In the last The Unseen World podcast, we discussed how to discover your magical path. We drew distinctions between low vs. high magic, the right-hand path vs. the left-hand path, and white magic vs. black magic.
I'll be honest. I was a follower of the right-hand path for years. I recently announced that I now identify with the left-hand path. However, those old right-hand path biases are hard to completely remove.
As I've been studying these Setian materials, I've learned a great deal more about truly how to answer the question, what is black magic? It's not at all what is commonly portrayed on the right-hand path, which is why I want to write a post here about it.
All of you who have been on my blog for a considerable amount of time know that I admit when I have been incorrect about something, and will happily give updated information. This is the point of this post.
But not only that. The true definition of black magic sheds a great deal of light on the path of the individual magician, and really any human being who is on a spiritual path. I know that seems pretty far-fetched, so buckle up and read on. 🙂 No matter your background, I'd ask you to stick with me to the end of this post. I believe it will be worthwhile.
How the Right-Hand Path Sees Black Magic
Largely speaking, if you ask any right-hand path magician, “What is black magic?” their answers aren't going to be so favorable.
My background began in Wicca, expanded from there into Neo-Paganism, and finally into ceremonial magic, with a study especially of Aleister Crowley.
In all of those traditions, black magic was just about always defined as, magic that does harm. Curses, summoning demons, doing magic for selfish reasons, all fell under the purview of black magic.
White magic, on the other hand, was any magic that was done for good, for healing, was life-affirming, etc.
More or less since the beginning of the modern occult movement, every magician has defined him or herself as a white magician. It was popularized in particular with Madame Blavatsky, founder of theosophy, who more or less defined those parts of magic which were favorable to her as “white magic,” and those which were unfavorable to her as “black magic,” obviously placing herself firmly upon the white magic end of the spectrum. This, despite the fact that she very clearly falls under the definition of the left-hand path as given in the above-mentioned podcast, and which I'll redefine later.
Even Aleister Crowley, who was as antinomian as they come, still defined himself as a white magician walking upon the right-hand path. He defined a black magician, or what he called a “black brother,” as one who refuses or is unable to cross the abyss of the Tree of Life, in order to permanently annihilate the ego. He believed all magic should be in service to the “great work,” which was to (1) attain the knowledge and conversation of one's Holy Guardian Angel, and (2) to then cross the abyss, resulting in the annihilation of ego.
In Wicca, the law is “An it harm none, do what ye will.” So, once again, white magic is defined as that which does no harm, and black magic is defined as that which does harm. The Wiccan believes in the three-fold law, which says that whatever one does, will come back three times over, so there is a huge incentive to not dabble in black magic.
This is the milieu from which I come, which is why I defined black magic as I did in that podcast.
Why does black magic have such a bad rap? Mostly, I believe it is because so-called “white magicians” simply need something to feel better than, against which to compare themselves. Especially in a society so overrun with Christianity and its respective morality, white magicians like to have something to point to and say, “See, we are the respectable magicians. At least we aren't like that.”
Unfortunately, their ideas of “black magic” are generally caricatures of the real thing, which again is the whole point of this post.
A small part of it, too, may be that some black magicians revel in the antinomian thrill of being cast in such a negative light, so they are happy to let those rumors go unchallenged. I think this is a minority, though, as most black magicians with whom I have had contact have been quite respectable individuals, and had no interest in putting up some false façade. Even Satanists, though they can quite enjoy mocking those who deserve to be mocked, and challenging the status quo, will make it quite clear where they stand and what their values are (hint: it's not “evil”).
The Non-Natural Essence of Isolate Consciousness
Arguably the biggest problem in science today is the question of the origin of consciousness. Atheists will insist that it stems from putting the right atoms together in the right order, but despite their protestations, this is simply and self-evidently false.
The problem is compounded even more when we extend this to self-aware, intelligent consciousness, shared by human beings alone. Animals, while sharing in some degree of consciousness, do not nearly match the level of self-aware intelligence enjoyed by humans. We are clearly different in some way.
