this
planet that does not know what magick is”.

The next question asked is something along the lines of “Is Magick real?” and although I am very guilty of asking this regularly, I have come to the conclusion that it is the wrong question. The proper question is: “Is it useful?”

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you never have a good time at parties. You find them uncomfortable, you can’t relax, you can’t have fun – you just feel uptight. Now perhaps you wanted to change that and actually enjoy parties. Could a Magickal Idea or technique help you?

Well, yes it could. You could look up all the attributes of a god who would be great at parties, such as Dionysus, “whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care”. Then you would try to get a real feel for what he would be like, what it would be like to be him, how he acts, how he behaves, what he thinks and then, before you go to the party you could Invoke, or “pretend” to be him.  If subsequently you love being at the party and have a great time it makes no difference whether or not you actually invoked a god, it makes no difference if the Dionysus actually exists, if Magick exists or any of that stuff. It only matters that this ideas and technique was useful to achieving your goal.

We could debate all day and night, and I often have, about whether or not Magick is real, or just all in your head, or is people just fooling themselves or whatever else we want to throw at it but ultimately I am not sure that they’re the right questions, discussions, debates or more likely arguments.

My interest in the Occult has become more and more practical based as I get older. I love investigating new and weird ideas as much as the next wizard but these days I am always asking myself what I can do with these ideas. Will they make me happier? Will they help me be more creative? Do I enjoy it? Does it help me be a better person? These are the sort of questions I currently base my magickal practice on for the most part. If it is helpful and useful, I keep it and use it. If it leads me further away from my goals I refine it or drop it.

Is Magick real? Much better persons than me have tried and failed to answer that. Is Magick useful? It certainly seems to be, at least to me.