Magic 1, Requirement 10
Into which basic categories would you divide magical arts and how do you see those categories functioning within the context of ADF? (minimum 300 words)
I thought about applying Giordano Bruno's categorization from De
Magica, but then I realized that I'm not so complicated. Instead of ten categories, I can only think of two: Magic for Serious and Magic for Not-So-Serious.
Magic for Serious, generally speaking, does not necessarily speak to the "quality" of the magic or even the quality of its aim. It includes the following sub-categories: magic for ritual, self-transformation, and transformation of the world around you.
In magic done for ritual, the magic done may very well be the "slight-of-hand" magic that Aliester Crowley insists we differentiate ourselves from with that silly "k" he puts on the end of the word. Here, the important thing is that the "change in reality" is one perceived by the congregant that helps them into a deeper state of religious experience. Of course, the magic could also be "real", but so long as that deeper state is attained, it doesn't matter whether the magic actually occurred or not.
In magic for self-transformation, it is important that the self honestly come to a transformative experience that affects not only the internal workings of their mind and psyche, but also their perception of the world around them.
In magic for transformation of the world around you, it is most important that the world at large benefit from the magic. Usually, this is magic done to bring attention to a situation that cannot receive attention through any other method.
So, basically, all these methods, in the most central way, achieve change in a serious way. Perhaps there are no subcategories? We'll come back to that.
Magic for the Not-So-Serious, generally speaking, also is not a term that necessarily speaks to the quality of the magic or its aim. It, too, includes the following sub-categories: magic for ritual, self-transformation, and transformation of the world around you.
Magic in ritual, in this case, indicates magic that is done in order to bring people into a closer contact with the sacred by turning their ideas of ritual upside down. Often, a sacred fool is well-suited to this task.
Magic for self-transformation, in this case, can be done in a method that breaks down the barriers of who you are, transforms them into something that can be laughable or lampooned, and can then remind you of the best properties of that self.
Magic for transformation of the world around you, in this case, would be where you point out to others that something is invalid because it is
ludicrous, or because it is "silly", and you affect change in their worldview by displaying its
So, basically, all these methods, in the most central way, achieve change in a not-so-serious way. Perhaps there are no subcategories? I would
argue that both here and in the "serious" category above, there are no divisions. To speak of these methods as somehow "different" from each other on a fundamental level (or even a high level) is like taking a pickle for a walk on a leash: It makes no sense.
But what of this division I mentioned originally, the dualistic "serious" and "not-so-serious" magics? These, too, are reductionistic categories, and while potentially useful, they ignore that the central idea is exactly the same: a change of reality through any means possible. I think that magic, if we wish to retain the sense that "magic is everywhere" or that "magic happens in nature all the time", we need to discard our categorizations and keep magic on the top level: magic simply is. Because I prefer my world to be full of magic, it seems that my categorizations are very lacking in their use.
And so, it appears that I do not really believe in categorizing magic, or dividing it up. Good thing for me that this question asked me about the categories *I* divide magical arts into. It appears that, to me, magic is magic, and is uncategorizable, at least without reducing it beyond its basic functions.
Primarily, within ADF, I see magic as functioning to deepen the spiritual connections within and between people. Any form of magic can do this, realistically speaking, and because I cannot honestly define "categories" in my own view of magic, the idea that "slight of hand" or the use of "illusion" could be categorized as something more or less than "the art of changing reality in accordance with your will" is
ludicrous. Perhaps I don't seem to take magic seriously, but I would point out that I have done my best to treat this topic with as much seriousness as
is possible for me.
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