Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Vocabulary Lesson: Magic vs. Magick

Magic (no k) amazes.
Magic is one of the human race’s oldest institutions, older still than Paul Bunyan, Saint Nick, Young Earth creationism, or the yeti. Magic can be entertaining or terrifying, beloved or distrusted, but is just as undeniably a fundamental and tangible part of daily human life as the yeti.

Magic (no k) makes you laugh.

The uninitiated, then, may be a big confused by the difference between magic and magick, or even magicks, the latter spellings having gradually returned to the popular vernacular over the last several decades. The answer is fairly simple, believe it or not—serious practitioners of real magic(k) prefer to use the (k) to differentiate what they do from the kind of magic( ) that might better be described as stage magic or simply parlor tricks.

Magic, minus charisma,
looks like this.
Well-known acts like David Copperfield, Siegfried & Roy, Penn & Teller, or Criss Angel,1
then, perform magic. Magic is an act (albeit a very skilled one), a deft mix of distraction, showmanship, sleight-of-hand, and misdirection that combine to give the impression that otherworldly powers are on display when really it’s all just humbug. The practitioners know that magic is fake, but when it’s done right, it can have a powerful effect on the imaginations of its witnesses.

Magick, unlike magic, is to be taken very, very seriously.

Magick, on the other hand, was described by noted British occultist Aleister Crowley as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” It can seem to the uninitiated to be mysterious, deadly serious, and sometimes dark, and while it’s exceedingly difficult to find credible witnesses to incidents of magick, it nevertheless has a powerful effect on the imaginations of its practitioners.

In other words, if it’s fake, but you can actually see it happening, that’s magic. If it’s 100% real, but totally made up: magick.

You wanna see magic? Pull my finger.

1. Assuming any of these folks are still performing, that is. We don’t really pay much attention.

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