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Lesson 2: Anatomy of Ritual & Magkical Theory

Anatomy of Ritual & Magickal Theory

Note: While much of this information may be Pagan in expression, the application of it applies to any and all belief systems. So, please don't get irritated because the various authors are writing from a Pagan viewpoint. The information is viable and applicable to all.



Magic is the process of expressing wants, needs, and desires through ritual. Ritual is the physical application of the energies used and sent out to the Universe and the Divine to manifest those wants, needs, and desires.


It is this energy that is the key to everything. Without it nothing would happen. Our bodies would not function, thus our spells would not work. Energy is what binds it all together. Modern science has proven this, but the Vedic sages of India have taught this concept for thousands of years. And later, so did the Druids, and afterward the Witches.


Hermes Trismegistus, his name means “Thrice-Great Hermes”, is the author of the well-known Pagan phrase, “As Above, So Below”. Although this is a condensed, stylized expression of the full statement taken from the Emerald Tablet; “That which is below is as that which is above, and that which is above is as that which is below, to perform the miracles of the one thing.” It is my favorite quote as it puts in four words the full explanation of the theory of magic, life & our existence, and spirituality. Let me explain.



As Above, So Below

The Emerald Tablet is attributed to Hermes Trismegistus (323 BC to approximately146 BC - the peak of the Greek influence). He is the Hellenistic combination of the Greek God Hermes (the Messenger of the Gods) and the Egyptian God Thoth (God of the Moon, Writing & Magic).


It is also known as the “Smaragdine Table", the “Tabula Smaragdina", and “The Secret of Hermes". The text carved into it is believed to reveal the mysterious primordial matter and its transmutations. There are several translations, Arabic, Newton’s, Beato’s, and Latin. I’ve presented the modern Latin interpretation here:


1.       (It is) true, without error, certain and most true.


2.       That which is below is as that which is above, and that which is above is as that which is below, to perform the miracles of the one thing.


3.       And as all things were from the one, by means of the meditation of the one, thus all things were born from the one, by means of adaptation.


4.       Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon, the Wind carried it in its belly, its nurse is the earth.


5.       The father of the whole world (or "of all of the initiates"?) is here.


6.       Its power is whole if it has been turned into earth.


7.       You will separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the dense, sweetly, with great skill.


8.       It ascends from earth into heaven and again it descends to the earth and receives the power of higher and of lower things.


9.       Thus you will have the Glory of the whole world.


10.    Therefore will all obscurity flee from you.


11.    Of all strength this is true strength, because it will conquer all that is subtle, and penetrate all that is solid.


12.    Thus was the world created.


13.    From this were wonderful adaptations, of which this is the means. Therefore, am I named Thrice-Great Hermes, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.


14.    It is finished, what I have said about the working(s) of the Sun.


The maxim “As Above, So Below” refers to everything from the largest stars in the universe to the smallest microscopic structures of cells. Worlds within worlds, they exist separate but as one. The energy that links them all together is electromagnetic and has many names; Chi (Chinese), Ki (Japanese), Mana (Polynesian), Od (German), Orenda (Iriquois), Prana (Indian), Psychic Energy (modern).


As the stars move through the skies, so too do the rivers flow to the seas. As Above, So Below.


As the clouds float on the wind, so too do our thoughts pass through our minds. As Above, So Below.


As the winds fuel the fire, so the electrical current moves the atoms in the cells of all things. As Above, So Below.


As we call upon the Gods to assist us, so too do the Gods call upon us to listen to what they have to say. As Above, So Below.


If you sit and consider all the aspects of what this one phrase encompasses, we see this phrase goes far beyond the obvious. It gets deeper the more you think about it. Through this contemplation, my revelation of its meaning has led me to the inner belief that we are part of God, or the Gods (if Pagan) (and subsequently the Universe and its energy), and they are part of us. We, in our human form, are too frail to hold all the energy of the Divine. If we did, our bodies would literally explode. So, we are able to touch just enough of the energy that we are able to use it to manifest that which we need and desire to keep us safe and happy.


It is not static or inanimate, but responsive and dynamic. It shapes the physical world around us, transforming, renewing, changing. We interact with it on a subconscious level giving it shape in reaction to our touching it.


When we consciously use this energy, bringing our personal power, our willpower into the process, this changes everything. We become the tool from which it is directed. We become as the instrument that sends out the energy toward manifestation of intent. This is what magic is; consciously focusing and controlling this incredible energy. Our thoughts and emotions react with this energy, which in turn may be used to control and/or influence it. Our ability to do so, while still a conscious action, does come from a higher state of consciousness, our Higher Self.