The objective universe, and by this I mean the natural universe with all of its physical laws, is based on the predictable operation of those very laws. The planets revolve around the Sun in a way that is mathematically predictable. In an ephemeris, I can look up where Venus, for example, will be positioned in 100 years, with a high degree of accuracy.
We don't know how exactly this objective universe had its beginning, but it's not exactly impossible to imagine. The current best theory is the big bang, but for our purposes here, it doesn't matter very much. Somehow, all of these laws were set into motion—this ordered operation which has continued for billions of years, and which will continue for billions of years more.
Then, we came along. And, within some thousands of years, we accomplished that which no animal species before us has been able to accomplish in the millions of years before us. We figured out how to use fire constructively; we invented the wheel; domesticated animals; learned how to farm; gathered together in villages, cities, and eventually entire nations and empires; created great works of art; invented magnificent philosophies; discovered electricity, and all of the wonderful inventions which have come from that in the past 150 years.
Why? What is different about us?
We have something that no other species has, nor can be found in any other part of the known objective universe: we have isolate, self-aware, intelligent consciousness. You might call it psyche, ego, or soul. We have a sense of self. We have the ability to will, to create, to imagine, to think, to invent.
A rock will always be a rock. A flower will always be a flower. Even a relatively evolved animal, such as, say, a cat, is generally just a set of stimulus-response associations. They will continue to operate in the objective universe, according to natural laws.
But, we… we are something else entirely. Our consciousness cannot be predicted. While yes, our brain is physical and still responds to stimuli, we are not so programmable as, say, a rat in Skinner's box. Every attempt to clearly define and predict human consciousness has failed magnificently.
The truth is, this self-aware, intelligent consciousness is an aberration of the objective universe. We are not subject to the same laws. Of course we are in part, but not entirely, because we exist apart from and outside of the objective universe.
We have no explanation for how this self-aware consciousness originated. As I mentioned, it is self-evident that it did not just evolve from pure matter. Its origin is clearly outside of this objective universe. It does not respond to the same laws.
So you see, the psyche is non-natural. By that, I mean that it is outside of nature. It is outside of the order of the objective universe.
The Tension Between Nature and Consciousness
There is this tension between the natural order of the objective universe, and the isolate intelligence that is our own soul.
The reason for this tension is difficult to comprehend, but it is clearly evident throughout history. If you look at almost any religion, there is an inherent aim to order consciousness after the laws of the objective universe, and in some cases, even to dissolve the sense of self altogether.
For instance, in the eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, the ego, or the act of holding oneself as a separate self from the universe, is seen as the root of suffering. The solution, then, is to annihilate the ego in “ego death”, nirvana, moksha, etc.
In the Abrahamic traditions, man must follow the “law of God”, in order to be deserving of some reward in the afterlife. Free thought is discouraged. It can be easily seen that it wasn't until the renaissance and enlightenment, when the Church began to weaken, that intellectual and creative pursuits flourished.
Indeed, even in the myth of creation found in Genesis, it is seen as a bad thing that Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why, we never quite understand, except that it is against God's commandment, or “law”, or “order” to do so. The serpent tells Eve, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) So it seems there is a desire on the part of “God”, or “order”, that we should not act outside of its laws. To do so is “sin”.
It seems that for whatever reason, man does not like to be apart from the natural order of things. Whether this is a property of order itself which attempts to influence us, or whether it is purely our own discomfort with the idea of being non-natural, I do not know. I believe, however, that it is a mix of both.
In any case, man has created all sorts of religions to try to order this non-natural sense of self, this isolate intelligence which is so alien to the order of the objective universe. When he fails, then there is guilt, self-punishment, and all sorts of rituals to allow God to forgive him.
