What's in a Name? By Richard Gordon
Are there any real differences between belief systems and the way that magik works?
I was recently involved in an interesting discussion about the core workings of magik, during which a friend asked whether or not that it may be that the only major difference between witches, magicians, sorcerers, mages, warlocks, and other disciplines’ practices were fundamentally different at a working level or just a choice of title?
As it tends to be generally accepted, that in the majority of cases any magikal action tends to work via the act of focusing our concentrated will towards a specific result, it appeared at first, that the most likely answer to this question would have been that it was just a choice of title. Although I prefer not to pigeon hole people or their chosen belief systems, after much deliberation and some more in-depth discussions with practising occultists it would appear that there are some distinctly important variations in the way that people involved within some of the widely known paths set about carrying out their magikal/ritual work.
Before we cover the work itself I would like to touch upon a few of the titles that people use, an occult magician, wizard and a sorcerer may appear at face value to be very similar characters, and I’m quite sure that many using these titles haven’t given it a second thought.
If we look into a common definition of the sorcerer we find that it often describes them as being someone who may be involved with dark forces or are perhaps obsessed with gaining power or energy that they selfishly use towards their own personal gain.
This of course calls to mind a very different image from that of the wise wizard, shaman, ritual magician or hedge witch who are often seen as working for the good of their community.
Preconceptions aside, if we delve a little deeper we find that there are indeed important differences to be found within the way that people go about their ritual work. The ritual magician or sorcerer is often involved in the act of controlling spirits and demons towards the work in hand, whereas the witch may ask for help in her work from her chosen goddess or god, spirits or elementals.
This reveals a major difference within the spiritual paths and their working approach, whilst some may almost be said to be working in the manner of a slave masters by seeking to secure a spirit in bondage to do their bidding; others are merely asking for a favour of other worldly beings or for their help in the boosting of their own energy towards creating a desired outcome.
Without going into the intricacies of ritual magik or spell work, there appears to another major difference to be found within the way that many practitioners of the art focus their energy.
Whilst many feel they are working from the head others swear that they are working from the heart, this difference in approach becomes especially evident when we compare ritual magicians or practitioners of Hermetics with the practise of traditional witchcraft. Also when raising energy frequently the magician will draw down energy through the crown chakra, whereas the witch will frequently draw energy through the feet from the earth.
As a rule, ritual or chaos magicians have a tendency to need to be in control of all the factors that may be involved within their work, and although many still use an exotic array of ritual equipment and traditional paraphernalia many others have moved towards what has become a more modern way of working, and that is to work mainly within the mind in the format of a controlled visualization.
This visualized method involves intense focused concentration and can often take many years of practise to perfect; it does however have the added bonus of overriding many of the external factors that may affect the outcome of holding an actual physical ritual.
If we then consider the practise of witchcraft, which shouldn’t be confused with the modern practise of Wicca, many also work via a concentration of visualized will, yet the focused centre of energy is said by many to radiate from within the heart and the form is more instinctual than a measured intellectual response.
The witch could be said to be mainly working within this timeframe via influencing the structure of the energy that exists within his or her reality, akin to a magikal seed that grows in power until it reaches fruition (Sympathetic magik), whilst alternatively the ritual magician is attempting to alter reality by creating a connection to its universal pre-manifest source, wilfully directing it towards their own design before it comes into being.
Although essentially working from alternative ends of the spectrum each system has the manipulation of energy at its core, and as both are said to produce fairly consistent results it would be hard to say whether or not one is more relevant or powerful than the other.
This being the case perhaps the most logical move for anyone working in the magikal field would be to design an all-powerful eclectic system that unites the two.