In a previous lesson 'What is Magic?' I talked of Aleister Crowley and his definition of magic, it is evident from discussion with others that he has been subject to some media abuse, some of it brought on by himself I must admit but the truth of the matter is that he was a very clever man who cared deeply that magic should be understood in practical experiential terms and not defamed by secrecy and unnecessary blinds and deceptions. Magic for him was of the world and should be in the world, not confined to some darkly lit cellar in the homes of the bored rich. I would like to dispel the myths about Crowley and so I am including here some text taken from his book 'Magic in Theory and Practice' I recommend everyone to read it.
We have seen already his definition.
"Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will."
He then goes on to explain
“It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge.
I therefore take "magical weapons", pen, ink, and paper; I write "incantations" - these sentences - in the "magical language" i.e. that which is understood by the people I wish to instruct; I call forth "spirits", such as printers, publishers, booksellers, and so forth, and constrain them to convey my message to those people. The composition and distribution of this book is thus an act of magick by which I cause changes to take place in conformity with my Will”
He then offers a postulate.
- “Any required Change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of force in the proper manner through the proper medium to the proper object.
- Illustration: I wish to prepare an ounce of Chloride of Gold. I must take the right kind of acid, nitro-hydrochloric and no other, in sufficient quantity and of adequate strength, and place it, in a vessel which will not break, leak, or corrode, in such a manner as will not produce undesirable results, with the necessary quantity of Gold: and so forth. Every Change has its own conditions. In the present state of our knowledge and power some changes are not possible in practice; we cannot cause eclipses, for instance, or transform lead into tin, or create men from mushrooms. But it is theoretically possible to cause in any object any change of which that object is capable by nature; and the conditions are covered by the above postulate.”
Next are presented 28 theorems.
- (1) Every intentional act is a Magical Act. See definition above.
- (2) Every successful act has conformed to the postulate.
- (3) Every failure proves that one or more requirements of the postulate have not been fulfilled.
- (Illustrations: There may be failure to understand the case; as when a doctor makes a wrong diagnosis, and his treatment injures his patient. There may be failure to apply the right kind of force, as when a rustic tries to blow out an electric light. There may be failure to apply the right degree of force, as when a wrestler has his hold broken. There may be failure to apply the force in the right manner, as when one presents a cheque at the wrong window of the Bank. There may be failure to employ the correct medium, as when Leonardo da Vinci found his masterpiece fade away. The force may be applied to an unsuitable object, as when one tries to crack a stone, thinking it a nut.)
- (4) The first requisite for causing any change is through qualitative and quantitative understanding of the conditions.
- (Illustration: The most common cause of failure in life is ignorance of one's own True Will, or of the means by which to fulfil that Will. A man may fancy himself a
painter, and waste his life trying to become one; or he may be really a painter, and
yet fail to understand and to measure the difficulties peculiar to that career.)
- (5) The second requisite of causing any change is the practical ability to set in
right motion the necessary forces.
- (Illustration: A banker may have a perfect grasp of a given situation, yet lack the
quality of decision, or the assets, necessary to take advantage of it.)
- (6) "Every man and every woman is a star." That is to say, every human being is
intrinsically an independent individual with his own proper character and proper
- (7) Every man and every woman has a course, depending partly on the self, and
partly on the environment which is natural and necessary for each. Anyone who is
forced from his own course, either through not understanding himself, or through
external opposition, comes into conflict with the order of the Universe, and suffers
- (Illustration: A man may think it his duty to act in a certain way, through having
made a fancy picture of himself, instead of investigating his actual nature. For
example, a woman may make herself miserable for life by thinking that she prefers
love to social consideration, or "vice versa". One woman may stay with an
unsympathetic husband when she would really be happy in an attic with a lover,
while another may fool herself into a romantic elopement when her only true
pleasures are those of presiding at fashionable functions. Again, a boy's instinct
may tell him to go to sea, while his parents insists on his becoming a doctor. In
such a case, he will be both unsuccessful and unhappy in medicine.)
- (8) A Man whose conscious will is at odds with his True Will is wasting his
strength. He cannot hope to influence his environment efficiently.
- (Illustration: When Civil War rages in a nation, it is in no condition to undertake
the invasion of other countries. A man with cancer employs his nourishment alike
to his own use and to that of the enemy which is part of himself. He soon fails to
resist the pressure of his environment. In practical life, a man who is doing what
his conscience tells him to be wrong will do it very clumsily. At first!)
- (9) A man who is doing this True Will has the inertia of the Universe to assist him.
- (Illustration: The first principle of success in evolution is that the individual should be true to his own nature, and at the same time adapt himself to his environment.)
- (10) Nature is a continuous phenomenon, though we do not know in all cases how things are connected.
- (Illustration: Human consciousness depends on the properties of protoplasm, the
existence of which depends on innumerable physical conditions peculiar to this
planet; and this planet is determined by the mechanical balance of the whole
universe of matter. We may then say that our consciousness is causally connected
with the remotest galaxies; yet we do not know even how it arises from - or with - the molecular changes in the brain.)
