If you go to Google or Yahoo and type in the word “magick, ” you’ll get a lot of listings for black magick, white magick, chaos magick, sex magick and thousands of other kinds of magick. And if you type in the word “magic,” you’ll get something entirely different. So what is magic (or magick)? Is real magic black, white or something else altogether?

In the experience of most magicians with some level of training, magic is neither black nor white, good nor evil. Instead, magic an unchanging set of operating principles that are in effect whether the you know them or not. Magical laws are like physical laws – they are impersonal, fixed and completely immune to bargaining. One of our favorite authors, Paxton Robey, explains it so well in his book “No Time for Karma.” He says, “The Universe and its rules must be seen as impersonal principle if we are to become self empowered beings…Remember the law of gravity. When you jump out of the window, you will go down. On the way you, you might remember about gravity, but the earth will not care one way or the other. Gravity is impersonal so it will not say, ‘She is a pretty good person so maybe we should let her down easy.’” While the idea of impersonal magical forces can seem cold and unfeeling, the good thing about it is that it’s very, very reliable. You’ll never go to make use of magical principle and find that it’s no longer there.

What makes magic so-called “black” or “white” is our intent. Remember that magic is the study of intention. Our intention and attention are what direct the forces of magic in one direction or another. So what do you do when you stumble on a website offering black, white, chaos or sex magic? Use your own experience and observation to decide if whatever they are offering is really right for you. All types of magic are valid. What’s right for you depends on your goals as a magician.

In reality, all forms of magic are just specializations in the same field. Magic is such as vast area of study that every particular branch is just a focused shot in the dark, trying to find out more about this area or that. Voodoo magic is about using the law, “as above, so below” to create effects in the world. What you do to a voodoo doll (as above), you likewise do to the person the doll represents (so below). Chaos magic is about using extreme methods to create heightened states of awareness and consciousness. Love magic is often about making other people fall in love with you.

And that brings up another interesting point. Above, we said that all forms of magic are valid. They are. But some have “sidebands” or side effects that you might not want in your life. For instance, if you cast a love spell that’s supposed to make another person love you, you are binding that person. Binding is a magical problem that causes a backlash. You see, the Universe operates on the principle of reciprocal maintenance, which means that whatever you do to others will also happen to you. So if you bind another person with a love spell, you can be sure that you’ll find your own freedom bound in some way, against your will.

Got it? Good! Check out Rules of the Road, a list of cosmic governing laws put together by George Dew of Church of Seven Arrows. It provides some good rules of thumb when you’re trying to decide whether one form or magic or another would be fun to play with. Read the Rules here.