II. Difference between Religion and Magick
The differentiating factor between religion and magick seems to be whether or not there was a specialist assigned the role as intercessor to the Gods or Elemental Energies. This is also one of the key issues in present day WitchCraft - whether or not each person is a direct link to the energy and can meet their needs without assistance, or if we need those persons who have the time, talents, interest, etc. in being a full-time conduit between these energies and those who consider themselves as Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, etc.
While the jury is still out, the majority of Witches think it would be a travesty if we allowed any third party interpretation or mandatory access to that natural energy we are all heir to as humans and part of the interactive Sacred Play that is Gaia, our world and our spiritual world. Many early religions that began as a one-on-one link with the divine later came to a formal, procedurally bound, mockery of our Divine nature. The power in Paganism is that we claim our power by right, and will never give or dilute it by channeling it through others. We are as much a mirror of the Gods, as they are a reflection of us.
The nature of deity is that we have created a personalized representation of those forces which are awe-inspiring and important to us, and given them characteristics and names so that we may refer to them amongst ourselves handily. Those outside this rich interactive style came to believe that these forces were indeed outside of us, and labeled them as transcendent, or other. As Luke was taught by Obi Wan and Yoda, there is a life-force which all beings naturally have. We are part of it, have need of it, and can learn to listen and use it. Only recently did we forget as a race, that it is our birthright and the nature of our being. Life, death, rebirth, creation, beauty - these are all a natural use of the energy so readily available.
There is a wonderful book called When Santa was a Shaman (1995 Llewellyn Publications) Tony van Renterghem makes a basic and fascinating distinction between types of religions. He breaks down the major religions into either supplication or celebration. The rituals and ceremonies associated with these religions, also divides up into those categories.
If one is a member of a religion that is supplicatory, you would appeal to this God for assistance, you would bargain with them - perhaps appropriate behavior for benediction of some sort. However, the overall character of the relationship is that this God, good or bad, is completely in charge of the relationship and must be deferred to and placated in order to achieve happiness and success - perhaps even ongoing life. This is not an equitable relationship, the God is totally in charge. Typically, they are not bound by any rules of behavior, either. So, it is a somewhat perilous relationship.
Magick to appease the gods is not uncommon. Folks try to figure out what precisely it is they have to do in order to avoid a bad storm, too much rain, too little rain, etc., etc. The one thing we don't seem to have a good handle on is that we are a part of Nature, and that the ultimate confluence of many, many events bring into concert those components which make it rain. There is much evidence which shows that we can influence and encourage these situations, but in general, we are part of the entire system and cannot create nor beg for Nature to turn on Her head for our benefit. Always keep in mind that when one intervenes for somebody, then there are other places which may now be lacking in those things you have called to you. Be certain to do all workings for the good of all - otherwise you may find you have created strife and hardship for others to satisfy a minor whim. Besides, appeasing and placating gods is a loosing battle for control over one's life. Because we cannot see the larger whole, and there is no way to grasp all the intricacies and complexities of a situation, we cannot foresee all the detail that would allow us to forecast success in providing whatever ritual, ceremony, sacrifice, or other action that would make a God/dess smile on us, and bring good fortune. To be honest, one would have to be incredibly confident, or deluded, to ever be comfortable in a religion that required you to constantly attempt to reading the changing will of the deity.
In the instance of placating the Gods, it is in our interest to invest our energy only in those areas we wish to encourage development in, rather than to spend a lot of energy trying to avoid the ill effects from a trickster God/dess or a God/dess of destruction. Do not devote a lot of time to a God/dess of chaos, or other poor behaviors. You would concentrate instead on the God/dess you prefer prevail. Lots of energy to justice, to success, etc. Just be very careful what you ask for. As far as praying or performing magick to a God/dess for prosperity, we do far better to bend our will and make as many of the arrangements as we can through our own efforts.
Magick for luck and good fortune is always considered fair, if you back it up by contributing as much of your daily efforts as possible to your goals. If you want a good job, you must read the papers, respond to inquiries, be prepared to interview, go to work on time each day, etc. All the spells in the world will not work, if your personal actions work in opposition, i.e. you do a love spell, but you never bathe, or go out to places where you might meet someone, or, you do a spell for success, but all you ever do is whine and make excuses, rather than put effort into attaining the type of lifestyle you say you desire. If you actions and stated desires are not in concert, then your internal focus and will are not working on your goals, and the magick or energy working is too diffuse to have any effect.
Magick is not simple, not easy, not a panacea for the lazy person.
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