Magic was officially taken out of our culture in the 14th Century and is just now beginning to make its way back to us, seven hundred years later. Not surprisingly, there's still some confusion. When many people hear the word "magic," they think about Houdini and his tricky followers. While this kind of magic has entertainment value, this is not real magic but rather an illusion, what was referred to in ancient times as "the cousin of the truth."
The truth is: magic is transformation accomplished through human skill and will, and worked entirely in accordance with natural law. Magic is often referred to as supernatural or the paranormal. Actually, it's totally natural and thoroughly normal. Before the persecutions of the Middle Ages, the practice of magic was a respected occupation throughout Europe. The only way to stop people was to label magic "ungodly" and punishable by death. This was a political maneuver. When the numerous city states and tiny kingdoms across Europe converted to Christianity, or at least some confused version of it, magic was outlawed. Since the practice of magic is infinitely empowering, it did not fit well into the feudal system.
So now that magic is not longer underground, how do we proceed to work it into our lives? First, we must recognize that there are two distinctly different kinds of magic: Positive and Negative (not white magic and black magic; just think how racist those terms are).
Positive Magic is life-affirming and works for the good of all. Negative magic is manipulative or outright harmful. There is no grey area. Even the tiniest bit of manipulation is negative.
Magic is the great grandparent of prayer, which is also a magical act. In prayer, one turns to divine authority. God or higher goodness resides in all of us. Every Witch, Wizard, Magician and ordinary practitioner should act from their Higher Self and direct all magical practice for the highest good of all. The most ethical magic is always the most effective.
To what ends should we use our magic, our powers of transformation? For ourselves, with the proviso that everything is worked according to free will and for the good of all. We may use words and I call these "Words of Power," visualization or ritual, and often a combination of all three. We work to manifest that which we need and want in our lives: perfect health, financial security, love and even material goals. But, remembering to remain non-manipulative and never specifically mentioning names.
It's more important to work for the "essence" of something like the essence of love which is a worthy goal. But to work for love from a specific person is dangerously manipulative. Even when we work for the goal of a form such as a new car, it's best to remain non-specific, in this case, not because such work is manipulative, but because it can be limiting. It's most effective to add the proviso "this, its equivalent or better."
We also work magic for others, but only with their permission. We cannot presume what is best for others. If we don't have their permission, in certain cases, we can work for them only if we build in "according to free will and for the good of all" so no manipulation can take place. Everybody has equal power, so even if we do work for another person, that person is really doing the work.
Magic takes place in both Worlds: the Invisible World and the World of Form. The World of Form seems to be all the reality that is, but the Invisible World is an equally potent field in which the work takes place. The Law of Cause and Effect, which is also a law of physics, is a pathway for each magical act.
Everything comes back to you three times, this is the Threefold Law echoed throughout the ages. This is also known as the Law of Return. So a spell or rather a mental thought form, or even affirmation, is said here in the World of Form, then it goes out into the Invisible World by means of the Law of Cause and Effect. Then the goal, the manifestation, appears back here in the World of Form. This process is threefold.
One of my favorite uses of magic is the retranslation and updating of ancient personal oracles, such as tarot cards and the I Ching, to see and understand the future. The next step, not as well known, is to change the future into the one we want.
When I work with public ritual, I always recommend three goals: one for the self, one for a loved one and one for the world. The first two goals are named in silence. Then everyone calls out multiple goals for the world: peace, safety, protection for the environment, health, enough food for all beings, and so on and on. And for every positive goal we name, there is positive reverberation in our own lives.
Marion Weinstein is the author of Positive Magic (2002, $14.99) and Earth Magic (2003, $13.99) both by New Page Books. For more info on her books and tapes, please visit: www.earthmagic.com or www.newpagebooks.com