Magic is a term which can refer to many related, competing or complementary concepts. Paranormal magic (or sometimes Magick) is the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation, ceremony, prayer, ritual, the casting of spells or various other techniques that are presumed to assure human influence or control upon the forces of nature, divine or demonic entities, or other paranormal, "supernatural" or preternatural agencies; such magical thought processes or operations are involved in many religious, mystical and spiritual traditions. It can also refer to the skills of those magicians (also called illusionists), who are involved in the arts of appearing to perform paranormal feats, or to the abilities of those who create magic in fiction, poetry, or other fields of art or games. Even more generally, it can refer to the abilities of those who simply produce forms of wonder and mystery in various fields of endeavor, which many can find either appealing or frightening, or both. This page is for quotes about various forms and notions of Magic.
- Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth.
- Theodor Adorno in Minima Moralia (1951), as translated by E. Jephcott (1974), § 143, p. 222
- Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
- Anonymous saying, this is an inversion of the third of Arthur C. Clarke's three laws : "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." It has been called "Niven's Law" and attributed to Larry Niven by some, and to Terry Pratchett by others, but without any citation of an original source in either case, and the earliest occurrence yet located is in Keystone Folklore (1984) by the Pennsylvania Folklore Society.
- Look at the children around you and you will find the magic curtain, magic indeed in this respect, that instead of dropping slowly down before your wondering eyes, it is growing up, unfolding and expanding some new beauty or exposing some well-remembered fault. What pleasure to note the many wonders of this all-revealing scene! What innocence in the sweet child face, what purity in the clear child eyes!
- Nellie V. Anderson, in "Glimpses Of Childhood" in Unity Vol. 15, No. 7 (16 May 1885), p. 109
- Gerry Durrell was, to use the modern idiom, Magic. You imbibe it in his books, you feel it in his Zoo, you see it in the eyes of his trainees, and you hear it in even the most restrained tones of zoo directors, who may command budgets ten times the size that he ever did.
Magic people, as all well read children know, are especially susceptible to mortal dangers and Gerry was no exception, but, before it finally ran out, he sprinkled his Magic in such vast quantities, that much of it has germinated, and hundreds of good gardeners are feeding the new growth as if their lives, and the lives of other animals depend upon it — and indeed they do.
- There is no magic in parchment or in wax.
- William Henry Ashurst, Master v. Miller (1763), 4 T. R. 320; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 163
- The greatest action is not conforming with the world's ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
- Atiśa, as quoted in Perspectives on Mankind's Search for Meaning (2008) by Walter Taminang, p. 63
- Many secrets of art and nature are thought by the unlearned to be magical.
- Roger Bacon, as quoted in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction : An Illustrated A to Z (1979), by Peter Nicholls, p. 376
- MAGIC, n. An art of converting superstition into coin. There are other arts serving the same high purpose, but the discreet lexicographer does not name them.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- SORCERY, n. The ancient prototype and forerunner of political influence. It was, however, deemed less respectable and sometimes was punished by torture and death. Augustine Nicholas relates that a poor peasant who had been accused of sorcery was put to the torture to compel a confession. After enduring a few gentle agonies the suffering simpleton admitted his guilt, but naively asked his tormentors if it were not possible to be a sorcerer without knowing it.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- Evil power disappears
Demons worry when the wizard is near
He turns tears into joy
Everyone's happy when the wizard walks by.
- Magic is a dual power: nothing is easier than to turn it into Sorcery; an evil thought suffices for it. Therefore while theoretical Occultism is harmless, and may do good, practical Magic, or the fruits of the Tree of Life and Knowledge, or otherwise the “Science of Good and Evil,” is fraught with dangers and perils... If approached without the right key to them, and if the student is unfit, owing to mental incapacity, for Magic, and is thus unable to discern the Right from the Left Path, let him take our advice and leave this study alone; he will only bring on himself and on his family unexpected woes and sorrows, never suspecting whence they come...
- H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 3, Section VI. The Dangers of Practical Magic (1888)
- “Magic?” said Sykes. “Magic is that power that dwells somewhere in the back of our dreams, that makes us wish that miracles were possible and that a mortal man could have the ability to grasp a part of eternity, if only for a moment. Magic is the total of all the mysteries we can’t understand and the culmination of all the hopes we’ve ever thought possible. It is our last true miracle, and you know that it exists every time you feel the rain on your face, or hear the sound of children asking questions, or an old man laughing at a slightly off-color joke his nine-year-old grandson told at dinner. It is with us always, and it will comfort and protect us when the darkness arrive, holding our hand until the morning is in sight. It’s the reason that we go on living, even in the face of hopelessness. It’s the final mystery of the human heart, my friend. For it is there and only there that all true wizardry lies.”
- A life of love is one of continual growth, where the doors and windows of experience are always open to the wonder and magic that life offers. To love is to risk living fully.
- There is magic within
There is magic without
Follow me and you'll learn
Just what life's all about.
- December will be magic again.
Take a husky to the ice
While Bing Crosby sings White Christmas.
He makes you feel nice.
December will be magic again.
- The notion that poetry is a kind of magic and that the poet knows secrets and has powers not shared by other men is deeply rooted in the human race.
- Sir Cecil Maurice Bowra, in The Heritage of Symbolism (1954), p. 28
- Parting your soup is not a miracle, Bruce, it's a magic trick. A single mom who's working two jobs, and still finds time to take her kid to soccer practice, that's a miracle. A teenager who says no to drugs and yes to an education, that's a miracle. People want Me to do everything for them, but what they don't realize is, they have the power. You want to see a miracle, son? Be the miracle.
