Sunday, March 6, 2016

Magic vs Magick: Why I Don't Use the K


This is a very heated topic in some circles, and I may receive some backlash, but I felt it was an important topic to discuss. Is there a difference between magic and magick? Does adding the "k" really make a difference in the meaning? Should we even be using the "k?" Today I want to discuss these questions and explain why I do not use the "k" when talking about my magical workings.

According to some sources, the word "magick" is quite old, showing up in translations as early as 1651. However, as with most words in the English language, letters were later dropped with words such as shoppe becoming shop, olde becoming old, and magick becoming magic. It wasn't until the Victorian Period that the k was brought back by Aleister Crowley. During this period, mesmerism and spiritualism were captivating audiences across Europe, especially in England. Crowley added the k to differentiate between stage magic and magic used in witchcraft.Today, many witches still follow this practice, using magick to describe their craft and rituals while using magic to describe illusions and tricks. However, not everyone uses the k, and I am one of those witches, and for a good reason.


First off, say magic and magick aloud. Do you hear a difference? No, because they are pronounced the exact same way. In a conversation, how do you distinguish between the two? If you are talking to another pagan, they will use context clues to decipher which word you mean, but for those who are not practicing witches, the distinction isn't clear. You're not going to walk around saying "I practice magick with a 'k!'" either because, well, you'd sound pretentious and artificial. The distinction is only noticeable in written text like a book or blog, but is completely useless in conversation. Furthermore, by adding the k you run into linguistic issues with words such as magickian. Not an easily pronounceable word and the g would become a hard g like in the word ghost or goat.Try saying that aloud.

To add to this, the origins of the word "magick" are shady at best.While it has shown up in old English texts, words change over time. As I mentioned we don't spell shop with two p's and an e anymore. There is no reason to spell magic with a k. The fact that Crowley is the one who brought it back into use is a red flag for me and many others. The man made stuff up all the time and changed words without any regard to the rules of language construction or grammar. His works are filled with controversial material, a lot of which is untrue. I take everything he said with a grain of salt, including the use of the word magick.

I don't use the k for these reasons, and I believe it is time for us to reclaim a word that was already ours as we did with the word witch. Call stage magic illusions, but keep magic for what we do in the craft. If you are more comfortable using the k, that is perfectly fine. Use what you are most comfortable with. I know for some people, seeing the k is a mental queue to switch from the mundane to the spiritual. I personally do not use the k and will never use it.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for bringing this up. I don't use the K at the end of the word Magic because you can't hear the K. Glad I'm not the only one that doesn't do this pointless tradition.

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    1. And thank you for reading! I've noticed that more people are beginning to drop the k. I think it's antiquated.

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  2. I don't use it, and even Find & Replace it out of any copied documents, because the grammarian in me hates it. If it becomes a verb and we start talking about "magicking," then yes, that would be correct, as it is in line with "panicking" and "picnicking." As a noun, though, it seems pretentious to me, even in writing.

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  3. I disagree, it's easy to differentiate the two. To me you sound pretentious, by claiming it's even possible to reclaim a word that is quite heavily used in the mainstream to describe stage magic. I think it's a far fetched idea and adds to the confusion. I think it's better to educate people about magick and the difference. I would never call myself a magician because I do not perform illusions. Same as I would never try to call myself a magickian.

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    1. And that is perfectly fine. You are entitled to your opinion. However, there is absolutely NO way to differentiate between magic and magick when you are speaking. They sound exactly the same. Furthermore, Crowley made lots of things up and his claims can not be trusted. Magic is magic is magic. In fact, most witches and pagans use magic instead of magick in their writing. You can use whatever form you wish. I am going to stick to magic because it is what I prefer. Its not being pretentious to use the word I trust and connect with.

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  4. I have never used the word magick, it's a Crowleyism and I have never trusted his work or writings.

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