Interestingly, the sense of guilt is usually ascribed to the ego. However, I believe that guilt actually stems from the attempt to deny one's self-consciousness, while still being very aware that one is, indeed, an isolate intelligence. This is only one of many issues with the right-hand path and “white magic”.
I've mentioned before my own awakening experiences. The most recent was in 2014 when I had what I believed to be an ego death (which I now believe is actually impossible). It was a great experience, at first, but in time there was a definite contradiction in my own consciousness. In particular, the idea that there was not an individual self to desire anything, and yet the existence of very real desires.
A strict non-dualist would just say I was fooling myself, and hadn't quite killed off the ego. But, my study of spiritual masters suggests that their experience is precisely the same. You see them getting angry, going back on their word, and doing all sorts of things that suggests that they are just a normal human like the rest of us. Their behavior is excused as “simply a tool to teach us some lesson,” but the excuse seems pretty weak and unconvincing.
This conflict is also seen in philosophy. There seems to be a need on the part of many philosophers to deny either our own self-awareness and the subjective universe (described later), or to deny the reality of the objective universe. In the former camp are immaterialists, subjective idealists, and many adherents of the advaita vedanta school of Hinduism. In the latter are atheists, materialists, logical positivists, etc.
For many years I did indeed believe that there was no reality whatsoever to the objective universe. It is true that it is not as “objective” as we once believed, but to say that there is no objectivity to it whatsoever seems preposterous. After all, I depend on the objectivity of the universe to relay the ideas put forth in this post to you, the reader. Without that assurance, I may as well be a solipsist.
However, it is equally silly to think that there is nothing but the objective universe, for the reasons described earlier in the post, namely the unique nature of our own consciousness, intelligence, and will, which has no sufficient explanation in the objective universe.
The Source of Isolate Intelligence
This might seem like a pretty long saga just to answer the question, “What is black magic?” but I promise we are getting there, and that understanding all of the above is essential to answering this question.
It seems reasonable that the material, objective universe had some source, and did not simply exist forever. It really doesn't matter to our discussion, but it will help to get a complete picture.
So, by the above reasoning, it seems logical that there is a force of order in the universe.
But, we also have to explain the genesis of this isolate intelligence which is so inexplicable. It's already been seen that it cannot just have been an emergent property of the ordered, objective universe, because in many ways, it goes against that order.
The theory of Plato says briefly that for any particular thing in this world, there must be a form (or essence) of which it is a particular instance. If our souls are particular instances of isolate intelligence, then it seems reasonable, again, that they are a reflection of some original isolate intelligence that made this all possible.
This form, principle, being, or god—however you wish to call it—cannot be the same as that which created order, for all the reasons discussed above: the clear divergence of our self-aware consciousness from that order, and the tension between the ordered, objective universe and our own consciousness as witnessed throughout history.
So we are left with a bit of a dualism: one force which created order, and one which created isolate intelligence.
Moreover, the one which created this consciousness must in some way, whether intentionally or not, go against the nature and laws of that order, for the very reason that our own souls do the same, as evidenced by the tension between the psyche and the ordered world.
Interestingly, in almost all cultures and mythologies, there is a god, or being of some sort, which is against the gods. In ancient Egypt, it was Set, god of darkness, who was against Horus, god of light and the Sun. In ancient Greece, the most notable is Prometheus, giver of fire to mankind, who did so against the will of Zeus. In Judaism/Christianity, there is Satan, or the serpent, who gave knowledge to mankind against the will of YHVH.
Notice a bit of a pattern? In nearly all such examples, this “god against the gods” is then demonized and made “evil”. This is so because of man's inherent need to try to fit in with the order of the objective universe. If the gods represent order, then the god against the gods represents a departure from order, and therefore evil, or sin.
This general force can be generalized to the “Prince of Darkness”. That term is used to identify Satan in Christian myth, but it is also a great term for this force for several reasons:
First, the word “prince” can be traced back to the Latin “princeps”, which means “first principle”. So the term “Prince of Darkness” means the first principle of darkness.