- The belief in magic, the word being used in its best sense, is older in Egypt than the belief in God, and it is certain that a very large number of the Egyptian religious ceremonies, which were performed in later times as an integral part of a highly spiritual worship, had their origin in superstitious customs which date from a period when God, under any name or in any form, was unconceived in the minds of the Egyptians.
- Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge, in Egyptian Magic (1901), p. ix
- From the religious books of ancient Egypt we learn that the power possessed by a priest or man who was skilled in the knowledge and working of magic was believed to be almost boundless. By pronouncing certain words or names of power in the proper manner and in the proper tone of voice he could heal the sick, and cast out the evil spirits which caused pain and suffering in those who were diseased, and restore the dead to life, and bestow upon the dead man the power to transform the corruptible into an incorruptible body, wherein the soul might live to all eternity. His words enabled human beings to assume divers forms at will, and to project their souls into animals and other creatures; and in obedience to his commands, inanimate figures and pictures became living beings and things which hastened to perform his behests. The powers of nature acknowledged his might, and wind and rain, storm and tempest, river and sea, and disease and death worked evil and ruin upon his foes, and upon the enemies of those who were provided with the knowledge of the words which he had wrested from the gods of heaven, and earth, and the underworld.
- Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge, in Egyptian Magic (1901), p. x
- Reason is Life's sole arbiter, the magic Laby'rinth's single clue:
Worlds lie above, beyond its ken; what crosses it can ne'er be true.
- What should it be, that thus their faith can bind?
The power of Thought, the magic of the Mind!
- Lord Byron, in The Corsair (1813)
- Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.
- Daniel Burnham, as quoted in Daniel H. Burnham, Architect, Planner of Cities (1921) by Charles Moore
- Magic's a nasty game. Go and play with your dad's chainsaw instead.
- All that Mankind has done, thought, gained or been it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of Books. They are the chosen possession of men.
- Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship (1840), Lecture V
- One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
- Dale Carnegie, in How To Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948), p. 7
- Any sufficiently advanced form of magick will appear indistinguishable from science.
- I believe in the magic and authority of words.
- René Char, in a message as a member of the French resistance, to his superiors in London, insisting that certain codewords "The library is on fire" be changed after a disastrous parachute drop which set a forest on fire and alerted the Gestapo to the location of his group of Maquis fighters, as quoted in René Char : This Smoke That Carried Us : Selected Poems (2004) edited by Susanne Dubroff
- All the terms used in the science books, 'law,' 'necessity,' 'order,' 'tendency,' and so on, are really unintellectual ....The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, 'charm,' 'spell,' 'enchantment.' They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched. I deny altogether that this is fantastic or even mystical. We may have some mysticism later on; but this fairy-tale language about things is simply rational and agnostic.
- G. K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy (1908); Ch. IV: The Ethics of Elfland
- Magic is the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with will. This change can occur 1) in the outer, manifest world; 2) in the magician's consciousness; and 3) most often in both, for changing one often changes the other. Magical change occurs in a way that is not currently understood by modern science because it works through the Unmanifest — through subtle manipulations of the invisible, spiritual realms. However, the workings of magic are subject to natural law. The effects of magic are sometimes clearly visible in the physical world and other times they are only apparent on a personal, spiritual level. The workings of magic are not limited by the constraints of time and space.
- Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, in The Essential Golden Dawn : An Introduction to High Magic (2003), p. 70, at times quoting or paraphrasing remarks by Aleister Crowley
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke, in Profiles of the Future (Revised edition, 1973)
- Suppose you went to any scientist up to the late nineteenth century and told him: Here are two pieces of a substance called Uranium 235. If you hold them apart, nothing will happen. But if you bring them together suddenly, you will liberate as much energy as you could obtain from burning ten thousand tons of coal. No matter how farsighted and imaginative he might be, your pre-twentieth century scientist would have said: "What utter nonsense! That's magic, not science. Such things can't happen in the real world." Around 1890, when the foundations of physics and thermodynamics had (it seemed) been securely laid, he could have told you exactly why it was nonsense. … The wholly unexpected discovery of uranium fission in 1939 made possible such absurdly simple (in principle, if not in practice) devices as the atomic bomb and the nuclear chain reactor. No scientist could have predicted them; if he had, all his colleagues would have laughed at him.
- Arthur C. Clarke, in Profiles of the Future (Revised edition, 1973)
- A Nursery Magician took
All little children by the hand:
And led them laughing through the book
Where Alice walks in Wonderland.
- Henry Savile Clarke, as quoted in A Selection from the Letters of Lewis Carroll to his Child-Friends (1933) edited by Evelyn M. Hatch, p. 188
- God is alive. Magic is afoot. God is alive. Magic is afoot. God is afoot. Magic is alive. Alive is afoot. Magic never died. God never sickened. Many poor men lied. Many sick men lied. Magic never weakened. Magic never hid. Magic always ruled. God is afoot. God was ruler though his funeral lengthened. Though his mourners thickened Magic never fled...
- All creative art is magic, is evocation of the unseen in forms persuasive, enlightening, familiar and surprising, for the edification of mankind, pinned down by the conditions of its existence to the earnest consideration of the most insignificant tides of reality.
- The real secret of magic lies in the performance.
- David Copperfield, as quoted in The Dollar Meltdown: Surviving the Coming Currency Crisis with Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments (2009) by Charles Goyette, Ch. 6
- Poetry is a kind of magic, a transfiguration of the world in words which produces an idea of order, even if this order is fictional. Not that it is only fictional … the only possible ordering of reality is fictional. In this sense, the orderings of reality offered by religion, science, art, psychoanalysis, para-psychology, astrology or whatever are all fictions (not that they are fictions of equal value, which they clearly are not, because they must adhere to reality).
