Before we can discuss the differences between “Magic” and “Magick” in detail, it is important to understand what each word actually means.
We’ll start with the definition of each word, explain the difference between the two, and then also discuss how you can learn Magic and Magick.
What Is The Difference Between Magic And Magick? The main difference is that magic is just a form of entertainment. Magicians perform tricks and illusions for the audience to entertain them. Magick is about changing the world around you for the better, using natural forces around us.
Table of Contents
Magic is the performance of tricks and illusions, usually for the purposes of entertainment.
Magicians Exposing Magic Tricks
Ask a child what a magician is and they will describe magic wands and something akin to Harry Potter.
It is strange that in English we mostly use the same word, magician, to describe those who pretend-to perform magic.
In the past, many stage magicians tried to convince the audience that what they did was actual magic, but those days have nearly completely gone and most stage magicians go out of their way to make it clear that it’s all a trick.
Even the biggest, most well know performers are almost missionary like in crushing any belief in real magic.
The term Magickian allows us, at least to differentiate between the rationalist performers of tricks and illusions and the traditional individual who claims to have supernatural powers and practices Magick.
So as not to be confused with the popular entertainment called “Magic” the word “Magick” is used to describe the utilization of the natural forces that surround us to bring about change.
Magick is neutral, that is to say, that it is neither good nor evil in itself.
It is the uses to which the Magickian puts Magick which defines this.
Origins of the Word
Magick is an archaic spelling of Magic. Over time the “K” was dropped and Magic became the common usage.
However, it was reintroduced by Aleister Crowley, who founded the religion of Thelema (Thelema comes from the Greek word for will).
He introduced the word to make a distinction between those who use Magic for entertainment purposes, and those who practice what he believed to be true magick.
There is a lot of controversy over its use.
There are other spellings that re sometimes used, such as “Magik,” and “Majik,” but these are used for literary purposes and have no special meaning.
Aleister Crowley’s Thelema is said to have been a strong influence in the establishment of Wicca (aka Pagan Witchcraft) and Paganism.
Wicca was developed in the first half 20th century by Gerald Gardner who was a retired Civil Servant.
Many followers of Wicca believe in Ceremonial Magic or Magick.
In Wicca, the concept of the “Coven” as introduced by Gardener is a part of the belief and these covens were said to be the holders of various tools used in Magick.
In more recent times it has increasingly been permissible for followers to practice Wicca individually.
Common tools are:
- The Pentacle
- Sword & Knife
Typically, a Magickian will use these traditional magickal tools, however, anything that a Magickian decides is a Magickal tool is one.
For example, one Magickian stated that his “Will” was to inform the world of certain facts, so he used “magickal weapons” of the pen, ink, and paper, to perform what is actually an act of magick in composing and distributing the book, which causes a change in conformity to his will.
This all sounds very confusing and perhaps at this point, we should move back to the differences between Magic and Magick, coming back to the belief system later.
The Early Western Timeline of Magic & Magick
I think perhaps a good approach to separating magic and magick is to take a quick look at the history of magick and see where magic and magick diverged.
We will use the term “Magic” for all occurrences up until the timelines of Magic and Magick diverge.
2700 B.C. – The first known performance of a conjuring effect by the Magician Dedin was the cups and balls. It is not known how this was presented and if any supernatural connection was made.
1300-650 B.C. – There are many references to magic in ancient Greek myths. They were often tied with women of divine origin.
50-300 A.D. – The cups and balls return, and is performed in Rome by the Acetabularii.
Seneca the younger stated:
“Such quibbles are just as harmlessly deceptive as the juggler’s cup and dice, in which it is the very trickery that pleases me. But show me how the trick is done, and I have lost my interest therein.”
Clearly, at this stage, the magicians were seen as entertainers.
400-1000 A.D. – The Dark Ages and Magic were not commonplace and it was seen as connected with the occult. This was made worse by the early Christians who condemned magic and this opposition was used by Christians to persecute those accused of magic right up until today. Christians also used accusations of witchcraft by Jews and Muslims as an excuse to persecute them as well.
