The Golden Bough: Magick & Religion
“Hence the strong attraction which magic and science alike have exercised on the human mind; hence the powerful stimulus that both have given to the pursuit of knowledge. They lure the weary enquirer, the footsore seeker, on through the wilderness of disappointment in the present by their endless promises of the future: they take him up to the top of an exceeding high mountain and show him, beyond the dark clouds and rolling mists at his feet, a vision of the celestial city, far off, it may be, but radiant with unearthly splendour, bathed in the light of dreams.” The Golden Bough, 1890
Frazer proposed Magick as a precursor to religion. One might ponder then, how such a proposal might hold relevance to spiritual evolution. To the layman, such a proposal may seem largely unreasonable and even subject to ridicule. To the magickal practitioner, he too might at first be puzzled at how magick could have preceded religious practise. Perhaps a more suitable description of how magick preceded religion, might be to state that religion indeed came at a later time than magick, but there remain a number fundamental differences.
Frazer states that magick and religion share the principle of a belief in powers higher than man. The religious man, one may suppose, not only believes in a power higher than man, but also seeks to please the higher power. Indeed, the religious man must believe the god he appeases to have the power to influence the course of events and supersede the laws of nature. Or else he wouldn’t try to please such a power, for sake of his own desired outcome. So then, the religious man must believe too, that in pleasing his god, that his god will influence a course of events in favour toward himself. Indeed, one must consider if the religious man ever does recieve his favoured outcome. One might consider religious practises to be considerably more submissive than their magickal precursor. Further, one might consider too, if indeed magickal practises preceded those of religious practises, how the transition of man from the dominant art of magick to the submissive practise of religion transpired.
Indeed, the Frazer states “Ancient magic was the very foundation of religion”, a statement which would have been much to the dismay of the priesthood of Ancient times. Moreover, the priest found the magician’s claim of god like power to be in direct opposition to the core assumption of religion itself. Namely, it raises the question of how a man with god like power can exist within a paradigm which supposes whole submission to a god, and indeed, the Will thereof. Further, the priest surely could not condone the yielding of god like power to be in any way good at all; when he (the priest); seeks to submit himself wholly to the Will of one god alone.
Frazer proposes an incremental devolution of the necessity of magickal practises, underwrote the gradual decline and subsequent rise, of established religious practices. Further, the priest in his desire to attain the status of the magician, uptook such practises for himself. Further still, it was the lack of success of the priest in the practises of the magician, as well as his (the priest) lack of aptitude, which led such magickal practices to become distorted and accordance to the ends of religion, not magick. One might consider the, that the priest, in his plight to attain that which he could not, chose instead to commit himself to the adapted practise of submission; in hope of attaining the ends of the magician. Consider too, that perhaps it was by strength of a magician's Will, that he brought forth the results he did. Indeed, the offices of priest and magician for much of history seem to have been combined, but it was the breaking apart of these statures, which seems to have led to the emergence of religion. But then, why would the priest not be able to attain such powers as the magician?
The Law of Similarity, one may describe as pertaining to the principle of like producing like; or indeed, an effect which resembles its cause. Whereas, the Law of Contagion might be described as pertaining to the principle that variables which have at one time been in contact with one another, continue to have an effect upon one another, after physical contact has stopped. These two Laws being the two main principles of thought regarding magick; one might notice the correspondence to elementary magickal practises, as further explanations of these two principles develop. To give further clarification as to how these principles might be applied in practise, it is important to further define these principles.
Whilst both Laws share some qualities, namely, both being a set of variables or precepts which determine outcomes, both also may be defined too, as systems of Natural Law, a guide of conduct, and an art rather than a science. Using the Law of Similarity, a magician will produce a desired effect by way of imitating the desired effect; or in other cases, by thinking or acting similarly to the outcome of his desire. He may do so by way of the association of similar ideas, sometimes by homeopathic means, and may in itself, be practised independent of the other Law. Not forgetting, as with any magickal practise, one must before any such undertaking, make a careful assessment of risk. A practitioner may influence another by way of his image, by appeasing the ruler of the desired outcome one desires, by displacement, imitation, use of totems and the changing of ones conducts to fall in accord and favour to ones desired outcome. The latter in itself may be described in two aspects; Positive Magick (Sorcery) and Negative Magick (Taboo).
Sorcery operates on the assumption and aim that the magician may do a specific action or actions, so that a determined outcome may occur; whereas Taboo operates on the assumption and aim that the magician may avoid doing a specific action or actions, so that he a determined outcome may not occur. So in both practices, one might then suppose that a magician aims to adapt his every action and thought, by way of engagement or avoidance, in order to sympathetically bring about a desired outcome.
“Fall not to LA, but rise in presence of AL” The House Thēvdos – 4 - Frater LHT – V5
Perhaps then, the present day aspirant might himself aspire to the ways of the ancient magician. Further, perhaps the present day aspirant might conduct himself in a such a manner, so that he may realise himself too, a magician; whom may yield all the power the ancient magician once did. It would seem that not only does the influence of religion seem wide spread in the present age, but magic in itself is known as little more than a fairy tale. So then, perhaps the practises of any present day aspirant should involve a twofold measure. Perhaps these measures pertain first to remembering the ways of the ancient magician, and second to counteracting the effects of religion; or rather the matter of the erosion of belief in one's own power. One might suppose then, that the submission of a man unto the Will of one god, results not only in a loss in his own belief to power. But also, limits a man in his perception ad understanding of divinity. Further, this endangers a man since he then seems to submit himself to the fate of the one aspect of divinity alone. Further, if the god in which a man submits himself to, is indeed no god at all, but rather none other than an absence, consisting wholly of no-thing at all; then a man too orientates himself to the sole end of himself aligning to no-thing. The key point here, being that a man short circuits his own will to power, by way of suppressing his capacity to concieve of divinity in its entirety. Thus, does a man learn of no-thing to aspire to within himself, and his psyche becomes progressively more imbalanced and maladjusted. To top it all off, he remains almost wholly unaware of what is transpiring. There becomes apparent a further danger, this being the ends to which a man might be led by the one god he submits to. Perhaps one might predict that the submission solely to a god of war, may make a man warlike, reckless and frustrated; the submission solely to a god of passion, may make a man an unruly and messy state of desire. But what then of a man whom submits himself solely to a false god, a god that exists not at all? Or a god which upholds ignorance and folly? Or a god who demands submission of a man's Will? In such cases, there remains only an absence in place of a god, for there Be no god present there at all.
So then, might the present day aspirant fall not into the follies of the one god religions of the absence, but rather, might he rise up to know divinity in all its entirety. By which means, might he too realise himself too a magician, whom, like those Ancient magicians before him, may know himself too, a god.
V:5 ☉ in ♑︎