Magickal definition (FAQ)
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 93 12:30:50 PST


FAQ Question #1 (What is magicK?) (Version 1.2)

I'm new to this group, and I'm now wondering what the
difference between MAGIC and MAGICK is. Is it white and
black magic or what??


My response (if you respond too I may integrate yours with mine, and I
will repost this every time this question arises in the group):

A) Magic is prestidigitation, showmanship and is described quite well
by those in the newsgroup 'alt.magic' (without the 'k').

B) MagicK has been defined by many people in many different ways.
There is no universally agreed definition, so it is best approached
obliquely or en masse. One popular mage defined it as 'the Science
and Art of causing Change to occur in comformity with Will.'
(Aleister Crowley)

Some see magick as a kind of energy which pervades the cosmos. Some
see it as a psychic tool by which one may influence the material world
through the use of symbols and ritual. Some see it as a means of
coming to unite with the divine, some see it as simply a way to
exercise will or Will.

Many have posited the differentiation of magical 'currents' or
'energies' based on style and/or intent. Some describe that which
intends harm as 'black magic(k)', yet there is no consensus among
mages by any means.

Whatever magick is, this is the subject of the alt.magick newsgroup.
For that reason it is best left undefined and will constantly be
discussed using its various definitions.


Crowley is often given credit for applying the kteisic 'k', yet, as
Robert Mathiesen writes:

All these English words derived from Latin words in -ic- or Greek
words in -ik- were commonly spelled -ick- in English, when the
pronunciation had the "k" sound, well into the late 1700's; but were
spelled -ic- in English when the pronuncia- tion changes to an "s" or
"sh" sound.

Thus: magick, magicks, magickally; and if we had a verb "to magick,"
its forms would be magicking and magicked. However, only magician,
never "magickian," because the pronunciation in this word is not "k",
but "sh" (for Americans) or "s" (for some English).

After about 1800, people started dropping the "k" except when a vowel
"e" "i" or "y" immediately followed....

If you want a good example of an English text with the "k" still used as
I have described, take a look at the first edition of the English
translation of Agrippa's _Three Books of Occult Philosophy_ (1651),
available in your nearest high-level rare book library if you're lucky.

So Crowley just revived an archaic spelling for his own purposes. He,
however, being rather well-educated, never blundered into spellings like
'magickian" (gaack)!

Robert Mathiesen, Brown University, SL500000@BROWNVM

Symonds and Grant, in their introduction to _Magick_ (_Book Four_,
Parts I/II/III), write:

"The Anglo-Saxon *k* in Magick, like most of Crowley's conceits,
is a means of indicating the kind of magic which he performed.
K is the eleventh letter of several alphabets, and eleven is the
principal number of magick, because it is the number attributed
to the Qliphoth - the underworld of demonic and chaotic forces
that have to be conquered before magick can be performed. K has
other magical implications: it corresponds to the power or *shakti*
aspect of creative energy, for k is the ancient Egyptian *khu*,
*the* magical power. Specifically, it stands for *kteis* (girl thingy),
the complement to the wand (or phallus) which is used by the
Magician in certain aspects of the Great Work."

Page xvi.

I'll note that K is also the beginning letter of the Great Mother Goddess
Kali, and that Grant and many other magicians of this Aeon/Age/Era have
quite an affinity for Her (myself included). This says what the editors
of this book thought about Crowley's revision, but it does not really
quote him, so I cannot be sure of its accuracy.

Tyagi Nagasiva, Keeper of the Kreeping FAQ (THE KA'AB)

Better is this paragraph by Tim Maroney (I'd still like the answer to
this one - anyone game to figure it?):

I can't believe people are =still= saying that Crowley spelled "magick"
with a "k" to distinguish it from stage magic. Hasn't anyone read
MAGICK IN THEORY AND PRACTICE, surely the most widely reprinted of his
books? He used the new spelling to distinguish his system from
everyone else's Golden Dawn magic, which he thought had given the whole
enterprise a bad name through its various idiocies. This deliberately
archaic spelling had diddly-squat to do with stage magic, and
everything to do with Crowley's hatred of his contemporary competitors.
Tim Maroney, Communications and User Interface Engineer


And then there's RMR (Richard Romanowski):

Crowley was a singularly unskilled magician and a singularly
skilled prose stylist. Nowadays, singularly unskilled occultists
who are *also* singularly unskilled prose stylists worsen their
prose skills by spelling 'magic' with a 'k', simply because it's
trendy and their atrophied souls cannot do anything that is not
embraced by the herd-mind.

