Magick has often been defined as an art but seldom as a science. In reality it is both: an art because it is the expression of human ingenuity in adapting natural things to man's use, and also a science, because it is knowledge attained through study and practice.
Before the magician can shape the world according to his desires he must undergo lengthy and careful training. The esoteric schools, occult societies, primitive initiations, and long periods of apprenticeship that are absolute requirements for many magickal groups are the equivalent of the concentrated courses of study demanded by major universities before they confer a degree. Although there are persons who are naturally gifted with psychic powers, they still must learn how to direct and concentrate their will in order to practice magick effectively. Misdirected or uncontrolled power can be very dangerous and can result in severe damage both to the personality and the physical welfare of the magician. The psychic energies released by the practitioner of magick must be effectively directed and earthed. Otherwise they will try to manifest themselves on their own, and sine they are blind, instinctual forces they will often do so in completely unexpected and terrifying ways. For this reason, self-control is one of the most rigid demands of magic and to acquire it the would-be magician must be subjected to rigorous trials. Primitive initiation rites are examples of the severe tests to which the magician must submit themself before they can practice magick effectively and without fear.
The dangers of practicing magick are quite real because the forces that are the plastic moulds of the magician's will are an inherent part of the mind and of nature. The magickal premises are far from being false. They are not the result of faulty logic on the part of the magician but rather an accurate adaptation of natural laws to the workings of magick. Frazer, for example, whose famous work "The Golden Bough" has become a classic on primitive magick, considers magick to be a "false science and an abortive art". Although his analysis of the principles of magick is essentially correct, his comprehension of the true meaning of magick falls wide of the mark, for magick as a science is based on the Laws of Nature, which are immutable and eternal. No amount of scholarly speculation is going to affect the Law of Gravity or the Laws of Adhesion and Cohesion, or the affinity between positive and negative poles, and these are precisely some of the Laws upon which magickal scientific premises are based. Likewise, magick as an art is not subject to the whims of the magician. Nothing will happen in the material world, magic or no magick, which is not in accordance with the Laws of Nature. To adhere to these laws is the constant care of the magician, for to break a natural Law can result in total spiritual and mental disintegration.
What the magician does that scholars do not like is to anthropomorphise the forces of nature, identifying them as gods or spirits. This is done purposely to absorb these forces into the magickal personality, the better to control them. The primitive sorcerer does this instinctively; the serious student of magick, consciously. But both the educated and uneducated practitioners of magick are concerned with the same thing - to control nature and subject it to their will. Without proper control there is no magick, only trouble.
The period of study for the true magician lasts a lifetime. This, which modern occultists call "the great work", is never really completed on this earth. Even when a magician reaches the apotheosis of knowledge and power, achieves his/her greatest aspiration and becomes one with God, they must still continue working, this time for the benefit of creation as a whole.
During the first stages of a person's training in magic they are a neophyte or beginner, till outside the temple's doors. (The temple in this sense means the edifice of esoteric or secret knowledge.) As the studies continue and the neophyte's awareness increases, the door of the mysteries opens for them and they then undergo the first of many initiations. From this moment onward they are known as an Initiate in the Mysteries.
Sometimes a person may decide to study magick on their own, perhaps because they are unable to find a suitable teacher or an esoteric group to their liking or perhaps because they are meant to be alone. In this case, what are magickally known as "hidden masters" are believed to come to the help of this lone individual and guide them telepathically during their studies. These masters exist in what are known as the inner planes, and are advanced souls who have chosen to forego their right to spiritual bless in order to teach and guide those individuals starting on the magickal path. When the time comes, this learner is directed from the inner planes in choosing the appropriate initiation into the mysteries. At other times, when a person is seeking magickal knowledge and is unsure about where they should start, these same masters will direct them to a suitable teacher or group on earth. The meeting between teacher and disciple will take place in what might be called a coincidental manner. All magicians know, however that there are no coincidences in the physical or spiritual worlds, and that all so-called fortuitous happenings are in reality predesigns of the all-seeing cosmic forces. Shortly before he died, Jung had been busy studying what he called "synchronicity", a human phenomenon that explained the occurrence of coincidental happenings as the result of the interrelation of cosmic forces in the time-space continuum, a part of the unconscious that blends past, present and future into eternity.
Many years after the first initiation, and after many years of practical work in magick, the initiate finally becomes an adept. This means they have realised their Will and found true knowledge. The adept is a wise, highly spiritualised human being who is nevertheless in total control of the material world. As an individual they have perfect mental, physical and spiritual balance. They never loses control, because their personality has been synthesised into perfect equilibrium.
The process of magickal training is very similar to the process of psychoanalysis, which aims at the harmonious balance of the psychic elements within an individual. The difference with magick is that it constantly searches for synthesis, not only within the mind and soul of the magician but also without, in nature and the material world. The magician seeks correspondences and identification between themselves and everything that exists. When they achieve this identification the magickal process is completed and they are a wo/man of power; they have realised the god within themselves.