Why darkness? It seems unnecessarily mysterious and dramatic.
Spiritual people in general tend to overemphasize the light. The Universe as a whole is seen as light in true essence, and darkness as just an absence of light.
I've said for quite a while now that darkness is equally as valuable, if not more so.
It reminds me of a particular analogy that Abraham-Hicks likes to use. They say that there is only a source of light and good, not one of darkness or evil. Of course, we will ignore for now the false equivocation of darkness with evil.
They say that when we want light, we turn on the light switch, and that, in fact, there is no dark switch. Therefore, darkness is an illusion.
But I like to see this from the other side. Darkness is the default. It takes work, energy, and power to create light. Without the stars burning massive amounts of energy to generate light, we'd be in darkness by default. Without turning on that light switch, assuming no other sources of light, darkness is present by default. It takes light to illuminate the darkness, and even so, it cannot do so entirely. There are always the dark horizons yet unexplored. Our lights, though powerful, can only go so far.
It is the darkness that represents the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unmanifest. The light represents order, what is known, what is predictable. As humans we tend to try to fill our lives with as much light as possible. Science explains away the scary things of the night, of lore and legend.
But despite the light we have generated, both literally and metaphorically, there is still darkness out there, both in the world and within ourselves.
We tend to fear that darkness, and so to demonize it. But that darkness is not evil.
What else could individuated consciousness be represented by if not darkness? It goes against the natural order of the objective universe. For most people, it is a threat, or something to be ignored altogether. We try to conform, to be good according to the standards of society or religion. In other words, we try to subject our own isolate consciousness to order.
The inevitable failure of that endeavor is frightening to no end, to most. That is the border where darkness dwells. But darkness does not wish to harm: it wishes to awaken us to our true nature as completely free, totally autonomous beings.
Therefore, the force of isolate intelligence is perfectly represented by the Prince of Darkness. However, each person may choose to represent it however they like; there are innumerable "gods against the gods" to choose from. Or, keep it general for yourself, by whatever name you prefer. This is my own preference.
The individuated instances of isolate intelligence which we enjoy may be called the “Black Flame” (read The Diabolicon by Michael Aquino for a more in-depth, albeit mythological, description of the Black Flame). This Black Flame is the gift of the Prince of Darkness to humanity. It is that very same ability to will, to create, to invent, and so on. It is a gift, because nothing is required in return, as it is simply hoped that we will use this gift to develop that isolate intelligence to the point of self-deification—to eternally perpetuate our self-awareness apart from the objective universe.
What Is Black Magic?
Finally, we are ready to answer this question. It was a long journey to get here, but I feel it was necessary to fully explain how we reach this point.
In the terms of what I have discussed above, let's first review the difference between the right-hand path and the left-hand path.
The Right-Hand Path vs. the Left-Hand Path
The right-hand path is characterized by the desire to surrender one's psyche, one's isolate intelligence, to the objective universe. This is done by either attempting to follow strict laws and commandments given by God (order), or by actually trying to deny one's own selfhood and merge with the All.
In my own view, and from personal experience, this endeavor is self-contradictory.
First, if one attempts to follow the strict precepts of one's concept of God, you're generally going to experience the pendulum effect. That is, sooner or later, you're going to swing the other way.
I think it's commonly known that those religions or churches that are the most strict, result in the greatest “fall from grace”, if you will. The one who is denied alcohol later becomes an alcoholic. The one who is told that sex is evil later becomes addicted to it. Sooner or later, one's own differentiating principle kicks in.
In the second case of trying to merge with the All, in my experience it just doesn't work. It results in self-contradiction. The more you strive to kill the ego, the more the ego seems to assert itself.
The way most people seem to get around this is through self-delusion. They tell themselves that the ego is dead, and yet live as though it is not. The lie is maintained for as long as possible.
Others will make this goal of “enlightenment” another god to please. They will punish themselves for not being good enough to achieve enlightenment.
