The Different Types of Magic and Its Usage

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When fall in love; it’s magic. When something fantastic happens to us; it's like magic! When we have a good time; it was so magical. Magic has existed in some form in all ancient cultures. From ancient egypt and greece to the very first goddesses sculptures, The Venus of Galgenberg, Willendorf and Lausel (that date back to 30,000 BCE) and neolithic carvings that date back further still. I believe magic has existed for as long as the earth has - if nothing else the spark of the big bang was pretty damn magical and we've been trying to recapture our magic in our own varied beautiful ways ever since. But like all powerful ideas, magic can both thrill and terrify us all at once. Hence the extreme reactions to witches and their work. We both covet and fear that kind of power.

As well as stumbling into a world of shadows, the indefinable. We may say there is heart, soul and magic in the world. But how can we explain it? The words magic and magical are in some ways, indefinable, although we can still try… Some of the most well used definitions are... Relating to, using, or resembling magic. Beautiful or delightful in a way that seems removed from everyday life. The use of means (such as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces. An extraordinary power or influence from a supernatural source. Something that seems to cast a spell, enchantment. You’ll note that descriptors are often defined as something that ‘resembles’ magic or as if by ‘magic’. Whether something is considered magic, or something ‘like’ magic is all in the interpretation, another reason why defining magic is so hard!

On Magic and Spirituality

Magic*, like many words (spirituality, is another example is use often in my classes). Means very different things to different people. Magic can mean power, strength, a spark of love or excitement, a state of flow, or a warm feeling of contentment or unity. I invite you within this book, whether you are a witch, yogi, or anything in between, to find your own connections to the word. And hopefully, connect to magic in your own way, and find your own magic. Some of you may already know the Wiccan Rede “'An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will' in yoga we may know this as Ahimsa. In all cultures it equates to something similar; work towards finding your path, and be kind. And understand that everyone's path will be different. My definition of spiritual here within this book is all that relates to or affecting the human spirit or soul. Some witches believe spelling the word magic as magick/majick helps differentiate spiritual magic from, for example, stage magic. For ease I will refer to all forms of magic here without the k. But feel free to use whatever spelling work for you!

On Witches and Wicca

I mentioned the Wiccan Rede in the last paragraph. But to be clear, this book will explore Witchcraft rather than Wicca. To put it very simply Wicca is an organised religion whereas to be a witch allows more freedom. Witches can form a group or coven, or practice as a solitary witch. You can practice on your own in your own way, beholden to no rules but your own. You can be a witch and a buddhist, a witch and a druid, and indeed a witch and a yogi. There are witches who work with angels and others who work with work with the fairy folk, with elves and elementals. There are witches and magicians who follow centuries-old traditions, and others -like chaos magicians- who are eclectic and only keep what works for them from different traditions and ditch what doesn’t, and mix and remix different elements until they create something unique and satisfactory to them. The art of causing change in consciousness. Most modern magical writers have suggested that the primary purpose of magic is to change the practitioner. Rather than the external world. Change can be effected in the surrounding reality, either directly, or as a result of the change in consciousness of the practitioner, who is now empowered to go out and make the world a better place. Magic and ritual certainly work to transform the psyche of the practitioner; tried and tested techniques of initiation, meditation, visualisation, and working with archetypes do seem to have a beneficial effect.

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Everybody has an anecdote where they did a healing and the recipient felt better; or they did a working for a job and got the job; but these are anecdotal evidence, and there’s no way to prove that the ill person wouldn’t have got better anyway, or the job seeker wouldn’t have got the job anyway. However, even if these workings have no effect on external events, they make the participants in the healing or the spell feel better because they have done something to help. Someone told me once that the more people try to use science to justify their belief in faeries and energies, the more ridiculous it sounds. Most of the time, it’s just a misuse of the scientific terms (the word quantum often seems to pop up alot...). So I don’t hold out much hope for scientific confirmation of results magic. However, whether or not magic affects external reality, magic, meditation, and prayer can work to transform the psyche, and are therefore still worthwhile practices to engage in. Other scientific experiments have shown that engaging in meditation and contemplative prayer changes the brainwave patterns of the practitioner and makes them calmer. And in order for magic to work, you also need to be putting in effort on the mundane level. If you do a job spell but don’t actually apply for any jobs, you won’t get a job, no matter how good the spell was. Maybe the spell only works to give you extra confidence at the interview, but that is a good thing in itself. Study, trial-and-error learning, intuition, humility, constant adaptation and evolution, devotion to your own integrity, learning to let go. We may already know that witches utilise meditation in their ritual and practice. But it's also useful to explore that yogis have long been journeying into finding magic...