1000-1500 A.D. – The Middle Ages, and much magic is seen to have connections with the supernatural, however, some street entertainers make a living performing the old cups and balls trick, and other sleights of hand tricks used to cheat the public.
1584 – Reginald Scott publishes a book called “The Discoverie of Witchcraft”. An important milestone as the book attempts to counter the persecution of magicians and witches by revealing how some tricks are carried out. Unfortunately, there was still a connection between magic and witchcraft and many of the books were burned.
1634 – This year saw the publication of the very first real magic book, called “Hocus Pocus Junior: The Anatomie of Legerdemain.” This book included bot the secret behind the cups and balls trick and also explained the patter that was used. Clearly describing a magic trick as a performance.
1720 – The first Magic Superstar retires. Isaac Fawkes retire having amassed an amazing fortune of around ten thousand pounds, through his magic. His booth is shown in the painting “Bartholomew Fair” by Hogarth.
In the Middle Ages, we see a division between street magicians carrying out sleight of hand tricks and members of society who did not fit in, who were accused of Witchcraft.
This seems to be the point in a western society where the path forked and Magickians became separate from Magicians.
This was formalized by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) with his writings that defined the concept of Magick and its differences from Magic.
The Icelandic State Employed Magickian
Even today in Europe the Icelandic Government employs an official “Elf Whisperer”, employed to claims the ability to see and speak to supernatural creatures.
Uri Geller: Last of the Mainstream Magickians
Over recent centuries there have been some magicians who claim that they achieve their tricks because of some form of supernatural power.
To uneducated audiences, the fact that the individual could do something seemingly impossible supported the fact they must have supernatural powers.
This has become an unpopular way of presenting magic as there is now an unspoken agreement between the magician and the audience that some kind of illusion is used, and part of the fun is to guess how.
There are still a few people who try to pass themselves as having some kind of supernatural power and probably the most well-known of such characters is Uri Geller, who denies that any trickery is involved with his signature spoon bending.
He claims that he performs his tricks through willpower and the strength of his mind. He claimed his paranormal powers were given to him by extraterrestrials.
He later retracted that statement but would not dismiss an extraterrestrial connection.
John Maynard Keynes called Isaac Newton the last of the Magicians.
He claimed this because of the fact that Isaac Newton was obsessed with the old Magickians quest of alchemy.
Newton had many magical beliefs including alchemy.
He even fought a campaign to legalize alchemy.
Where To Learn Magic
If you’re interested in learning magic tricks, there is a lot of online resources that you can use.
I put together lists of the best YouTube channels and Websites that are focused on teaching magic tricks:
Learning magic was never so easy!
Where To Learn Magick
Finding a good resource for learning Magick is a lot more difficult than finding courses magic tricks.
There is, however, one particular course that I want to mention.
Its called “Magick Power” and its teaching true Magick step by step.
In case of interest, you can find this course and more details here.
We have read that there have been Magicians, whose sole purpose was to entertain since 2700 B.C. performing the cup and balls trick, which is still practiced today.
In the Middle Ages despite the fact that witchcraft and sorcery were still illegal, were able to practice sleight of hand magic in the streets, as entertainment, with no risk.
As long ago as 1634 they published a book of magic that explained magic tricks and performance skills.
Then in 1720 the equivalent of Magic Superstar Millionaire David Copperfield retired with a fortune earned from magic performances. MAGIC (without the K) is quite probably the earliest performance type.
Running parallel with this has been witchcraft, sorcery, and Magick (with a K) that has been opposed by the Christian Church as heresy.
Despite this persecution and the education of the masses, there have been a small minority of magicians claiming to have supernatural, or extraterrestrial, powers like Uri Geller, right up until the present day.
I hope that soon we will no longer have a need for two terms, magician and magickian, as the irrational belief in Magick will have long gone, to be replaced by an enlightened and appreciative response to the skill of the magician who is able to perform such wonderful illusions that challenge our intellect to work out how they may be done.