Let's be clear here, that title isn't a spelling mistake, I actually meant to put that 'k' there. What I'm going to be talking about isn't magic in the rabbits and top hats sense, but magik, of the spell casting variety. I realise that still doesn't really explain things for most of you, but for now that's fine, just imagine me as a witch and with a cauldron or a wizard surrounded by arcane symbols and, hopefully, as I explain the actual details it will clarify that image a bit.
I'm not sure that this is an advisable topic to be talking about, after all I don't think magik is something which features in most people's lives. However, the entry I did on magical experiences is probably one of my favourite on here and, after all, the intention of this place was to share some of those far flung corners of my mind which, because of their strangeness, tend not to get out quite as much as they should.
I think I have probably always done what I now call magik. I remember when I was really young, there was a particular cartoon about a family with suits which gave them special powers * and, although I don't think it was even my favourite, I had a matching top and trousers which looked almost identical to their special outfits. I chose to take the fact that I had this costume as a sign that I was also meant to have similar powers (even though I'm sure, if questioned, I would have easily admitted that it didn't really mean that), and just wearing it really enhanced the vividness of my imagined games and battles.
As I went through my teenage years, magik became one of my favourite subjects to read about. I think this was primarily because it represented a bridge between the imaginary worlds in the books I loved, and the actual world. It was only in those writings that anyone ever seriously talked about spanning that divide and, even though I always took it with a large pinch of salt, I still loved it for that. However, in this time I also stumbled across various texts which suggested rather practical techniques which I really couldn't keep myself from tinkering with a bit (pop magic is a great example).
I suppose that's how, over time, my feelings on the subject slowly crystallized, as I tried various methods, finding what worked for me and what didn't. I think here (as with religion) it is particularly important to find a personal approach, something which makes sense for you and which doesn't seem too silly. I've read a lot about robes and chanting and daggers and honestly, that just never felt right to me.
My point is, this is something which fills a hole in my psyche which was always there waiting to be filled (and which, if left open, I think might have led to me abandoning a lot of the things which I hold dear), specifically allowing me to keep my fictional and real lives hand in hand, coexisting much more closely than they otherwise could.
It is important now to point out that, rather than just existing in the rather spurious land of my imagination, the magik which I do also has an undeniably real component. Specifically I see it as a psychological tool. When I do a spell to give me more confidence, for instance, then whether or not there's some magikal, spiritual effect, it's easy to see that there will be an effect on me the person. That is, by setting aside time and effort to convince myself that I am going to become more confident, I can actually expect to see some effect.
Of course there is the other, less rational, side of the equation. That if I ask some deity or spirit, whatever it may be, to grant me something, then perhaps that deity will intervene and have some effect (providing little day to day events which help boost my confidence, for instance). I honestly don't think that there is a good argument to show that this happens, I don't even think there should be, after all it exists in the ethereal realm of the imagination. Some of you may be a lot happier to imagine that all that exists is the psychological side of things and that's fine. However, personally I've found I need both of these elements in order to actually keep the entire delicate balance alive and well. That believing either one wholly above the other would be quite destructive to either my ability to reason and seek solutions besides the magik, or my feeling of control and action over my own life. In a way, this balance goes right back to the childhood me having gigantic battles with all of my toys. I knew they were just toys and that none of it was actually real, but somehow those imagined battles were just as important to me and my personal happiness, they were still a vital, real part of my day.
I feel one of the obvious critiques here is 'well what if you do magic on something outside yourself, how can that be psychological?' for instance, if I do magic to make myself taller or richer. Well, all I can say is the way these fit into my experience is that, firstly, I don't tend to do those kinds of spells (I don't really want to have much more money or be taller) and secondly, that if I ever do, what tends to come out of it is that I end up learning why I can live without/don't really want those things. Of course that's a cop out, I'm dodging the question, but understand I'm not saying here 'this is the way things are', rather this is just one of the lenses through which I tend to see the world, one of the tools which I use in trying to change and better myself. As such, I'm quite happy with it existing in a slightly precarious place, logically speaking.
What do I use this magik for then, if it's so important to me? Well, I've been thinking about this a lot in the run up to this entry (and, as often happens with these things, readjusting my priorities as I do). I think honestly the main occasions where I use it are when there is some area of my life which I feel powerless about, some area where I ought to be able to have an effect, but have been left feeling that I can't. As an example, most of my recent spells have been in the area of productivity. That is, trying to spend less time surfing the internet and more time working on the things which, at least in the long term, I see as important. So, I created a sigil for will/productivity (basically a symbol of these things, see the pop magic link for a longer explanation) and put it in a significant place in my flat, near where it would be needed (a tactic which I've found more helpful than many others suggested). Since then, I've forgotten about it, leaving it to have the desired effect. I also recently, to the same end, performed a banishing on the internet, which was a strange ceremony to say the least (what counts as salt to the world wide web?).
If all of this sounds rather silly to you, then you're quite right, it is, very, but I hope you are also able to see it through the other context, which is that this is me indicating to myself that I am taking control over areas of my life where I currently feel that I have none.
I hope that all made a reasonable amount of sense, if not then what I'm about to say may be bad news. I am planning, over the coming three weeks, to write entries on what I have come to see as the three fundamental aspects of magik (and which I am slowly finding are significant in most other areas of my life). Specifically these are: imagination, will and intention. The entry on imagination will deal with one of my favourite writers, Robert Anton Wilson, and how we can choose what kind of world we live in (honestly, I probably have three or four entries I could write on imagination). The will entry is about how those imagined changes are actually enacted, with some examples of what I see as particularly powerful people in this area. In talking about intention I'm really going to be talking about how one of my early sources of imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, had a huge impact on how I think about actions and their resulting effects. Finally, if it seems necessary, I may sum up the three areas, talking about how they fit together and how vital they all are to my process.
*[I have spent a powerfully nostalgic half hour searching for this particular cartoon, all sadly in vain. I remember very little about the show, except the suit (which was blue, with coloured patches over the elbows and knees)]