Pagan Studies

Sapere Aude ("dare to know") offers a hard-core, unsentimental, no-nonsense look at the ins and outs of magical practice.

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Round 1: ad augusta per angusta

Let me tell you a little bit about myself since this is my very first column here at Witches and Pagans. I am a magician. Taking that one step farther, I am a very old-school magician. I also happen to be a devotional polytheist and sometimes these things intersect, but more often than not, I keep them well and nicely separate. I try to at any rate. I was a magician far earlier and far longer than I have been a polytheist after all, and I love working magic. It nourishes my soul. Magic is my craft, my art, and one of the means through which I work my will upon my world. I feel about it --and take note, you won't see me talking about 'feelings' overmuch in this column--much the same way a master sculptor must feel about a completed master work. This is what I do. I would say it is my vocation save I dislike the religious overtones of such a word, when applied to magical practice.

You see, magic is not religion. It is not prayer. It is not a devotional practice. It is the art of working with power.

That's right: magic is about power. It's about utilizing one's will to interact with and affect energy, and by doing so create measurable change upon one's world. I often read articles, books, blogposts debating endlessly over the morality of doing magic for personal gain and I simply shake my head: why not? More to the point, if not for personal gain then what is exactly is it for? What is the point?

That is not to say, of course, that one should eschew morality and ethics all together, but rather that personal gain is precisely the purpose of magic. I work magic because I wish to accomplish something and magic is the best and most efficient tool by which to do so. The goal may vary, but the point is that I'm changing things, creating cause and effect in accordance with my desires and my will. That is personal gain. So my column here - Sapere Aude, which means either "dare to know," or "dare to be discerning"--will be dedicated to the ins and outs of magical practice as I have learned it: magic without sentiment, without new age overtones, without fluff. It will explore the intersections of my magical work and my polytheism, and some articles will doubtless involve techniques and exercises, or perhaps intensive magical theory that I hope will be useful to beginners and experienced magically inclined readers alike.

I've been studying magic for a very long time, close to thirty years now. I've written a book about it ("Spiritual Protection") and I've even taken a handful of students over the years. I credit my magical work with opening me up to spiritual life, ironically. The early training I received made me more sensitive to energy, to presence, to the numinous; plus, developing a devotional life was strongly encourage by my first teachers. They considered it a necessary immunization agains that hubris and unwarranted arrogance of so many magicians, flaws that can often take a person down. I was also encouraged to cross train so like my spiritual life, which includes Archangels, Greek and Roman Deities, and Norse Gods, with the occasional Kemetic Divinity thrown in, my magical training began firmly grounded in ceremonial magic, and then branched out into Goetic evocation, Enochian magic, Rune magic, Kabbalah, hoodoo and conjure, and half a dozen other systems of training. I was expected to be versatile and disciplined, creative and thorough. While I will admit to being a staunch ceremonialist at heart (I love the structure and discipline of the practice), I've found conjure work to be every bit as effective. It's like learning different dialects of the same language: magic is magic in the end and it's all about results. So you'll be finding a pretty mixed bag here.

In my opinion, people need to avoid mistaking magic for devotion or religious ritual or prayer. It waters down all of the above practices when one does so. In this column, I intend to share how I was taught and how I teach: magic as a thing in and of itself separate from any spiritual practice. It's not that these things can't all intertwine and augment each other--they can and often do---but I firmly believe one must know the cold, clear discipline of magic in and of itself first, before combining it with anything else, (like prayer or religious ritual). The same, by the way, holds true of learning devotional arts by themselves, without muddying the waters by adding magic. On both sides of that metaphysical equation, cleanliness of practice and motivation is essential after all. So here, i'll be writing about something I love and how I believe it should best be approached. I welcome questions and in the meantime, here are links to several of my more popular articles.

Dealing with the Evil Eye:

Love Magic and Why I Don't Advocate It:

and finally:

Oh the Things Magic Does :

May that hold you over until I get around to making my next post.

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Sophie Reicher is an occultist and magician living in New York City. She has been a student and teacher of the occult arts for over twenty years and specializes in psychic and spiritual self-defense. The author of "Spiritual Protection: A Safety Manual for Energy

Workers, Healers, and Psychics," she maintains a blog where she occasionally posts articles on magic and related esoterica. A member of House Sankofa, Ms. Reicher is a devotional polytheist, and a devotee of many Gods and holy beings, including Mani and Sunna, the Morrigan, Farbauti, Bast, Dionysos, Hermes, and the four Archangels.


  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat Wednesday, 05 June 2013

    Glad to see you're a writing a blog here, I enjoyed reading this one. Thanks!

  • Sophie Reicher
    Sophie Reicher Tuesday, 11 June 2013

    Thank you. I doubt I shall post more than once a month but I am glad to be writing here.

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