- (11) Science enables us to take advantage of the continuity of Nature by the
empirical application of certain principles whose interplay involves different
orders of idea connected with each other in a way beyond our present
- (Illustration: We are able to light cities by rule-of-thumb methods. We do not
know what consciousness is, or how it is connected with muscular action; what
electricity is or how it is connected with the machines that generate it; and our
methods depend on calculations involving mathematical ideas which have no
correspondence in the Universe as we know it.)
- (12) Man is ignorant of the nature of his own being and powers. Even his idea of
his limitations is based on experience of the past, and every step in his progress
extends his empire. There is therefore no reason to assign theoretical limits.
- (Illustration: A generation ago it was supposed theoretically impossible that man should ever know the chemical composition of the fixed stars. It is known that our
senses are adapted to receive only an infinitesimal fraction of the possible rates of
vibration. Modern instruments have enabled us to detect some of these
suprasensibles by indirect methods, and even to use their peculiar qualities in the
service of man, as in the case of the rays of Hertz and Rontgen. As Tyndall said,
man might at any moment learn to perceive and utilise vibrations of all conceivable
and inconceivable kinds. The question of Magick is a question of discovering andemploying hitherto unknown forces in nature. We know that they exist, and we
cannot doubt the possibility of mental or physical instruments capable of bringing
us into relation with them.)
- (13) Every man is more or less aware that his individuality comprises several
orders of existence, even when he maintains that his subtler principles are merely
symptomatic of the changes in his gross vehicle. A similar order may be assumed
to extend throughout nature.
- (Illustration: One does not confuse the pain of toothache with the decay
which causes it. Inanimate objects are sensitive to certain physical forces, such as
electrical and thermal conductivity; but neither in us nor in them - so far as we
know - is there any direct conscious perception of these forces. Imperceptible
influences are therefore associated with all material phenomena; and there is no
reason why we should not work upon matter through those subtle energies as we
do through their material bases. In fact, we use magnetic force to move iron, and
solar radiation to reproduce images.)
- (14) Man is capable of being, and using, anything which he perceives, for
everything that he perceives is in a certain sense a part of his being. He may thus
subjugate the whole Universe of which he is conscious to his individual Will.
- (Illustration: Man has used the idea of God to dictate his personal conduct, to
obtain power over his fellow, to excuse his crimes, and for innumerable other
purposes, including that of realizing himself as God. He has used the irrational and
unreal conceptions of mathematics to help him in the construction of mechanical
devices. He has used his moral force to influence the actions even of wild animals.
He has employed poetic genius for political purposes.)
- (15) Every force in the Universe is capable of being transformed into any other
kind of force by using suitable means. There is thus an inexhaustible supply of any
particular kind of force that we may need.
- (Illustration: Heat may be transformed into light and power by using it to drive
dynamos. The vibrations of the air may be used to kill men by so ordering them in
speech as to inflame war-like passions. The hallucinations connected with the
mysterious energies of sex result in the perpetuation of the species.)
- (16) The application of any given force affects all the orders of being which exist
in the object to which it is applied, whichever of those orders is directly affected.
- (Illustration: If I strike a man with a dagger, his consciousness, not his body only, is
affected by my act; although the dagger, as such, has no direct relation therewith.
Similarly, the power of my thought may so work on the mind of another
person as to produce far-reaching physical changes in him, or in others through
- (17) A man may learn to use any force so as to serve any purpose, by taking
advantage of the above theorems.
- (Illustration: A man may use a razor to make himself vigilant over his speech, but
using it to cut himself whenever he unguardedly utters a chosen word. He may
serve the same purpose by resolving that every incident of his life shall remind him
of a particular thing, making every impression the starting point of a connected
series of thoughts ending in that thing. He might also devote his whole energies to
some one particular object, by resolving to do nothing at variance therewith, and to
make every act turn to the advantage of that object.)
- (18) He may attract to himself any force of the Universe by making himself a fit
receptacle for it, establishing a connection with it, and arranging conditions so that
its nature compels it to flow toward him.
- (Illustration: If I want pure water to drink, I dig a well in a place where there is
underground water; I prevent it from leaking away; and I arrange to take advantage
of water's accordance with the laws of Hydrostatics to fill it.)
- (19) Man's sense of himself as separate from, and oppose to, the Universe is a
bar to his conducting its currents. It insulates him.
- (Illustration: A popular leader is most successful when he forgets himself, and
remembers only "The Cause". Self-seeking engenders jealousies and schism.
When the organs of the body assert their presence otherwise than by silent
satisfaction, it is a sign that they are diseased. The single exception is the organ of
reproduction. Yet even in this case its self-assertion bears witness to its
dissatisfaction with itself, since it cannot fulfil its function until completed by its
counterpart in another organism.
- (20) Man can only attract and employ the forces for which he is really fitted.