- Simon Critchley, in Very Little — Almost Nothing : Death, Philosophy, Literature (2004), p. 232
- The old spelling MAGICK has been adopted throughout in order to distinguish the Science of the Magi from all its counterfeits.
- My former work has been misunderstood, and its scope limited, by my use of technical terms. It has attracted only too many dilettanti and eccentrics, weaklings seeking in "Magic" an escape from reality. I myself was first consciously drawn to the subject in this way. And it has repelled only too many scientific and practical minds, such as I most designed to influence.
- I must make
the essential factor in the life of
In presenting this book to the world, I must then explain and justify my position by formulating a definition of
and setting forth its main principles in such a way that
may understand instantly that their souls, their lives, in every relation with every other human being and every circumstance, depend upon
and the right comprehension and right application thereof.
- Aleister Crowley, in his Introduction to Magick Book IV : Liber ABA, Part III : Magick in Theory and Practice (1929)
- Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.
(Illustration: It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge. I therefore take "magickal weapons", pen, ink, and paper; I write "incantations" — these sentences — in the "magickal language" ie, that which is understood by the people I wish to instruct; I call forth "spirits", such as printers, publishers, booksellers and so forth and constrain them to convey my message to those people. The composition and distribution of this book is thus an act of Magick by which I cause Changes to take place in conformity with my Will.)
In one sense Magick may be defined as the name given to Science by the vulgar.
- Aleister Crowley, in his Introduction to Magick Book IV : Liber ABA, Part III : Magick in Theory and Practice (1929)
- There is a single main definition of the object of all magical Ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God.
- Aleister Crowley, in Magick Book IV : Liber ABA, Part III : Magick in Theory and Practice (1929), Ch. 1 : The Principles of Ritual
- We're so lucky we're still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It's not dark and black and without character. The black is in fact deep blue. And over there! Lighter blue. And blowing through the blueness and the blackness, the winds swirling through the air. And there shining, burning, bursting through, the stars! Can you see how they roll their light? Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes!
- Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
- I want to find some connection between the unconnected moments... want to say something magical and profound.
- “It’s a map of a non-existent coast under an imaginary constellation on an impossible sky in—” he grunted, twisting something—“the middle of a ring of meaningless numbers. That’s why it’s powerful. That’s why it’s magic.”
- She’s always so ready to believe anything that anyone tells her, so long as it’s magical.
Well, I believe in magic, too, but it’s the magic that can turn a caterpillar into a butterfly, the natural wonder and beauty of the world that’s all around me. I can’t believe in some dreamland being real.
- People think magic's a way of transforming reality — but in the end, you find that all that you've really changed is yourself. Which probably explains why every magician I've ever met's a self-absorbed arsehole. Still, first rule of magic: perception is reality. You gotta look the part.
- Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning, together with every variety of recreation and fun designed to appeal to everyone.
- Walt Disney, as quoted in The Quotable Walt Disney (2001) edited by Dave Smith
- We are magic. It is magic that we're walking around. It's fantastic magic. Some people would call it miracles; I like to call it magic. … Yes, I'm very aware of this. Yes, the more aware I get, the more I can understand how big it is, how big it will get. It'll be harder to comprehend; that's why I have to go along with it, 'cause its so vast. To say to somebody that God is everything that lives and ever has lived and ever will live, and you're never going to touch and see, smell and be everything that is God. Magic is very hard to comprehend.
- Donovan, in an interview in the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine (9 November 1967)
- Houdini, the great transitional figure between "magical" acts and ingenious tricks, was at pains to explain that everything he did was a trick; he offered rewards, never collected, for any "supernatural" act he could not explain. The Amazing Randi carries on in the same tradition, bending spoons as easily as Uri Geller. And yet in Houdini's time, there were those who insisted he was doing real magic; how else could his effects be achieved?
Daniel Mark Epstein wrote about the Houdini believers in a 1986 issue of the New Criterion, which I read as I read everything I can get my hands on about Houdini. The thing was, Houdini really did free himself from those fetters and chains and sealed trunks dropped into the river, and survived the Chinese Water Torture (an effect used prominently in The Prestige night after night). But there were those who argued his tricks were physically impossible, and thus must be supernatural.
- I have been in love with magic all my life. I'm no good at it, even though I bored my friends for years with cheesy illusions, and even today can make a dime disappear from your forehead. These days I am most impressed with the skills required for close-up magic. Teddy Nava, the son of writer-directors Gregory Nava and Anna Thomas, can make cards change while I am holding them in my hands. Now how does he do that? Not through divine intervention, I am fairly sure. But I was holding them! The trick is told when the trick is sold.
- There are magic moments, involving great physical fatigue and intense motor excitement, that produce visions of people known in the past. As I learned later from the delightful little book of the Abbé de Bucquoy, there are also visions of books as yet unwritten.
- You have to believe we are magic, nothin' can stand in our way
You have to believe we are magic, don't let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive, destiny will arrive
I'll bring all your dreams alive, for you.
- It's one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the "hand of God" wrote that number, and "we don't know how He pushed his pencil." We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don't know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!
- I still believe poetry is a kind of magic.
- Edward Field, in A Frieze for a Temple of Love (1998), p. 201
- Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable.
