The four biggest falsehoods that keep us away from Magick—plus, how to let go of them and reclaim our birthright.
Magick is the art of defining reality—and reality is defined by stories.
Stories we tell ourselves about who we are. About who other people are. About what history is. About what the future will be.
Most people have a story, and they're sticking to it. Even if it's a bad story, one that produces a bad quality of life, they'll likely defend it with their life rather than go through the uncertainty of changing it.
A magician is somebody who understands that the world is made of stories, and has learned that by changing their own story, they can change their life—maybe even the boundaries of reality itself.
So: Lesson One. The first story a budding magician must learn to change is the story their culture has sold them about magick itself.
Our culture buries magick under a giant heap of fear and shame—bad stories about how it's "evil," "dangerous," "not real," "juvenile" and "anti-science." That's because magick leads to individuals thinking for themselves, and defining their lives as they like... and that just ruins everything, doesn't it?
As long as you accept these bad stories, they will be real for you. If you change these stories for yourself, reality will change accordingly. In this way, the fear of magick itself represents the first dragon to be slain in the great Grail Quest of Initiation.
How helpful of this dragon to present itself in order to aid us in developing our magical skills!
Remember: Belief helps shape reality. Belief might not change the laws of physics, but it will change how we perceive, compartmentalize, react to and act upon the material facts of life and the universe. That means that our beliefs are almost wholly responsible for our lives—the steering mechanism, if you like. Change your focus, change your reality.
With that in mind, here are four myths—bad stories—about magick that a young magician must overcome and replace with good stories.
1. It's Not Real
The primary misunderstanding that people have about magick is that it is imaginary and "made up," and therefore without value.
The magician replies: Why yes, of course magick is imaginary. Magick is the science of imagination.
A magician understands that everything that has ever come into existence, everything that has built the world we live in—from penicillin to great art to atomic bombs—has existed first in the imagination, second in the physical world. Everything humanity has ever done has begun as inspiration, dream and fantasy, and then has been manifested from mind into matter through hard work and trial-and-error experiment.
Yes, magick is "imaginary." The gods are imaginary. Spirits are imaginary. Chakras, energy meridians and psychic phenomena are imaginary.
But what else is imaginary? Your reputation is imaginary. Your story about what happened to you in the past is imaginary. The future you think you will experience is imaginary. Love and lust are imaginary. Anger, hate, resentment and jealousy are imaginary. Brands, social hierarchies and ideologies are imaginary.
None of these things exist in any measurable way as anything except tangible imagination... and yet they utterly control our lives, for better or worse. You cannot see, hear or touch them. They exist purely as clusters of thought and emotional resonance—but people live, die and kill for them every day, because most of these imaginary constructs are shared between individuals, and are therefore as important as the physical world (or perhaps even more important).
To become a magician, a simple leap is required. One must understand that the imagination is real on its own plane, that is, that it is simply a subtler gradation of reality—the part of reality you can't touch. We understand that the Gods, angels, demons, spirits and, truly, anything that the mind can conceive is "real" within the world of the imagination, and can be interacted with on its own plane. Magick is a set of tools for doing just that, and for manifesting "imaginary" events as "real-world" genius, intuitive leaps and potentially world-changing ideas and creations.
Magick.Me's courses make this plainly clear. They show you that magick is the key to unlocking your imagination—and that your imagination is the key to unlocking reality. The human race has proven over and over again that there are no limits to what it can do. Whatever we can imagine—given the right effort, tools and time invested—we can achieve. And magick is the key to unlocking the fountainhead of inspiration itself, the beginning of the entire process of manifestation.
Since the imagination is where we have gotten everything we value in life—everything that has let us overcome the hardships of physical reality, and everything that makes life worth living—don't you think we should get better at navigating and working with it?
Below, founding chaos magician Ramsey Dukes explains the subtle interplay of "imagination" and the real world. You'll walk away from this video understanding exactly how the magical interface with the world works.
2. It's "Evil"
This is an easy one.
Magical and pagan systems have been reviled and called "evil" for a couple of thousand years. Why?
Magick has frightened people in the past because it gives people a significant amount of both power and responsibility. Instead of giving dictates about what reality is and exact laws to follow, magick gives you tools and says "experiment and find out what works for you, what is true for you, what is beautiful for you." This requires work and it requires individual integrity, and most aren't ready for that. For most, it's easier to dismiss and attack magick than to examine the parts of themselves they aren't comfortable with.
Carl Jung's concept of the Shadow is particularly useful here. The shadow is the part of ourselves that is, generally speaking, made up of all the things we don't like about ourselves, have labelled "unacceptable," and have buried. When people repress their shadow instead of working on it and with it in order to achieve greater psychological integrity and wholeness, they tend to project it. Practically speaking, that means that when somebody hates something about themselves, they tend to see that trait or complex in other people, and then will try to criticize or destroy it *in them*. All you have to do is turn on the news, or go on social media, or read any part of world history in any time and place, to see this deadly mechanism at work.
Historically, this is the primary driver behind events like witch-burnings and the Inquisition. People don't like to be shaken up. They don't like to be reminded of their own laziness. And so they attack.
So, look past the shadow projections. Magick is not evil. It is simply a tool. It can be used correctly or incorrectly. Those who do magick must take upon themselves responsibility for their own actions, just as those who drive cars must. Magick.Me is magick for responsible, mature adults.
Magick.Me does not offer any harmful or negative material whatsoever. But we also don't dumb the material down or treat our students like children. What's on offer is the full toolkit of magick—and we show you how to use it for the best possible reason, which is to further your own spiritual development. But it's left to you how best to do this, because magick is never the same for any two people. It's wholly dependent on the background, time, inclination and circumstances of each individual magician.
