Does the magus need religion?
Written by Baal-Hiram
Before answering this question, I want to clarify the terminology which I am going to use in this article to make sure that we avoid any possible misunderstanding of the subject matter contained in the following pages.
Firstly, when I am talking about the term magus, I am talking about a practitioner of the Ceremonial Magic of the Western Magical tradition. Secondly, when I speak about religion, I am talking about some kind of semantic field and a coordinated system of values in which the magus operates. It is important to mention that a proper initiation into the church is not mandatory and not really required. A practitioner of the Western Magic tradition may well be a part of any religious group or church or he also may have his own opinion on Monotheism, which he may or may not associate and align with. Thirdly, it is very important to mention that when we are speaking about a system of values, I never mean conventional mainstream ethics or social morals. This system of values refers to the clear understanding of one’s purpose in the world, life and spiritual practice. It also helps to understand what might help to fulfilling that purpose and what might create obstacles for. And, finally, the fourth point. Coming back to the question about Ceremonial Magic, which I have already mentioned in the first point, and talking about Western Magic in general, I need to mention that in my opinion, magic is Art (Ars Magica), and any magical activity must be done with inspiration and with awareness, with the love towards the process and with a full understanding of the goal, which should never be something trivial and routine.
The purpose of magic as a art is to fasten the evolution of the Universe and to arrange the space in accordance to the primal principles as per the practitioner's capability and capacity. I have explained the meaning of the main terms I am going to use and now I can answer the main question itself. Yes, the magus needs religion. Serious practitioners need to have a concrete goal for pursuing a serious magical activity. He must always have an ultimate aim for which he is making magical circles, calculating planetary hours, making pentacles, learning spells and prayers, practicing breathing techniques, engaging in myriad visualizations, and keeping some special diets among many other practices and components that may constitute a genuine magical activity.
Besides the final goal, there are also certain intermediate stages of the spiritual path. Without a religious paradigm or worldview, it is not possible to create such a system of coordinates of the path steps, and conversely, any system of coordinates is useless if there is no concrete direction and goal. For example, for the followers of Jewish Kabbalah, this final point is Gmar Tikun and the intermediate goal is riding in Merkabe and entering into Pardes. For the Christian mystic, the final goal is the reintegration of the human being and other creatures into their primordial qualities, spiritual and divine ones. The intermediate goals are the overcoming of the Keeper of Threshold, invocation of the personal Genius (Guardian Angel), consistent ascent through the spiritual spheres accompanied by the invocations of the Angels, who are opening the paths and so on.
Similarly, followers of other religions such as Sufism, Buddhism et cetera, without a doubt, also have their own analogy of the final goal and intermediate goals connected to their path, worldview and religious paradigm. And of course, modern Gnosticism also possesses a holistic worldview and is suitable for the practice of western magic.
However, we must be absolutely clear about the fact that not all religious currents and their sub-currents are compatible with the paradigm of Western Magic. In fact, many religious doctrines are diametrically opposite to the ethos and worldview of genuine occult praxis. For example, different Protestant sub-sects claim that everyone is already saved by Christ and that’s why it’s enough just to have faith. This tenet is clearly contradicting any magical practice because if you believe that everything is already fine then why do you need the assistance of Angels, or ascending the spiritual planes and so forth? Also, we must include here all the paradigms which deny freedom of will. If you don’t have the freedom of choice and everything is already predicted, then why will you make magic circles? From the point of view of such religious paradigms, nothing will change because of your spells and invocations, even if you will invoke the entire heavenly host. In other cases, religious currents might connect to aspects of magic harmoniously in some separate, individual cases but it would never be accepted officially. For example, there are no doctrines which particularly forbid ceremonial magic but the priests took all the rights for proceeding the rituals to themselves even though there was no such division from the beginning. Therefore, it is imperative for any potential adept willing to traverse the path of Western Magic to inspect and inquire whether his worldview or religion is contradicting the occult. And if it does, then he must either rectify it or chose some other belief system and spiritual practice. We should always keep in mind that the majority of the traditional magical methods, ceremonies, rituals and practices of Western occult operate with Christian and Jewish philosophy and thought. Sometimes it could be Gnosticism and very rarely it might be Islam. If a person has different beliefs and he wants to practice Western magic, he should decide whether or not the names of the God, different pentagrams, hexagrams and crosses correspond to his worldview. It doesn't matter if the adept connects them wit with the Table of Correspondences of S.L.MacGregor Mathers, follows an empirical method or create his own analogies. The main point here is that there shouldn’t be any illogical and dangerous syncreticism and contradictions between the adept's worldview and actual spiritual practice.
Hence, the magus definitely need religion, because without it he can’t correctly describe the existence around him, his own place in the world and his goals and aims. Perhaps somebody can argue here saying that he needs magic only for worldly tasks, such as making a talisman for a successful business, to cure diseases and to improve his personal life, to have a protection from the enemies, for clairvoyance or even to enjoy some lucid dreams, and that that’s why he doesn’t need any high spiritual soteriological matters. Yes, indeed, for practical magic, high metaphysical knowledge is not required. but in this case we must say that all his magic is not the Magical Art (not Ars Magica). It is a simple witchcraft, and he himself is not the Artist, not an Architect but somebody like a plumber. Art of magic can’t stand simplicity and routine, and it is not restricted to the aforementioned worldly aims. The Divine power which human being has and which manifests itself as magic is given to us not for the quick remedy of some problems so that we can quickly return to our simple lifestyle. It is, in fact, an Art for changing the world, for the studying the secrets of the Universe and for looking for the answers to the most difficult questions about existence. It is not a remedy from cold and not a simple tool to solve personal and business issues. Magic is the Art only when one is living it fully and when one wants to engage in it for achieving transcendental goals, which might be present only if a person adheres to a particular religious’ paradigm as long as it is in harmony with the Western tradition. In the end of this essay, I will conclude by saying that the creation of talismans for worldly needs, for good health, and other magical tools for self-help and help for others are normal and there is nothing to be ashamed about. However, they must be a part of the transcendental aim of an adept's occult praxis. In this case, his practical and worldly magic is still a part of the Art and not a simple, mundane craft.
Autor of the article © Baal-Hiram 330/660/900 Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm, 2018.
Translated into English from Russian by © Viktoria Polikarpova & Ankit Sinha, 20.07.2019