- Margot Fonteyn, as quoted in Thoughts from Earth (2004) by James Randall Miller
- My general expression is that all human beings who can do anything; and dogs that track unseen quarry, and homing pigeons, and bird-charming snakes, and caterpillars who transform into butterflies, are magicians. … Considering modern data, it is likely that many of the fakirs of the past, who are now known as saints, did, or to some degree did, perform the miracles that have been attributed to them. Miracles, or stunts, that were in accord with the dominant power of the period were fostered, and miracles that conflicted with, or that did not contribute to, the glory of the Church, were discouraged, or were savagely suppressed. There could be no development of mechanical, chemical, or electric miracles —
And that, in the succeeding age of Materialism — or call it the Industrial Era — there is the same state of subservience to a dominant, so that young men are trained to the glory of the job, and dream and invent in fields that are likely to interest stockholders, and are schooled into thinking that all magics, except their own industrial magics, are fakes, superstitions, or newspaper yarns.
- Against all the opposition in the world, I make this statement — that once I knew a magician. I was a witness of a performance that may some day be considered understandable, but that, in these primitive times, so transcends what is said to be the known that it is what I mean by magic.
- Charles Fort, speaking of a dog's homing skills, in Wild Talents (1932) Ch. 27
- Child, magic exists. There are powers and forces and realms beyond the fields you know.
- First rule of magic: Don't let anyone know your real name. Names have power.
- From meetings and partings none can ever escape. Nor from magic.
- Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible.
- Where magic is concerned, there is always an initial decision, an initial willingness to let it enter your life. If that is not there neither is magic.
- If you choose magic you will never be able to return to the life you once lived. Your world may be more … exciting … but it will also be more dangerous. Less reliable. And once you begin to walk the path of magic, you can never step off of it. Or you can choose the path of science, of rationality. Live in a normal world. Die a normal death. Less exciting, undoubtedly. But safer. … It is your choice Timothy. Always and forever your choice.
- A book — a well-composed book — is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way. Yet, in another sense, all true works of fiction have their scenes laid in the same country, and the events take place in the same climate: that country, that climate which we all long for and in our several ways strive to reach — the region where truth is eternal and man immortal and flowers never fade.
- Caroline Gordon, in How to Read a Novel (1957), p. 234
- Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It's a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.
- There is a certain magic or charm in company, for it will assimilate, and make you like to them; by much conversation,, with them, if they be good company, it is a great means to make you good, or confirm you in goodness; but if they be bad it is twenty to one but they will infect and corrupt you; and therefore you must have a special care in the choice of your company…
- Sir Matthew Hale, in A Letter of Advice to his Grand-Children, Matthew, Gabriel, Anne, Mary and Frances Hale (1816)
- Magic is not science, it is a collection of ways to do things — ways that work but often we don't know why.
- I would be disappointed if everything I saw turned out to be something Western Electric will build once Bell Labs works the bugs out. There ought to be some magic, somewhere, just for flavor.
- One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word.
- There are three schools of magic. One: State a tautology, then ring the changes on its corollaries; that’s philosophy. Two: Record many facts. Try to see a pattern. Then make a wrong guess at the next fact; that’s science. Three: Awareness that you live in a malevolent universe controlled by Murphy’s Law, sometimes offset in part by Brewster’s Factor: that’s engineering.
- A so-called magician, more than a poet, must be born with a peculiar aptitude for the calling. He must first of all possess a mind of contrarieties, quick to grasp the possibilities of seemingly producing the most opposite effects from the most natural causes. He must be original and quick-witted, never to be taken unawares. He must possess, in no small degree, a knowledge of the exact sciences, and he must spend a lifetime in practice, for in the profession its emoluments come very slowly. All this is discouraging enough, but this is not all. The magician must expect the exposure of his tricks sooner or later, and see what it has required long months of study and time to perfect dissolved in an hour. The very best illusions of the best magicians of a few years ago are now the common property of traveling showmen at country fairs. I might instance the mirror illusions of Houdin; the cabinet trick of the Davenport Brothers, and the second sight of Heller — all the baffling puzzles of the days in which the respective magicians mentioned lived. All this is not a pleasant prospective picture for the aspirant for the honors of the magician.
- The magician depends for the success of his art upon the credulity of the people. Whatever mystifies, excites curiosity; whatever in turn baffles this curiosity, works the marvelous.
Of course human ignorance is no longer a source of profit to the magician, as it was in the days of the diviner, the oracle, and the soothsayer. Few believe nowadays that the magician claims any supernatural aid. I will scarcely be believed, therefore, when I tell my readers that in a few cities in Italy and Spain in which I have performed hundreds came to see me as a curiosity, impressed with the belief that for the power he gave me I had made a compact with the devil for the delivery of my soul. In these cities I have seen people reverently cross themselves when I was passing…
- No one regards the magician today as other than an ordinary man gifted with no extraordinary powers. The spectators come, not to be impressed with awe, but fully aware that his causes and effects are natural. They come rather as a guessing committee, to spy out the methods with which he mystifies. Hundreds of eyes are upon him. Men with more knowledge of the sciences than he come to trip and expose him, and to baffle their scrutiny is the study of his life. Long years of training and exercise alone will not make a magician. … There must be some natural aptitude for the art; it must be born in a man, and can never be acquired by rule. He must be alert both in body and in mind; cool and calculating to the movement of a muscle under all circumstances; a close student of men and human nature. To these qualifications he must add the rather incongruous quality of a mind turning on contradictions. With a scientific cause he must produce a seemingly opposite effect to that warranted by order and system.
I know of no life requiring such a series of opposite qualities as the magician's. And after the exercise of all these qualities I have named, resulting in the production of the most startling and novel results, the magician has not the satisfaction, like other men, of the enjoyment of his own product. He must be prepared to see it copied by others, or after a short time discovered by the public.