If you want to dig in further on this issue, I've recorded an entire podcast on the difference between "white magick" and "black magick" below. I talk about correct and incorrect approaches to magick, and even get into the history of why magick was discredited in Western culture, going all the way back to 17th century England.
3. It's Juvenile
Well, let's face it. A lot of magick can be juvenile—an elaborate game of Renaissance Faire-style dress-up and play-acting. Or simply unhelpful superstition. But that's just a distraction: Real magick is one of the most advanced systems of thought in the world—the natural activity of Promethean geniuses.
The American transpersonal theorist Ken Wilber (b. 1949), who has spent decades studying Hermeticism, Zen, Advaita Vedanta, Tibetan Buddhism and many of the world's other esoteric spiritual traditions, has an incredibly helpful way of untangling the difference between silly, pre-rational magical thinking and the transpersonal states that come with serious spiritual practice. He calls this the pre/trans fallacy.
The model looks like this:
• Mankind's earliest modes of thinking were characterized by magical and mythic literalism, in which people held superstitious views about reality or literally believed in the existence of sky gods. This kind of worked for people, but not particularly well.
• As history progressed, the magical and mythic worldview was replaced by the rational, modern and postmodern modes of thought, in which ALL magical and mythic thinking was discarded in favor of reason, the scientific method, democracy, progressive humanism and so on. This worked much better, but left people feeling kind of empty inside as the universe was reduced to being "just" a machine.
• Many brave (and often isolated) individuals are now progressing past the postmodern stage of development into transpersonal consciousness—the path to which is shown by spiritual traditions like Advaita Vedanta, Vajrayana Buddhism, Sufism or, in my little corner of the world, the Western Esoteric Tradition, a.k.a. Hermetic Magick. Transpersonal states are marked by a sense of being "more than just a body," of being interconnected with all life, of seeing through the "game" of phenomenal reality and many other heightened or "enlightenment"-style states of varying levels of duration and usefulness. In such advanced states the idea of magic returns—not superstitious magic, as in "I'm going to stick some pins in a potato and see if I can ruin somebody's day" but magic as in "I am an individual expression of the totality of the universe, and therefore my words, deeds and choices can positively affect the entirety of the universe."
Now, here's the thing: Individuals who are still in the rational, modern or postmodern stages of development can't tell the difference between pre-rational states and trans-rational states. To them, superstitious beliefs look exactly the same as trans-personal awareness, and they're liable to lump ALL of it together as "juvenile New Age nonsense." This is the pre/trans fallacy.
Add to this the fact that many people reaching towards transpersonal states ALSO often can't tell the difference between pre-rational and trans-rational modes of consciousness... AND the fact that books on both pre- and trans-rational awareness are sold in the same section of bookstores... AND the fact that pre-rational shamanism can be (and often is) easily used as a mode of expression by somebody in trans-rational awareness... and we're left with some truly confusing territory!
What we have is humanity's greatest hope for evolution—trans-rational awareness—mixed together with superstition and wishful or primitive thinking, because to rational, modern or postmodern consciousness, it's all simply "that weird stuff." That makes us pioneers, outside of culture's comfort zone, with no clear guides!
Magick.Me tackles this issue head-on by clearly focusing on trans-rational awareness and showing you how to get there. In a way, this is the entire point of Magick.Me (and my work in general)—to show what's of value in Magick and leave aside all that's not, so that you can get to where you're going without taking wrong turns.
4. It's Anti-Science
There is, at present, a great culture war between religion and science—bitterly fought on both sides over issues like creationism vs. evolution.
Magick occupies a strange third position in this battle. Religion sweeps magick aside because it breaks the rules, and shows people how to make spiritual meaning in their own way instead of relying on a priest class, and so of course tarnishes magick as "evil." Science dismisses magick because it considers its claims laughable.
But both of these perspectives completely miss the mark.
The truth is that magick is the parent tradition of both religion and science. It was the original tribal shamans who had the mad, wild, visionary experiences that were later codified into one-truth religions, sterilized and made cut-and-dry for the masses. Priests are those who capitalize on the original work done by shamans.
And it was the alchemists who gave birth to science—materialist science being only a tiny subset of the Grand Alchemical Project to understand all of reality. Science is only the part of alchemy that is concerned with how matter operates. It has forgotten that its parent tradition has far greater horizons, and wished to understand the laws of all nature, including the laws of the spirit, and of the soul. This is the true science that men like Isaac Newton, Giordiano Bruno and even Albert Einsten were deeply engaged in.
Magick is the only way to glyph the Sum Of All Human Curiosity. It is what happens when people seek to confront and understand reality HEAD ON without any pre-conceptions, in order to understand life as a whole.
This is how Magick.Me teaches magick—head on. We give you the tools, and show you how to use them, but we don't tell you what to believe. We show you how to discover your own meaning—so that you can undertake the heroic voyage of exploring reality for yourself, and make your own meaning, just like the shamans and alchemists that have come before you.
Below, the comedian Duncan Trussell and I discuss why magick is considered juvenile and anti-science—and how magick is actually incredibly scientific. It's very, very funny—have a listen! (NSFW due to language.)
Let these four tips help you slay the dragon of fear and claim the magick that is your birthright. A new Magical Renaissance awaits!
– Jason Louv, Winter Solstice, Anno Ⅴⅰ æræ legis, ☉ in 0° Capricorni : ☽ in 0° Geminorum
(Above version of the Flammarion Engraving via Reddit.)