We are living in the most magical environment in centuries, and perhaps, the most magical environment since the beginning of civilization.
We have more opportunities to learn magic and to work magic than any of our known ancestors. In most countries, we can do so without fear of the Inquisition and without fear of local courts (who, history has shown, were far more likely to murder accused witches than the Church ever was). And the currents of magic – the pools of magical energy we can draw on – are deeper and stronger than they’ve been in a very long time – likely several millennia.
This is an era of high magic
Do you recognize the opportunity you have?
Are you going to take advantage of it?
“High magic” = high intensity
Before we begin, I need to make a clarification.
I don’t hear the phase “high magic” nearly as much as I did when I started on this journey in the 1990s. Some traditions use it to mean ceremonial magic – the magic of the grimoires. Other traditions use it to mean the kind of magic done to refine the soul – as opposed to “low magic,” which is magic done to bring about a desired result. Both of those forms of magic are good and necessary – one isn’t better than the other.
When I say “high magic” I mean high volume. I mean the needle on the magic meter is, if not pegged, well over on the right (does that metaphor still work for a generation who’s only seen digital gauges?).
I’m not talking about a type of magic, I’m talking about the intensity of magic.
People rarely recognize they’re living in a magical age
In his book The Myth of Disenchantment, Jason Josephson-Storm showed that in every era, people claim that there used to be a time when the world was enchanted and magic was a part of everyday life. But that time is always in the past. In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote that once “all was this land fulfild of fayerye” but “now kan no man se none elves mo.”
Meanwhile, the experiences of the current generation become the tales of a bygone magical age for the next generation.
Those of us who practice magic (in any form) understand that magic isn’t gone. We know it’s still here, because we’re doing it. But too often, we assume that magic was better “way back then” – whenever “then” is assumed to be.
I don’t think that’s correct – here’s why.
More people are practicing magic than ever before
There are no census records of magical practitioners. But even if the percentage of people practicing magic has dropped since ancient times (something I seriously doubt, but I suppose it’s possible) the massive explosion in world population since the beginning of the Industrial Age in the 1700s makes it almost certain there are more people stirring cauldrons, making charms, and summoning spirits now than ever before. That’s true in the West, and it’s especially true in those cultures that never (officially) abandoned magic.
More people practicing magic means more magic floating around in the world, which contributes to a magical environment – the strongest magical environment in the history of humanity.
Information on magic has never been easier to get
We can be certain that there are more books on magic and witchcraft available today than ever before. Just look at your bookshelf. I don’t mean the shelves at your local witchcraft shop – I mean your own shelves. How many do you have?
Without a doubt, this is the golden age of magical publishing. Llewellyn and Weiser publish to the masses. Smaller houses like Scarlet Imprint publish specialty works. Self-publishing and print-on-demand technology mean that books with very narrow interests (and thus very small audiences) are readily available. Legendary books from antiquity and from the Middle Ages have been republished – many of them in English.
Are they all good? Of course not. When were they ever all good? Have you read some of the spells in the Greek Magical Papyri? But plenty are good. Finding them is easy, getting them is quick and cheap, and you don’t have to hide them to keep from getting burned at the stake.
Magical instruction has never been easier to find
Though I was older than most, I’m part of the generation of “Barnes & Noble Pagans” who learned magic, witchcraft, and Paganism from the books we got from mainstream bookstores in the 1990s. Whether your magic is religious or secular or both, there’s more than enough in print to get you started.
But some people want – or need – personal instruction. And while that’s not as quick and easy as ordering books with Amazon Prime, thanks to the internet it’s easier than ever before. Social media makes it possible to connect with people in your preferred tradition. If you can’t find someone to teach you in-person, you can find people who will teach you online. I teach online classes and I do one-on-one instruction via the internet. So do many other teachers.
If you’re looking for in-person instruction in a particular tradition, it may not be possible to find someone near you. And even if you do, there’s no guarantee they’ll take you. No one is entitled to anyone’s services, and each tradition has their own requirements for who they’ll accept.
But if you need individual help, it’s out there.
The currents of magic are getting stronger
What we’ve talked about so far is fairly obvious. What I’m talking about here is my subjective analysis – very close to UPG. But I’m not the only one who sees things this way, and there’s some logic behind these conclusions.
Magic works in three ways. One way is through the intercession of Gods and spirits.
