The tricky question of magic; A rational approach…





“…The tricky question of magic

Magic is not focal or central to paganism. Pagans can be pagans without using or believing in magic.

The association of paganism and magic is to some extent a historical accident. And from the point of view of the scientific pantheist, this association is unfortunate.

One tenet of scientific pantheism is to keep an open mind. Fifty years ago mainstream medicine would never have accepted that the mind can influence the course of disease. Today the placebo effect is well proven and quite strong. We know that the state of the mind can affect the state of the immune system and the course and prognosis of many illnesses.

So scientific pantheism would be obliged to keep an open mind about magic. Our minds can influence our own bodies, our actions, our determination, our focus and concentration. We may also become more persuasive, more able to influence others to do as we would like. If we “psych” ourselves up sufficiently, we are often capable of feats that seemed almost impossible.

But can our minds control matter, other than our own bodies, directly? Can they influence other minds out of our physical reach, just by thinking? If these things were possible, it would mean that the human mind were separate from matter, and able to move through time and space independently of the body. To accept this would involve a radical rethink of the scientific pantheist outlook, of science as a whole, and of most people’s normal ways of looking at the world.

As Carl Sagan remarked: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Before the reality of magic is regarded as fact, before we radically revise science and philosophy, there would have to be the most rigorous and repeated tests showing a clear effect, far beyond what could be expected by chance. Until such evidence is available, the empirical pantheist would do well to withhold believe in magic.

It may well be that, even when magic appears to be successful, other explanations are much more likely. For example, humans regularly overestimate the odds against many types of coincidence in a world with 5,700 million inhabitants, and may attribute coincidence to the workings of providence or of magic. We may forget the times when things didn’t work out the way we wanted, more readily than we forget the times when they did….”


Art title: ‘ Cosmic muse’ by artist: ~ Daily Inspirationby RazielMB @

Notes from the artist: “Daily Inspiration Shadowness

My art is dedicated to my Muse, my wife! Tomorrow is her birthday. ❤
Ich liebe dich meine Göttin!!!  ❤ “

4 thoughts on “The tricky question of magic; A rational approach…

  1. I really appreciate this view at the moment. Since coming across a criticism of Jung, and the claim he falsified his research into the collective unconscious, essentially calling into question the concept and factuality of archetypes in general, this post has more relevance for me and puts the archetype idea into a more artistic and subjective realm.

    • You are so welcome! I must admit I am not updated on many of the most recent arguments and discussions on such things these days. I do and don’t find it hard to believe people are criticizing Jung’s work. There will always be critiques and people who search for holes in things. We need rational thinkers like that but I have found in my personal life and with raising children, that much of what Jung taught we live everyday in our minds and the minds we help form. His teachings on archetypes is very relevant in my own experience and personal observations despite the gathering furies of protesters.

      • I liked Jung when I was a practicing pagan. For me, when I started reading about Western history in a mainstream context and also about the philosophy of art covering up truth, I ran into some weird spiritual issues that have been problematic for all the insight they provided at the time. It may have been a personal historical moment or something for me that keeps me returning to that intersection of ideas but I have not been able to pick up mythology for several years. It’s definitely problematic and has been for some time. The mind needs to be able to dream and fantasize and if it can’t it creates problems that I am beginning to suspect are related to impulse control for me on a personal level.

      • I understand more than you may realize. As I blog, sharing so much of what I have stored on my records from the main FB page, it feels disjointed and disconnected. I’ve had two such epochs. The first was with ceremonial magic studies, pagan studies and heavy spiritual development in my 20’s and then in my mid 30’s, as I reached out to absorb the wealth of spirituality found in Buddhism and Taoism. I have been at a physical and spiritual crossroads for years now and what I share seems like a dream from another life that I keep returning to. I think it is good though that we have had these times of “spiritual crisis” or doubts, etc. because it reminds us that we must also balance the fantastical with critical thinking. Sometimes one may rule our lives more than the other but finding a place of balance while continue to learn is idealistically optimal, though not always practical. I very much understand your last sentence too and do relate.

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