Wednesday 13 January 2021

Magic and will-power across the ages (or, How to do White Magic - as of 2021)

I feel it is necessary to clarify the status of magic from a Christian perspective; and specifically from a Romantic Christian perspective that sees human consciousness as having developed (evolved) through human history. 

Necessary, because if we regard magic as (something like) the attainment of human will by supernatural (non-material) means; then magic is real, important; and may be white or black

I define white magic as in accordance with God's will; that is, in harmony with ongoing divine creation. 

White magic is done by loving alignment of an individual's will with Good...

Whereas black magic is the attempt to impose one's detached and personal will upon other persons, other beings, or the world generally

Black magic can only be done with demonic assistance, and therefore (overall, eventually, inevitably) actually is done in pursuit of evil.

Black magic has not changed very much through history - it has always been possible, and apparently always follows the same 'Faustian' trajectory. Some person or group wants to impose their personal, selfish will upon the world; seeks to do so by supernatural means; and actually does so by means of employing demonic power. 

The black magician believes he can control the demons (despite that they are supernaturally magical, and he is not); by means of some technology or bargain. But the whole thing is actually a demonic snare by which the demon comes to control the black magician - who is therefore either a dupe, servant or slave to the Satanic agenda. 

And the end result is the same - the unrepentant black magician is damned; and apparently suffers more than the usual torments of the damned, for his presumption.

A somewhat conjectural history of white magic (which, nonetheless, I believe is broadly correct) has it that in our pre-historical hunter-gatherer past, God-aligned white magic was simply part of life.  

The individual human's will was neither detached from the human group-will and the group-destiny; and was immersed-in the divine will and having a mostly un-conscious direct knowledge of divine destiny.

Apparently, some individuals had a greater aptitude (what we now term the 'shamans') but the essential activity was universal: everybody did their bit, and contributed magically in some way - spontaneously and mostly unconsciously. 

As human consciousness developed, and humans became more free-agents, as in the Ancient Egyptian empire; this spontaneous knowledge and alignment with the divine was also lost. 

For the Pharaoh and priest-magicians of Egypt, magic required elaborately-selected and -initiated priests; who employed complex systems of ritual, symbol and many other 'technologies' (such as divination) to align their wills with the divine. 

These were overwhelmingly white magicians, who used the supernatural to benefit the society rather than themselves; and who (under the semi-divine Pharaohs) guided the society in harmony with God's destiny - and were able to accomplish (by magic instead of technology) advanced material achievements that still astonish the world. 

The development of consciousness continued, and as well as becoming more free, more of an agent; the individual Man's will became more separate from the divine will and the community will alike. 

As a result, white magic became more difficult, less powerful - and Men (detached from the divine) became more prone to black magic. 

The (all-but) end of the era of strong white magic was at the start of the modern era (Renaissance - 15th and 16th centuries in Europe); with the last of the white magicians (e.g. Paracelsus, John Dee and the Alchemists most of whom had ambivalent reputations or kept their activities secret (like Newton, Hooke and Ashmole). 

This darkening of magic was probably due to contamination of motive by the magician's more-detached personal will. This was the era when the Faust legend of black magic became archetypal; and the negative views of witches (motivated by spite, desiring to harm individuals and society) also became more dominant. 

In the fully modern era, white magic became almost impossible. 

Attempts to revive it in the 19th century, and increasingly through the twentieth century, were only partially successful (skeptical outsiders saw nothing). 

The practitioners found that the power and scope of magic was dwindling almost to nothing; and eventually was almost wholly limited to the psychological realm of the practitioners themselves. 

For example; in the last 19th and early 20th century magical rituals could change the consciousness of participants and sometimes produce quasi-objective 'manifestations'  - but by the late twentieth century this power was greatly reduced, and ritual magic work was all-but merged with imagination (art, narrative, music and drama) as technologies of consciousness. 

So, where from here? The way ahead to a resurgence of white magic was explained (albeit not implemented) by Rudolf Steiner and his 'disciple' Owen Barfield. 

Group magical work is rare, weak - and at present illegal (because groups are illegal for the masses --- although not among the Establishment, who continue to perform their black magic in groups); so nearly all modern white magic must be individual. 

Now that human consciousness is spontaneously and naturally detached from the divine; white magic requires conscious choice. 

White magic now does not attempt to influence by will the appearances of the world, or the behaviours of persons. Furthermore, it happens in thinking rather than (as in the past) by perception. 

This, because the white magician is no longer immersed in the divine - he must meet the divine halfway. 

Indeed, white magic needs to become detached from the individual's will; instead the individual's will needs to be aligned to God by conscious, chosen effort. 