- Alexander Herrmann, in The Art of Magic from The North American Review (July 1891)
- I have not drawn a very rosy picture of the magician. I did not intend to do so. To the novice entering the life and promising himself ease, indolence, and wealth, I should say, "Don't!"
- Alexander Herrmann, in The Art of Magic from The North American Review (July 1891)
- We talk about "mere matters of words" in a tone which implies that we regard words as things beneath the notice of a serious-minded person.
This is a most unfortunate attitude. For the fact is that words play an enormous part in our lives and are therefore deserving of the closest study. The old idea that words possess magical powers is false; but its falsity is the distortion of a very important truth. Words do have a magical effect — but not in the way that magicians supposed, and not on the objects they were trying to influence. Words are magical in the way they affect the minds of those who use them. "A mere matter of words," we say contemptuously, forgetting that words have power to mould men's thinking, to canalize their feeling, to direct their willing and acting. Conduct and character are largely determined by the nature of the words we currently use to discuss ourselves and the world around us.
- Aldous Huxley, in Words and Their Meanings (1940)
- In science, as well as in other fields of human endeavor, there are two kinds of geniuses: the “ordinary” and the “magicians.” An ordinary genius is a fellow that you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what he has done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it. It is different with the magicians. They are, to use mathematical jargon, in the orthogonal complement of where we are and the working of their minds is for all intents and purposes incomprehensible. Even after we understand what they have done, the process by which they have done it is completely dark. They seldom, if ever, have students because they cannot be emulated and it must be terribly frustrating for a brilliant young mind to cope with the mysterious ways in which the magician’s mind works. Richard Feynman is a magician of the highest caliber. Hans Bethe, whom Dyson considers to be his teacher, is an “ordinary genius”; so much so that one may gain the erroneous impression that he is not a genius at all. But it was Feynman, only slightly older than Dyson, who captured the young man's imagination.
- Mark Kac, in his introduction to Enigmas of Chance : An Autobiography (1985), p. xxv
- It is entirely conceivable that life’s splendour forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come. This is the essence of magic, which does not create but summons.
- What I always wanted to be was a magician... My real upbringing when I was a teenager was doing magic shows, all over the state, with my father and brothers. Doing magic, you not only have to be able to do a trick, you have to have a little story line to go with it. And writing is essentially a trick.
- Ken Kesey, in "Trip of a Lifetime", an interview in The Sun Times (29 August 1999)
- Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind that looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10 000 years ago.
- John Maynard Keynes, in an address to the Royal Society Club (1942), as quoted in A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1977) by Alan L. MacKay, p. 140
- Books are a uniquely portable magic.
- Stephen King, in On Writing : A Memoir Of The Craft (2000), p. 96
- "I am mistress of all the sciences. I go so far beyond all else that my work is called magic. I manipulate noumena, regarding monads as points of entry tangential to hylomorphism. As to the paradox of Primary Essence being contained in Quiddity, the larger in the smaller, I have my own solution. The difficulty is always in not confusing Contingency with Accidence. Do you understand me?"
"Sure. You're a witch."
- R. A. Lafferty, in Space Chantey (1968); dialogue between Aeaea and Captain Roadstrum in Ch. 6
- I am the consummate scientist, Road-Storm. Science has suffered in having her name applied to mechanics, an ugly step-child of hers. Matter herself is a humiliation to the serious. We cannot make it vanish forever, but can make it seem to. For my purpose that is even better. All matter can be modified as long as it is kept subjective. Let us keep it so. … Those who fail to understand my science may call it magic or hypnotism or deception. But it is only my projection of total subjectivity.
- R. A. Lafferty, in Space Chantey (1968); Aeaea in Ch. 6
- I can do a magic trick with my hand.
- Bad leaders make you feel bad about yourself. Good leaders make you feel good about them. The best leaders make you feel good about yourself. The great leaders are like the best conductors — they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players.
- Blaine Lee, in The Power Principle : Influence With Honor (1998), p. 272
- That's the thing with magic. You've got to know it's still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.
- Charles de Lint, in "Ghosts of Wind and Shadow" in Dreams Underfoot : The Newford Collection (2003), p. 183
- Like legend and myth, magic fades when it is unused — hence all the old tales of elfin Kingdoms moving further and further away from our world, or that magical beings require our faith, our belief in their existence, to survive. … That is a lie. All they require is our recognition.
- Charles de Lint, in "Border Spirit" in The Little Country (1991), p. 337
- Poetry is a kind of magic in itself: the Latin word carmen means "poem" as well as "magical chant".
- Georg Luck, in Arcana Mundi : Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds : A Collection of Ancient Texts (2006), p. 113
- Sorcery is the sauce fools spoon over failure to hide the flavor of their own incompetence.
- George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings, Sansa (III)—Tyrion Lannister
- Show me the magic. Come on, show me the magic.
- You either have the magic or you don't. There's no way you can work up to it.
- Freddie Mercury, refering to Jimi Hendrix as epitomizing a rock star, as quoted in "Queen's Freddie Mercury Shopping For An Image In London" by Scott Cohen in Circus Magazine (April 1975)
- All the comics are sigils. "Sigil" as a word is out of date. All this magic stuff needs new terminology because it's not what people are being told it is at all. It's not all this wearying symbolic misdirection that's being dragged up from the Victorian Age, when no-one was allowed to talk plainly and everything was in coy poetic code. The world's at a crisis point and it's time to stop bullshitting around with Qabalah and Thelema and Chaos and Information and all the rest of the metaphoric smoke and mirrors designed to make the rubes think magicians are "special" people with special powers. It's not like that. Everyone does magic all the time in different ways. "Life" plus "significance" = magic.
