Magic. It's a word that evokes all sorts of ideas from various people. Depending on the context and moment the word can elicit various responses in a single person. This is a fundamental principle in magic known as symbology. A symbol is associated with a concept and is used to help bring the mind into subtle focus.
Magic is a symbol. It is a trick. If we understand the concept behind the symbol we learn how to operate the trick. The husk of mystery and illusions is removed and we are left with the fruit, knowledge. This knowledge is the power to work what is most profanely considered magic. If we have the knowledge all the tricks and illusions may fade into unimportance and we are left with the real. If we lean simply the mechanisms of the tricks and illusions we might by the illusion and are powerless. This is why a firm grounding in magical theory is important.
If one understands magical theory and has an accompanying pragmatic knowledge bas one can usually synthesis knowledge and through inspiration figure out new techniques with little information and at times independently. This helps prevent foolish questions as does responsible thorough study and practice.
If so far this seems like jargon and rambling then you haven't understood the words. Words are symbols. This is exactly what we're discussing. Continue reading and rereading thoroughly. If you have understood, or feel you have understood, good. Continue reading and rereading thoroughly. To clarify I shall now present a pragmatic example.
Say perhaps I know a spell for courage. Say the spell consists of me lighting a red candle focusing on courageous people and bravery and myself demonstrating these qualities. Then I raise energy, and release it to fulfill my will. Well if all I know is this spell it's pretty useless and I'm ineffectual in other situations. But if I know why I'm doing what I'm doing and understand the symbols used I can adapt the spell to any purpose. Say I wish to cast a money spell in the same way. I would look at the former spell and change the symbols. First I started with a red candle, red to represent the fires of courage. For money perhaps I would use gold to represent the shine of wealth, silver is also appropriate. so lets say I choose a gold candle because I have one around already, and buying a silver one would be spending money, thus defeating the purpose of the spell to gain money. So we light the Gold candle. What's next? Focusing on brave things? Well now we'll focus on money. Then we raise energy and release it to fulfill our will. It's as simple as that if you understand the symbols. If you understand what you're doing and why, you never need to ask for spells. I've never needed to ask for a "spell" because I learned symbols, spell construction, and magical theory early on.
Now magical theory? We haven't directly discussed this yet. We've discussed symbols because we deal with these all the time. By discussing what is gained by understanding why we use certain actions you are hopefully primed to understand the more supernal question of why these symbols cause what they affect.
To begin this we will look at the concept behind the symbol "magic." The concept is will. Will and its relationship to the universe.
There are two sorts of will. The more common is the profane will. The terrestrial desires of man and consciousness and to an extent perhaps the unconscious. This will is what moves us in the immediate to make changes to suit us. It is what makes us go buy a soda or watch a TV program, or weasel out of a tough situation purely because it suits our perception of the need of the moment, or possibly of our guess at the needs of the future.
The second sort of will is the divine or holy will. Typically this is referred to as the True Will. This is the Will of the soul which constantly drives us to become what we need to become and then upon attaining this potential move towards fulfilling our purpose in the great work. We might live lifetimes and not be consciously aware of our true will. But part of magic is unity with our higher self and through observation of ourselves, objective introspection, and unity with our supernal aspects we can attain revelation and learn at least, in part, to be aware of our True Will. They say when we follow our Will nothing else matters. It's treated similarly to being in a state of grace. We act rightly to fulfill our purpose, but what is right becomes what is applicable and necessary. It is said that the difference between a mage and anyone else is that nothing can stop a mage from fulfilling his will, when he reaches an obstacle he assesses it and compensates, either removing the obstacle or altering the means to his end. This applies to either sort of will in this case, but in the case of a person fully at one with his higher self and in pursuit of his True Will the drive is different. One's actions simply are, they are fulfilled with a lucidity brought on by unifying the means with the attainment of the end and as the person is unified with the spirit of this attainment he is unified with his actions. the obstacle becomes unimportant and is simply bypassed. It has been said that "If you're following your will and someone gets hurt that's their problem, after all they were interfering with your will." Now this quote has a truth to it, but it also has a bravado which puts many people off these days. If you're acting in harmony with your Will you're acting in harmony with the great work and the universe. Often this is viewed as a way of saying that committing harm in this state is impossible but this is a fallacy. There is destruction and chaos in the universe which is necessary to the existence of creation and order. If one is acting in unison with the universe then one is capable of manifesting other forces in the wake of their path as well as the destination. This is simply nature. It's not a conscious activity so much as a living manifestation of the unconscious, not in the sense of the id being free of the ego and super ego, but in the sense of an evolved mentality of acting. Think of it like a storm. The storm is not good or bad or aware or selfful. It simply is a storm. Its winds spread pollen and seeds and its rains enrich the soil. These things give life. But as the storm moves it grows and tears apart buildings with its winds and floods streets with its rain and starts fires with its lightening. These things give destruction. The storm was always the storm. Never good or bad. Simply the arm of nature.
This state of mind is in ways similar to the Zen Satori. A perfection of balance and action is attained because thought and consciousness are lost to unity. This state of mind can be difficult to understand and can not truly be understood in its fullest unless experienced. Satori, with work, can be obtained momentarily, or for brief periods. This could give insight into what it truly is to follow one's Will. But as we move further into understanding what is behind the illusion we come closer to our True Will.