- (Illustration: You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. A true man
of science learns from every phenomenon. But Nature is dumb to the hypocrite; for
in her there is nothing false.<
- (21) There is no limit to the extent of the relations of any man with the Universe in
essence; for as soon as man makes himself one with any idea the means of
measurement cease to exist. But his power to utilize that force is limited by his
mental power and capacity, and by the circumstances of his human environment.
- (Illustration: When a man falls in love, the whole world becomes, to him, nothing
but love boundless and immanent; but his mystical state is not contagious; his
fellow-men are either amused or annoyed. He can only extend to others the effect
which his love has had upon himself by means of his mental and physical qualities.
Thus, Catullus, Dante and Swinburn made their love a mighty mover of mankind by
virtue of their power to put their thoughts on the subject in musical and eloquent
language. Again, Cleopatra and other people in authority moulded the fortunes of
many other people by allowing love to influence their political actions. The
Magician, however well he succeed in making contact with the secret sources of
energy in nature, can only use them to the extent permitted by his intellectual and
moral qualities. Mohammed's intercourse with Gabriel was only effective because
of his statesmanship, soldiership, and the sublimity of his command of Arabic.
Hertz's discovery of the rays which we now use for wireless telegraphy was sterile
until reflected through the minds and wills of the people who could take his truth,
and transmit it to the world of action by means of mechanical and economic
- (22) Every individual is essentially sufficient to himself. But he is unsatisfactory to
himself until he has established himself in his right relation with the Universe.
- (Illustration: A microscope, however perfect, is useless in the hands of
savages. A poet, however sublime, must impose himself upon his generation if he
is to enjoy (and even to understand) himself, as theoretically should be the case.)
- (23) Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one's conditions. It is
the Art of applying that understanding in action.
- (Illustration: A golf club is intended to move a special ball in a special way in
special circumstances. A Niblick should rarely be used on the tee, or a Brassie
under the bank of a bunker. But also, the use of any club demands skill and
- (24) Every man has an indefeasible right to be what he is.
- (Illustration: To insist that any one else shall comply with one's own standards is to outrage, not only him, but oneself, since both parties are equally born of
- (25) Every man must do Magick each time that he acts or even thinks, since a thought is an internal act whose influence ultimately affects action, thought it may
not do so at the time.
- (Illustration: The least gesture causes a change in a man's own body and in the
air around him; it disturbs the balance of the entire Universe, and its effects
continue eternally throughout all space. Every thought, however swiftly
suppressed, has its effect on the mind. It stands as one of the causes of every
subsequent thought, and tends to influence every subsequent action. A golfer may
lose a few yards on his drive, a few more with his second and third, he may lie on
the green six bare inches too far from the hole; but the net result of these trifling
mishaps is the difference of a whole stroke, and so probably between halving and
losing the hole.)
- (26) Every man has a right, the right of self-preservation, to fulfil himself to the
utmost. Men of "criminal nature" are simply at issue with their true Wills. The
murderer has the Will-to-Live; and his will to murder is a false will at variance with
his true Will, since he risks death at the hands of Society by obeying his criminal
- (Illustration: A function imperfectly preformed injures, not only itself, but
everything associated with it. If the heart is afraid to beat for fear of disturbing the
liver, the liver is starved for blood, and avenges itself on the heart by upsetting
digestion, which disorders respiration, on which cardiac welfare depends.)
- (27) Every man should make Magick the keynote of his life. He should learn its
laws and live by them.
- (Illustration: The Banker should discover the real meaning of his existence, the
real motive which led him to choose that profession. He should understand
banking as a necessary factor in the economic existence of mankind, instead of as
merely a business whose objects are independent of the general welfare. He
should learn to distinguish false values from real, and to act not on accidental
fluctuations but on considerations of essential importance. Such a banker will
prove himself superior to others; because he will not be an individual limited by
transitory things, but a force of Nature, as impersonal, impartial and eternal as
gravitation, as patient and irresistible as the tides. His system will not be subject to
panic, any more than the law of Inverse Squares is disturbed by Elections. He will
not be anxious about his affairs because they will not be his; and for that reason he
will be able to direct them with the calm, clear-headed confidence of an onlooker,
with intelligence unclouded by self-interest and power unimpaired by passion.)
- (28) Every man has a right to fulfil his own will without being afraid that it may
interfere with that of others; for if he is in his proper place, it is the fault of others if
they interfere with him.
- (Illustration: If a man like Napoleon were actually appointed by destiny to control
Europe, he should not be blamed for exercising his rights. To oppose him would be
an error. Any one so doing would have made a mistake as to his own destiny,
except in so far as it might be necessary for him to learn to lessons of defeat. The
sun moves in space without interference. The order of Nature provides an orbit for
each star. A clash proves that one or the other has strayed from his course. But
as to each man that keeps his true course, the more firmly he acts, the less likely
are others to get in his way. His example will help them to find their own paths and pursue them. Every man that becomes a Magician helps others to do
likewise. The more firmly and surely men move, and the more such action is
accepted as the standard of morality, the less will conflict and confusion hamper