The Secret of Magic

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The secret of magic is the same, whether one is talking about the magic of metaphysics, cooking, or art. That is: to combine existing ideas, ingredients or elements into a new concoction that appeals powerfully to people of a particular time and place. Magic is not the creation of new ideas or ingredients, because there is nothing new under the sun. Nor is magic a quest for “truth”, for it is the will and the imagination, not the intellect, that the magician plays upon. Magic lies in combining old elements in a novel way that takes advantage of the knowledge, opportunities and spirit that exist in the magician’s particular milieu. Magic is the art and science of fooling yourself and others, and the magician is a clever thief, trickster, con-artist and showman.

Magic is the art and science of fooling yourself and others, and the magician is a clever thief, trickster, con-artist and showman.

For example, I consider Anton LaVey, Carlos Castaneda and George Lucas to be three of the greatest magicians of the past fifty years, yet none of them had any original ideas. LaVey’s ideas about “Satanism” were borrowed (in some cases directly plagiarized) from the work of Ragnar Redbeard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, Aleister Crowley, P. T. Barnum and others (see this). Castaneda’s ideas, presented as the teachings of the Yaquis Indian sorcerer don Juan, have been traced to various sources including Lama Govinda, Gordon Wasson, Mircea Eliade, Daniel Brinton, Hopi Indian lore and the philosophy of Wittgenstein (see this). The key elements of George Lucas’s Star Wars saga can be traced back to Joseph Campbell’s idea of the “Hero’s Journey”, Frank Herbert’s Dune series, 1940s pulp film serials such as Flash Gordon, Kurosawa’s films, Marvel Comics’ Doctor Doom, DC Comic’s New Gods, and metaphysical ideas from Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Castaneda himself (see this and this).

If Chaos Magic is the form of magic that celebrates the power of borrowing ideas from everywhere and recombining them into something new and inspiring, then LaVey, Castaneda and Lucas were three of the most influential chaos magicians to come along recently. All three were known tricksters who became the centers of new cults that transformed their cultures permanently. Each tapped into powerful elements of their Zeitgeist: in LaVey’s case, a rejection of Christian hypocrisy and hippy-dippy idealism; in Castaneda’s, a hunger for psychedelic experience and expanded consciousness; in Lucas’s, a longing for a new magical fairy tale in the wake of Watergate and the Vietnam War. Going a little further back, we could say similar things about Aleister Crowley, G. I. Gurdjieff and the occult architects of Naziism: each took elements from disparate sources and concocted strange ideological brews out of them that no one had tasted before, yet which satisfied some hunger of their times and thus made them very potent.

Similarly, the “Black Sun Magic” being expounded here combines esoteric elements from all over the place, the sources of which the astute reader should be able to identify. I claim nothing original in this system of thought. Yet for me at least, this dark concoction speaks to something profound about the apocalpytic, nihilistic nature of our times, here at the tail-end of the Kali Yuga age of destruction, in which all the magicians of the recent past have failed to fool us into believing in them, leaving us with nothing to look forward to except the destruction of all things and the end of the age.