Dictionary.com defines magic as “the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature” (x).
I guess this is as good a definition as any to start with. Let’s break it down though.
Magic as an Art.
This I like. By saying magic is an art, it implies that it can be learned and practiced to improve upon. It also implies that it isn’t necessarily religious or necessarily evil. An art is just that, an art and it can be used in many different ways with many different lenses to color the perception of it.
Magic typically has a purpose. That doesn’t mean that you can’t go casting spells or using magic willy-nilly (if you want to, go for it!), but typically to gauge if something works, there needs to be a measure. Without a purpose it is hard to tell if it indeed worked. Also, this attempts to avoid unintended consequences.
The type of magic you will use will depend on your desired effect and what your preferences are. What do you want to accomplish? Let’s use the idea of protection. To protect a single person, a poppet (a doll like figure) or charm might be a great idea. To protect an area, wards or bottles might be better ideas. I feel that a charm is easier to carry around for a single person and that wards are easier to use when trying to encompass an area because they can be larger or smaller depending on the need. That doesn’t mean though that you can use wards to protect a single person or charms to protect an area. It is all up to what feels right for you.
Incantations and Various Techniques.
I touched on this briefly above. Poppets, charms, wards, bottles, and incantations are only a few of the various techniques that can be utilized in magic. You can even use more than one technique in the same spell. You could attach a charm to your poppet while saying an incantation.
I don’t really like this word. I feel like it doesn’t do justice to all of the experimentation that is done by multiple individuals. I guess there is some assumption when getting into magic for the first time. And I guess that when trying a new spell, you presume that it will work, to an extent. But I still don’t really like this word in this context.
“Supernatural Agencies or Forces of Nature.”
I don’t particularly like this wording either, but I don’t think I have better words for it. Supernatural has the connotation that there is something out of the ordinary, extraordinary, out of this world, kind of thing. Magic doesn’t always look that way or effect those kinds of forces. Sometimes it is just baking a happiness pie to bring happiness to those who eat it. I wouldn’t say there is something supernatural about that or that it is exerting control over the forces of nature. I guess there would be some magic that works with maybe higher-realm spirits that you might consider supernatural, or magic that works with weather that you might consider to be forces of nature. It just doesn’t encompass all of the magic that is out there. But that is just my opinion and I have been working with magic for a long time, so it may seem more normalized to me than to someone else.
But isn’t is spelled magick, majick, etc?
It can be spelt in any of those manners. Aleister Crowley primarily spelt it as magick to differentiate between types of magic. Some use the other spellings today to differentiate between the magic done at stage shows, such as sawing someone in half, and the magic that pertains to spells. Some of the spelling are used primarily by certain groups who practice magic. The spelling “magick” seems to be fairly popular among Neo-Pagans and Neo-Wiccans, and thus some people reject the spelling due to the association. (You know, and the fact that Crowley probably wasn’t the best dude. And by that I mean, he was not. At all.) I personally think that it is up to each individual, just be aware that there are some connotations used with each spelling and that the origins of certain spellings mean for it to be used in only certain ways to mean certain things.