How to Explain Direct Magick

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Direct mages need to explain how we change reality, why we do it, and what someone might learn from us to everyone we work with.

This post gives you a 2-minute explanation, drawn from the other posts in this series.

Explain, Don’t Define

Your first thought will be “it’s magick without rituals.”

But that doesn’t create an intuitive understanding of what direct magick is.  It doesn’t open up a conversation about how magick works, what you might help someone with, or why they should go to you for energy healing instead of a Reiki practitioner.

We’re after an explanation that creates an intuitive understanding and leads to an interesting conversation.

Explaining Magick

Magick is thought directly interacting with the physical world.

For example, in energy healing, your thought and intent guides the energy.  In psychic work, your mind receives information about the world.

In most styles of magick, the mage uses visualization or ritual to communicate their intent to their unconscious, which instructs an external magickal structure (a system) to do the work.  The mage doesn’t need to understand what the system does any more than you need to understand how your web browser is programmed.

Explaining Direct Magick

Direct mages consciously change reality.  If normal magick is a man telling a taxi driver where to go, direct magick has you driving the car.  You conscious mind leads the entire process, working with your unconscious to do all the technical steps that systems normally do.  Direct mages don’t use systems for most effects.  We do them ourselves.

Consciously seeing every step lets you understand how magick works, which lets you reason about how to improve your techniques, and discuss them with other mages.  It takes longer to learn, but with experience and understanding, you can alter the physical world more quickly, deeply, and precisely than a system can.


Most mages do energy heailng by visualizing a white light entering the point of injury.

A direct mage would look at the energy in the injured tissue, figure out what signatures would help, and change the person’s energy-producing structures to make that new energy.  By seeing all the moving parts, a direct mage can understand what’s happening and make precise changes to produce a specific result.


Some tips you may find useful when explaining direct magick:

  • Non-mages, and even some energy workers and psychics, find “magick” hard to take seriously.  I use the euphamism “shifting reality,” and give the same explanation.
  • Some ritual mages define magick as “the application of True Will,” and use “psionics” for “changing reality with thought.”  I just ask if we can use my terms while I explain what I do.


Do you have any tips for explaining magick to non-practitioners?  Or an alternate definition for what you do?

Leave me a note.  I’ll write you back, usually within 24 hours.

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6 Responses to “How to Explain Direct Magick”

  1. Kristen says:

    I’m really enjoying this series of posts. I frequently have a difficult time explaining exactly what direct magick is. I sometimes find myself falling back on the “magick without rituals” definition, but as you’ve pointed out, that only defines what direct magick isn’t, not what it is.

    I use the same euphamism, “shifting reality”. (It prompted the title of my site.) My current explanation for direct magick is “using the mind to affect reality”. It’s broad and somewhat vague, but I don’t like to narrow it down to “affecting physical reality” because I think the domain of direct magick encompasses more than physical reality, or at least more than what most people would consider the standard definition of physical reality. That explanation also avoids the semantic and philosophical debates about whether or not consciousness and/or the mind (yours or someone else’s) is considered “physical reality”.

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Kristen, your definition is probably more accurate. I definitely include influencing thoughts in direct magick, along with a lot of work with spirits that doesn’t really influence the physical world.

    A year ago, I was explaining direct magick to a group of ritual mages and psychics. When I talked about altering reality, half of them thought I was altering my subjective reality. “If you don’t acknowledge the pain, it can’t hurt you” and “decide what matters and shut out the rest” sort of stuff. Their work revolved around True Will, not altering physical reality, and they interpreted my explanation in their terms.

    Since then, I’ve played up the physical effects aspect. I’d rather someone wonder if working with spirits counts than think I’m just altering my perceptions of a fixed, unchanging external reality.

    But you make a good point. There are important parts of direct magick that this explanation ignores. I’ll add a post on that soon.

    Thanks for pointing it out!

  3. Kristen says:

    That’s true, I didn’t think about the possibility that someone might misinterpret my explanation as referring to subjective reality. That’s definitely something I’ll need to keep in mind when using my standard definition.

    I’ve been using the term “psionics” more often lately because nowadays so many people associate the word “magick” with something negative or don’t take you seriously if you use that word. Nobody seems bothered by the term “mage” but the term “magick” seems to evoke a negative reaction. I don’t like “psionics” any better as a label, but I’ll bounce back and forth between the two terms until someone comes up with a better one.

  4. Ompehda says:

    I, myself, still resort to the time-honored (and -worn!) term “magick” – even though it does, admittedly, require much in the way of “definition of terms” to the ordinary non-mage listener to help the explanation along.

    I don’t like “psionics” much personally. It instantly conjures up connotations with a set of much-misunderstood and little-used rules at the back of the AD&D Player’s Handbook from back when I was thirteen :P.

    That’s probably just a completely subjective mind-jerk reaction, though.

    Perhaps something that is a tad bit obscure…that won’t immediately bring up any preconceived notions within the imaginings of your average listener…could be of service. Something like, oh – I dunno, “aethyrics” or “pleromics” or some such.

    (As a postscript, let me say that I’m really enjoying these posts, Mike. I just happened to come across them the other day. I have tended to use a Golden Dawn/Thelemic type of style for my own hermetics, but I’m extremely intrigued by this “direct” style of magick you’re outlining, and I plan on delving into it – both for its own sake and as a fabulously useful adjunct to my Thelema. So thanks again for all this information and, please, keep up the fantastic work!)

  5. I like that idea: Pick an empty term, so your listener knows they don’t know what you mean. I do that a lot with terms for the moving pieces of magick, calling the forces you channel “systems” rather than “God.” I’ll have to try it and post about it.

    And thanks for your kind words about my site. Let me know if you have any questions or requests.

  6. Ompehda says:

    Absolutely, Mike. You have me correct.

    The notion occurred to me in recalling a similar experience that Crowley encountered in the early days of his A.’.A.’.

    The original rule was that any person whatsoever could apply to become a Probationer 0=0 and have a Neophyte 1=10 appointed to him to answer his/her questions and oversee their work. Many of these were entering the Order with their own various preconceptions about “what this magick business was all about” and often found themselves wholly unable to fathom what they actually encountered. So much so, that Crowley later estimated that 7 out of 8 Probationers failed to ever make it to the Neophyte grade and were putting such undue stress upon their supervising mentors that they, themselves, were unable to get about their own work in any kind of satisfactory way. Therefore, to ameliorate this problem, in 1912 Crowley established a completely exoteric grade anterior to the Order – that of the Student of the Mysteries. This was designed to give prospective members a thorough grounding in the matter they were about to take up, and disabuse them of any erroneous notions they may have previously held about the matter.

    All lineages of the A.’.A.’. (that I know of anyway) still hold to this mandate, and require potential Probationers to first go through some form of preliminary Student curriculum. So apparently it works reasonably well :P

    So I just figured that using a term for which most people could have no preconceived notions at the outset would save a lot of time and trouble on backtracking and explanation. Especially if you’re attempting to discuss such stuff with other mages, obviously.

    I mean, get a roomful of magicians and see how long it takes you to get any kind of consensus on exactly what a “spirit” is :P

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