1. Peter Nascien
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As well as her work as a practicing occultist and leader of a magical fraternity, Dion Fortune wrote extensively about the subject of magic in her textbooks and novels. Many have attempted to define the mysterious ‘energy’ or ‘activity’ we call magic, but their descriptions differ to such an extent that we might be justified in wondering if they are all describing the same thing! Here is a brief sample of definitions taken from the internet and although there are many other - and arguably better - descriptions available, the following statements do reflect the current general perception of the magical arts.
References
  1. http://www.dionfortune.co.uk/articles/magic-of-dion-fortune
John Accepted Answer
As the article mentions it Magic, like Science or Religion are words to describe certain stages of knowledge and (what I believe) certain intentions.
What was called impossible a hundred years ago is now our every day life. A smartphone or the computer I am actually writing on, would have been magic-machines a couple of hundred years ago. So on the rational-plane these words could describe concepts that we didn't understand yet or that we already implemented into our rational world.
Beyond this mere cognitive examination of the understanding, I believe it is the mentioned intention to focus on very basic laws of cosmos. Self-inspiration could be such a law. We meditate and so we intentionally focus our mind-energies towards a certain concept. This concept was born out of the cosmos, as it was born out of ourselves, as well as the intention itself. So when we use this cosmic force, we step into the hermetic bi-directionality of "as above so below". I believe we close a gap, so that intentions can freely flow through our minds. These inspirations are another part of cosmic laws (we naturally call creativity), where we could ask "Where does these images come from?" And whatever we answer here, this basic mechanisms (focussing our mind and getting inspired through ourselves) alone are magic - or at least the entrance into more complex system of possibilities of the mind.

Science concentrates on the phenomenas of the surrounding world. I believe we shouldn't use this scientific-view to explore "Magic" where we expect magical things to happen around us, like telekinesis or something like that. We should train to use and so explore the mind, what I believe to be the most powerful and magical tool of our human existence.
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Nova Genista Accepted Answer
Moderator
Thank you, John, for your very interesting and thought provoking comments.
The use of 'magic', 'science' and 'religion' as words to describe states of knowledge reminded me of Thorndike's History of Magic and Experimental Science (written a while ago and, as I recall, about 15K pages long, but well worth a visit for folk interested in that area). The words can be used in that way but cannot there, equally validly, be 'the science of magic' and 'the magic of science'? We use the same words to mean so many different things.
I recall attending a talk on alchemy in Glastonbury a couple of years ago. There, it seemed to me, most of the audience were of a mind that science is scary and all scientists are bad. Of course, that is no more valid than a view that all magic is scary and all magicians are bad.
Fortunately, it appears to me that occultists and scientists are no longer at loggerheads. Indeed, it is not unusual now for folk to be both - and not be wary of others knowing it.
Much scientific research today is targeted at understanding our physical and natural world (I would include the mind in that). It is increasingly being found that much that is known and understood about our physical world does not hold true when applied to the very large (cosmic) and the very small (subatomic) [as above, so below!]. In consequence, much research is applied to those areas.
I would be loath to accept that folk should not apply a scientific view to magic should they wish to, no more than the proper application of magic should be prohibited. If folk wish to explore the 'how' and 'why' for whatever reason then, to me, that is fine - it does not stop the rest of us getting on with the application of magic in the meantime.
I welcome the breaking down of barriers between science and magic - letting us all move on in greater harmony than before.
Wow, John, there is so much in what you said. It just prompted another thought that I must dwell on, so I will sign off for now. Thank you again for your contributions.
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
Moderator
Thank you John for your very thoughtful response. I am particularly taken with your final comment that the mind is…..'the most powerful and magical tool of our human existence.' I so agree! Its potency is inconceivable. Perhaps, one day, we will all fully function as minds. We will be very different, then.
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John Accepted Answer
Thank you Nova, for your reply. What you said about the opinions regarding "science is scary" or "scientists are bad" or the scientific opinion pointing over to the magical aspects of our existence by claiming "it is not true or bad" or whatever, I remember a lecture I gave a couple of weeks ago (not an official one, as I am no Professor or so, but with friends).
We people tend to find out "the right thing in our lives". This "right" thing implies a "wrong" as well and all together forms our opinion towards a certain subject (and in basic terms we speak about the construct we call "reality";). But as with all constructs, reality is formed in our very relative (i.e. subjective) minds. All the combined aspects the most people agree to, are called "reality". This can be mathematics, gravity, love or the answer to the simple question "Where can I get 7 tons of cement?". One very fundamental tool to explore the unknown of our surrounding world is the concept of "science". Many people rely on that, without truly understanding it. I studied psychology and quantitative methods (the basic language of modern science) is a fundamental part of it. I am very grateful that I understand the methods of science that I can clearly define what kind of power it has to shape my own reality.
Science uses the language of mathematics to test certain scientific statements. Rationally speaking the problem of science is the transformation from the cognitive concept into the concept of mathematics. To keep it short and simple: one has to believe that this transformation underlies an objective basis, otherwise every result of the testt would be just a relative one. And there is the problem with scientific statements: they come as pseudo-objective-answers to subjective questions of the world. The answer cannot be more than a relative one and that is where the opinions of the people polarise.
I personally believe that the modern quantitative science is the best cognitive tool to test certain aspects of the shared-reality. But it reflects nothing more but a very small angle of the overall reality, because science needs the conceptualisation of transforming a certain idea into the language of mathematics. And there aren't many phenomenas that can be transformed in a proper way. Many experiments end with the statement "Probably the variable wasn't operationalizable." That means that the construct, which had to be tested wasn't properly transformed into the language of mathematics, so that the results don't allow a final scientific statement about the whole process. And what about all the self-inspiration through meditation? This whole field of experience cannot be processed via modern-scientific tools.

Well, my personal opinion about all that, is that I believe that all of these aspects belong to our reality, that all aspects are part of it and that our cosmos doesn't know good or bad or right or wrong, but pure existence...but oh my, I don't want to over stress this post.

One final word to Peter (thanks for your reply, too):
As the basic principle of our Cosmos could be transformation, aren't we changing all the time in the light of our minds?

Sigh...I for myself always come to the conclusion, that everything is magic (as everything is mind).

J
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Nova Genista Accepted Answer
Moderator
Hi John
Thank you for your comments. You know, I have a suspicion we are all on a similar track. Mathematics - yes, just another system of symbols to try to explain things that elude ready expression in other ways. Sadly, some folk who generate such equations claim that, because they can depict some aspect of the cosmos (to their own satisfaction) through the medium of mathematics, they claim that they understand all, and extrapolate that to say they have proved that there is no god or are no gods and so on - usually whilst, as you suggest, also accepting that such equations are never quite accurate. Happily, it appears to me that, as time passes, fewer and fewer scientists are taking that dogmatic approach. Most accept there is a great deal that is not known - and potentially cannot be known in a 'scientific' way - doesn't stop anyone trying.
With regard to Dion Fortune's work, each time I read her Cosmic Doctrine I find it surprising how some of the symbolism described in that appears to correlate with modern scientific symbolism which it seems unlikely would have been familiar to her at the time it was written.
Thank you again for your comments.
Nova
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