It is possible that some skilled occultists might mis-spell
in this fashion as a tribute to Crowley, and it is likewise
possible, and just as likely, that heroin can be responsibly
used to counteract headaches.

Crowley himself began spelling 'magic' with a 'k' because
he was under the mistaken impression that occultism is something
different from stage-conjuring. In fact, this is not true. Occultism
is a pathetic circle of deluded seekers for truth in a universe
without truth; this enterprise is governed by elect circles of
illuminati, who, not unlike religious cult leaders, manipulate their
weak-willed prey with hopes, dreams, and similar foolishness.

Anyone wishing to have the truly fallacious nature of magic
-- i.e. occultism -- explained to them can receive much instruction
on alt.magick, but it is to be remembered that many of the posters
there have ironic senses of humor, and mean the opposite of what they
appear to be posting...


Some people think of magick in terms of 'laws', like Tim here, who quotes
some Whitcomb:

Well, I thought that this might apply to the current thread, it is found in
the Axioms section of _The Magician's Companion_, by Bill Whitcomb, which
reads as follows:

The Law of Labeling:

When you label something, you exclude information about it. This is
because the thing becomes obscured by other information stored under the label
for the thing.
If i were to say, "I study magic," this would immediately bring up all the
associations and stored data under the label "magic." Some people would
believe I am a stage magician; some people would think I am a satanist, while
still others would decide that I study magic as a historian. Yet none of
these things actually has anything to with what iwould mean by the word
When you symbolize something, you impose the deep structure of the symbol
system used on the way you pereive the thing symbolized. There is a japanese
proverb which relates that to confusing the Moon finger pointing to the Moon.
People tend to believe that they understand something when they have a
name for it. This is called nominalization. It enables people to take very
ill-defined concepts and continuing processes and talk about them as if they
were concrete things. The problem is that frequently even the users of these
terms (names) do not know what they mean. Nominalization is an important tool
but we must realize when we are using it.

The Law of Information Packing:

The more information contained in a symbol, the more general (vague) it
becomes. The more specific a symbol system is, the more information it

I dont know if this helps, but to me it demostrates that definitions are
important for communication, but a balance must be struck between defining
something, and limiting something with the said definition.


Readings on general magick and its history:

[Please post your additions and corrections to this reading list
in this thread, thanks.]


_Magick_, by Aleister Crowley ('Book Four', Parts I/II/III), edited by
Symonds and Grant, Arkana Books, 1989.

_Magick Without Tears_, by Aleister Crowley, edited by Israel Regardie,
Falcon Press(?), 1989 (There may be a newer edition).

_Real Magic_, by Isaac Bonewits, Samuel Weiser, 1989.

_Magic: Its Ritual, Power and Purpose_, by W.E. Butler, Aquarian Press,

_Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Rituals_, by Eliphas Levi,
Samuel Weiser, 1970.

_Magic, Science and Religion_, by Bronislow Malinowski, Doubleday, 1964.

_The Magical Philosophy_, Denning and Phillips, Llewellyn, 1974.


_The History of Magic_, by Eliphas Levi, Samuel Weiser, 1988.

_The Black Arts_, by Richard Cavendish, Putnam, 1968.

_Magic: Its History and Principle Rites_, by M. Bouisson, transl. by
G. Almayrac, Dutton, 1961.

_History of Magic, Witchcraft and Occultism_, by W.B. Crow,
Aquarian Press, 1968.

For Witchcraft - See the alt.paganFAQ

=============================== End of ALT.MAGICK.KREEPING.FAQ#1.2

This is from a series of continually-updated posts responding to recurrent
questions in this newsgroup. Please debate anything in here which seems
extreme and add your own response to these questions after the post. I'll
integrate what I can. Thanks.

Tyagi Nagasiva (THE KA'AB)