This is more of an open letter than an article, so I hope no-one minds. I sat down a long time ago and wrote this page, and it's changed as I have changed...and it changes yet again. You see, when I first came up with this page I had no idea what to write. It's a pretty open field.
What is magic?
I could give you some textbook answers about dictionary definitions of magic, and some stuff on how Crowley changed the gematria of the word to fit his magical system, but really, you can look that all up on Wikipedia. Rest assured that what I'm talking about here is my own personal view, something born of my own experiences finding and furthering my path as a Witch.
For myself, I have a particular way of looking at magic - I call it the Source, the Flow, the Weave and the Void.
The Source is the All. It can wear the face of a deity, be the heart of a star, the delicate fragrance of a flower in bloom. It is. All things come from the Source, and return to it; it is simply that we percieve this differently.
The Flow is energy itself - it is the output of the Source that keeps things living. It is the lifeblood of the Universe. It never stops, merely changes, returns, is cleansed, and starts again. Some forms of energy pick up strong attachments to what it Flows through, and others are clean, untouched, untainted, and unformed. The Flow is what connects us both to the ground, and to the sky - when you center and focus yourself, you are finding a balance in the Flow.
The Weave is what connects us all in the Circle of Life; we are all interwoven, and when you add or remove a strand the Weave is changed. The Weave are the tangled branches of energy that link us together, and is constantly changing; a good example of the Weave are ley lines, or dragon lines.
The Void is the unknown. Not even the Source knows what lies here; it is a place of transformation, and deep magic, of the darker nature of things. A lot of people seek to deny the Void, or that it has a place in their lives. Yet others embrace it, and are swallowed up. There is a balance to be sought between knowing the Source and the Void, knowledge and intuition.
This probably feels like a strange perspective from a polytheist, but bear me out. I feel that the Gods are individuals. I also feel, though, that we are all fragments of the Universe, who split all things off from itself in order to attempt to understand itself. So the Gods are individuals, just as we are - but we are all made of the stuff of the stars, the Source.
But, I hear my invisible audience say - magic is spells and herbs and candles and chanting and wands and stuff, isn't it? As much as I like those things, I say no. Those are the clothing magic wears - some people can't see magic without the dressings. But magic is Will, shaped by our intent - we give our magic energy to fuel it, and then send it out into the Flow. If we do it well, our Will manifests into our desired intent. And all that can be done without physical props, without tools, without moving our hands or saying a word.
Magic is within. Magic is you. The earth is your altar, your hands your tools, your heart a crucible in which magic is forged. If we become aware of, and acknowledge our small place in the workings of the Universe, then we find we can begin to draw on, and affect the universe in magical ways. If it doesn't come easily, or instinctively, but you still have interest, that's ok. Not everyone has a knack for it, and if you work hard and study well, you'll still tap into your own magic. Part of magic is having patience, and being willing to work.
Magic is a responsibility, and is not a toy. Throwing your Will out into the Universe is exactly the same as any other intentional act. So if you wouldn't throw a brick off a highway overpass into traffic, don't thoughtlessly cast spells or do workings without considering the results..There are always reactions to your actions - you must think carefully about ALL possible outcomes before sending your will into the Flow. Whatever your personal ethics made be, be willing to accept the consequences of your actions - foreseen and unforeseen!
Because of this, a Witch or any other kind of magician should learn to master themselves, before they start trying to master other things with their spellcraft. Learn to say exactly what you mean. Don't leave things open-ended. Be able to control your own internal energy, and change the energy affecting you in a thoughtful manner, before attempting spell one. Learn to center, ground, and direct energy. Learn some magical self-defence. Don't trust everything you read, and don't believe everything anyone tells you. Develop your intuition. Love the one you're with.
I wish my readers the best of experience on their path - I hope you discover what magic is for -you-.