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Magic (black and white)

Updated: Aug 28, 2023


The first question people ask when you say you are a magician is: “Oooh, do you do white or black magic?” (perhaps they’ll add, “I do hope it’s white magic,” but, really, they want it to be black magic). Well, the question is a dud, as these questions about careers often are, because the first rule—the null rule, the zero (0) rule—in magic is that there is no difference between black and white magic.

Restrain yourselves. I know certain people in the audience, looking at the Christians here, will be clutching their proverbial pearls: “See, I told you—he’s in league with the Devil, he’ll curse us all; he drinks cat’s blood, I’ll be bound.” Perhaps a cross or two will be felt for, either dangled between pendulous bosoms or concealed amid very thick, very black Mediterranean chest hair (also the case for certain women).

But look, if you think there’s black magic and white magic then you don’t have what Christians call “faith”—no, really. You’re still one of those people who thinks that life is filled with “good” and “evil” events. Well, to keep in the Christian idiom, where’s your faith in God?

Let’s put it in a Buddhistic way: the Buddhists say “good“ and “evil” are just the coracle to cross the great water, the great river—once you get to the far side you’ll see these are an illusion. You just needed those illusions to attain enlightenment—and enlightened people know there is no “good” or “evil”, not really; not in the final analysis.

To stay in Asia, you might remember this story, possibly I got it out of a fortune cookie in a restaurant in London’s Chinatown (possibly not), about the old farmer: his son wins a prize horse at the country fair, his neighbours say, “So lucky”—the farmer says, “We’ll see”; his son falls off the horse and breaks his arm and can’t help with the harvest, his neighbours say, “Such misfortune”—the farmer says, “We’ll see”; a war is declared and the recruiters come for the local boys to conscript them into the army, they take everyone except the farmer’s son; his neighbours say, “So lucky”—the farmer says, “We’ll see…”

And so it goes on—it can go on in an indefinite manner—if I could be bothered to tell it properly. So what does all that mean? It means that if you feel despair about the world—about good or evil things that happen to other people, or your country, or yourself (I assume mainly yourself, if you have any sense)—then you don’t have religion. Because to have religion is to accept everything, and if you accept everything then there are no good or evil things—there are events, there is reality; and the way we respond to what befalls us and what surrounds us is “we’ll see”.

That’s the difference between moralism and wisdom—wise people accept everything without judgement, foolish people judge everything. It is hard to accept everything without judgement.

Magic takes place in the unus mundus—that is the place where there is no before and after, no good or evil, no life or death, no cause and effect. If you think about “black” and “white” you aren’t there—you can’t do magic (you haven’t crossed the great water). “But how does that help me get what I want out of it…?”. Well, you have a gaining mind—the whole point is to desire without desire and yet here you come saying, “How can I get something out of it? When do I get my treat, my reward?”.

Yet I say life and death are the same thing—and that there is no good or evil. And that disturbs you.


The Sufis say that if you feel anxious or afraid then you have not reached liberation. You still live in the past or the future, you do not live in the now—if you lived in the now you would see that life and death are the same thing, and so would know no fear. I am not at this stage yet—still a little distant.

In the same way, you would have no internal monologue (or dialogue)—no chatter. Your mind should be blank, without calculation—only then will your intuition speak, the words will come without calculation (as will the acts). Only then do you do Allah’s will—or, as I would say, do you operate with a purified magical will (you don’t even need spells). Men who operate in this mode are those who can walk on water and heal the sick—and, if they throw themselves from a bridge, survive the fall.

That is what it means to live in the unus mundus—and people who think that there is “good” and “evil” are not there (dualistic thought, the Buddhists would say). You cannot make a mistake—there is no correct or incorrect here.

The magical will is a single unified dot, like the bindi; it is consciousness totally gathered into a single point—the opposite to the dissolution and disruption we find in modernity. It speaks from the silence; if there is chatter, that is anticipation: it is temporal—it thinks about past and future, about life and death, about good and evil.

Intuition knows no such division—because it is eternal.


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