BMW states magic itself is neutral – meaning there is no such thing as black or white or good v evil magic. It is the practitioners who often distinguish between good, or white magic and bad, or black magic—as these distinctions are subjective.

Bardon divided magic into three types:

  • Lower magic, which deals with the laws of nature and control of forces in nature, such as the ELEMENTS
  • Intermediate magic, which deals with the laws of human beings in the microcosm, and how the microcosm can be influenced
  • Higher magic, which deals with the universal laws of the macrocosm and how they can be controlled

Types of Magic

Characteristics of different magic systems.

Black Magic.

Black magic is used for malevolent purposes—to harm or to kill. According to tradition, black magic is accomplished with the aid of demonic entities. Other terms for it are goetic magic or goetia.

Levi said in The History of Magic, “Black Magic may be defined as the art of inducing artificial mania in ourselves and in others; but it is also above all the science of poisoning.”

Waite termed black magic as the utterance of words and names of power for “unlawful purposes” and “the realm of delusion and nightmare, though phenome- nal enough in its results.” It involves communing with demons and evil spirits for materialistic gain or harmful purpose.

In The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts, Waite said that black magic is not a profane rendition of religion, and:

. . . it is not to do outrage to God in the interests of diab- olism, but to derive power and virtue from above for the more successful control of Evil Spirits, and this obtains indifferently whether the purpose of the operator be oth- erwise lawful or not.

. . . God acknowledged and invoked by Goetic Magic is not the Principle of Evil, as the myth of modern Satan- ism supposes, but the “terrible and venerable Deity” who destroyed the power of the rebellious angels, the Jehovah of the Jewish rituals and the Trinity of the Christian magi- cal cycle.

Black magic is associated with sorcery and witchcraft.

The Christian church associated pagan and folk magic as “black magic.”


Chaos Magic.

Chaos magic developed in the 1960s that dispenses with the pomp and ceremony of ritual magic and evocation of gods and spirits. AUSTIN OSMAN SPARE is considered the “father” of chaos magic for his emphasis on the power of the subconscious mind and his system of SIGILS. Chaos magic is not about disorder, as the name might imply, but rather focuses on order that is beyond conscious understanding. It combines elements of Eastern mysticism and Western ritual magic.

The practitioner summons power from deep within the subconscious rather than calling upon the power of outside agencies. Ritual is used to evoke images from the subconscious and to release magical power.

Ray Sherwin developed chaos magic theory and early rituals. With Julian Carroll, Sherwin formed a “Circle of Chaos” for interested practitioners in England. Peter J. Carroll wrote Liber Null and Psychonaut, chaos magick training manuals, and was a leader in the formation of the Initiates of Thanateros in 1977, the primary chaos magic organization.

Liber Null—half of which is devoted to the black arts, a “natural inclination” of humans—teaches that magical abilities are attained through altered states of conscious- ness, which can be learned “without any symbolic system except reality itself.” Psychonaut is intended for group magic and shamanic practice.

Gray Magic.

Gray magic is a term sometimes applied to the morally ambiguous and subjective nature of magical power. For example, a curse might be black magic from one perspective, but if it is used to stop an evil, then it is considered justifiable and falls into the realm of gray magic, perhaps even good magic.

In ancient times, the moral and ethical uses of magic were often quite ambiguous. Curses were regularly made against enemies and rivals of all sorts as supernatural means by which people sought revenge and tried to gain advantage.

Folk Magic

Local traditions of folk magic address casting SPELLS for healing, luck, protection, and so forth. Folk magic blends other forms of magic, often with mixed religious elements. Folk magic remedies and prescriptions are handed down in oral traditions and in small handbooks.

Natural Magic.

Magic based on nature makes use of herbs, stones, crystals, the commanding of the elements and the influences of planets and stars. Natural magic draws on the inherent magical properties of things. Phil- ters, potions, powders, OINTMENTS, and so forth are based on natural magic recipes combined with folk magic incantations and charms.

Practical Magic.

Practical magic is a term used for applied magical and psychic arts, such as clairvoyance, divination and prophecy, ASTRAL TRAVEL, healing, and spell-casting. Practical magic makes use of many techniques in other forms of magic.

Ceremonial Magic.

Also called: High Magic, Ritual Magic, “transcendental magic”

Ceremonial magic is a Western occult discipline that is part of the “Great Work”—spiritual enlightenment and self-mastery, and, in the highest sense, union with God or the Godhead. Through magical ritual, the initiate seeks to purify himself as a channel for divine Light dedicated to the service of the divine and humanity.

In Tree of Life, Israel Regardie describes ritual magic as “a spiritual science. It is a technical system of training which has a divine objective, rather than a mundane terrestrial one.”

Ritual magic is highly disciplined. The initiate must become skilled in meditation, concentration, and visual- ization and the ability to focus thought, will, and imagi- nation. Other necessary skills involve proficiency in rituals, with proper uses of magical tools, symbols, sigils and other accoutrements; and proficiency in at least some forms of practical magic.

The initiate must develop inner plane contacts with gods, angels, and entities and learn how to access and navigate in the astral plane. With suffi- cient practice the magician can dispense with the physical and work entirely on the inner planes within an interior magic circle.

Performing rituals alone does not guarantee the success of ritual magic. A crucial ingredient is the ability of the magician to raise intense enthusiasm, even frenzy, that augments the release of magical power in a ritual.

Enthusiastic or frenzied energy can determine the suc- cess of any kind of magic. Francis Barrett observed in The Magus, “The reason why exorcisms, charms, incantations, etc. do sometimes fail of their desired effect, it is because the unexcited mind or spirit of the exorcist renders the words dull or ineffectual.”

Ritual magic is practiced in groups, such as lodges, which have closed memberships; by fellowships; and in solitary form by individuals, usually with the help of a mentor. Most Western ritual magic follows the tradition honed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Sympathetic Magic.

Sympathetic magic is exerted at a distance through associations that establish a connection for the flow of power. One of the best-known sympathetic magic tools is the poppet, a doll, that substitutes for a per- son. The connection is strengthened by attaching to the doll photographs, hair, or personal objects of the victim.

Anything can be used to establish a sympathetic connection. The best items are from a person’s body, such as HAIR AND NAIL CLIPPINGS. Personal possessions or any object handled by a person can be used. A gift can be magically charged and entered into a home or place as a magi- cal Trojan horse.

Australian aborigines put sharp pebbles or ground glass in the footprints of enemies as sympathetic magic to weaken and destroy them. The Ojibwa use a straw effigy to drive evil away from their communities. If a member has a dream of disaster, a straw man is erected that sub- stitutes for the trouble. The people eat, smoke tobacco, and ask for blessings. They attack the straw effigy, shoot- ing it and clubbing it until it is in pieces. The remains are burned.


White Magic.

White magic is used for positive goals, such as healing, blessings, good luck, and abundance. White magic can involve any form of magic when used for beneficence.