In ritual, the Higher Self is in control. We enter a type of psychic trance or altered state. Our brainwaves actually change. It is in this state that we bring the most power to our rites and spells.



Theories of Magic

Various Methods for Performing Mystical Actions

By J.L.N. Lewitin 

Magic is an interaction with fundamental forces which are hidden from physical view. This definition is intrinsic, as magic becomes science as soon as it becomes possible to actually view its source. Even theoretically logical viewing of its cause can often define the principle as a physical force rather than a mystical event. 

The use of magic is based on the idea that an individual can strategically use an understanding of metaphysical principles to interact with the world around them. This understanding is most often achieved through greater sensitivity to the forces working around oneself, and an increased awareness of your own relative relationship to the others in the world. 


The following theories of magic are based on philosophical ideas about the nature of the universe. The work of countless sages and thinkers the development of mystic wisdom is the effort of whole generations, occasionally spurred on by the work of the brilliant, to evolve theories of the intrinsic nature of everything.


Natural Theories of Magic

As above so below, this often-quoted proverb is the cornerstone of natural magic. At its core this is an idea that everything in the universe is related to everything else. Anything that happens affects everything, to some degree, and in very specific ways. The understanding of those ways is the key to proficiency at this particular method. 


Coming to an understanding of the intrinsic principles guiding the universe’s relationship to itself, can be gained through various methods in which you make yourself more aware of the nature of the world. In the shamanistic tradition this is done by putting oneself into a trance, through mental and ceremonial techniques. In the guru tradition it is more often done through advanced meditation, although ceremonial action can be used as well. 


Natural magic does not have very many written spells or ceremonies which can be used to evoke its power, since the words and actions would have to be specifically tailored to both the individual and the situation necessary. This is why trance and or meditation is needed for an individual to release their cognitive mind enough to understand the hidden nature of the world. Theoretically a very small number of spells and or actions are so powerful and specific that they can be used by almost anybody, and could be written down, however these are so rare that there are not currently any copies of them in circulation. 


Some of those that commonly use natural magic are Shamans, workers of Voo Doo, and Transcendentalists. Balance theory of magic, which is discussed in greater detail below, is also considered a subset of this particular philosophy. 

Astrology also uses natural magic, but in such a profoundly unique manner that it bears commenting on separately. Unlike most forms of magic which try to evoke a response from the world, astrology is a kind of forecasting which merely seeks to understand the nature of future events. Over countless ages astrologers have watched the movements of the large astrological bodies in the sky and have correlated them with the actions which occur for those around them. In this way they feel they have uncovered some of the principles of this interaction and interconnectivity. This allows them to use the cyclic nature of astrological bodies, as well as observations of orbital paths, to predict not only the movements of the sky above but the actions and future of people who live around them. This theory has recently been enormously complicated by multi-versal mystical theories. One of the unique things about this craft is that it is the only form of natural magic which can be written down and passed along. This is because it is not an active participation, but merely an observation of other participations. 


Balance Theories of Magic

The balance theory of magic is theoretically based on natural theory; however, its core emphasis is on the perfect balance which exists between all opposites in the world. The universe and everything in it are in a state of constant flux, pulled back and forth between the intrinsic opposites which exist in everything. 


Working with this discipline requires that an individual become acutely aware of these balances. It is important not only to be able to recognize them, but also to perceive the differences between the two opposing sources in each struggle. As one's sensitivity increases, it will become possible to employ various strategies to exploit this natural state. 


Proficiency in this discipline begins with oneself. To understand balance in the world, one first needs to understand the balance that is within them. If one is to influence the balance of the world, it is absolutely necessary that they have control over their own balances. 


Balance magic is performed by increasing, or upsetting, the intrinsic balances which exist in objects and situation. In strengthening the balance, one creates a more powerful bond. By destroying a balance, one is creating energy, because the balance will seek to restore itself. By increasing or decreasing one element in this balance, one can effect changes in the cycles of events. 


Multi-verse Theories of Magic

The idea of the Multi-verse is an ancient thought which has been discovered and lost countless times throughout history. It is an idea which has gained recent attention due to the efforts of modern scientists, whose works are beginning to uncover new truths about the nature of existence. Highly theoretical, greater understanding of this idea has the potential for powerful results.


The theory of the multi-verse is that our entire universe is a thin membrane, like a gauze pancake, which is floating in a void with an infinite number of other pancake universes. Since there are an infinite number of them, every possible universe exists in this multi-verse. Further, the subatomic particles in any one universe can suddenly appear in any of the other universes at any given point in time, based on complicated probabilities. 