Since the beginning of the modern Pagan movement in the late 19th century, Gods and other spirits have been more active in our world. Did They go away when Christianity took over Europe and much of the rest of the world? Were They subsumed into Nature? Or were They here as always, only nobody noticed them? You can make a case for any and all of those possibilities. What’s certain is that more people are hearing Them and responding to Them now than in the recent past. And because we can hear Them, we can ask Them for Their interventions and Their blessings.
The Gods are not vending machines. But when what we ask is in alignment with Their virtues and values, and especially when it’s something we need to help us carry out Their work in this world, They’re likely to say yes.
Another way magic works is through psychological programming. I like to say that magic works on action and not on belief, but Dr. Dean Radin’s research shows that people who believe in magic get better magical results. More people believing in magic means more people doing magic which means more magic happens.
The pools of magical energy are getting deeper
The third way magic works is through the manipulation of unseen energies.
We can argue about whether or not magical energy is really energy, but it’s a useful term even if it’s only a metaphor (I have a poet friend who rolls her eyes every time someone says “only a metaphor” – as if metaphors aren’t inherently powerful on their own). What I’m talking about here is the potential that’s available for us to draw on with our spells and workings.
Why are these currents getting stronger? My hypothesis is that the currents of magic wax and wane on a natural cycle. We hit a bottom point in that cycle somewhere in the 20th century. Now they’re growing stronger again, and they’re growing stronger in a hurry. I expect they will continue to grow for quite some time.
We were having some good conversations about this a few years ago. Then Covid and political difficulties shifted our attention elsewhere. I hope we can start talking about it again, because while I have my own observations and thoughts, the more people who speak up the more data points we have, and the better job we can do of creating an accurate and helpful narrative around the data.
More uncertainty means more opportunities for magic to work
Maybe I’ve just spent too much time around chaos magicians, but I’m convinced that magic doesn’t make things happen. Rather, magic improves the odds that things will happen. And that means that there has to be some uncertainty in a situation to give magic the opportunity to do its thing. The more a situation is locked in, the less effective magic will be in changing it.
I get anxious around disorder. I do my best to plan and prepare my way around disorder. But as anyone who’s ever examined how the phrase “law and order” plays out in society knows, “order” doesn’t mean good and just and right. If the established order is against you and yours, disorder presents you with the opportunity to change things.
And what is magic but “the science and art of creating change in conformity with will?”
As our wider society becomes more disorderly, and as established institutions continue to crumble and fall, there are more opportunities to create change through magical means.
It’s up to us to create something that’s better and not just different.
Our dysfunctional society creates a need for magic
If you can fill your needs through ordinary means, why wouldn’t you? I mean, you can try to conjure a demon to bring you a cheeseburger, but it would be a lot easier to just drive through McDonalds.
But some things aren’t as simple as hitting the drive-thru. Maybe you need a place to live in a housing market that’s being manipulated by corporate greed. Maybe your fundamental rights were taken away by religious zealots. When people can’t get what they need through ordinary means, they resort to extraordinary means.
So not only do we live in an era where magic is common, and where the conditions are more conducive to magic than they’ve been in centuries, we live in an era where the need for magic is great.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
And of magic and witchcraft.
This is where we are
Living in an era of high magic doesn’t mean we’re in some fantasy novel where instant gratification is guaranteed… though our ancestors might look at the internet, Amazon, and Door Dash and think otherwise.
It doesn’t mean we’re exempt from the ordinary difficulties of life. To borrow from our Buddhist friends, even in an era of high magic we still have to chop wood and carry water.
What it means is that we have the ability to change our lives for the better through non-ordinary methods, and the environment for doing that is better than it’s been in hundreds if not thousands of years.
And so is the need to do it.
Magic isn’t for everyone. Some traditions – including some Pagan traditions – consider it impious. It’s not safe. Everyone who’s practiced magic has a story of burning their fingers… or worse. And while it can be done by anyone, some people just aren’t interested. So be it.
But I’m interested.
I’m interested in understanding this era in which we live. Most of us got tired of living in “unprecedented times” a couple years ago, but when it comes to magically unprecedented times, I’m intrigued. I want to know what’s going on, and why.
Because if I’m right, or close to right, this era of high magic is going to be with us for a long time.
And I want to know what I can do with it.
What about you?