Magic and Magick: The Story Behind the Words

If you follow modern magical writing, you have likely come across the term "magick" seemingly used in place of "magic." Indeed, many people use the words interchangeably despite the fact that "magick" was actually pretty specifically defined by the first modern person to use the term: Aleister Crowley.

What is Magic?

Simply defining the more familiar term "magic" is in and of itself problematic. A fairly embracing explanation is that it is a method of manipulating the physical world through metaphysical means by employing ritual action.

Do Psychics Practice Magic?

Psychic phenomena are generally not categorized as magic. Psychic ability is considered an ability rather than a learned skill and is usually devoid of ritual. It's something one either can or cannot do.

Are Miracles Magic?

No. Magic originates largely from the worker and perhaps items used by the worker. Miracles are solely at the discretion of a supernatural being. Likewise, prayers are requests for intervention, while magic is an attempt to create change on one's own.

However, there are magical incantations which include the names of God or of gods, and here things get a little blurry. One of the things to think about is whether the name is used as part of a request, or whether the name is being used as a word of power.

What is Magick?

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) founded the religion of Thelema. He was largely associated with modern occultism and influenced other religious founders such as Wicca's Gerald Gardner and Scientology's L.

Ron Hubbard. 

Crowley started using the word "magick" and gave several reasons why. The most often mentioned reason is to differentiate what he was doing from stage magic. However, such a usage is really unnecessary. Academics discuss magic in ancient cultures all the time and no one thinks they are talking about the Celts pulling rabbits out of hats.

But Crowley gave several other reasons why he used the term "magick," and these reasons are often ignored. The central reason was that he considered magick to be anything that moves a person closer to fulfilling their ultimate destiny, which he called one's True Will.

By this definition, magick doesn't have to be metaphysical. Any action, mundane or magical, that helps fulfill one's True Will is magick. Casting a spell to get a boy's attention is most certainly not magick.

Reasons for the Extra “K”

Crowley didn't choose this spelling randomly. He expanded a five letter word to a six letter word, which has numerical significance. Hexagrams, which are six-sided shapes, are prominent in his writings as well. “K” is the eleventh letter in the alphabet, which also had significance to Crowley.

There are older texts which reference "magick" in place of "magic." However, that was before spelling was standardized. In such documents, you'll likely see all sorts of words spelled differently than we spell them today.

Spellings that get even further away from "magic" include those like "majick," "majik," and "magik." There's no specific reason why some people use these spellings.