Our will, both common and true is related to the universe in the way we effect the universe, both inside us, the microcosm, and outside us, the macrocosm.
The microcosm is our own small cosmos. It is the world inside us. Our thoughts, dreams, emotions, and desires are what make up the present moment of this internal universe. The past is found in our memories which have built us creating the moment, and the future is created by what we do with the moment, how we respond to it and change it. If we understand our past we can control the moment. We can see why we feel how we feel and we can change it, or we can see why we desire what we desire and either attain it or rid ourselves of the desire. We can learn about ourselves from the dreams through interpretation and we can look at our thoughts in order to guide ourselves in anticipating the future and altering the moment to prepare for it. We create ourselves anew in each moment, and thus each moment the world is new. In the moments we have lived in we have created the now. There is nothing mysterious about this. The magic is to control our future by effecting the moment. A subtle change in the microcosm will effect the macrocosm and visa versa. As above so below.
The macrocosm is the external world. It is everything that is outside us and it contains us. What we do to the world we do to ourselves, but as we have just said, what we do to ourselves we do to the world. The two exist as one and cannot be removed from each other. When we effect the macrocosm we focus on the effect directly and causing it to be. We effect the macrocosm by interacting with it and therefore creating a change in the pattern behind the illusion. In discussing what we interact with we discuss what the universe is.
The universe quite simply is energy. It is a living energy. It isn't like light or sound or heat or some other such physical energy. It is something which simply is. It is on a level so small that it is what manifests into these perceivable energies and into matter. All things are this energy, all things contain this energy, and all things are linked in this energy. Everything is blurred together as one whole differing only in concentration and vibration.
In the purest level we have the unmanifest. Actually before the unmanifest there is nothing. From nothing comes the unmanifest which is energy in the state of being nothing. It is limitless and simply exists. This existence flows into various levels of manifestation. All levels of manifestation, the unmanifest and nothingness coexist in all points as one while being separate. None looses any part of itself through emanation. The first level of manifestation is supernal. It is spirit. Those realms we would consider aethyric or heavenly, the worlds of the gods are in this spiritual realm. The next level is transcendental. It is the intermediary level. It is the world of thought and emotion. It is the astral and is the bridge between the body and the spirit. The final level is the terrestrial. This is the level which is the most quantifiable and is physical. This is the outer, it is the part of the mask we are most familiar with.
Now with this understanding you may still ask how we may effect the world in the physical level. The world is made of energy, even on the physical level, all this energy is joined. Effect a change in that energy and effect a change in the physical. The physical world we know is after all just a perception of that energy. When you develop a greater understanding of this you will see that our physical actions are not different from our magical ones.
You might ask now how we go about effecting energy. This is also not overtly difficult. When we move in a physical sense we alter the world in some small way. With this alteration comes a change in energy. This change is small though and basically compensates for the physical change. But as all levels of manifestation coexist in the same space a change in one effects a change in the other. When casting a spell or ritual we create physical cues to provoke a mental response. In the right state of mind this mental response will be strong and the microcosmic mind will be in connection with the macrocosmic astral and the strong mental response will cause a large change in the very pliable astral space. The change will cause a resonance which will cause change in the spiritual and physical levels. The spiritual level being the most pliable will resonate the strongest and push its change back into the mental gaining strength and then into the physical adding to the initial physical resonance and effecting a great enough change in the pattern to see the desired result. If one focuses the result on effecting change in the astral or spiritual then the results will manifest there most strongly. But no matter which level the results are focused in there will be a manifestation of some sort in all three levels. This is what as above so below refers to. That which is done in one realm will effect that which is done in another.
Now let us return to the microcosm and the macrocosm again. These are what is manifest. In the microcosm we have the soul, the mind, and the body. The macrocosm is often represented as the Adam Kadmon, through which the limitless light manifests. This Adam Kadmon is the image of a man which contains the ten spheres of the Hebrew tree of life. The top three are the supernals, the next three are the transcendentals and the final four are the terrestrial. We don't need a body to see the macrocosm is the same as the microcosm. The body corresponds to the physical world, the mind to the astral, and the soul to the spiritual. Each part of our microcosm is link to its corresponding macrocosmic manifestation in that while we exist as a whole so does the macrocosm and so our bodies are tied to the physical, our minds to the mental, and our souls to the aethyric.
You may have noticed a tendency for threes here. Existence truly fits well in trinities. There is always a thing, that thing always has an opposite, and there is always that which fills the in between. for instant there is the physical, and there is the spiritual. There are at opposite ends of manifestation, but like all opposites they are the same in that they are manifestation. Between them is the transcendental. Or we see that there is black, and there is white. One being the lack of color and one being all color, but in between we have the beautiful multifaceted grayness found in a multitude of colors. In another sense we have a forest fire. The fire destroys the trees it consumes, it scorches the nutrients in the ground. But the fire brings new life. It creates new nutrients from the plants it burned. Soon the soil is alive again. The fire is neither the creator nor is it the destroyers. It simply is. But it has the capacity to destroy and create. We find this in most everything. It is the midway not because it is the joining of opposites but because it contains the capacity for opposites.
In this we see the basic breakdown of the universe and some level of the importance of this knowledge. When you gain a fuller understanding of this you will be able to work "magic" purely through your will. All symbols you needed will be understood and no longer necessary as you touch directly the concept.