Ideas about magic and alchemy are rooted in ancient and early texts and artwork. The word “magic” is derived from the Greek word mageia, however, mystical and magical systems appear as early as the Babylonians and Egyptian peoples. (Those of you familiar with Lemurian and Atlantean culture know that mysticism appeared during these eras as well.) Early modern ideas and explanations of the esoteric or the unknown have been met with a mixed response of fear and reverie—depending on who was wielding the power to use these mysterious forces.
Most documents and much research devoted to the topic of mysticism present a blending of the two. Many texts include information on the Magi, Ancient Greece, Kabbalah and Paganism; there is no discernment between those who practiced magic and those who would be considered “modern mystics.” Some documentation says that magic has its roots in or is closely related to Shamanism, and is associated with power, illusion and trickery.
Transformation, however is older than magic, and describes a journey that holds the potential for great wisdom if traveled. The modern transformational process described by Carl Jung in his theories and anthropological studies includes a look at symbolism within the context of a given culture—animals, shapes, or mythological beings.
Magic and transformation; however, are markedly different with regard to one crucial and often misunderstood aspect:
Magic seeks to change that which is without.
Transformation seeks to change that which is within.
Magic seeks to manipulate, circumnavigate, change, and otherwise alter everything but the person who performs the magic. Magic, in Jungian terms, can be associated with the victim archetype. There is nothing that the magician needs to do because it is the outer circumstances that are creating that which needs to be altered. Or, the internal imbalance that is experienced is caused by something outside of the magician.
Changing what is within, on the other hand, affects the perception of what is without—that which is outside of the self. Transformation, then, most accurately describes the hero or warrior archetype.
The mystic who transforms does not seek to quiet internal imbalance by changing or manipulating outer circumstance, but rather by turning inward to bring imbalance back into harmony through honesty, strength, grace, and trust. It is the alchemist who transforms base metal into gold.
Easy is the road that is characterized by the simple removal of obstacles. Worthy is the road that is traversed despite the obstacles that remain in place.
Images used in this post: Pharaon by Ollibac; Jerry Lone Cloud, Chief Medical Man of the Mi’kmaq, courtesy Bibliotheque et Archives Canada, C-028553k; Sprott Gold Bar by sprottmoney.