How patterns define reality

In reading the variety of books that I am wont to read at a given time I am always struck by an awareness that each and everyone of them represents a patterened perspective of reality or how reality seems to manifest. This is true even with the fantasy and SF books I read. There is always a formula at work, a way of presenting information in a specific pattern that leads to a specific conclusion.

Awareness of patterns can help us understand what they have to offer us, but can also lead to a myopia of sorts, that only sees the pattern and mistakes it for the reality, kind of like mistaking the forest for the trees. A pattern isn't reality, so much as it is a perception of how reality manifests. It structures our awareness of reality, but it also leads to specific conclusions, while excluding other conclusions.

When we understand patterns from this perspective we can critically engage them and challenge whether or not they are actually realistic to the situation we are in. A pattern doesn't have to define reality. We can step away from it or change it, with the recognition that we are creating our own pattern in the process. In  fact, I don't think we can really live without patterns, but we can recognize their limitations and account for those limitations in a way that allows us to knowingly make changes. Every pattern is an opportunity to interpret reality, but it is our choice to rely upon that interpretation or to challenge it.


Names and magic

The role of names in magic fascinates me. Even in the Bible, names had a magical power, being used to label everything in existence. For humans, names assume a kind of power, especially in terms of how we use them to understand what is around us. A physical location is named to differentiate it from another location and in that differentiation is an understanding that there is in fact something different. In a sense, names draw out what is distinct and different for us, so that we can situate it in our consciousness and our experience as something distinct that we can work with.

This isn't to say there aren't other ways to discover this difference, but names play such a powerful role that we end up using them even in describing those other ways of realizing the differences. And that's my point: Names have a way of shaping our perceptions and descriptions of what we work with. They are an essential tool of magical practice. We use names for calling entities, use names to describe places we've worked with...they are embedded in how we describe reality.

What make them important to magical work is how we use them, not just in term of describing or labeling something, but also using them to attune ourselves to the specific entities, places, etc., that we want to work with. I think of names as being like tuning forks. You say a name, you vibrate the name and you've set off the tuning fork and sent out a call to whatever it you'll connect with.

Book Review: Arcana V: Music, Magic, and Mysticism Edited by John Zorn

Like most anthologies out there, this anthology has a mix of interesting essays and essays that leave the reader (well this reader) wondering how they got accepted into the anthology. I'll admit that I found the premise of this anthology interesting, i.e. the intersection of music, magic, and mysticism, and some of the essays lived up to what I was looking for, but a fair amount of them didn't. I would've liked to have seen more essays on practical applications of music and magic. The ones in the book were excellent and intrigued me. I did appreciate some of the mystical leaning essays, but with some of the essays it seemed like nothing so much as a rant by the authors about whatever they were discussing, and not all of it readily focused on anything that was mystical or magical. I'd recommend this anthology with the caveat that you'll find some diamonds and the rest may not appeal as much as you'd hope.

The role of concepts in magical works

Another interesting post from Mike on the word concepts. The more I read about his system, the more I understand it both in terms of entity work and in terms of using language for magical purposes. He explains the following with concepts:

Communication is actually about concepts, not words. You wouldn’t have a problem sending the concept of “computer” to a modern Frenchman, but it would be incredibly difficult to send it to someone from the 1700s.

I think that's an accurate description of communication, as well as the limitations of communication, which is probably why I remove the Ethereal Software (What I'd describe as entities) out of the equation for the majority of my workings. I create entities on occasion and the process that Mike describes for ethereal software is similar enough that I'd call it entity work. He'll likely disagree, which is fine, but that's my interpretation of his concepts based on his descriptions of the processes he uses to work with ethereal software. And when I create an entity I program it. I define it both in terms of concept and words used to describe the content and when I need to fine tune the entity its usually for the same reason: It didn't get the concept and the language used to convey the concept was imprecise. Further programming and fine tuning is needed to make it perform up to specs. Or as I like to put it, a more specialized definition is needed in order to insure an accurate understanding of the task that needs to be performed.

In general, people use language to convey concepts to each other. Sometimes ala William S. Burroughs cutup technique they use language to disrupt or attack concepts, while creating new concepts. Language is a useful tool for magical work because it provides a structure of limitation that can be used to sharply define and explore concepts, and then re-present them to the magician and/or entity (ethereal software). You even see this utilized with sigils, which start out as words (in some techniques) and end up as symbols that nonetheless embody a concept. And you see it with symbols that aren't sigils but nonetheless are used to convey a concept.

