Two Popular Misconceptions about Magic

Posted on July 23, 2012
Filed Under book review, Magic, Taylor Ellwood | Leave a Comment

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl, 1990

There are two popular misconceptions about the practice of magic that occur, which can hinder useful inquiry and understanding of magical work. One popular misconception is special effects magic, the type seen on TV shows, video games, and movies, comics, and fantasy books. For example, Darth Vader using telekinesis to crush the throat of someone, or a sorcerer changing into a serpent or throwing a fireball, etc. The second misconception is a belief that magic will solve all your problems, or as I call it the cure all approach. These popular misconceptions can obsfucate what genuine magical work is about, and typically are sought after because a person desires a sense of power in his/her life.

Special effects magic looks impressive. Who wouldn’t find it thrilling to throw a fireball or change their physical shape, or do something else equally impressive? I’ve yet to meet a magician who can perform special effects magic (without using special effects). If there were such people, I suspect the world would be a different place, though I can’t help wondering how such power wouldn’t be abused or worse end up like a comic book formula of endless battles and trite commentary. There’s also the principle of limitation to consider, specifically the understanding that force needs to be limited in order for form to be realized. In magical work, the achievement of form occurs when force is limited. Additionally, it is understood that when you work with magical energies you can only raise so much of that energy before you hit a limit, and/or have that limit imposed by the forces you are working with. Thus throwing a fireball, which would require a lot of force is not something that will be easily performed. In fact, when you account for the amount of energy needed to generate a fire ball, plus the amount of protection needed by the practitioner while handling said fireball, what you end up realizing is that it’s not a very practical working. And if you mess it up, you’ll either internally combust or burn your hands or do something else equally messy. The same applies to shape shifting and telekinetically handling objects or crushing people’s throats. The physical demands, plus the amount of energy that needs to be raised to perform either feat is not something that is physically or magically possible. Special effects magic looks impressive and thrills lots of people, but a practical approach to magic acknowledges that the main focus of magic isn’t to necessarily generate such physical demonstrations and also notes that such demonstrations may end up being more of a waste of energy than anything else.

Then we have the cure all misconception, which focuses on the idea that magic will solve all your problems. The sad fact is that while magic can be used to solve problems, most times its used in that way, it is done so as a reaction and usually what is solved the symptom, but not the underlying issues that need to be examined by the magician. A proactive approach to utilizing magic to solve problems generally involves a fair amount of internal work and a willingness to own your dysfunctions and make changes that resolve those issues, with the understanding that such changes will also improve your life, and surprisingly enough decrease the number of times magic is needed to solve a problem.

There’s also the fact that sometimes magic complicates issues more than it cures or resolves them. It shouldn’t be surprising that many magicians end up complicating their lives when using magic to solve a problem. The problem might be solved, but not in the way they expected, and it may bring out underlying issues that need to be addressed (thus the need for internal work). A person who believes magic will solve all their problems needs to examine the level of responsibility they are willing to take to have those problems solved, because that level of responsibility is exactly what you’ll be dealing with when you utilize magic as a cure all. There is no force that can solve your problems for you, better than your own ability to take responsibility and deal with the problems head on. It can be hard work, but it is good work as well.

In my next post, I’ll discuss two purposes magic is used for as well as provide some commentary on what it means when a magician turns a possibility into reality.

Book Review: A Spiritual Worker’s Spell Book by Draja Mickaharic

This book, like Draja’s others books, is interesting because it provides a variety of spells a person can do as well as case studies of how people have used the spells. I’ve already tried a couple to good effect and it’ll definitely be a useful book to have, especially because I represents the work of an old school magician. My only complaint is that I’d have liked more information about the underlying magical process. Much like other authors who put together spell books, Draja doesn’t really explain the underlying mechanics. the few times he does offer some explanation about the process, it proves to be quite fascinating. I highly recommend it as an interesting book on a variety of topics.

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