Friday 2 December 2016

Magic and the Christian priesthood; magic in everyday modern life...

It seems distinctly possible that there can be no viable priesthood, including Christian priesthood, that is not understood to be magic-using: that is, understood to be magic-using both by the laity and the priests themselves.

(When I speak of magic here, I use the word in the loose fashion employed by modern secular people- and typically a belief in which is imputed to others (rather than the speaker himself) - which would include 'belief in' things such as healings, foresight and divination, revelations, answered prayer, angelic and demonic beings, ghosts, talismans or other objects with special power... anything which is associated with the world beyond the material. To the modern mind everything of this type is equally 'magic'; and all real religion is therefore magic.)

Magic is probably essential for priesthood authority - and for this authority to be legitimate the magic must be real - at least to the extent that there is some real magic being done by some of the priesthood.


I make this inference based on history, especially that of the longest-lived societies. Pre-Christ Egypt - with its magician priesthood ruled by a supreme god-priest - sets the benchmark; since then the Byzantine empire is the longest enduring polity, and it was a society saturated with magic, and the spiritual leadership was based-upon miracle-working monastics and hermits (who, by this analysis, were the true 'priests' even though mostly not-ordained).

The Roman Catholic church likewise seems to have been strongest when most associated with magical occurrences and a society which expected these - of course The Mass is (by this definition) a magical event which can only be done by a priest.

Among Protestants of strong faith, there is much magic - faith healings, revelations, explicit divine guidance via prayer, direct instruction from scripture, speaking in tongues and so forth; however, for Protestants these are not associated with priests but available throughout all faithful church members: priests have no specially magical authority or powers qua priests (but only perhaps as charismatic individuals), consequently they are not regarded as priests - and indeed the word is seldom used.

Among Mormons, all members have direct revelations from the divine concerning their own lives and other topics; all men in good standing are priests, and have special access to magical powers such as blessing and healing. Designated priests (Patriarchs) have a special clairvoyant power of foresight and wise advice; church general authorities - and especially the Prophet - uniquely have such powers concerning matters to do with the whole church.


Modern culture - and much of the best of it, that which seems to oppose the demonic hedonic materialism - has an explicit focus on broadly, or indeed specifically, magical themes. Magic is everywhere - yet many Christians affect to oppose this magic, while yet (as I describe above) devout Christian's lives are permeated with  (what seems to secular people) magic.

This weakens Christianity; maims it, sets it at war with itself and its potential allies.

The point about magic is motivation. The modern people who describe themselves as 'magicians' (witches, wiccans, warlocks, druids, wizards etc) and make a big thing about magic-described-as-such are (whatever they may claim) mostly intending to use magic as a form of power used to get what they personally want (which is often of a sexual nature - as generally happens outwith religion; sex being the second most powerful motivator, on average).

What is wrong with modern magicians is not their magic but their motivation - which is either personal or if not, then secular Leftist; hence (to put it bluntly!) evil. 


On the one hand we ought not to regard magic as anything other than a natural part of real life. Societies that deny the reality of magic destroy themselves - first spiritually, then materially.

But there is something necessarily new and different about the modern attitude to magic - due to the change in consciousness which has come over us as cultures and as individuals. As Owen Barfield described so well; our modern minds work in a different way from minds of the past - we are so self-conscious that we can even distinguish our selves from our thoughts (such, during introspection, even that our own thoughts may seem alien).

Magic may be natural, but we moderns cannot naturally be magic in the same way as a Medieval European, a Byzantine or an Ancient Egyptian was magic - we can only attain such unselfconscious immersion in magic via altered states of consciousness, by some kind of intoxication (deliberate self-impairment of thinking, especially in terms of clarity and purposiveness - a stripping-away or suppression of the self); including the group-frenzy of crowds focused on a charismatic magician/ priest,

But this is on the one hand a temporary and encapsulated magic, inadequate to our purposes; on the other hand it is misleading in terms of what is most needed and wanted.

Of course we need to acknowledge and live-by magic - but in a way that gives full authority to the self-aware modern mind; the magic we regard as real and effectual requires to be integrated fully into ordinary everyday, practical, social consciousness - not just for extended-moments of solitude or recreation.

In conclusion; we want and need magic in our lives; if we are to have priests they must be a group acknowledged to be especially 'expert' - knowledgeable and skillful - in the use of magic; but modern magic must not be (merely) a revival of the magic of the past - accessible only to children or those in altered states of consciousness: the magic of now and the future must be everyday and supersensory, spontaneous and purposive; powerful, but only in the service of divine destiny.