What is Magic?

D.I.Y. MagicThe official demise of Arthur Magazine, Jay Babcock’s carefully cultivated psychedelic culture journal, left many fretting their future prospects for an intriguing, in depth, and off-color window into the fractuous mindstream of contemporary culture. Thankfully the digital beast we ride would never allow such a thing, and Arthur Mag lives on through online archives, and a new Tumblr feed, which is already bearing fruit as evinced by the news of the upcoming publication of Anthony Alvarado’s initiatic indulgence D.I.Y. Magic, a book born from a series of articles that ran in Arthur Magazine:

“What is magic? It is the fine and subtle art of driving yourself insane! No really, it is just that. It is a con game you play on your own brain. It is the trick of letting yourself go crazy, and when it’s done right, the magus treads the same sacred and profane ground where walks the madman…

We can read descriptions of myths, of the practices of shamans, but the descriptions we might read by a Pentecostal believer, or a voodoo practitioner ridden by the loa, will be meaningless to us unless we have already been in the state they describe. These are wholly subjective experiences.

If you take these many practices, from across countless fields, cultures, religions, modes of being and systems of ritual (hypnosis, song and dance, duende, speaking in tongues, enchantment, faith healing, divination, out of body experience, sweat lodges, drumming, yoga, drugs, fever and on and on), we find that we are really talking about the same thing: a state where the mind lets go of the normal way of being and is opened up to an experience of existence as a whole that is bigger and without time. These states are all really different forms of the same thing, or if not the precisely the same thing, then near and adjacent territories in a realm that lies parallel to this one, reachable by many means.”

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11 Responses to What is Magic?

  1. Nephilim August 6, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Hmm, where did my comment go?

    • Nephilim August 6, 2012 at 10:16 am #

       It was well thought out, well presented and cited plenty of references.  Hasn’t shown up in my email either.  Maybe a glitch?

      • Nephilim August 6, 2012 at 10:18 am #

         Odd, it showed a comment over the story, but none when you went to the comments.  And I got the email from the previous two comments, probably this one as well, but not the first.

        • Matt Staggs August 6, 2012 at 10:38 am #

          We’ve been having some issues lately, and we’re trying to fix it. If it makes you feel better, two of my own comments this weekend were “flagged for moderation” and then disappeared. 

          • Monkey See Monkey Do August 7, 2012 at 5:37 am #

            Most likely magick.

      • jasonpaulhayes August 6, 2012 at 10:32 am #

        Probably flagged by a moderator … it happens.

  2. jasonpaulhayes August 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Magic is the space where Cause and Effect meet Intention.

    If you’ve ever seen the film “The Secret” that talks about the Law of Attraction … its the opposite of that.

  3. lifobryan August 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    In his intro to “Sex and Rockets” by John Carter, Robert Anton Wilson summarized of one aspect of magick thusly:

    “Magick has many aspects, but primarily it acts as a dramatized system of ‘psychology’ (or neuro-linguistic meta-programming) to train us to break out of the socially conditioned ego, and by plunging directly into the Chaos and Void from which we emerged, experience a rebirth into a new sense of self, of world, of chaos, and void, knowing directly by experience, that all these names hide the same hidden unity – the wonderful magician who makes the grass green, makes the sad man sad, makes the angry woman angry, and makes the loving heart overflow with further lover endlessly.”

    I appreciate his phrasing. 

    And before anyone else makes the joke, I’ll beat you to it. Yes, I too, find it funny (for at least two reasons)  that the author of Sex & Rockets is named John Carter).

    • Matt Staggs August 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Did you care for “Sex and Rockets”? I didn’t think that it was particularly well-written, beyond  RAW’s intro, of course.

      • lifobryan August 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

        I didn’t care for it – I thought the book was a lost opportunity. RAW’s intro, however, was in top form – it’s a shame that his essay is now stuck to a mediocre book.

  4. John Gillanders August 7, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I’ll have to pick this up. What I’ve had to deal with in my magickal practice, is whereas typically things like voices in your head or hallucinations are considered insane by our culture, what’s been incredibly difficult for me to wrap my head around is that these voices/visions etc. aren’t crazy at all. A lot of the time the information makes perfect sense. If it was crazy, I could dismiss it.

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