Magic has been defined, and I believe correctly, as a willful change of consciousness. Consciousness is a very interesting word. It can be somewhat subjective. I wish I knew how many times I have read someone post on the internet about how society needs to “Wake Up,” to some rather important ranting point they were making. We had consciousness raising in the 60’s and 70’s for various issues. We also use the term to mean how we feel or experience the world around us. Is consciousness simply just a state of waking or sleep? Is consciousness tied solely to physical properties such as whether a person is experiencing good health, psychosis, dementia, or some other mental disorder?
What exactly do we mean when we say changing our consciousness at will? I know what I mean by the statement. I tend to do a great deal of trance work. Trance work takes me into the inner realms of my mind, sometimes in ways that make drug use look rather tame (or at least what I imagine drug use to be like). I can not think of a better way to tell you about a change of consciousness as I understand it. Trance work changes how I see my world and self well beyond the time spent in the trance proper. I use various methods to achieve the desired change. Meditation is one way in, dance is another. Drumming often helps. There seems to be as many different types of trance as there seems to be types of consciousness. Sometime it is a bit like sleep walking, other times I have full visions.
I recently read a story about a woman who had been in a car crash that had left her as a vegetable. They hooked her up to an MRI scanner and talked to her.
“So picture the astonishment of British and Belgian scientists as they scanned her brain using a kind of MRI that detects blood flow to active parts of the brain. When they recited sentences, the parts involved in language lit up. When they asked her to imagine visiting the rooms of her house, the parts involved in navigating space and recognizing places ramped up. And when they asked her to imagine playing tennis, the regions that trigger motion joined in. Indeed, her scans were barely different from those of healthy volunteers. The woman, it appears, had glimmerings of consciousness.”1
This points to something I wonder about, is consciousness only fully known from the inside of our minds? Are dreams then a type of consciousness? I think this is very close to what trance does. It allows us to experience the world as fully and real as the physical, even when we are not really moving in it.
Many people I know would view trance work as just a small part of magic. How then do we define magic? Is magic solely an internal experience? What are your thoughts?