This is a theory which is so speculative that it is difficult to determine specific truths. However, the implications are far reaching, including a new understanding of space and time, the nature of existence, as well as cause and effect. 

At the core of this idea is the concept of probabilities. Anything is possible, and the more probable it is in your particular universe, the more likely it is to occur. Further, each person exists in an infinite number of incarnations and universes, all of which interact on a very subtle level through the exchange of subatomic particles. 


Application of this theory consists of strategically manipulating probability and personal existence, to evoke an incarnation in which the desired effect is real. At the interpersonal level this is an idea of cause and effect, in which a person can step outside of their lives and look on their existence as a game whose actions they can manipulate to a desired effect. On a more personal level this is a control of one's own perceptions, in which a being chooses how they want to view events, and by doing so alter the incarnate existence they are in. 


The most difficult aspect of this magical theory is the necessity to find a balance between altering one's own perceptions and altering the world around them. On the one hand you have to change the way you look at things to alter your own incarnation, while on the other you have to be aware of the hard reality of your current existence enough to alter causes and effects around you. 


Power and Force Magical Theories

This is the most basic concept of magic. In its essence it contends that one can, through various methods, store up enough power to force an action or event in the world. This energy can be stored either in a person, or in an object. Some even contend that energy can be stored in an idea or a word, although that is a very complex application of this idea. 


There are many ways to gain sufficient force to accomplish a mystical event. In small amounts, potential energy is stored up by every action; however, it is usually cancelled out by other energies. By focusing the direction of the potential energy that you store, you can place it within a single location. A simple example of this is charisma, which can be an inborn talent, but is also enhanced by the fact that the more popular a person is, the more persuasive power they have.


Another way to focus energy into a single spot is to use meditative techniques to concentrate energy from other sources, such as the sun, into a narrow area. While this method is very difficult, and requires supreme self-control and awareness, it is one of the most powerful methods of magic available, because it allows you to constantly replenish your reserves.


 Some creatures and items naturally have enormous amounts of power. An example of a creature is a demon, whose purity of chaos affords them tremendous energy, in a fashion similar to a nuclear reactor. An example of an object that is naturally powerful is the ocean. A giant crystal, it directs and stores the energy from the sun which hits its surface, deep within its liquid chambers. 


Written By J.L.N. Lewitin, courtesy of 



Foundations of Magick —The Theory of Magick

Aug 23, 2010

Leigh-Ann Andersen 


True magick is becoming a more commonly accepted practice, but it is not for everyone. The practice of magick requires patience and a willing spirit. 


Magick may not be an exact science, but it still appears to follow certain rules and principles. Some of these are akin to physical laws, some are not. No one, no matter how adept, fully understands magick and its uses. However, for the magician who does understand these principles, the possibilities might just be limitless. 


The Nature of Magick and Reality

Believing in something that cannot be readily seen might seem just a bit crazy on the surface. However, humans believe in things they cannot see every day. Under normal circumstances, air is invisible to the naked eye, and yet everyone knows it exists, since everyone is breathing. Most people do at least acknowledge that there is more to the universe than meets the eye. 


The nature of magick is such that it is not fully understood. However, it does at least appear to behave according to some rules. Some generally accepted laws of magick are: 


- *  The perceived world is a mixture of reality and perception.

- *  If one searches for evidence that something is true, one will usually find it.

- *  All statements are true in one sense, false in another, and meaningless in yet another.

- *  If it works, it is true.

- *  Everything is connected.

- *  If two things have just one thing in common, that one thing can be used to influence both.

- *  The cause and effect of something tend to resemble each other.

- *  If two things were once in contact, they can continue to interact after separation.

- *  Two laws or worldviews may contradict each other and still be true, as no worldview may all reality.

- *  Every action is an exchange of energy.

- *  Any concept, force, or object may be considered to have life.

- *  The Principles of Magick 


Magick is a powerful and often misunderstood thing. Defining magick is not always easy, and trying to explain how it works is even more difficult. There are certain principles that can make the practice of magick seem a little less daunting, more logical, and more natural. They also aid in the understanding of magickal ethics. 

The following points are regarded as the basic principles of magick: 

-  Magick is natural.

-  Magick requires effort. You will receive what you put into it, nothing more, and nothing less.

-  Magick is not spontaneous, at least, not usually. Most spells require time to be effective.

-  Magick is not to be used as a game or joke, or to enhance the ego.

-  Magick can be worked for gain, but only if it brings harm to none.

-  Magick is, at its source, a divine act.

-  Magick certainly can be used for defense but should never be used to attack.

-  Magick is knowledge.

