Psychic, Occult and Mystical Definitions

Letter: M








The use of a certain ritual action to bring about the intervention of a supernatural force, either in human affairs or in the natural environment, for a specific purpose.

Magic has existed universally since ancient times, and varies in form from primary rituals involving the well-being of an entire community, to minor, peripheral, private acts of magic.

All forms of magic are traditionally secret arts taught only to initiates, although in some cultures magical knowledge can sometimes be bought and sold or can be passed on through inheritance. A distinction is usually made between black magic, used destructively to bring misfortune or death, and white magic, which is used to ward off such attacks as well as to prevent natural calamities. In itself magic is not good or evil, it is the magician's intentions that make the difference.

The very earliest forms of magic were designed to produce some desired effect, such as rituals for successful hunting. This simple magic, also called sorcery, involved practices such as tying and untying knots, blood sacrifices, and sticking pins in wax images or little dolls or poppets. Sorcery is also called sympathetic magic — by imitating the desired result, it will happen in reality. Harmful sympathetic magic usually requires some personal effect of the victim, such as a lock of hair, a fingernail or article of clothing; it is also important that the victim be aware of the spell, which increases the likelihood of a successful result.

Magical acts may be performed by individuals on their own behalf, or a magician with specialized knowledge of the rites that may be consulted. In some societies, associations of magical specialists exist. Magical practitioners may be called witch doctors, wizards, sorcerers, diviners, witches, warlocks,wise women, cunning women, and so on.

By the Middle Ages in Europe magical arts had become divided between low magic, such as sorcery, and high magic, which meant exploring the esoteric traditions of the kabbalah and hermetica, often through elaborate ceremonial magic (see Freemasonry, Order of the Knights Templar, Rosicrucians). In ceremonial magic the aim of the ritual is to commune with God or a deity to achieve a higher consciousness. The spiritual and mystical elements of hermetic knowledge and the Jewish kabbalah were aimed at facilitating the communication between human beings, spirits and the Divine at different levels of spiritual consciousness.

Magic was discredited by the Scientific Revolution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but interest revived in the nineteenth century, and various occult societies and magical fraternities were established (see Crowley, Aleister). Modern neo-pagan witchcraft (or wicca), includes both low sorcery (but not black magic or blood sacrifice) and high ceremonial magic.




Also known as Spiritism, Candomblé and Umbanda. The Macumba religion is practiced by a large number of Brazilians, and involves the apparent possession of worshippers by their gods; in a process that in some respects resembles that of Voodoo ceremonies. There is an initiation ceremony before anyone can become a member of one of the numerous Macumba cults. The initiate having gone into a trance, the priest must decide which god has taken possession, in order to prescribe the appropriate ceremony. This involves animal sacrifice after which blood is smeared on the initiate; during deep trance, suggestions are made for changes in behavior and for obedience to the cult. During worship, drumming and dancing encourage worshippers to go into trance-states in which their faces often violently change expression, and they sometimes become totally exhausted. On coming out of their trance, they usually know nothing of what has happened during the ceremony, but their behavior is often changed.


A dietary wellness system based on whole grains, vegetables, and fish. According to practitioners, the macrobiotic way of life is holistic, taking into account all aspects of human life, and acknowledging the inter-relationship between body, mind, and spirit. Their philosophy states that, through the practice of the macrobiotic way of life, responsibility is taken for our health and actions, and that the choices we make, even seemingly simple ones such as which foods to eat, and what cleaning and body-care products to use, affect the world to a much larger degree than many people realize.




Also known as Machaeromancy, it is divination by knives or swords. One of the most popular methods of Macharomancy consists of placing a consecrated athame or dagger in the center of a circle bordered with letters and numbers. After asking the spirits a question, the athame is spun around in a spin-the-bottle fashion. Each time it stops, the letter or number its blade points to is written down. This continues until the answer is spelled out, usually scrambled or in a foreign or ancient language such as Latin or Greek.


1. A Taíno and Siboney Indian (Puerto Rico) nocturnal deity who was supposed to destroy their crops and seduce their women, who were urged to wear amulets and talismans to prevent such things from happening. Maboya was considered to be the personification of all evil, and was feared by all the natives to the extent that elaborate sacrifices were offered to placate him.

2. Small idols worn around the neck by the Carib Indians, in the Island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean Sea.