Concepts are constructs. They present an initial framework that is used to convey the experience of the concept. Words define concepts, give form to the frame, ground it in ink and white space and verbalized sound waves. Manifestation takes words and turns them into actions performed to achieve outcomes. Outcomes turn into experiences and then concepts...the whole cycle starts again.

When I don't work with entities, when I do a magical working directly the experience is different. The conveyance of the concept is to the magic itself. It's a direct experience, no mediator required. Maybe the magic, in Mike's system is the meta ethereal software, the force that channels all the other forces. In my system, and in the various methodologies I've developed over the years, magic is reaching in and pulling out the possibilities and melding them with reality, melding them with my reality. So when I do a magical working and I'm not using language or entities, but instead I am using movement or meditation or some other process less overt when it comes to communication the focus is on embodying the concept, making it a part of me, of reality as it is mediated and experienced through me. Actually even my approach to word magic is really about embodiment. No doubt a result of Burroughs influence, because the cutup method is really about disrupting the message while imprinting your message into the body of the word so that the word embodies your concept. The embodied experience of being as opposed to doing...doing is an echo of being, a way to move through the motions, but not really letting the motions move you to the space you want to reach. When you become the motions, embody them, you let them move you to the conceptual space and time you want to occupy. You become that space and time and in doing so you allow yourself to fully be present with a manifested result that is as much an extension of you as it is an effect on the environment around you.


Why terminology is important in magical work

In both Multi-Media Magic and Magical Identity I devote a chapter to discussing definitions and why its important to understand the power of definitions in magical work. In my recent post on Magic and Biology, I got into some conversations about how terms were defined which illustrated why its so important to define your terminology as clearly as possible. At the same time, you also have to accept that no matter how clearly you think you've defined a term, there's always room for interpretation on your definition.

One of my favorite books that I would make required reading for any magician is Defining Reality by Edward Schiappa. The reason is because he spends an entire book exploring definitions and how they are used to frame and construct arguments as well as people's perceptions of reality. Combine that with William S. Burroughs perspectives on language and you can develop some powerful approaches to words, language, and magic.

Even a word like evocation has different meanings. Some people associate it with the grimoiric traditions, and others approach it from a psychological perspective. And then someone like me agrees with principles of evocation as they are framed from a more traditional perspective, but I like to experiment with how its done. And since I think terminology necessarily involves explaining how something is done this creates different definitions as well.

I like definitions, because I think of them as magical workings. They embody a current of meaning and perspective that is shared with others, interpreted by them, and reshared. They are discussed, debated, and embodied by the people involved with them. I perceive writing as an integral part of my magical work, which is one of the reasons I write about my work so much. It's as much a part of the magical work I do as any of the other activities associated with the magical work.

Why magic isn't a bunch of categories or labels

I think sometimes people try too hard to boil magic down to categories. You ask someone what type of magic s/he practices and you get a long list list of categories such as Chaos Magic, Postmodern Magic, Shamanism, Ceremonial Magic, etc. Add in magical lodges the person belongs to and you've got another set of categories (made into Acronyms) such as TOPY, OTO, OSOGD, GD, Etc.,I see these categories applied to the future of magic as if that can be boiled down to a specific type of magical practice. I'm guilty of this too. I talk about experimental magic as a label of some kind, as a way of trying to differentiate what I'm doing from what others are doing and labeling their practice as. Yet at some point it becomes a haze of semantics and the question that arises is: Are you doing anything with all of this anyway or just armchairing it?

On some level there's a necessity for labels and categories, to be able to provide some vocabulary for the discussions, but when we get obsessed with it, it ends up becoming some kind of circle jerk indulged in for the sake of trying to prove who is cooler than thou or who's the most elite occultist out there, or whatever. We all want to stand out and how better to do it than come up with some crazy ass term that sounds cool and might even mean something up if we get through the semantic haze.

But I like my magic simple. Yes, I want to experiment with it, but I also want it to be something other people will do and understand without having to throw in a lot of specialist jargon. So I'll use a definition where applicable, and otherwise keep the focus on doing the magic.

Definitions and Personalizing Magic

One of my passions, when it comes to magic, is really about personalizing it to fit the circumstances of your life and what you draw inspiration from. When I learned ceremonial magic, I realized that to make it really effective, I had to personalize it, fit it to my style and understanding of the world. Thus Pop Culture Magic came about, a direct answer to how I could personalize magic to fit my cultural background and interests. Recently on the Magical Experiments page on Facebook, I asked what pop culture others drew inspiration from. One person found the Justice League to be an effective pantheon, while another person drew on the Circle of Magi  series. Another mentioned the Dune series, and another mentioned the Invisibles series. All of these people found inspiration from non-traditional sources and yet clearly those examples worked for them.