-  Magick is belief. For magick to work effectively, you must believe in it.

-  Magick is love. Magick should always be performed out of love. 


Energy and Magick

Energy is everywhere. At a certain level, everything is comprised of energy. There is energy in the sunlight, the moonlight, the earth, the waters, and the air. With each breath, every person takes in energy, and then exhales it. Every person, plant, and animal teems with energy. 


The abundance of energy available every day is extraordinary. However, despite the fact that energy swirling all around him, a magician actually needs very little. Instead of being flashy, like thunder and lightning, a talented magician uses a little more finesse. More like a gentle breeze, almost unnoticed amongst the greater swirl of energy that makes up the world. 


Magick and Science

Science has come a long way in the last century, and scientific views are not necessarily incompatible with magick. Hypnotism, once thought to be a black art and even a form of mind control, is now a commonly accepted practice. There are now cameras that can take a photograph of the body of energy that surrounds each person; some people call this energy an aura. 


There are many scientists, both in the past and present, who are firm believers in magick. Einstein himself fully supported the idea that astrology was a science, and not simply an occult practice. Isaac Newton wrote more frequently on the practice of alchemy than he did on physics. 


It seems that ancient magicks and modern science are slowly coming together. 


Does Magick Work?

According to practitioners, magick does, indeed, work. Spells and rituals will always have an effect, no matter how slight, and no matter which style of magick you're using. However, this is not always the effect that is intended. Someone may cast a spell to gain enough money to pay all their bills, and instead of gaining extra money, the individual might find all their bills in their mailbox, with expected due dates that are fairly immediate. 


Obviously, this is not what was intended by the caster. However, spells and rituals can have flaws. Most of these are problems with design, performance, or interference. Usually, all three of these things are caused by the caster. A lack of focus or belief, a small distraction, or a poorly worded chant can all have an adverse effect on spells and rituals. 


A properly crafted and executed spell or ritual will almost always meet with success. However, it is important to note that true magick isn’t the same as the Hollywood version. It is rarely flashy, and special effects are almost non-existent. True magick takes belief and practice to be effective. 


Magick is not well understood, and discovering the magick within takes time. It is difficult to explain and even harder to master. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Following a magickal path is not for everyone, and requires courage, patience, and understanding. 



Buckland, Raymond, Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, Llewellyn Publications, 2007. 


Buckland, Raymond, Witchcraft … The Religion, Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, 1966. 


Cunningham, Scott, Wicca, A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Llewellyn Publications, 1999. 


Cunningham, Scott, Living Wicca, A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Llewellyn Publications, 2000. 


Leek, Sybil, The Complete Art of Witchcraft, World Publishing, 1971. 



Anatomy of Ritual

How is a ritual or spell composed? Do you have to? Does it matter how it's done? All of these questions depend on whether you are coven or solitary based. Many Traditions and covens have very specific ways in which their rituals are performed, from the manner the altar is set up to the specific hand movements at exact moments during the rite. For a solitary, these are all optional. Whether they choose to be formal and specific is completely up to them. 


The Pagan rituals I do for Pagan clients are relatively “set”. I have everything written out from the time of day all the way through to the closing of the Circle. The day-to-day, quickie, or “regular” spells are done “on the fly”. I have the intent in my head, I may or may not light a candle or add herbs or oils. As a solitary I do what I feel is right for me at the moment.


As a rootworker my works are done a little differently. Especially those for my Hoodoo/Rootwork/Conjure clients. These will include verses from the Bible, most often the Psalms, as well as calling particular Saints who would be sympathetic to the situation.  


Work done for myself is always rootwork/conjure, but my clients have their belief systems through which I respectfully work with (and enjoy the change of pace). Regardless of belief system, the Divine is in ALL of it, so there is no conflict. Any conflict would be in the mind of the practitioner.



The Rite Parts

What goes into ritual? The following article explains everything for you very well by a very experienced and knowledgeable practitioner. 



The Anatomy of Ritual, Spellwork, and Magick

By Dr. Kheti A. Sahure 


Before delving into this subject matter, let us begin with a definition for the terms "Ritual, Spell, Spellwork, and Magick" solely based upon my many years of experience as a practitioner of the Occult Metaphysical Sciences, Alternative Religions and Spiritualities: 


What is a Ritual?

Performed generally for its symbolic value (as in a rite), a ritual is a planned progression or series of actions and activities geared toward the accomplishment of a specific goal in accordance with religious, spiritual, or social customs of the past to the here and now. 


What is Spellwork and a Spell?

