Can you keep a Secret? Can you keep magic a secret? And when I say magic, I don’t mean illusions and tricks you see as part of a stage show (or a TV show). Those always have technical gimmickry to them – sleight of hands- where one hand distracts you while the other is working the trick, or smokes & mirrors! You get the picture.
When I say magic (and some purists like to use the word `magick’ with a `k’ at the end to differentiate), I mean the esoteric kind, the ritual type, the real psychic power of the mind, spells, witchy things, potions, hexes, curses, warts, eye of newt & leg of frog, venom of snake and.. (yes, poor things!) all that. Of course these days `ritual magicians’ (better word) don’t do all that animal sacrifices…Instead they do deep meditative works, self development of psychic abilities arrived at by months if not years of personal study, hard work and trial and error practises! The kind that I may or may not have or am practising.. supposedly! :-p
Back when I was a small boy in the 3rd world country of Sri Lanka, (formerly Ceylone during the British Occupation), I used to read those comics – Adventures of Mandrake the Magician. Created by Lee Falk in 1943 (who also created The Phantom Ghost who walks), Mandrake uses his legendary powers of hypnotism and illusion to combat crime. (But he also had `real’ psychic abilities which he used from time to time). With his companion Lothar, an African strongman, he fought evildoers ranging from gangsters to masters of disguise to aliens. He also had a twin brother who used his power for evil instead of good.
And there is one thing that Mandrake the Magician often says as a catchphrase when people ask him about how he managed certain things.. “A Magician never reveals his secrets!!”
Well, I also used to read (if you are interested), Tarzan the Ape Man, Phantom the Ghost Who walks, Flash Gordon space hero.. And look how those have shaped my adult life.. All of those have woven into serious (!) aspects of my growth (!!). I have a degree in Physics and avidly learn about space, time and quantum physics; I run an outdoor tribal ritual group called Hern’s Tribe; I campaign for many causes (my battles against evil), and I may or may not be a practicing ritual magician..!
Back to magic!
Within the last decade, there came the BBC saturday night series for family viewing.. a retelling of the `early years’ of Merlin the Magician (British mythical person who supposedly lived at the time of the legendary King Arthur). This TV series showed a young Merlin coming to live in Camelot.. where Magic was banned under pain of death.. a Camelot where Arthur was still a Prince. So Merlin kept his budding powers and practices of Magic a secret!
And the tag line when BBC launched the series was..of course.. “Keep the Magic Secret..!”
Okay so those are comics and TV shows.. Well, aren’t they?
If you ask any serious ritual magicians, (and again, don’t go thinking that I am one.. I may or may not be one.. ), they will tell you.. there is some power and empowerment in holding secrets..especially the deeper practises of ritual or ceremonial magic itself. Why? well a) it has to do with the power of the mind.. which requires focus and development and it can not happen if people keep prodding it.. b) secrecy keeps the practitioner safe.. as it did of many witches who during the witch trials of medieval times.. and c) in modern days, this secrecy avoids any possible negative perceptions and judgemental or prejudiced behaviour by other people – like employers, co-workers, some family & friends, people of certain religions and so on.
In this day and age where we write (blogs like this) about magic, write books, create youtube videos, give talks or workshops, appear in TV shows / interviews / documentaries (most of which I may or may not have done) and tell people – keeping our magical practices secretive can be very very hard indeed.
It is often a balance of wanting to share knowledge, skills, expertise, to help people, aid them in their own personal development, or self-healing – against keeping our own safety and privacy!
So people – who like to share what they know with others – struggle with this balance.
So if you are one of those good wise souls who wishes to share and help others, but like to preserve your privacy or safety, what do you do? do you keep the magic secret?
Not quite! You hide it in plain sight!! Perhaps..!!!
After all, isn’t that what Gerald Gardner – father of modern Wicca & Witchcraft did,,, back in early 1950’s, while Witchcraft was still illegal by law? Did he not write it all in a fiction adventure story called `High Magic’s Aid’? And when the Witchcraft Act (law) was repealed in UK, Gardner openly started to share about wicca. He was not the only one.. Others who have written about serious magic in fiction-form include Dion Fortune (her famous `Sea Priestess’ book which by sheer coincidence seems to contain so many of the Invocations and such now used by initiated Wiccans..).
But hiding in plain sight is not a luxury for people who have already declared themselves to be Practitioners of ritual or ceremonial Magic – for google remembers everything..and so do people – who copy and save online pictures, articles, web links.. and blog or put status updates ..about what they know! All these can be brought back…in weeks, months or years time ! Your revelations, once provided, can never be buried!
So what is the best way forward?
Selective revelations! In certain groups, forums, platforms – where there is a higher ratio of genuinely interested and sympathetic people.. people who will learn from you, but preserve and protect your privacy and safety..
That leads me to another blog on a topic of epic seriousness.. Who can we trust in this great big wide world of Magic?? Stay tuned..! (or subscribe to my blogs)
Mandrake the Magician (King Features) Official site
BBC (Official ) website for Merlin
Wicca Witchcraft and Magic – website for Articles, videos & courses