Beginners’ Guide to the Theorems of Magick
There are infinite ways to be magickal. There are also infinite ways to be a witch. This article, as a beginners’ guide, is simply one place of many to start your journey or to stop along your path. All content in this article is an analysis and discussion of the introduction of part III of book 4 of Magick in Theory and Practice by The Master Therion (Aleister Crowley). It is linked at the bottom through the internet sacred text archives, which is a wonderful resource for magickal research. To begin, we will need to define some commonly used words in the book.
“Magick”, Master Therion writes, “is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” For example, it is Master Therion’s Will to inform about Magick and its theorems, thus the production and distribution of the book is a magickal act by which Master Therion causes changes according to his will.
He also writes that the postulateーthe assumptions made as the basis of the following theoremsーis that “ANY required change may be affected by the application of the proper kind and degree of Force in the proper manner, through the proper medium to the proper object. (In the present state of our knowledge and power some changes are not possible in practice; we cannot cause eclipses, for instance, or transform lead into tin, or create men from mushrooms. But it is theoretically possible to cause in any object any change of which that object is capable by nature; and the conditions are covered by the above postulate.)”
Theoretically, any change can be made by any person or thing if the correct kind and amount of force is applied in the correct way. The same way that applying force in heat will cook an egg but wouldn’t move a box and pushing force will move the box but not cook the egg. The type of force must be specific to the desired outcome. With the postulate expressed and Magick as an idea defined, we can consider the theorems.
1) Every intentional act is a Magickal act.
By "intentional" I mean "willed". But even unintentional acts so seeming are not truly so. Thus, breathing is an act of the Will to Live.
This first theorem ties into the definition of magick I described earlier. Something as simple as cooking an egg is a magickal act as it is causing change based on what the cook wants. Similarly, a health spell is magickal because it causes the health (or future health) of the subject to change based on what the witch who performed the spell wants. Of course, this definition is broad. However, it allows for a perspective on life that lends itself comfortably to living aware of your own wants, needs, and actions, as well as understanding the impact you have on the world around you. This way of living is important to the practice and understanding of magick.
2) Every successful act has conformed to the postulate.
Theorem two is relatively simple and straightforward. If you succeeded at a task, whether it be a spell or an everyday action, you have applied the correct type and amount of force to the correct object in the correct way.
3) Every failure proves that one or more requirements of the postulate have not been fulfilled.
(Illustrations: There may be failure to understand the case, as when a doctor makes a wrong diagnosis, and his treatment injures the patient. There may be a failure to apply the right kind of force, as when a rustic tries to blow out an electric light. There may be failure to apply the right degree of force, as when a wrestler has his hold broken, There may be failure to apply the force in the right manner, as when one presents a cheque at the wrong window of the Bank. There may be failure to employ the correct medium, as when Leonardo da Vinci saw his masterpiece fade away. The force may be applied to an unsuitable object, as when one tries to crack a stone, thinking it a nut.)
Here Master Therion explains that every failure points to a specific requirement not being met. To use a couple of examples from earlier, if your egg is cooked improperly it could be one or more of the four requirements in the postulate: (1)The type of force: maybe the heat wasn’t on, so the only force enacted was cracking the egg, (2) the degree of force: if the heat was too high or low, (3) the manner in which the force is applied: if the heat is applied from above the pan instead of under it, or (4) the correct medium/object of the force: if you’re trying to cook eggs by breaking light bulbs into the pan or doing everything right but the eggs are frozen.
In much the same way, we as witches can’t cause an eclipse because one of the requirements of the postulate is unmet. The force we are applying might be the wrong type, to the wrong degree, applied in the wrong way, or we may be applying it to the wrong thing. Through trial and error, it is theoretically possible to find the correct type, degree, and application of force and the object of that force to succeed in this goal.
4) The first requisite for causing any change is thorough qualitative and quantitative understanding of the conditions.
(Illustration: The most common cause of failure in life is ignorance of one's own True Will, or of the means to fulfill that Will. A man may fancy himself a painter, and waste his life trying to become one; or he may really be a painter, and yet fail to understand and to measure the difficulties peculiar to that career.)
To change something, you must first understand it deeply and intricately. You as an individual must understand yourself first and foremost. Understand who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, what you want, why you want it, and how you are going to get there. Then, you need to understand what change you are trying to make, what the change will affect, how it will affect you, and the consequences of the change. Only then will the action you take successfully initiate change. If your action is unsuccessful, looking back to theorem three, learn and grow, and try again.
5) The second requisite of causing any change is the practical ability to set in right motion the necessary forces.
(Illustration: A banker may have a perfect grasp of a given situation, yet lack the quality of decision, or the assets, necessary to take advantage of it.)
Practical ability is necessary in every action, and no amount of understanding will allow you to make change if that change is not within your power. Limitations exist and should be recognized, but also tested. It is an inherent part of viewing the world in a magickal perspective that we understand our place within it. As such, we as witches are obligated to test our limitations and understand where they are. Once we have that understanding, we can choose to respect and accept our limitations or to challenge them in very specific ways to try to push our practice further. Whichever of these paths is applicable for you, it is important to understand that some limitations are flexible based on your skill and others are static.