It's funny. Most stories of enlightenment have the “awakened” individual saying something to the effect of, “One day I just realized there was no enlightenment. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nothing to accomplish.” And yet this is somehow a big deal. Let's just start from that understanding to begin with. 🙂
Now, the left-hand path, as discussed in the previous The Unseen World podcast, has two criteria: self-deification, and antinomianism. It is essentially the exact opposite of the right-hand path: instead of desiring to merge with the all, one desires to nurture one's independently-existing psyche. One strives to immortalize the psyche as a separate being apart from the objective universe.
At first, especially if you've been indoctrinated by non-dualistic teachings, you might think this a bit odd. But if you look at the true aspiration of the soul, it is exactly this: to differentiate oneself, to make something new, to be eternally you, always striving for higher and higher.
What does self-deification mean? It simply means to commit the same rebellion as the original Prince of Darkness, being to separate yourself from the order of the objective universe, and to immortalize your own isolate consciousness.
The Objective Universe vs. the Subjective Universe
Now we must introduce another concept to the mix, in order to better complete our picture of black magic.
I've been discussing the objective universe, as the set of laws which govern the world around us.
The soul, or psyche, or ego, is that which exists outside of the objective universe.
But, there is a vital property of this self-aware consciousness which aids in separating oneself from the objective universe: this is one's own subjective universe.
Every being gifted with the Black Flame has a subjective universe. The subjective universe is simply the experience of your inner world. It is your own thoughts and imagination, as well as the meaning you place upon the world around you.
Think of, say, a childhood home that has positive memories for you. If you have no such memories, then choose something else that holds positive memories for you.
If you were to show some random stranger your childhood home, it'd be just another house to them. It would seem like nothing special at all. Why? Because your childhood home does not hold any meaning within their subjective universe.
In your subjective universe, though, it has great meaning. It is greater than the sum of its parts. Though the house itself is objective, the meaning you attach to it is very subjective. This is a manifestation of your subjective universe.
Similarly, if I say the word “money” to you, you're going to have certain meanings attached to that, some positive and some negative. If I say the same word to ten different people, each person's subjective experience of that word will be different, sometimes drastically so.
It is this subjective universe that separates you from the objective universe. You have the power to filter, to interpret, the world around you. If done unconsciously, then the subjective universe is of little benefit, and really just serves to blind you even more. But, if you become aware of your own subjective universe, and even the subjective universes of others, then you wield great power to effect change.
The subjective universe is your drawing board to create your vision, and find a way to achieve it. All magic must begin within your subjective universe.
Black Magic Defined
So, after all that, what is black magic?
Let's start with the simple definition, and branch out from there.
I think this has to be my favorite definition of black magic (source):
Black Magic is the Willful confounding and alteration of the universal laws of the Cosmos.
Essentially, black magic is to use one's will to cause change in the objective universe.
Not very scary, right? Why is it so black?
Well, the quoted definition above holds the key. Remember that to the average person, order is safe and familiar, and altering or “confounding” that order is on the level of blasphemy.
So every time you perform black magic, thereby altering the natural order of the objective universe, you are doing what Set did, what Prometheus did, what Satan did, and many other examples besides. You are following in the steps of the archetypal “Prince of Darkness”, just on a far smaller scale.
You might ask, “But isn't this what any magician claims to do?” And that's the oddity. White magicians live in this sort of perpetual contradiction. They are constantly imposing their will upon the objective universe, and yet in the same breath claiming they wish to merge with that objective universe.
If you do a money spell, you've done black magic. You've imposed your will upon the objective universe to get what you want.
I gave the example in the last Co-Create Your Life podcast of Christine's church job. I told her she had done black magic, because she had deliberately acted to get the job she wanted.
That's why Crowley said that all magic should just be for the purpose of the attainment of the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. All else was black magic. Quite true, but how many magicians really adhere to that?
You might also ask, “But what about curses? Isn't there dark magic out there?”
