The Royal Art

Why practice magick today?  Isn’t this method of coming to know, and interact with the world, outdated?  Isn’t it really just applied psychology?  Can’t we accomplish the same things that magick promises through less transgressive, weird, and socially awkward methods?

 Every intentional act is a Magical Act.

– A. Crowley, Magick without Tears (MWT), Chapter 1

The implications of this seemingly simple statement are vast.   How are all our intentional acts “magical”?  Don’t we know how our intentions are translated into the result sought?  Isn’t this the opposite of magick?

Two generations ago it was supposed theoretically impossible that man should ever know the chemical composition of the fixed stars.  It is known that our senses are adapted to receive only an infinitesimal fraction of the possible rates of vibration.  Modern instruments have enabled us to detect some of these suprasensibles by indirect methods, and even to use their peculiar qualities in the service of man, as in the case of the rays of Hertz and Röntgen.  As Tyndall said, man might at any moment learn to perceive and utilize vibrations of all conceivable and inconceivable kinds.  The question of Magick is a question of discovering and employing hitherto unknown forces in nature.  We know that they exist, and we cannot doubt the possibility of mental or physical instruments capable of bringing us in relation with them.

– MWT (cont)

How do we move something from the unknown into the known?  By what mechanism is this transition accomplished?

When we first encounter some thing, or force, how does it appear to us?  Solid and already clearly defined?  A complete object?  A concept or idea?  An image?  A shimmering form or whisper?  Or simply as a vague longing?  A pull, or drive, that lies unknown and undiscovered?  Do we not first encounter new things through their absence, through the space that they should appear in?

We’re generally comfortable with the idea of “science” as an entirely adequate explanation of phenomenon, but when we move past the evening news version presented by the worshipers of the modern status quo, we discover that there is no such thing as “science” per se .  There are assumptions, methods and investigators.  There are theories and experiments.  There is an ever evolving collection of information… but there is nothing settled.  Many of the great pioneers of science would have disagreed vehemently with modern material reductionists.    Today’s complete explanation may be tomorrow’s laughingstock, and yesterday’s laughingstock may become tomorrow’s rediscovered wisdom; but all of these practices, in order to bear fruit, require a tireless curiosity and almost super-human insight that cannot be codified, measured or imparted by reading books.

The awakening of a new basic attitude towards existence is not the first thing that we must do, but the first thing that must happen in us… Only when this completely irrational, above – moral, and above – personal transformation has taken place inside of us will all instructions given here gain a sense. There is no directive and no rule which could replace this unique act or could be compared with it.

-Ernst Schertel, Magick: History, Theory, Practice

Science, as such, is a rather late stage development, both in human history and in the individual.  What is it based on?  What ability lets us peer into the unknown, the uncertain, the infinite and call things forth, into the world?  Isn’t this the fundamental human ability that distinguishes us from animals: not rational thought per-se, but the ability to create, as individuals?   How would you improve this ability?  What sort of actions would it require?  If these actions were successful, what would the practice look like, to others?

 Why should you study and practice Magick?  Because you can’t help doing it, and you had better do it well than badly.

-MWT, Chapter II

One thought on “The Royal Art

  1. “The belief that scientific knowledge, i.e., the kind of knowledge possessed or aspired to by modern science, is the highest form of human knowledge implies a depreciation of pre-scientific knowledge. If one takes into consideration the contrast between scientific knowledge of the world and pre-scientific knowledge of the world, one realizes that positivism preserves in a scarcely disguised manner Descartes’ universal doubt of pre-scientific knowledge and his radical break with it. It certainly distrusts pre-scientific knowledge, which it likes to compare to folklore. This superstition fosters all sorts of sterile investigations or complicated idiocies. Things which every ten-year-old child of normal intelligence knows are regarded as being in need of scientific proof in order to become acceptable as facts. To illustrate this by the simplest example: all studies in social science presuppose that its devotees can tell human beings from other beings; this most fundamental knowledge was not acquired by them in classrooms; and this knowledge is not transformed by social science into scientific knowledge, but retains its initial status without any modification throughout. If this pre-scientific knowledge is not knowledge, all scientific studies, which stand or fall with it, lack the character of knowledge. The preoccupation with scientific proof of things which everyone knows well enough, and better, without scientific proof, leads to the neglect of that thinking, or that relection, which must precede all scientific studies if these studies are to be relevant.”

    – Leo Strauss


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