I have debated some time about writing this post simply because I know it is going to be controversial. I am going to approach this delicately and hopefully not offend anyone in the process.
Of the three questions I get asked the most, "what is magic?" makes the list. Let me start by saying what magic isn't. Magic is not evil, malevolent, or bad; people are. Magic is neutral, and what it does is completely dependant on the person using it. Secondly, magic is not supernatural hocus pocus. This may bother some other witches out there, but let's get real for a moment. No one can move objects with their brain, fling people around a room with a wave of their hand, float down off of a house, raise the dead, read minds, or time travel. That is supernatural hocus pocus and despite your deepest desires, magic is not any of those things. If someone tells you magic is one of those things, you know they are stuck in a daydream.
What magic is is energy focused on a specific purpose or intent. That's it. How it works, is a different story. Magic works by focusing your mind on your intention. This is why casting spells on other people or without their consent is frowned upon and usually why it doesn't end up working. You can't control another person's thoughts unless they allow you to. The mind is an incredibly powerful tool, and by focusing on what you desire most, you can bring about the change you wish to see. By combining your personal energy with the energy of the elements around you, you focus your mind and manifest your reality. This is how magic and spells work and why I strongly advocate only performing magic when you are of sound mind and body and that you use primal language. One mistake and you not only destroy your spell, but you set yourself up for failure. You can trick yourself into failing just as you can trick yourself into succeeding.
When people ask me what magic is, I often tell them it is like a self help book. We know positive thinking and focusing on our intentions work; maybe not always, but often enough. As I mentioned, it usually doesn't work because you have made a mistake somewhere along the line.
I hope this has been informative and have no offended anyone. What do you view magic to be?