Magic is defined by the intent of the magician. If your intention is to impose your will upon the objective universe, it's black magic. If your intention is to merge with the All, then it's white magic.
Every black magician has his or her own ethical code. If they choose to perform a curse, that's their choice. They are (hopefully) willing to deal with any consequences. I'm not speaking of karma: I don't think many black magicians believe in the concept of karma.
We are our own final authority. We choose what magic we will or will not perform. If you don't like curses, don't perform curses.
The Subjective-Objective Magical Link
There are essentially two forms of black magic: lesser black magic (LBM), and greater black magic (GBM).
Lesser black magic is the indirect manipulation of the objective universe through natural laws. For instance, as a master practitioner of NLP, I know of many ways to communicate with people to maximize the chance of getting what I want. It's a useful skill to have, and if you don't use it, someone else will, and likely already is.
Greater black magic, however, is something else entirely. It is to make changes in your subjective universe, with the intention of thereby effecting proportionate change in the objective universe.
It's to change your own perspective within yourself, and through making the proper changes within yourself, hoping to have those changes reflected in the objective universe.
This is most often done through ritual, but doesn't have to be, It depends on the magnitude of the change required to accomplish your desire.
To understand this, you must understand the magical link between the subjective and objective universe. It goes both ways. The objective universe of course alters your subjective universe, if you allow it to. But, changes in your subjective universe are also reflected in the objective universe.
So for example, if you desire to do a ritual for money, then your goal is to make necessary changes in your subjective universe in regards to money, so that it will be reflected in the objective universe.
It's not always a direct reflection; it depends on many different factors. But in general, “as within, so without” holds true.
Black Magic and the Law of Attraction
I know much of my audience here is almost exclusively interested in the law of attraction. If you're still with me this far down the post, then I am happy to connect these concepts for you.
Notice the principle of the magical link above: whatever is changed in the subjective universe, will be reflected in the objective universe.
Does that sound familiar to you? Just a bit?
How about, whatever you hold in your subconscious will be attracted in your reality? Or just, like attracts like?
Yep, this stuff is universal. 😉
Here's what you need to know about black magic in the context of law of attraction:
The law of attraction, properly understood and practiced, is nothing more or less than watered down greater black magic.
It's pretty obvious when you take all of the above into consideration. With the law of attraction, you are intending to impose your will upon the objective universe. You want your desire to manifest. That is, say it with me… black magic. 😛
It also explains a lot of the bad advice out there. Many LOA teachers are trying to give lip service to the right-hand path / white magic, while at the same time truly walking the left-hand path.
You are told to let go of your goals, because to hold on to them separates you from the natural order of the objective universe. You are told to not care whether you receive them or not, because if you stop caring, you can just “go with the flow”, which is a very white magic thing to do.
They try to merge the two, by saying, “the flow will lead you to your desire.” As Abraham says, “All your desires are downstream.” So, merge with the All, and you'll get everything you want. Kind of sneaky, isn't it?
But it's not true. Many of you have seen this for yourselves. You've let go, surrendered, gone with the flow, and nothing has happened.
It's because you're not using your will to impose change upon the objective universe. You're just praying to God (the objective universe) that you'd really love to have this desire, please, and trusting that the flow will take you there. It may or may not, but you don't get a choice in that paradigm.
That's why my approach is so radically different, because I'm showing you how to exercise your will as a black magician, to get the results you want to get in life.
If you've been doing that, then you, too, have been practicing black magic. Congratulations! 🙂
Are you interested in deepening your understanding of the left-hand path and the art and science of accomplishing your will in the objective universe? Several of us are forming an online order as a subset of Co-Creation Coaching, named The Order of the Black Flame. All we ask is for your commitment to grow as a magician. It is totally free to you. If interested, please go here to learn more.
How About You?
All right, my longest post to date has officially come to an end. If you're still here, then you're pretty awesome. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this post in the comments. Has this post changed your view of black magic?