A technique or methodology for physically raising the power and the manipulating energy by way of magick and/or the useful tools of applied occult metaphysics. A spell is a magickal formulary of spoken, written, or the mentalization of specific words performed with varying degrees of magickal and meditative intent or purpose. Often, a spell is performed only as an incantation without being included in a full ritual or ceremony. For example, a simple (easy) Candle Spell can be performed for something "minor" that you or your client needs. On the other hand, you can adapt your spells or spellwork for more complex circumstances. There are many branches of spells and spellwork ranging from healing to love to maleficium (i.e., malevolent sorcery or hexing). 


What is Magick?

The term "Magick" is often spelled with a "k" in order to distinguish it from the artistic practice of Illusionist, Sleight of Hand, and Parlor Magic for entertainment purposes. Performing Magick is based upon the practitioner's ability and "will" to bring about (cause) and affect change in people, places, courses of events, circumstances, and physical objects through the elements or elementals (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Aether or "Light-Bearing or Spirit"), mystical (mystickal), paranormal or supernatural (metaphysical) means. If a practitioner is employing Ancient Chinese Philosophy in his or her magickal workings, then she or he will work with the Five Elements or Wu Xing (i.e., the "five movements, phases, or steps/stages over elements") of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. 


Furthermore, the proper working and exercising of spells and rituals are imperative in any spiritual or divinatory system. Whether it be Low (Folk) Magick, Ceremonial (High or Ritual) Magick, Sympathetic Magick, or Black Magick (the Dark Arts), all have their own form of and approach to rituals and spellwork. Very good examples of highly ritualistic religio-spiritual systems include but are not limited to: The Craft, Khemeticism and Tameran (Ancient Egyptian religions), Qabalah (Hermetic Kabbalah - distinguishing between Judaic theological and the Hermetic magickal viewpoints), Hoodoo, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Chaos, Vodou (Voodoo), Ayurvedic, Vedic, and many other systems that might engage in the practice of spellwork (spell casting), rituals (ceremonial rites), and magick. 


Some of the metaphysical techniques and tools used within these systems include the elementals, altars, circles, pentagrams and hexagrams, meditation, divination (tarot, astrology, etc.), prayer, solar and lunar correspondences, conjuration, charms, talismans and amulets, dolls, wands, and many other powerful instruments for the invocation, evocation and petitioning of spirit. Within Native American spirituality and ritual, for instance, there tends to be an attempt at maintaining balance, peace, and harmony between the mundane world and the universal forces (energies) of Spirit or Gitchi Manidoo. 


Note that there are many different ways to perform rituals and to cast spells, especially, within the realm of Alternative Religions and Spiritualities (i.e., non-mainstream religio-spiritual paths). Also keep in mind that these methods or practices are not set in granite because each spiritual path, circle, coven, grove, temple, or gathering has its own specific way of doing things. However, there are some basic ingredients or component parts that one will find in almost any spell or ritual--some similar and some not so similar in name: 


Anatomy of Magick, Ritual & Spellwork - Steps 

- Kind or Type of Ritual 

- Purpose - Intent of the Ritual 

- Ritual Tools (Preparation, Cleansing, and/or Consecration) 

- Lunar & Solar Correspondences 

- Preparation - Ground and Focus (Center) 

- Creating Sacred Space, Circle Casting - Pentagram, Hexagram, Triangle (Pyramidal) 

- Invocation - Evocation of Divinity (One or more deities) 

- Repeating the Ritual's Purpose 

- Working the Ritual 

- The Nexus of Energy (NoE - Raising energy or power then releasing it into the Universe) 

- Offerings - Food, Libation, Objects 

- Meditation (Exhalation) 

- Thanking the Deities, Spirits, and other Energies or Forces 

- Closing, Banishing the Circle 


Depending upon one's spiritual path, circumstances, or intent, the practitioner will Call the Quarters just after circle casting. And remember that rituals, spellwork, and magick are the manipulation of symbolism as manifested through the use of Cosmic or Universal energy. 


Dr. Sahure is a senior researcher with the Antiquus Research Group and the author of many noteworthy essays and articles about a variety of topics and subjects, including herbalism, ancient history and mythology, ancient Egyptian religion (Kemeticism), metaphysical sciences, ancient religions and theology, astrology, tarot, and divination systems. 


For more in-depth information and discussions about spells and rituals, connect with us at the Applied Occult Metaphysics eGroup:


Article Source:,-Spellwork,-and-Magick&id=3158860 




By understanding the theory of magic and the anatomy of ritual we are able to write and conduct the spells and rituals with the most energy and power. Which of course, is what assists us in manifesting our wants, needs, and desires.



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