Sorcerers of all ranks and orders tend to approach magick in one of a handful of ways. None is particularly wrong, and none is necessarily right. (Certain approaches can feel uncomfortable or counter-intuitive for certain practitioners, but this doesn’t make the model or working system inappropriate. It just means it’s a bad fit for that Witch.)
Frater U.D., a German occultist, categorized these “Models/Paradigms of Magick” into five groups. What is helpful about understanding these working models is gaining an appreciation for your own approach, as well as being able to adapt the work of others to suit your own preferred approach. It is from this place that a Spirit Model practitioner like me, can still find benefit from the writings of occultists working in, for instance, the Psychological Model. It makes the work of other more approachable and adaptable.
This model is the epitome of Lon Milo DuQuette’s saying, “[Magick] is all in your head. You just have no idea how big your head is.” This model takes the stance that all magick affects the inner planes, and that daemons, angels, and other Spirits are projections of the Self. This model falls easily in line with Jungian psychology and the exploration of archetypes as projections of the Collective Unconscious. Practitioners working within this model generally have little or no problem with what I have termed “Spirit torture” (binding, threatening, and inflicting pain on Spirits such as daemons) because, as far as they’re concerned, they are whipping some aspect of their own psyches into line. (It could be argued that since they approach the work from this perspective, they are indeed never reaching or impacting Spirits.)
This model stands in direct contrast to the Psychological Model. Those working within the Spirit Model view daemons, angels, Gods, and Goddesses as distinct and separate individuals with lives and intentions of their own. They are not projections of the Mage or Witch, but exist independently of us. Practitioners working within this model tend to lean toward traditional and folk magick practices, and their worldview tends toward animism and related beliefs.
The Energy Model of magic accepts that something exists outside of the observer, but doesn’t claim to know precisely what it is. Like forms of energy that are described by science, Powers in this model tend to be thought of as currents that can be described and categorized (and then utilized) to achieve various goals. In this model, daemons and Godds are similar to elemental, thermodynamic, electromagnetic, or other types of energies. They are forces at work in the Universe that the sciences haven’t been able to quantify and define yet.
The Information (or Cyber) Model is perhaps the newest paradigm of magick to be described, and it was a concept developed by Frater U.D. himself based on observation and experimentation. The Cyber Model views the Powers that perform magickal operations as a sort of blank medium upon which the Mage or Witch stamps or feeds an imprint or template. It is the information provided by the operator (practitioner) that programs the Power. This is different than the Energy Model, where Powers are seen as already having a texture, flavor, color, etc, and Powers similar to one’s intention are gathered or generated to fuel the work. In the Information Model, the Power is pure potential, and the Mage gives it texture, color, etc.
The Chaos Model is sometimes not included with this list — and sometimes it is. It is very much worth including in our discussion, though, since so many Witches are Chaos Mages without realizing it. The Chaos Model says that whatever works is true. Chaos Mages use a liberal mix of all the previous models, sometimes intuitively, and sometimes intentionally. They use whatever works in the moment, whatever method or outlook achieves results.
I operate fairly firmly in the Spirit Model, leaning toward Chaos. Psychological Model is the least resonant for me, and I find it to be in active conflict with the Traditional Witchcraft that I practice. However, when I take stock of my outlook and the rituals and workings I have created, I can see the influence of Energy and Information Models.
I have found that most contemporary Witches operate somewhere on a continuum between Spirit and Chaos. Most pre-modern European Witches (where I draw a lot of inspiration and guidance), also operated on the same continuum — leaning a little more toward Spirit Model than the modern mind.
High Magick: Theory and Practice. Frater U.D.
Low Magick: It’s All in Your Head … You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is. Lon Milo Duquette
Look for the upcoming revised and expanded edition of The Witches’ Key to the Legion: A Guide to Solomonic Sorcery by Laurelei Black — as well as other forthcoming titles from the Witches’ Key.
[Written by Laurelei Black.]