The Siddhis

One of my favourite parts of the Yoga Sutras are the references to Siddhis; which are essentially; magical powers. Which one may, in theory attain upon dedicated practice of hatha yoga, such as psychic abilities. Siddhis may, apparently be attained through birth, the use of herbs, incantations, self-discipline or samadhi. These powers include items such as clairvoyance, levitation, bilocation, becoming as small as an atom, materialization, and having access to memories from past lives... So some of the very first and most well known yogic texts also saw this link between yoga and magic. However, these powers of the siddhis, are not regarded in the yogic text as magical; they’re actually considered ordinary capacities that everyone possesses. We’re just too distracted most of the time to be able to access them. So again, what one may call magic, another may just see as innate ability and intuition. Yogic wisdom describes many variations of the siddhis: They include telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis. The more advanced siddhis are said to include invisibility, levitation, invulnerability, and superstrength. Siddhi is a Sanskrit noun which can be translated as 'perfection', 'accomplishment', 'attainment', or 'success'

Attaining The Siddhis

Samyama: Extraordinary Focus of the Mind

Patanjali writes that the siddhis are attained after mastery of the last three steps of his “eightfold path”: the ability to simultaneously sustain concentration, meditation, and samadhi (which is called samyama when combined). Depending on the nature of the object one is absorbed into during samyama, different siddhis are said to arise. This is not due to magical incantations, but a natural consequence of merging with the object of focus. For example, if one focuses on another person, the siddhi that arises is what we might call telepathy. Because your mind breaks through the illusion of separation that tricks you into believing that you and the other person are different. As another example, in samyama one may focus on the processes of time, change, and transformation. The siddhi that arises is the simultaneous perception of the past, present, and the future. and having access to memories from past lives.

There are many Siddhis are listed in Yoga Sutras. An exact number is difficult to pin down because the abilities may be interpreted in different ways, and there is some overlap. But these are some of my favourites, not only because they are fascinating in themselves. But how much they mirror what we have, in other cultures called magic and witchcraft. And also, how lovely they are, this is not fearsome, evil or scary. This is the dedication to bettering oneself... Loving- kindness in all. resulting from samyama on friendliness, compassion, or sympathetic joy. This can be interpreted to mean that when one is imbued with joy, that state may induce similar feelings in others. I love that this is outlined as a power - because we may all struggle with loving kindness. (learn about the Loving-kindness meditation to help you on the path in Chapter 12.)

Extraordinary strength. Resulting from samyama on the concept of physical strength. But it might also include mental or spiritual strength. Knowledge of the composition and coordination of bodily energies, through samyama on the navel chakra or manipura chakra. This siddhi may be interpreted as an exceptional mind- body connection, or as a self- healing ability. Exceptional stability, balance, or health. This siddhi refers to mind-body knowledge leading to exceptional health or self-healing. Levitation, through samyama on the feeling of lightness. This siddhi is said to allow the yogi to float, hover, fly (I wonder if brooms were ever considered…). It could be interpreted as a highly advanced form of psychokinesis. Or a witchy interpretive may well be astral projection or a feeling of leaving one's body. Blazing radiance, through samyama on “inner fire,” or inner energy. This has been interpreted in several ways, as possession of exceptional charisma, as an exceptional digestive ability that would allow one to eat huge amounts of food or withstand toxic substances without harm, or as exceptional control of bodily energies. Many other variations of these superpowers can be found in mystical texts from other traditions. They include ability to stay comfortably warm in extremely cold temperatures (some may recognise this skill as something now known as the Wim Hof Method), the ability to bestow Siddhis to others, and the ability to change the weather.

It is noteworthy that Patanjali and others specifically highlighted the dangers of dwelling on the siddhis. Patanjali states avoid invitations to display or identify with any accomplishments in yoga, including the siddhis, because this can reinforce one’s sense of separate self, leading to ego, pride, and arrogance, and this becomes an impediment toward further spiritual unfoldment. There are many ways that this trap can manifest. If personal pride or greed causes one to be seduced by the ever-present challenge of proving one’s abilities to skeptics, such as using psychic abilities to win a prize, then the power gained by that seduction is likely to corrupt the ethical restraints that are the very first lesson to learn on the eightfold path.

Closing Thoughts

I am reminded of a story told to me by one of my goddess teachers. She went to stonehenge for the summer solstice. and … she did not enjoy it! Anyone who has been in recent years may find themselves distracted by people revelling with drugs, drink and trance music. Anyway, despite this, before sunrise she found herself a corner to meditate. And was approached by a man with a beer in his hand. He said in a somewhat mocking tone “So, you believe in all this stuff do you?” and she replied “Do I believe that the sun will rise? Yes, yes I do” The sun rising every morning is pretty amazing and magical, and hopefully we all take time to be grateful that it does. But many people will never see it as something that is magical. So whether magic exists lies entirely in your own mind. And connection to application and connection to this magic is available to everyone, just as no one needs to be trained to turn towards the light of the morning sun. If you find joy in connection to any of the magic, or whatever word you wish to use. Enjoy it!

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