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alt.magicK KfaQ#01: Magic-K? (kreEePing oOze faQ)

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============================================================================ (Phoenix) writes:

|I was just wondering how the word "magic" came to be spelled with a "k."
|Does the letter "k" have *radical* significance? 


Revised 9503

A.M Krreeping Ooz FAQ Question #1: "What is magic(k)?  (etc.)"

Magick has been defined by many people in many different ways.  There
is no universally agreed definition, so it is best approached obliquely
or en masse.  One popular mage defined it as "the Science and Art of
causing Change to occur in comformity with Will."  (Aleister Crowley)
Yet that same author (if Soror Virakam may be relied upon) is said to
have adopted "the old spelling of order to distinguish the
Science of the Magi from all its counterfeits." (_Magick_, eds. Symonds/
Grant, p. 45 note).

Some see magick as a kind of energy which pervades the cosmos.  Some
see it as a psychic tool by which one may influence the material world
through the use of symbols and ritual.  Some see it as a means of coming
to unite with the divine, and some see it as simply a way to exercise 
will or Will.

Many have posited the differentiation of magical 'currents' or 'energies'
based on style and/or intent.  Some describe that which intends harm
as 'black magic(k)', yet there is no consensus among mages by any means.

Whatever magick is, this is the subject of the alt.magick newsgroup.
For that reason it is best left without absolute definition and will 
constantly be discussed and imagined anew.


Magick the belief that we can make a difference in our own life as 
well as helping others.  Magick unfortunately is not shielded from 
negative forces and the "belief" does not condemn these people who want 
to study the black arts....

"Magick" was a common spelling of the word in the Elizabethan period.
It appears spelled with a K in John Dee's diaries which date from the
1580's.  I suspect that this in particular held an attraction for Crowley,
as he believed himself to be the reincarnation of Edward Kelly. (Scott Stenwick)

"In English print, the -ick ending began to change to -ic about 1700; 
by about 1730 -ic was much more frequent than -ick; by 1800 -ick was 
effectively extinct in English print.  Johnson's 1755 Dictionary views 
-ick as a lost but noble cause.  Americans were about 40 years behind 
the trend: -ick can still be found in American print until about 1840.

How to test this yourself: do a key-word search thro' title-pages in 
yr University's collection.  Try "Gothic/k" if you want a slaughter 
(504:1 favor of -ic in the 18th century, for our library; domestic, 
politics, ethics, etc., are equally diagnostic.)

David Ross Mcirvine (drm3p@darwin.clas.Virginia.EDU)

Symonds and Grant, in their introduction to _Magick_ (_Book Four_,
 Parts I/II/III), write:

"The Anglo-Saxon *k* in Magick, like most of Crowley's conceits,
is a means of indicating the kind of magic which he performed.
K is the eleventh letter of several alphabets, and eleven is the
principal number of magick, because it is the number attributed
to the Qliphoth - the underworld of demonic and chaotic forces
that have to be conquered before magick can be performed.  K has
other magical implications: it corresponds to the power or *shakti*
aspect of creative energy, for k is the ancient Egyptian *khu*,
*the* magical power.  Specifically, it stands for *kteis* (vagina),
the complement to the wand (or phallus) which is used by the
Magician in certain aspects of the Great Work."

Page xvi.

I thought this was a most remarkable statement by Tim 'the Enchanter':

I can't believe people are =still= saying that Crowley spelled "magick"
with a "k" to distinguish it from stage magic.  Hasn't anyone read
MAGICK IN THEORY AND PRACTICE, surely the most widely reprinted of his
books?  He used the new spelling to distinguish his system from
everyone else's Golden Dawn magic, which he thought had given the whole
enterprise a bad name through its various idiocies.  This deliberately
archaic spelling had diddly-squat to do with stage magic, and
everything to do with Crowley's hatred of his contemporary competitors. (Tim Maroney)

Some people think of magick in terms of 'laws', like (another!)
Tim here, who quotes some Whitcomb:

Well, I thought that this might apply to the current thread, it is found in 
the Axioms section of _The Magician's Companion_, by Bill Whitcomb, which 
reads as follows:

[The Law of Labeling:

When you label something, you exclude information about it.  This is 
because the thing becomes obscured by other information stored under 
the label for the thing.  
If i were to say, "I study magic," this would immediately bring up all the 
associations and stored data under the label "magic."  Some people would 
believe I am a stage magician; some people would think I am a satanist, while 
still others would decide that I study magic as a historian.  Yet none of 
these things actually has anything to with what iwould mean by the word 
When you symbolize something, you impose the deep structure of the symbol 
system used on the way you pereive the thing symbolized.  There is a japanese 
proverb which relates that to confusing the Moon finger pointing to the Moon.
People tend to believe that they understand something when they have a 
name for it.  This is called nominalization.  It enables people to take very 
ill-defined concepts and continuing processes and talk about them as if they 
were concrete things.  The problem is that frequently even the users of these 
terms (names) do not know what they mean.  Nominalization is an important tool 
but we must realize when we are using it.

The Law of Information Packing:

The more information contained in a symbol, the more general (vague) it 
becomes.  The more specific a symbol system is, the more information it 
excludes. ] - end Whitecomb quote

I dont know if this helps, but to me it demostrates that definitions are 
important for communication, but a balance must be struck between defining 
something, and limiting something with the said definition.


When you Throw a stone in to the water, it finds the quickest
way to the bottom of the water. It is the same when Siddhartha
has an aim, a goal. Siddhartha does nothing;he Waits, he Thinks 
he Fasts, but he goes though the affairs of the world like the 
stone though the water, without doing anything, without 
bestirring himself; he is drawn and lets himself fall. He is 
drawn by his goal, for he does not allow anything to enter his 
mind which opposes his goal. That is what Siddhartha learned 
from the sammans. It what fools call magic and what they think is
caused by demons. Nothing is caused by demons; there are no 
demons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach there 
goals, if they can THINK WAIT and FAST. 

(Hermann Hesse from _Siddhartha_)

Thinking is controlling your will.
Waiting is being able to not destroy your concentrated will. 
And fasting is not letting worldly pleasures cloud your goal. 
Of course these skills dont have to be mastered to perform Magick,
but the more they are the more powerful the Mage is. (Awake)

For more information on magick see the various REFs and FAQs that will
appear in alt.magick from time to time or access them directly at the
following ftp site:  For Witchcraft, see 
the alt.paganFAQ (which you may request from:

=============================== End of ALT.MAGICK KREEPING OOZE FAQ #01

This document is Copyright (c) 1994, authors cited.

All rights reserved.  Permission to distribute the collection is
hereby granted providing that distribution is electronic, no money
is involved, reasonable attempts are made to use the latest version
and all credits and this copyright notice are maintained.

Other requests for distribution should be directed to the individual
authors of the particular articles.

This is from a series of frequently-updated posts responding to recurrent
questions in this newsgroup.  Please debate anything in here which seems
extreme and add your own response to these questions after the post.  I'll
integrate what I can.  Thanks.

nagasiva, tyagi
tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (I@AM)
                       PLEASE CC ALL PUBLIC RESPONSES TO EMAIL.    |
telnet://            |           news:alt.magick.tyagi

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