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Magical Action and Sacrifice

Magical Action.

Magical Action, or action at a distance, is a core process of ritual magic. Utilising the principles of “Contagion” and “Sympathy”, magical energy is deployed to bring about changes in the material world, through symbolic actions.
The “Contagious” principle is that one may bring about effects on a “subject”, if one has in one’s possession an object which the subject has touched. For instance, one may gain power over an individual through their toenail clippings.
The “Sympathetic” principle is that one may bring about effects through things that resemble each other. For instance, a root which has grown in a shape of two arms, two legs and a head may be used to effect harm or healing on a human body.
There are broadly two ideas about how magical action works: One is that it’s a kind “parallel physics”, that the principles of sympathy and contagion are simply magical laws of the universe. The other is that rituals mediate with spirits, and spirits then go off and make things happen on the magician’s behalf.
Depending on the approach, the emphasis of a magical act will be focussed either on the symbolic act itself, or on symbols of spirits or deities. However, a deeper exploration of the nature of spirits, and the nature of magical energy, has led me to the conclusion that, ultimately, the two ideas are simply two sides of the same coin.




Whichever approach you take, Magical Acts require “Magical Energy”, whether to potentiate a magical reaction, or to nourish the spirits or gods:- this is the same “energy” that underlies the flow of our emotions and spiritual processes. Thus, a magical act conducted in a state of passion or frenzy may be more efficacious than one conducted with calm deliberation.
Thus, the skill of the magician is not so much their inventiveness in designing symbolic acts, or their knowledge of a magical tradition. It is much more about their ability to sense, and direct, magical energy.
All living things contain magical energy, which keeps them alive. This magical energy, if it can be obtained, can be harnessed for a magical act. The obvious way to harness such energy is to kill something as part of the magical act.
In many magical traditions such as Voodoo, this may be a cockerel for a simple curse, or a bull for a major undertaking. The greater the animal, the greater the effect, and it is these ideas that originated the practice of human sacrifice in some cultures.
I am not a fan of sacrifice (and definitely not of humans!), I think it hinders the development of a loving approach to the world. If a project requires a magical act that demands a live sacrifice, then the project is almost certainly a mistake.
My opinion is that one of the greatest magical insights of monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is that sacrifice of this nature is counter-productive. The dark threads that are woven into the tapestry of our destiny through sacrifice ultimately bring us down, and lead us into the despair we’ve been trying so hard to avoid.

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