Magic really needs to be about personalization, which is why I always urge that people develop their own definitions, while also learning from other people's definitions and explanations about magic. The ability to draw on your own understanding of magic and to personalize what you do magically is what makes magic work so effectively. Learn the foundations of magic...learn how others do what they do, but then challenge that in your own work and don't let others gainsay you from doing so. You can only know your limits, if you are truly willing to experiment and test what you've learned by personalizing to fit your understanding of your place in the world and universe and how you move that place, and move all else to create perfect alignment with your desired change. That truly only happens when you challenge what you've learned with experiences and make the knowledge your own through experiental doing!

Illusion, Definitions and the Movie of your life

I've been reading Illusions by Richard Bach (Amazon Affiliate link), which is an interesting book about a reluctant messiah. At one point in the book the author uses a metaphor of life as a movie to point out that people create their own films and determine in them how helpless or actualized they are. I think there's some degree of truth to this idea, particularly if we understand that how we choose to define our lives and the experiences we live determines how empowered or disempowered we feel. While it's true that  that we don't control all of our circumstances, the beliefs and definitions that we apply to a given situation definitely effect our ability to control ourselves and handle situations. The value of internal work is that it helps us get out of the movie so that we can consciously start living. To do that we have to determine if we want to continue to believe in the reasons and definitions that hold us back, or critically examine and question them in order to truly test their validity in our lives. When we question those beliefs and definitions, it involves taking a different perspective to everything we do. By looking at our actions and choices from a different perspective, we can test whether or not how we behave is really helping us, and if the supporting beliefs for that behavior are actually providing clarity and conscious choice to our lives. If the behavior is detrimental, chances are so is the definition that supports. It's necessary then to make changes in your definition, if you want to permanently change your behavior. Merely trying to repress or stop the behavior won't actually change it. In fact, it'll ultimately make it stronger. So you need to understand the definition, or if you will, the rationale for the behavior. It may not make sense on a conscious level, but I can guarantee it made sense at some point or you wouldn't continue to do the behavior.

Once you understand the rationale, you can change it. This usually involves picking apart the definition, and putting in a new definition that specifies how you consciously want to act in a situation. When something triggers you, instead of causing reactive behavior, you'll stop and make a conscious choice.

Video: Internal work and Definitions

As I continue to explore the role of definitions in magic, I've also applied them to internal work, with the specific understanding that any given issue brings with it definitions of the reactions a person will take when the issue comes up. The video below goes into more depth about this:

Short notes

A Note about Definitions and Meaning My post about definitions could easily also apply to the word models. The word models is used a lot in magic theory. There is the spiritual model, the psychological model, the model for this or the model for that. But I don't think definitions are really models. I do think models are metaphors that attempt to categorize magic, whereas I think definitions are less about categorization and more about making meaning, or maybe even making connection through meaning. You can't really have connection if some kind of meaning isn't involved and definitions are all about meaning, the establishment of it as the way to understand what's around and within.

A Note about Immanion Press

I'm still involved in Immanion Press. At one point, in the winter, I gave some serious thought to leaving Immanion Press as the managing editor and heading for the hills as it were, but then the divorce happened and I figured that was a big enough change in my life. The purpose of Immanion Press, as it applies to occult books, is to publish the books other publishers won't touch and/or reprint what's out of print. And I think we've published some great books by some great authors and I hope we continue to.

What isn't realized, I think, is that for all intents and purposes Immanion Press is volunteer run. I don't really get paid for doing the editing, layout, or managing of other editors. It's a lot of work and it's mostly a labor of love, save on those occasions when it can become a labor of hate.

I won't be at the Esoteric Book Conference this year representing Immanion Press. Lupa will be there, and you can buy books from the press through her. I have mixed feelings on how much I will represent the esoteric book line in the future, since I no longer do any of the distribution for it, beyond my own books. I'll still do the managing editor part, but I figure it's time to focus on myself a bit more, which includes finishing some writing I've been working on, so I actually have a justifiable reason to show up at a conference.

Review of Sacred Kink by Lee Harrington

What I most enjoyed about this book was Lee's efforts to provide detailed information about each path and create a framework for people from multiple belief systems to engage in the incorporation of kink to their spirituality. Lee's expertise as both a sex educator and spiritual teacher shows through in this book time and time again. He provides excellent examples and also useful definitions for understanding each path. I found a lot in this book that I know I can apply to my own spiritual practices and I think anyone else would find a similar treasure trough.