- So once I got into the chaos magic thing, I started to think well if all I'm doing is triggering a state of mind can I do the same thing with something I know to be unreal? And I would start instead of summoning up Greek gods or Voodoo Loa, I would summon up Metron from the New Gods or HP Lovecraft monsters, or the Cenobites from Clive Barker and get the same thing.
- I suppose that writers should, in a way, feel flattered by the censorship laws. They show a primitive fear and dread at the fearful magic of print.
- John Mortimer, in Clinging to the Wreckage : A Part of Life (1982), p. 183
- Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
- Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
- Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
- My hobby is magic. I learned the rudiments with Murry Dickson from a fellow who was at our training camp in St. Petersburg in 1942 and liked it. I help entertain at parties and sometimes on trains.
Alan Moore Interview (1998)Edit
- Quotes on magic by Alan Moore, from an "Alan Moore Interview" by Matthew De Abaitua (1998), later published in Alan Moore: Conversations (2011) edited by Eric L. Berlatsky
- I think there is too much darkness in magic. I can understand that it is part of the theatre. I can understand Aleister Crowley – who I think was a great intellect that was sometimes let down by his own flair for showmanship — but he did a lot to generate the scary aura of the magician that you find these sad, Crowleyite fucks making a fetish of. The ones who say ‘oh we’re into Aleister Crowley because he was the wickedest man in the world, and we’re also into Charles Manson because we’re bad. And we are middle-class as well, but we’re bad’. There are some people who seek evil – I don’t think there is such a thing as evil – but there are people who seek it as a kind of Goth thing. That just adds to the murk to what to me is a very lucid and flourescent subject. What occultism needs is someone to open the window, it’s too stuffy and it smells. Let’s get some fresh air, throw open the curtains – I can’t go for that posturing, spooky guy stuff.
- The more I look at most of the art movements, it’s all occultism, when you get down to it. The Surrealists were openly talking about being magicians.
- What I would prefer to have is to have a kind of magic where we say, "OK, we’re going to do a magical performance on this night, at this time. You come along, if you don’t think it’s magical, that’s fine. We’ll show you. We’ll show you what we mean, and you judge for yourself." That’s only fair. So a lot of the magic we do tends to gravitate toward the practical end, toward something that is tangible. Where you’ve got a record at the end of it, a performance at the end of it, a painting at the end of it. You’ve conjured some energy, some idea, some information from somewhere and put it in a tangible form. You conjure something into existence in a literal sense. A rabbit out of a hat. Something out of nothing. That’s one level to it, but there’s a lot of background to that. That’s the stuff that people see, that’s the end result of the process. But we also do a lot of ritual work purely on our own.
- The reason I got into magic was that it seemed to be what was lying at the end of the path of writing. If I wanted to continue on that path, I was going to have to get into that territory because I had followed writing as far as I thought I could without taking a step over the edges of rationality. The path led out of rational confines. When you start thinking about art and creativity, rationality is not big enough to contain it all.
- I see magic as a vantage point from which one can look down on the rest of consciousness. It’s a point outside normal consciousness from which you can look at normal consciousness, it’s a point outside beliefs from which you can look at beliefs. All beliefs are reality tunnels, to use Anton Wilson’s phrase. There is the Communist reality tunnel, the Feminist reality tunnel, all of which seem to be the whole of reality when you are in the middle of them. The whole universe is based on Marxist theory if you’re an intent Marxist. Magic is having a plan of all the tunnels, and seeing the overall condition in which they all work. Being aware of different possibilities.
- I can understand why magicians have such a high insanity rate. We don’t end well, most of us, it has to be said. Paul Daniels might escape the worst effects, but the rest of us are pretty obviously doomed. Once you step over that line, you are in danger from a lot of stuff. Delusion, obviously, being the main thing.
- If I realised the power of magic to worry and terrify people before, then I certainly would have used it before. Everyone freezes before it for different reasons – perhaps because it means madness to them, or because it means opening the door to a whole lot of stuff that the Age of Reason should have firmly bolted the door upon. A lot of concepts that we got rid of a long time ago that would be a bit creepy to have them back.
- The schizophrenic has had their window kicked in, the magician has got a body of law – probably most of it bollocks, it doesn’t matter. The magician’s got a system into which the alien information that will be pouring into him or her will be fitted. They’ve got a filing cabinet, like the Qabalah, which is a filing cabinet for ideas. It divides the whole universe up into ten drawers. Any experience can be passed into one of the drawers. The schizophrenic is probably having exactly the same experience as the magician but has no context in which to understand it. … The schizophrenics I have known, the most evident thing about it is the interconnectedness of everything. That’s standard lunacy, it’s also standard magic. But with one of them, it is uncontrollable, you are lost in a world in which everything is obviously connected by symbolic threads. That is what the magician is seeking, to see these threads that connect things up. If you’ve got a system – even if it’s a completely made-up bogus system – then you’ve at least got a filing cabinet to sort this stuff into, you don’t have to get crushed under it.
- The magician to some degree is trying to drive him or herself mad in a controlled setting, within controlled laws. You ask the protective spirits to look after you, or whatever. This provides a framework over an essentially amorphous experience. You are setting up your terms, your ritual, your channels – but you deliberately stepping over the edge into the madness. You are not falling over the edge, or tripping over the edge
- I don’t distinguish between magic and art. When I got into magic, I realised I had been doing it all along, ever since I wrote my first pathetic story or poem when I was twelve or whatever. This has all been my magic, my way of dealing with it.
