Renaming “Magick”

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In July, I wrote in my notes:

i’m getting ready to move beyond the term “magick.” because it feels like well-defined processes now, not just “stuff happens”

I keep coming back to that. To me, magick (or magic, really — I only added the k when I started blogging, to help google) essentially means “stuff happens that we don’t understand” or “I did X, and it caused seemingly-unrelated event Y.” Not that I define magic or magick that way, but that’s the emotion it conjures up in me.

There was a time when that felt natural: When I vaguely understood how connections and energy could change the world, it truly did feel like something over here somehow produced a seemingly-unrelated change over there. Like magic.

These days, my work feels more like engineering. I make a change over here, which causes another change, which causes another, and eventually, that chain of changes causes a clearly-related change over there. Once you have some concept of each step in the chain, it stops being mysterious. (Which I like. But it feels odd calling it “magick.”)

Not making a change yet, or spending much time thinking about it right now. But my mind keeps wondering over there. (Yes, I say “wondering around” now.) Thoughts?

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5 Responses to “Renaming “Magick””

  1. Ona says:

    It’s an interesting thing to ponder. The fact is (or seems to be) that everything that happens moment to moment is influenced by so many known and unknown factors. Our actions and intentions are part of those many factors. Grouping certain kinds of actions and intentions into a category called “magic(k)” is rather arbitrary. If we want a job we ask friends for recommendations, send in resumes, buy a nice suit for the interview, etc. We may also chant a mantra or light a candle or pray or otherwise strengthen our intention to get the job. But writing up the nice resume and wearing the suit are also, in a sense, rituals of intention for the desired outcome. And none of those actions and intentions guarantee the job – there are always myriad other factors at play, from a more qualified person applying to getting stuck in a traffic jam and missing the interview to realizing during the interview that it’s not going to be the kind of place you want to work and so on. I personally no longer see magick as a particularly useful category, though I continue to use it as a convenient shorthand for traditional rituals and practices of the sort most people think of when you say “magick.”

    Hmmm. :)

  2. Yoseqlo says:

    I thought that you still remains in the “Magick” term because to be related with the well, Magick community.

    But if wanna change it, do as you want, means is your model after all, but more than difficult to think in another name that handle what you’re doing, directly interact with underlying mechanisms.

    Independently you could do that now, as other science’s fields started with less info than yours.

  3. Ananael Qaa says:

    I use magick in a very precise way, as a term for the paranormal influence of probability. But if to you it means “stuff I don’t understand” or “stuff that’s mysterious” you’re probably right that you should pick a different term. I will admit that I remain unconvinced that some of what you describe as “magick” bears much resemblance to my own spiritual work. For example, I have yet to see an example of “ethereal software” that I can’t explain better with a combination of assimilation (the brain’s process of consolidating complex action sequences, which is 100% demonstrated by neuroscience) and external spirits with varying degrees of intelligence and autonomy. That’s not to say I necessarily think that my model is certainly right or yours is certainly wrong, but they are different and I’m not going to revise mine until I see a compelling problem in the hard data that it can’t explain.

    Jason Miller has lately taken to calling a lot of the work he does “lifehacking.” Maybe a term like that would work for you. The software metaphors you like to use would certainly fit well with that or some similar term. For that matter, since it sounds like you have an interest in doing something-like-magick in a professional context, you may want to pick something to describe your work that is less polarizing. The explicitly magical community is tiny, and generally speaking I’ve found that the people in it are either broke or good enough that they don’t need anyone else’s services. The New Age community, on the other hand, tends attract wealthy folks who are interested in spirituality but not all that knowledgeable about the paranormal. A quick perusal of Amazon bestsellers will confirm that it’s a much better market for anyone who hopes to make a living off that sort of work.

    • It’s not that I define magick as “stuff I don’t understand.” I still define magick as “The mind directly interacting with the external world,” but saying the word “magick” still conjures up the feeling of “mysterious stuff I don’t understand.” It just feels weird using it to describe these processes I work with all the time.

      I’ve also been thinking about new agers, and magick-as-business. They’re not my people. (That’s a bloggers shorthand for “my audience” or “the people that I aim to connect with when I write.) My people are mages with a scientific bent, and scientists who’ve had mystical experiences. There was a time when I wanted to do magick professionally, but I’ve decided that I would rather do computer consulting than do the level of re-branding and uncomfortable re-imaging it would take to attract new agers. I want to go pro based solely on my results, and plan to stay with a day job until I get there, which will probably take a while.

      The re-naming would be for me, and to connect with scientists who’ve had mystical experiences. Which is probably why I’m not really doing anything with it yet.

  4. Simon says:

    To be honest I’m almost surprised you haven’t already changed to some other terminology (apart form the fact that maybe there is no currently acceptable term). Certainly from the ‘outreach/marketing’ perspective it would seem pretty inevitable that the term will HAVE to change sooner or later if you want to reach a wider audience outside the occult community.

    A warning about that though: The old adage about democracy being the worst political system…the only ones worse being all the rest. I can’t help feeling this somehow applies the the term ‘magic/k’

    ‘Psionics’ could be a paradigm that is closer to what you do (or it would be if it didn’t have the association of teenagers pretending they’re firing ‘ki balls’ at their enemy’s etc)

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