5 out of 5

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Definitions, definitions, it's all definitions

The more I focus on definitions, the more I realize how integral they are to any sense of self and identity a person has. We define everything to not only explain everything, but also provide structure and environment for ourselves, to create a sense of place in the universe, little realizing just how constructed all of it is. Truth seems to be that the majority of definitions used were created by someone else, and there's a kind of blind adherence to these definitions, without really questioning them. Maybe it's the belief that "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" I see the belief as being one of the primary blockers of innovation change. "You're reinventing the wheel." I've heard that one a number of times because I decided I'd question definitions. At least it is MY wheel.

Definitions seem to be integral to magical activity and theory as well. And I'm not talking about trotting out the rather tired definition of magic that Crowley belched out years and years ago. I'm talking instead of the realization that definition is an integral key for providing the framework through which an action can occur. No definition and you don't have an action, because there is an absence of environment for that action to occur in. Definitions provide structure, environment, a call to action. But they provide more than that as well. They provide insight into the unconscious, into the deepest layers of a person, and what makes that person tick. Definitions are the basis by which we make sense of reality.

What do you think of...

when you think of magic? Is it some witchy person, complete with warts transforming people into frogs?

or some teenage kid wearing a pentagram and black so s/he can look cool?

or some hippie looking person who rants about the system?

Or are those just expressions of a subculture?

When I think of magic now, I don't really think of it in terms of subculutres, and I realize just how much thinking of it in those terms has previously limited my realization of what it could be...and it makes me wonder how, in an effort, to categorize and/or associate it with certain subcultures, we actually lose out on what it could be.

I haven't done a lot of rituals lately, or experiments. I've been continuing my meditation, but right now a lot of my magical work is focused in Malkuth, in making a lot happen right now with my business, and with some of my other passions...and it's not that ritual doesn't have a place...or that breaking out the ceremonial gear can't be useful, but it is realizing that magic can be found in any moment, in any person, in any circumstance. We only limit our perceptions of it when we try to categorize it.

Bits and Pieces

I finished reading Language, Thought and Reality by Benjamin Lee Whorf and waltzed right into Defining Reality by Edward Schiappa. Whorf's work was interesting and makes me wonder how much Burroughs might have read or if Burroughs came to similar conclusions about language independently. Defining Reality, by Schiappa, is a favorite book of mine and is a logical extension of Whorf's work and argument that language shapes our conceptions of reality. A definition describes agency, and can be an attempt to control the conceptualization of reality. *********

I've been thinking lately that the more a person exposes him/her self to a particular meme, the more desensitizied s/he becomes to that particular meme. Initially the meme is quite pervasive and powerful, but later it becomes boring, something all too often encountered. You begin to realize that you've been there again and again and again. What makes a meme live? The value and meaning associated with it, but desensitization can take the meaning out of a meme, make it part of the background. Eventually it fades away, the lustre lost in the glow of new memes or simply the lack of meaning a person finds in all those crazy memes. At some point a meme without meaning is a person without water. Dehydrated and dying. Memes only have value when they are provided meaning...even if that meaning is as simple as fulfilling a desire such as hunger or sex.

Further discussions of definitions of magic

In psyche's latest post on the definitions of magic, she attempts to use Crowley's definition of magic to address arguments by a podcaster named Deo who had shared an essay on his podcast wherein he challenged the veracity of magic as a real force (Actually his essay is part of what started the initial post she wrote). As I noted in this post, Crowley's definition is not a good definition of magic, because he is sloppy in his attempts to define what magic is, and is unable to distinguish from any other discipline or approach that could be used in a similar way to explain how a person uses a process to manifest something. However Deo poses an intriguing challenge to Psyche and others in this thread on his forum. Something which is brought up is the "models of Magic" Both Deo and Psyche seem to agree that these models are most effective as understanding practical applications and possibilities of magic and magical systems as opposed to being definitive theories or explanations for how the process of magic works. I'd agree with that myself, but Deo then raises an interesting question: "Is there such a thing (ontologically/metaphysically) as magic?..Does magic deserve to be an ontological category? If not, then it's metaphysically uninteresting and a worldview that lacks it can still be a complete worldview."