- We forget what power these things originally had. The bardic tradition of magic whereby if someone puts a curse on you, it may sour your milk for a month, or burn your house down yeah yeah yeah. Someone puts a satire on you that will destroy you in the eyes of your friends, in the eyes of your family, in your own eyes. If it’s a particular good satire that’s well-worded and funny and clever, then five hundred years after you are dead, people will still be laughing at what a shit you were. That is destroyed. That’s not just making your cow sick. People understood that as a real power, which of course, it is.
- I believe it was Wittgenstein who said a thought is a real event in space and time. I don’t quite agree about the space and time bit, Ludwig, but certainly a real event. It’s only science that cannot consider thought as a real event, and science is not reality. It’s a map of reality, and not a very good one. It’s good, it’s useful, but it has its limits. We have to realise that the map has its edges. One thing that is past the edge is any personal experience. That is why magic is a broader map to me, it includes science. It’s the kind of map we need if we are to survive psychologically in the age that is to come, whatever that is. We need a bigger map because the old one is based on an old universe where not many of us live anymore. We have to understanding what we are dealing with here because it is dangerous. It kills people. Art kills.
- Organised religion has corrupted one of the purest, most powerful and sustaining things in the human condition. It has imposed a middle management, not only in our politics and in our finances, but in our spirituality as well. The difference between religion and magic is the same as what we were talking about earlier – I think you could map that over those two poles of fascism and anarchism. Magic is closer to anarchism.
- A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.
- Earl Nightingale, quoted in Diamond Power : Gems of Wisdom from America's Greatest Marketer (2003) edited by Barry J. Farber, p. 38
- Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige".
- Love works magic.
It is the final purpose
Of the world story,
The Amen of the universe.
- Novalis in Blüthenstaub (1798)
- The symbol of art is seen again in the magic flute of the Great God Pan which makes the young goats frisk at the edge of the grove.
All modern art begins to appear comprehensible and in a way great when it is interpreted as an attempt to instill youthfulness into an ancient world.
- José Ortega y Gasset, in "Art a Thing of No Consequence" in The Dehumanization of Art and Ideas about the Novel [La deshumanización del Arte e Ideas sobre la novela] (1925)
- The metaphor is perhaps one of man's most fruitful potentialities. Its efficacy verges on magic, and it seems a tool for creation which God forgot inside one of His creatures when He made him. All our other faculties keep us within the realm of the real, of what is already there. The most we can do is to combine things or to break them up. The metaphor alone furnishes an escape; between the real things, it lets emerge imaginary reefs, a crop of floating islands. A strange thing, indeed, the existence in man of this mental activity which substitutes one thing for another — from an urge not so much to get at the first as to get rid of the second.
- José Ortega y Gasset, in "Taboo and Metaphor" in The Dehumanization of Art and Ideas about the Novel [La deshumanización del Arte e Ideas sobre la novela] (1925)
- No magic can change something into something that it is not; the imaginative transformation at the heart of magic is recognition, not creation.
- It has seemed to me that if I had the genius to found the jet propulsion field in the US, and found a multimillion dollar corporation and a world renowned research laboratory, then I should also be able to apply this genius in the magical field.
- There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment. … It gives warmth and good feeling to all your personal relationships.
- Norman Vincent Peale, as quoted in Spiritual Literacy : Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life (1998) by Frederic Brussat and Mary Ann Brussat
- Parsons treated magic and rocketry as different sides of the same coin: both had been disparaged, both derided as impossible, but because of this both presented themselves as challenges to be conquered. Rocketry postulated that we should no longer see ourselves as creatures chained to the earth but as beings capable of exploring the universe.
- Similarly, magic suggested there were unseen metaphysical worlds that existed and could be explored with the right knowledge. Both rocketry and magic were rebellions against the very limits of human existence; in striving for one challenge he could not help but strive for the other.
- George Pendle, Pendle, George (2005). Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons. p. 18
- So you wanna play with magic?
Boy, you should know what you're falling for.
Baby do you dare to do this?
Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse.
- Magic is that which it is; it is by itself, like the mathematics; for it is the exact and absolute science of Nature and its laws.
Magic is the science of the Ancient Magi: and the Christian religion, which has imposed silence on the lying oracles, and put an end to the prestiges of the false Gods, itself reveres those Magi who came from the East, guided by a Star, to adore the Saviour of the world in His cradle.
- Albert Pike, in Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. XXXII : Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret, p. 841
- A Thaum is the basic unit of magical strength. It has been universally established as the amount of magic needed to create one small white pigeon or three normal-sized billiard balls.
- Too much magic could wrap time and space around itself, and that wasn't good news for the kind of person who had grown used to things like effects following things like causes.
- The senior wizard in a world of magic had the same prospects of long-term employment as a pogo stick tester in a minefield.
- Magicians and scientists are, on the face of it, poles apart. Certainly, a group of people who often dress strangely, live in a world of their own, speak a specialized language and frequently make statements that appear to be in flagrant breach of common sense have nothing in common with a group of people who often dress strangely, speak a specialized language, live in … er ...
- Ninety per cent of most magic merely consists of knowing one extra fact.
- "This is the school, isn't it. The magic place? The world. Here. And you don't realize it until you look. Do you know the pictsies think this world is heaven? We just don't look. You can't give lessons on witchcraft. Not properly. It's all about who you are... you, I suppose."
- Christopher Priest [on his use of the term "The Prestige"]: I noticed its closeness to the magicians' word "prestidigitation" (sleight of hand) I realized it would make a perfect title for the book I was then planning. This sort of coincidence is always valuable to a novelist.
Don Iffergrin: But "prestige" is a word magicians have used for centuries.
