What is Magic?

While I have been practicing the foundational magics for some time now my recent focus into the Golden Dawn system has conjured up some examinations about my definition of what is magic and how it features in my life. Meditation on the matter proved extremely trying and challenging as I seemed to have some pretty defined explanations for what magic is. In my mind’s eye magic is an all pervasive element to the world around us. Neither good nor bad in and off itself but something by which the magician, skilled in their art, could shape and mould into a physical reality. The ancient Egyptians believed that the universe had been created through the power of Heka.

Heka literally means activating the Ka, the aspect of the soul which embodied personality. Egyptians thought activating the power of the soul was how magic worked. “Heka” also implied great power and influence, particularly in the case of drawing upon the Ka of the gods. Heka acted together with Hu, the principle of divine utterance, and Sia, the concept of divine omniscience, to create the basis of creative power both in the mortal world and the world of the gods. – Wikipedia

We find a similar exploration of divinity within the Irish deity of Anú as being expressed by the people as Danú. Anú being an expression of the primorial form of the goddess, possibly seen as unknown by the people whereas Danú is an expression that could be explored through the language employed at the time. If only one knew the language to be used, with so many traditions and expressions to encapsulate the divine. Its that concept of the hidden and mysterious. The issue of the dynamic between the different viewpoints towards magic arose quickly from there as what I considered to be mysterious is that which I have yet to cast the light of illumination upon.
I started asking myself what is black magic. Looking at it from the colour spectrum black doesn’t typically feature since traditionally it is a lack of colour and therefore the unknown or unexpressed. In esoteric settings black has become synonymous with initiation, so it was conceivable that black magic, in some eyes, could be seen as the magic of initiation. Therefore, at least when starting out most magicians are black magicians in so much as they are ignorant of the principles in motion. When each system structures itself around a quasi-language structure then seems natural that learning the lingo would take time and many blunders along the way.
In the Golden Dawn system the candidate makes a statement that they will:

I will not debase my mystical knowledge in the labour of evil magic at any time, tried or under temptation. (Neophyte Oath 0=0)

In ignorance it’s easy to become side-railed in the excitement of a new process or way of thinking and so rather than the standard idea that failure will your undoing this vow serves as a stern reminder of the course of action that one should aspire to in trying situations.
The concept of initiation remains possibly one of the most aloof and intangible aspects to any occult path. It is also that the concept of initiation has become more and more entangled with another alien concept, that of adept-hood. At 0=0 a magician hasn’t yet completed the required gradework for admittance into the Adept Order, but even from this early start this is largely the goal as with being an Adept comes a certain expectation of being more of one’s self. God help anyone that has to put up with more me!
I had a further epiphany when I read over Nick Farrell’s article on The Sphere of Sensation on MOAA’s website. I was struck by the explanation of the nature of the sphere of sensation as a hologram of the universe and a possible link to the Divine nature of the Universe. Like misty droplets from the ocean, the closer to the surface the more the light illuminates. A certain amount illumination is found in the stimulus around us, it is that journey to the surface to embrace the light for its wonders.
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