Deo's question is an excellent question to ask. It highlights the problem with Crowley's definition, because Crowley's definition cannot answer or explain magic in a way that differentiates it from anything else, something which Deo aptly notes, "I don't consider magic to be 'real' as an ontological component of the universe if it merely names a style of activity irrespective of any kind of mechanism underlying its alleged efficacy" An activity is not automatically magical, simply because it is named magical. A process needs to be described that shows how magic is different from something fact a good definition not only persuades someone what something ought to be, but also shows why something is different from everything else.

Instead of relying on the models of magic to answer Deo's question (I've never really used them and I have my own reasons for thinking that while they provide perspectives on practical applications, the perspectives offered are not necessarily the most efficacious), nor will I rely on an aesthetic approach to magic, because while I think making meaning is a function of magic, I don't believe it is the only function. Plus, in keeping with Deo's criticism, it can be argued that making meaning is does not fall strictly in the domain of magic (as a study of semiotics will quickly reveal to a reader).

I choose to take a different tack to defining magic, based on my own definition of magic, one gained from years of personal experience and experimentation. In Multi-Media Magic, I defined magic as: "Magic involves making the improbable possible. It's learning how even the slightest change you make can have a radical effect on the internal system of your psychology/spirituality, and the external system of the environment and the universe you live in. Magic is the realization of an interdependent system of life that needs every part to bring forth the hidden potential. It is also a methodology that can be used as a stress on the interconnected system, to manifest change in it." I go on to note that magic isn't the only stress on a system. In Space/Time magic, I also noted that magic involved being aware of probabilities and manifesting those probabilities into your life.

A definition of magic then is not so much about doing everything with intent as it is about recognizing probabilities and using a process (which we call magic) to manifest those probabilities into reality. Seems simple enough, but even the definition I wrote above has problems with it. I haven't overtly identified the process that magic utilizes which allows it to be an ontological presence. I identify a benefit of magic, that it makes a person aware of probabilities and enables manifestation of those probabilities, but the underlying mechanism still isn't defined. I note that magic can act as a stress on a system, but that could still use further clarification.

What I define as a system is a recognition that all life is interconnected. Everything lives within a system that necessarily requires everything to work together in order for the entirety of the system to be sustained (And we can note the effects that occur when a system is taken out of balance, global warming anyone?). In a systems approach, both intent AND impact are considered. Impact needs to be considered in order to determine if efficacy has occurred, since impact is one means for measuring the process used to generate it (As a side not, it amazes that most definitions of magic do not consider impact at all...too much focus on intent, not enough awareness of impact). The system is not entirely a physical reality, though it is based in a physical environment. It is also based in the mentality and even spirituality of what lives within it. Any system is effected by stress. A stress in this case is a mechanism used to change the system. Different disciplines of science are stresses on a system, because they utilize mechanisms to change the system.

Likewise magic is a stress that can be used to change the system, because of the mechanism that magic provides, which is not provided by the different disciplines of science, because while science enables from a purely physical end of the spectrum, magic enables change through a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual resources. An example of this resource would be the example of embodying a physical/mental resource of the human body, a neurotransmitter as an entity (thus creating a spiritual resource) which could be used to manifest a variety of possibilities, including creating altered states of mind, healing a person's mental state by working with the neurotransmitter, etc.

But what is the mechanism that makes magic an ontological presence, and enables its efficacy? That mechanism is Identity, specifically the ability to shape and change identity in order to mesh it with the identity if the possibility one wishes to manifest into reality. Identity can be considered to be both a state of existence and, in a system, a point or node of influence, connected to other nodes of influence. Magic uses identity as a means of manifesting probability into reality, by creating resonance between the identity of the magician and the identity of the probability the magician wants to make into reality (Think of magic as a string in a web, connecting one node of identity to another node of identity). The magician anchors a potential identity in the form of a probability to his/her actual identity, via magic to enable the probability a greater chance of manifesting than would occur if methods were not used to link the two identities together. Magic is a process of identification that allows the magician to change reality by altering the identity of that reality, or for that matter altering his or her own identity to conform to reality.

Magic uses methods to create resonance between different identities, or if you will between one version of reality and another. Probability becomes reality, when enough resonance is created between one identity and another so that the probability in essence becomes an extension of the existing identity of the magician.

This is my answer to Deo's question. It's also part of my ongoing work and experimentation with magic.

To Define is to..?

