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Magic, Spells, And Sorcery: High Strangeness, Or Hocus-Pocus?

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It has been an art employed by some of the greatest minds and practitioners of the sciences over the centuries, as well as many of the more nefarious names in history as well. From scholars like Pythagoras in Ancient Greece, to medieval wizards like John Dee and, much later on, the controversial occultist Aleister Crowley, magic has been heralded as a force by which man can connect with the parts of reality beyond which most mortal men could otherwise reach.

By the standards of most today, what we call “magic” involves archaic processes of trying to utilize spells and sorcery–in addition to belief that such things can prove effective–in an effort to change or bend the forces of nature. Due to the perception that such things are indeed remnants of what are now outmoded ways of thought and belief, the idea of using magic for practical purposes today has lost much of its appeal. And yet, there are still many that do act as proponents of the use of ritual magic for bettering their lives, and changing the world around them. Is their belief in such ancient arts completely in vein, or are there elements to the mystery of the modern magi that do make their esoteric practices worthwhile?

 

Webster’s Dictionary defines magic as “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” Even while looking up this definition, I began to notice my own preconceptions and biases toward the word all unto itself; immediately, I envision either a corny series of silly images involving spellcasters and sorcerers, or conversely, I’m reminded of the darker perceptions attributed to “black magic” and the dark arts.

But in truth, there are a variety of practices maintained today which, in essence, seek to influence the course of natural events by utilizing the supernatural. In fact, given this definition, how can we really differentiate something prayer or meditation from magic? They certainly utilize supernatural forces in an attempt to influence the outcome of events to come, and yet it could be argued that perhaps a majority of Americans, for instance, either employ one or the other of these in an effort to better their lives or those of their loved ones.

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