In sum: White magic now should not try to operate at the level of changing God's primary creation - we should not be looking to change our sensorial-perceptions of reality

We should not be motivated by a desire to impose our will; nor to attain any particular end-result in this world (such as a change in human behaviour, or society, or weather). 

Instead, white magicians need to attain (and this will, of course, be temporary and usually very partial) alignment of their own conscious thinking with God's ongoing creation.

And if this is attained then white magic will 'Just Happen'.

What we will then be doing is contributing to God's creation; and contributing from our own unique divine Real Self. 

We will therefore be contributing some-thing (some Good) that nobody else could have contributed. 

We will be adding to the total sum of eternal actuality; adding some-little-thing from our own small corner of that actuality. 

Is this worth the effort? It may be. Because sometimes even the littlest contributions turn-out to be vital to the Big Picture.


Stephen Macdonald said...

A self-professed Christian, American rapper Kendrick Lamar went into explicit detail about this Faustian bargain in his song "Lucy" (Lucy obviously referring to Lucifer):

"My name is Lucy, Kendrick
You introduced me Kendrick
Usually I don't do this
But I see you and me Kendrick
Lucy give you no worries
Lucy got million stories
About these rappers I came after when they was boring
Lucy gone fill your pockets
Lucy gone move your mama out of Compton
Inside the gi-gantic mansion like I promised
Lucy just want your trust and loyalty
Avoiding me?
It's not so easy I'm at these functions accordingly
Kendrick, Lucy don't slack a minute
Lucy work harder
Lucy gone call you even when Lucy know you love your Father
I'm Lucy
I loosely heard prayers on your first album truly
Lucy don't mind 'cause at the end of the day you'll pursue me
Lucy go get it, Lucy not timid, Lucy up front
Lucy got paper work on top of paper work
I want you to know that Lucy got you
All your life I watched you
And now you all grown up then sign this contract if that's possible"

Similarly Kanye West -- who recently converted to evangelical Christianity:

Told the devil that I'm going on a strike
Told the devil when I see him, on sight
I've been working for you my whole life
Told the devil that I'm going on a strike
I've been working for you my whole life
Nothing worse than a hypocrite
Change, he ain't really different
He ain't even try to get permission
Ask for advice and they dissed him
Said I'm finna do a gospel album
What have you been hearin' from the Christians?
They'll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me
They'll be the first one to judge me
Feelin' like nobody love me
Told people God was my mission
What have you been hearin' from the Christians?

These artists are likely unfamiliar to many here, but together they have a following of more than two billion human beings. Both men are attempting to balance vast fame and fortune against their self-acknowledged bargain with the devil, and then again against their latter profession of faith in Christ. Let us pray for them.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I've been working on a long post about magic, which I hope to finish sometime this year if the sync fairies will let up enough to give me time to write it.

In the meantime, let me just say that magic happens when you stop being afraid. That's one of the reasons magic has a certain inherent tendency toward the black. Being motivated by the Good is one thing, but if you're only "good" because you shy away from daring damnation, you're doomed to lead a non-magical life.

Perfect love casteth out all fear. White magic. So does perfect nihilism. Black magic.

Of course fear is one of the main things that motivates people to try magic, which is why so few of them succeed.

Josh said...

Something tells me our humble senses won’t exactly know when the white magic has been successful - as far as time & place of the desired result, anyways.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - That certainly sounds right. To fear is to be lacking in faith.

To put it the other way around - I think Modern, adult, white magic requires 'confidence' (confidence could here be seen as an opposite of fear, a product of faith).

We need to know *that* we know, need to be aware of our 'participation' - only then will we personally be contributing something from our-selves.

Hatcher said...

This may be a rabbit hole you have no interests in tumbling down ,Bruce, but I’ve been listening to an excellent podcast called Lord Of Spirits, which explores the most “supernatural” aspects of Orthodox Christianity (Angels, Demons, the Nephilim, etc) . It’s hosted by 2 (Tolkien obsessed!) Priests. Anyhow, your reference to Egypt here reminded me of an episode in which they discussed the role/nature of fallen angels before & after Christ.I don’t know if this could be squared with a Barfieldian view of consciousness, but it does seem like the scaling-up of the size/scope of the Covenants (from individuals (Adam/Noah) to tribes/Nations & finally in the universal covenant of Christ) could have had an effect on consciousness ~ it did on Angels, we are told; a change in metaphysical reality may (must?) effect essentially everything
I apologize if this is way out of left field!
I’ve been reading your blog for years & have learned much!
Thank you