Recently, I've also been following with great interest several posts on the definitions of magic on Plutonica .net. Go here, here, and here, to read the posts on I find this discussion interesting, partially because I devoted two chapters of Multi-Media Magic to definitions of magic. One chapter focused on what I considered inaccurate or poor definitions of magic, while the second chapter focused on what I considered to be good definitions of magic. One author whose definition I did not include, was Aleister Crowley's definition which goes, "Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will". Anyone who has read my books knows that I, on principle, do not include quotes or cite Crowley's work, for the simple fact that I feel that many other occult works are not nearly as recognized, because when people think of magic, they think of Mr. Crowley. I'd rather devote the majority of my writing to recognizing the works of other people and what they say about magic, because I believe a lot of people miss on some truly intriguing concepts when they focus only on Crowley's words and wit when it comes to magic.

All that said, I've never been impressed with Crowley's definition. I recognize that many occultists hold it up as the standard definition. In fact, if you go to Psyche's other site spiralnature, specifically to the magick index page, you'll note that the majority of definitions are derived from Crowley's definition. It would seem that Crowley nailed definition of magic down, so one might wonder, why Taylor, aren't you impressed by his definition.

Pretty simple really. It's vague. It uses abstract concepts and doesn't really define those concepts. What is Art? What is Science? What is Change? What is Will? These are abstract concepts used to define another abstract concept. He never fully explains what these concepts are, trusting instead in the reader's ability to divine the meaning of these concepts and put the puzzle together. This is a method, which Crowley is famous for (as are many, many academics and magicians the world over) of cunningly using words words to test how much a person really knows. In other words, the definition offered is written in a way that is left deliberately vague. Even the illustration he offers afterwards as an example of magic, of writing and publishing a book is not a magical act perse, as people who don't even practice magic and think of it as superstition write and get published everyday. The illustration is a way of interpreting how that writing and publishing occurred, but it doesn't prove that he has done magic to make it happen. Overly semantic or pedantic? Perhaps, but as I point out in Multi-Media Magic, definitions are often inaccurately treated as "is" or "Essence" statements, when, in fact what the definition really represents is the agenda or agency of the writer and what s/he beliefs something ought to be defined as.

To be fair to Crowley, in the theorem section of Magick in Theory and Practice, he provides a better explanation or definition of magic, by explaining the process of how magic works via theorems and illustrations. I don't agree with all of his theorems or his illustrations as definitions or examples of magic, but what he offers in that section is a better explanation of how magic could work as opposed to the more commonly used definition of his I referred to above. I still think his definitions are sloppy, because it ultimately boils down to the concept that everything we do is magic, as long as we set our intent to do it. That could be the case, but I tend to find that while magic is an integral part of my life, that doesn't mean that everything I set out to do is a magical act. In fact my main bone of contention with Crowley's definition and any definition derived from Crowley's work can be summed up in the following quote:

"Naming and describing are acts of entitlement. Through such linguistic practices, we give our experiences meaning and make sense of reality. By entitling a given phenomenon, we locate that phenomenon in a set of beliefs about the world that includes beliefs about existence-status (what things are real or not) and essence-status (what qualities we may reliably predicate about the phenomenon). Because the range of possible entitlements is theoretically infinite, any given act of entitling should be seen as a persuasive act that encourage language users to understand that which is entitled in particular ways rather than others" (Schiappa 2003, p. 116)

In other words, Crowley's definition describes magic in a particular way, while also reinforcing the values and meanings that Crowley associates with it. And if you wonder why I don't quote Crowley, it's because there are other perspectives, other views on magic that are equally as valid, but all too often ignored because Crowley's definition is not questioned nearly enough, but is accepted nearly a century later as holy writ.

Where Crowley's definition might be useful is to consider it as a paradigm shift, as a way of viewing reality through a very specific lens or perspective, while using discourse and language to embody that perspective. Treat everything as a magical act to play with your perspective. However you can take this trick and apply to it any discipline. You could view your actions through a semiotic or memetic lens (the popular choice of late among magicians in the know!). You could view your actions through a neuroscience perspective. Take Crowley's definition and swap a few words and you change discipline and paradigm for perceiving the world. That's really what Crowley's definition is...a paradigm, a way of viewing the world. It can be useful, though it can also be equally limiting.

There's a book I would urge any magician to read, which I think of as an essential book for both the practice of magic and also the use of definitions. It's called Defining Reality: Definitions and the Politics of Meaning by Edward Schiappa. It's a book on rhetoric, but it's very applicable to magic, because it examines how we use definitions to define and shape reality, as can be seen in this quote, "Definitions always serve interests and advance values, and they always require the exercise of power to be efficacious" (Schiappa 2003, p. 177). You know, put in the right context, that could be a definition of magic as well.