Science and Magic

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We might picture magic as opposed to science where science is natural and magic is supernatural. But here we have one of those deceptively simple binaries that are worth questioning. Besides, in recent years, the axioms of quantum physicists start to sound like mystics, and many begin to use language that marries science and magic. For example, today a Google search yields 597 hits for the unusual phrase “quantum magic,” and 102 for “quantum sorcery.” But long before the latest science, the public mind was seeking a blend of worlds, at this writing, Google-net shows us 48,600 references to “spiritual science.” Of course many of these links have little to do with science and quiet a number bear little or no relation to anything truly spiritual. But the links do reflect how the mass mind responds to psycho-spiritual atmospheric pressure–an integrative pressure seeking manifestation in human culture.

We might think of “supernatural” as the unexplored natural, then a true magician would be a scientist in disguise. Or we might think that there is only the natural and that a true magician is a developing scientist. Or we could discard the word “magic” altogether in favor of a less burdened term. But this is contrary to the powerful wave that is solidifying the idea of magic in the public mind. This wave finds expression in numerous new mythologies, in books, and motion pictures. Much of this material is of a superficial kind, yet everything has a higher or deeper correspondence, and a writer or artist will sometimes bring through something of magical significance. There is this beautiful passage by Thomas Wolfe, from his book “Time and the River:”

“At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, an image of unutterable conviction, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being–the reward he seeks–the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, to make his life prevail through his creation, to wreak the vision of his life, the rude and painful substance of his own experience, into the congruence of blazing and enchanted images that are themselves the core of life, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed, the kernel of eternity.”

In this, we find a subtler sense of the meaning of “charms” and “spells” associated with magical lore. The passage is about invocation, and it does address the supernatural, but it’s not so much phenomenological as psychological and spiritual, or if it is phenomenal, it places us in the realm of right motivation. There is in it the definition of magic as manifest spirit, the union of heaven and earth.

So then, the magician is thinker and creator, and good thought is like magic out of the air, like a clear day when the atmosphere sings with subtle possibilities. Magic is soul force, a secret wind that electrifies the body and collapses the space between points. It stimulates the spirit of service and makes the eyes supernaturally bright.

 

Art by David Urbanke

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