On "Black Magicians" and the Use of the Terms "Black" and "White" in Hermetics.
>> I've been re-reading IIH and I was just wondering ... most of the "higher" forms of magic (like evocation or kabbalah) don't really "work" unless the magician has worked thru steps 1-8 (at least) or does equivalent work in other systems. Even the "lesser" (please note the quotes) forms of magic (say those mentioned in the addendum to step 3) require that the magician be "elementally balanced". Given this, how can black or "selfish" magic/magicians exist? It seems to me that these folks wouldn't make much headway and hence wouldn't be too powerful anyway . <<
The majority of "Black" magicians are really not all that powerful in and of themselves. For the most part they vampirize their power either from their victims or from some other established source. In every case, the magics that they employ would be classified as "low", since as you rightly point out, the "higher" magics are only attainable in the presence of highly developed morality.
The average "Black" magician has very little actual training. Most often, they progressed just far enough to evoke an entity that has deceived them and is using them to accomplish their negative deeds. This is the most common source of power for a "Black" magician and accounts for their appearance of strength. Another common source of power is a group egregore. But every "Black" magician vampirizes energy from their victims. This is why ignoring a "Black" magician is often the most effective way of diffusing their power.
>> But I do hear of black magicians who tried to make Bardon's life a misery. Do these guys really exist ? <<
Yes, they do exist. And yes, they can cause a lot of suffering. But even so, their power is ALWAYS limited and therefore defeatable.
>> Or is "black magic" another blind? <<
"Black magic" is a blind but the existence of "Black" magicians is not.
>> If they exist are they capable of evocations, etc.? <<
Any person is capable of evoking the contents of their own psyche. This is the most prevalent form of "evocation" and the most risky. When I said above that most "Black" magicians attained just enough ability to evoke a creature that would take advantage of the would-be magician's weakness, this is what I was referring to: a creature evoked through the magician's own un-regenerated psyche. A true "Black" magician is capable of evoking an entity other than from his/her own psyche only if the controlling entity gives them the power to do so. In other words, the "Black" magician vampirizes the entity they are dependant upon for the power to actually evoke. This is not the same as the Art of Magical Evocation that Bardon teaches with PME.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
27 Nov 2001
>> Why is that "black" is always looked at as being negative and white positive in hermeticism? I was always under the impression that black was a principle of pure absorption (used with great caution) and I do relate it to the goddess. I think that people (specifically those in the new age community) overuse "white light". Isn't the truth somewhere in the middle? I mean aren't these terms a human construct placed onto principles that existed before humanity took its first step? <<
I hope you noticed that throughout my post, I placed the word "Black" in quotes. I don't like this term much because there are too many different things stuffed into it. To one person it will mean "evil", to another, it will mean "negativity" and to another it will mean "the opposite pole of +".
There is also the factor of racism in the general use of these terms white and black. Here especially, there are undertones and overtones of the good-evil polarity.
But when we pare all this crap away, 'black' and 'white' can be useful Hermetic terms.
'Black' indicates: The absence of reflected light. In other words, black absorbs the entire spectrum of radiant light and holds onto it. By extension, black is the "color" achieved when all the pigment colors (refracted light, as opposed to radiant light) are united or when all of the radiant light colors are nullified. Thus it makes for a good symbol of the Magnetic Fluid and the negative electromagnetic pole. It serves as the archetypal symbol for absorption, form, a mother's nurturance, Goddess, Earth.
'White' indicates: The absence of refracted light. In other words, white reflects the entire spectrum of radiant light and retains none of it. By extension, white is the "color" achieved when all of the pigment colors are nullified. Some would say it is also the "color" achieved when all of the colors of radiant light are united, but this is a misnomer, since "white light" is actually better described as "radiant brilliance". The entire spectrum of radiant light, when united, is clear, not white. There really is no such thing as physical white light. But there is an astral and a mental White Light which truly is white. Similarly, there is no true black light.
Because it is reflective instead of absorptive, white makes for a good symbol of the Electric Fluid and the positive electromagnetic pole. It serves as the archetypal symbol for reflection, force, a father's nurturance, God, Sun.
I think that where the 'evil' and 'bad' connotations entered in had to do with the primal human fear of the of nighttime darkness. Therefore everything black or dark became "dangerous" and "mysterious", and from there "evil". We began to worship the bright light of day as if it were "safe", a mystery revealed, and from there, "good".
In essence, both these words reflect unification: black is the unification of the pigment colors, and white, the unification of the radiant light colors. Conversely, they both reflect negation: black is the absence of radiance , and white, the absence of absorption. And still, they are both dependant upon the same one thing -- light.
We can set this up as a Quadrapolar Magnet thus:
+Black = Unification of the pigment colors.
-Black = Absence of radiance.
+White = Unification of radiant light colors.
-White = Absence of absorption.
As words for describing a magical practice, they really don't serve well at all. A "Negative-White" magician who absorbs no light and just irradiates the heck out of everything can be just as destructive as the "Negative-Black" magician who hoards everything for themselves and vampirizes the light of others.
For the Hermetic, the concepts of "good" and "evil" resolve into "positive" and "negative", "constructive" and "destructive". And each is seen as an integral part of The Whole. They are inseparable. The one does not exist without the other and vice versa.
But this does not mean that there are not good and bad choices, and actions which serve or which harm. The universe is filled with moral choices to be made. This is what distinguishes between the two poles of magic: either you work for the betterment or for the detriment. When I referred to a "Black" magician, I was referring to one who practices magic detrimental to others and ultimately, to Self. But the path of the True Adept is neither Left-Hand nor Right-Hand exclusively -- it is the Middle Path that unites these two poles.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
28 Nov 2001