Christopher Priest: A lot of people think that, including contemporary magicians. In fact, its use as a magical word only goes back to 1995. I made the whole thing up. It has entered magicians' language already.
- I'm just a novelist. I don't even know how most tricks are done — it's all in the performance, because magical secrets are never that complex. At the risk of sounding pretentious, my main interest in stage magic is its metaphorical nature in relation to art. For instance, I've always been interested in misdirecting my readers in my novels, and magicians use techniques of misdirection that are similar. This isn't sleight of hand: real misdirection is when the performer allows or encourages his audience to make assumptions about what they are seeing … or in my case, assumptions about what they are reading.
- Christopher Priest, in "The Prestige" interview with Don Iffergrin (October 2006)
- The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
- J. B. Priestley, as quoted in Garden Witchery : Magick from the Ground Up (2003) by Ellen Dugan, p. 206
- In Welsh myth, the goddess Ceridwen owned a great cauldron that would magically produce nourishing food — when commanded by a spell known only to the goddess. In modern science, Buckminster Fuller gave us the concept of "ephemeralization", technology becoming both more effective and less expensive as the physical resources invested in early designs are replaced by more and more information content. Arthur C. Clarke connected the two by observing that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".
To many people, the successes of the open-source community seem like an implausible form of magic. High-quality software materializes for free, which is nice while it lasts but hardly seems sustainable in the real world of competition and scarce resources. … what spell is the goddess speaking?
- Eric S. Raymond, in The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary (2001), p. 115
- There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.
- Lou Reed, as quoted in Vision : Defining Your Destiny in Life (2000) by Stephen R. Covey
- I don't know what holds the bloody world together. Unless it's Magic.
- Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business.
- Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice.
- Nora Roberts, as quoted in Rainbow Bridge Farm (2003) by Lynn Roberson, p. 127
- Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.
- Jim Rohn, as quoted in The Quotable Manager : Inspiration for Business and Life (2006) by Joel J. Weiss, p. 238
- Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew each other. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.
- Carl Sagan, Cosmos (1980)
- Sorcerer, you do have magical powers, but where is your sense?
- Thy sweet magic brings together
What stern Custom spreads afar;
All men become brothers
Where thy happy wing-beats are.
- Henry: There ain't no such thing as magic, is there?
- Bollie: I guess not, Henry. Or maybe...maybe there is magic. And maybe there's wishes, too. I guess the trouble is...there's not enough people around to believe...
- The Twilight Zone The Big Tall Wish written by Rod Serling
- Art is the magic mirror you make to reflect your invisible dreams in visible pictures. You use a glass mirror to see your face: you use works of art to see your soul. But we who are older use neither glass mirrors nor works of art. We have a direct sense of life. When you gain that you will put aside your mirrors and statues, your toys and your dolls.
- I wear this Saint Christopher medal sometimes because — I'm Jewish — but my boyfriend is Catholic. It was cute, the way he gave it to me. He said if it doesn't burn through my skin, it will protect me. Who cares? Different religions.
The only time it's an issue, I suppose, would be like if you're having a baby and you've got to figure out how you want to raise it. Which still wouldn't be an issue for us, because we'd be … honest, and just say, you know, like, "Mommy is one of the chosen people … and daddy believes that Jesus is magic!"
- In a world full of audio visual marvels, may words matter to you and be full of magic.
- Godfrey Smith, in a letter lo a new grandchild, in The Sunday Times (5 July 1987), and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2004) edited by Elizabeth M. Knowles, p. 724
- Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.
- W. Clement Stone, as quoted in Teen Ink : What Matters (2003) by Stephanie H. Meyer, John Meyer, and Peggy Veljkovic, p. 309
- In spite of the dominance of mechanistic thought in the contemporary world, a perplexing residue of the magical tradition still survives in the form of several issues, solutions to which do not appear possible within the context of a purely mechanical view of the world. … It is important to recognize that the materialist, scientific paradigm that dominates the late twentieth century world and provides the basis for its dominant institutions, has its basis in the life and work of Pythagoras, one of the most significant representatives of the perennial philosophy and a founder of the magical tradition. This spirit, which gave rise to our world view, is a spirit that must be recaptured if our civilization is to flourish. The choice is a clear one to many, and was summed up in a book title by the late Pythagorean and futurist Buckminster Fuller, Utopia or Oblivion.
- John Strohmeier and Peter Westbrook, in Divine Harmony : The Life and Teachings of Pythagoras (1999)
- Indeed, what is magic but impossible science?
- Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic.
- Thomas Szasz, in The Second Sin (1973), "Science and Scientism", p. 115
- One dream, one soul, one prize
One goal, one golden glance of what should be
It's a kind of magic
One shaft of light that shows the way
No mortal man can win this day
It's a kind of magic
The bell that rings inside your mind
Is challenging the doors of time
It's a kind of magic
The waiting seems eternity
The day will dawn of sanity.
- It is clear from Gurdjieff's writings that hypnotism, mesmerism and various arcane methods of expanding consciousness must have played a large part in the studies of the Seekers of Truth. None of these processes, however, is to be thought of as having any bearing on what is called Black Magic, which, according to Gurdjieff, "has always one definite characteristic. It is the tendency to use people for some, even the best of aims, without their knowledge and understanding, either by producing in them faith and infatuation or by acting upon them through fear. There is, in fact, neither red, green nor yellow magic. There is 'doing.' Only 'doing' is magic." Properly to realise the scale of what Gurdjieff meant by magic, one has to remember his continually repeated aphorism, "Only he who can be can do," and its corollary that, lacking this fundamental verb, nothing is "done," things simply "happen."