Magic is everywhere. Magic sparkles from cleaning products in television advertisements. Sarah Silverman argues that “Jesus is Magic.” Esoteric shops in every city offer magic stones, crystals, wands and herbs promising to help achieve a variety of desired effects. Even Donald Rumsfeld uses magic, as our comrades at The Center for Tactical Magic can attest, with his use of symbols to invoke various powers of authority. So if magic is used in all these contexts, if magic is a trick, a practice, a ploy, a wish, what is it in essence?
For us, magic is a connection to something larger, more fun, and more interesting than the bloodless drudgery of corporate America and consumer culture. Magic is a way of looking at the world that points to all the beautiful and mysterious aspects of life that we don’t understand and that we forget to appreciate. At its essence, Magic is a means to transform the world through the power of your consciousness.
The word magic in English comes from the Greek mageia, where it was used to refer to foreigners from the east, spell casting priests from Babylon.* From the very beginning of its contemporary roots, magic was used to refer to the weird and unsettling practices of outsiders. But that isn’t just true for our xenophobic Grecian forbearers.
Everyone knows about the various Inquisitions, where various iterations of “The Church” have rounded up witches and other “heretical” folks in order to punish them and give physical form to the most brutal aspects of the human imagination. The practices of the “witches,” their magic, wasn’t sanctioned by the proper authorities and thus needed to be named and destroyed. Interestingly, the Catholic church itself had been labeled heretical by various other hierophants and organizations, other more aesthetically austere Christian branches. Clearly then, magic has often been a pejorative term for the practice of being or doing whatever it is that the hegemony (i.e. powerful people resistant to change) isn’t, or doesn’t want you to do.
Whatever psychic territories the dominant authorities (whether it is the classical Greek citizen, the Roman Catholic Church, or the orthodoxies of science today) label as outside, foreign, ridiculous, spurious, or weird, magic is sure to be found lingering there. Which is enough of a reason for us to love it.
Magic is complicated, interesting, and ambiguous – all things that the Oracle of Los Angeles adores. So if you like the weirder outlying territories too, welcome. You have met your people.
Yours In Love,
Amanda, Oracle of Los Angeles
* Davies, Owen. (2012). Magic: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.