Wednesday, September 22, 2010

101: Types of Magic

Types of Magic

Anthropologists often distinguish between two forms of magick, the sympathetic and the contiguous. Sympathetic magick works on the principle that like produces like. Contiguous magick operates on the belief that things that have been in contact will continue to act on each other after the physical contact has ceased. There is also a common distinction made between black magick and white magick. White magick is characterized by rites and spells designed to produce beneficial effects for the community or individual, particularly in those cases where an illness is considered to be the result of evil demons or of black magick. What follows is a brief, nowhere complete list of some of the more popular magickal beliefs.

Low Magick, also known as Sympathetic or Folk magick seems a slightly condescending term, but it is used to separate it from the structured, religious-philosophical approach of "High Magick."

Low Magick is more properly called Sympathetic Magick, because it operates by an object or device being in sympathy with the person at whom the magick force is directed, through a physical, psychic or symbolic link. It is magick of the mind, an invocation of minor spirits or elementals to carry out an action. Vodoun and other types of Voodoo magick in South America and the Caribbean, as well as New Age candle-magick, love spells, runes etc, are all forms of Sympathetic Magick.

Low Magick can be divided into two categories, Homeopathic and Contagious

Homeopathic Magick, as used in homeopathic ritual, produces like for like. For example, a pin stuck into a symbolic representation of a person causes pain. This is an extreme example, as more commonly, other symbolic methods are used, such as to bring loved ones together, or for healing or binding.

Contagious Magick works on the principle that things that were previously in contact or joined still carry influence over each other. For example, blood, hair or nail clippings can be used to curse, bless, heal or communicate with the spirit of another.

High Magick

High Magick is a highly ritualized invocation of spiritual powers and is part of a greater philosophy and belief system, including rituals of the Kabala or the Hermetic Orders. High Magick invokes spiritual energy, channeled for healing, protection, binding, curses or vengeance.


Two common works of Hebrew literature are the Torah, otherwise known as the Pentateuch - the first five books in the Christian Bible and the Talmud, a collection of commentaries and thoughts of highly-regarded Hebrew scholars, priests, and rabbis. However, a much less known work is the Kabbalah, upon which are based the mystical foundations of the religion.

Kabbalism is based on the belief that creation of all that exists occurred through emanation from God and that there exists a hidden meaning in the placement and numeric values of the letters in the Torah.


The leading modern African religions of the western hemisphere are descended from one of two tribal cultures: the people of IfĂ , from which Santeria is derived, and those of the Congo, which has Voudon and Palo as its modern descendants. These beliefs are completely different and in some cases diametrically opposed, and yet, their similarity of perspective is striking. Therefore, these very different religions can be grouped together.

Most magickal effects in these beliefs are gained through supplication to higher powers. These powers can be in the form of deities, administrators in the tradition of the Saints of Christian thought or the Archangels of the Hebrews. Spirits of dead ancestors rank high in importance and are often asked for advice or guidance. Usually, some sort of sacrifice or offering is required in such instances and plays an important role in the outcome.


Early English (Saxon) term for witch, derived from a German root word meaning "to twist or to bend." Also used to denote the witch religion, a neo-pagan, nature-oriented, religious practice having its roots in pre-Christian western Europe and undergoing a 20th century revival, especially in the United States and Great Britain. It is a relatively modern religion, which claims its roots in various forms of the Old Religions of Europe, but incorporates some of the myths and practices of the Christian Church. It owes its beginnings to Gerald Gardner, who announced to the world that he was a witch in 1957, shortly after England repealed its laws against witchcraft. The religion is earth-based and magickal and Wiccans typically worship both a God and Goddess.


A shaman is an individual who willfully and purposefully enters an altered state of consciousness to gain access to some hidden reality with the usual intent of performing some magickal work or attaining uncommon knowledge. Almost always, there is identification with a specific animal, called a "totem animal" or "spirit animal." These animals act as guides in the other reality and aid the visiting shaman in avoiding dangers. It is believed that shamans originally acted as healers for tribes or groups as the word "medicine" in most shamanic traditions is interchangeable with "magick."


Witchcraft, or Traditional Witchcraft has long defied denfinition and rightfully so. Traditional Witchcraft is not as much a belief system as it is a system of willful and procedural actions. The rede of the true "witch" could be summarily stated as "whatever works". Magick exists without witches. Witches become adept at the manipulation and harnessing of existing natural and supernatural forces and the laws of nature to achieve their desired results. Hence, there can be good and bad witches depending on their intents. All forms of magick and magickal thought can and should be at the disposal of a true witch, with only the individual witch's ethics limiting their uses. True witchcraft holds no allegiances to any particular affiliation, but rather, stands alone.

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