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Are you a Mystic or a Magician?

June 25th, 2018

Without thinking too hard about this, just tell me, off the top of your head, whether you feel you are a mystic or a magician. Once you’ve done that, just let that question drop away and answer another question, if you will – again don’t give this too much thought – it’s just the answer that comes to you in this moment – I’m not holding you to this as the absolute truth. In fact I’ll explain thosse terms and then ask you to answer the question again later, because you might change your mind. Here’s the next question: If you had to say whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, what would it be? Again just shoot back a comment.

In a week’s time it’s possible that thousands will have seen this video, and if everyone kindly responded we’d have a great statistical sample to work with.

But let me back up now and explain what I mean by these terms. If you’ve joined this gathering, the chances are that you are interested in magic and mysticism. But what exactly do these two words mean? Like any terms that have been around for a long time, we could spend hours debating the various meanings that have been ascribed by scholars and lay-folk to these terms. And the more scholarly we made our debate, the more ambiguities and varieties of interpretation we would discover. Now is not the time for this! We’ll avoid getting caught up in semantics or in language that is tedious. Just look at where it might take us when we first try to understand the term Mysticism: the academic Gelman writes that the mystical experience is: “A unitive experience [that] involves a phenomenological de-emphasis, blurring, or eradication of multiplicity, where the cognitive significance of the experience is deemed to lie precisely in that phenomenological feature”. Surely there are simpler ways of talking about the experience of Oneness! Let’s look at two more accessible attempts to describe mysticism and the mystical experience:

Blakemore and Jennett wrote: “the essence of the mystical experience is the encounter between God and the human being, the Creator and creature; this is a union which leads the human being to an ‘absorption’ or loss of individual personality. It is a movement of the heart, as the individual seeks to surrender itself to ultimate Reality; it is thus about being rather than knowing.”

And the mystic Evelyn Underhill wrote about the term mysticism, that it is, “One of the most abused words in the English language, it has been used in different and often mutually exclusive senses by religion, poetry, and philosophy: has been claimed as an excuse for every kind of occultism, for dilute transcendentalism, vapid symbolism, religious or aesthetic sentimentality, and bad metaphysics. On the other hand, it has been freely employed as a term of contempt by those who have criticized these things. It is much to be hoped that it may be restored sooner or later to its old meaning, as the science or art of the spiritual life.”

Here’s the definition I use: that the mystic’s main goal is union with the Divine, to experience Oneness. Whether we are talking about Christian Mystics, Sufi Mystics, or Nature Mystics, the goal is the same – to surrender the sense of the ‘little self’ and to feel at one with All Being.

The Magician might have this goal, and may therefore be a mystic, but in addition she or he has other goals. They may wish to explore other worlds, to experience altered states consciousness, to converse with any beings they may meet in other worlds. They may want to develop their powers of perception or sensitivity or intuition. They may want to transform or improve circumstances for themselves or for others. Do you see how all these goals are active? They do not require surrender, but active engagement. The mystic closes their eyes to free themselves of the distractions of this world, to return to Source. The magician opens their eyes to explore the world, to wonder and admire, to understand and grow. The magician uses certain techniques such as journeying, ritual, and divination to help them in their quest. The mystic is more likely to shun these as distractions, and will focus on meditation and prayer.

Now that I’ve given these thumbnail descriptions of the mystic and the magician, type in your answer again, and say if it’s the same as before or different!

Now why did I ask you to say whether you feel you are introverted or extroverted? I just have a hunch that there might be a correlation between this aspect of personality and the choice you have made. Perhaps introverts are more likely to be drawn to the Mystical Path, and extroverts the Magical one. Or perhaps not! If you’re not sure which is your strongest trait there are various tests you can take online now, such as this one: Extroversion Introversion Test

In a later blog post I’ll try to summarise the results of this clumsy attempt at science!

Now let’s do a meditation to connect, if we wish, with the mystic and the magician within us. Once in the Sacred Grove, sense your oneness with all around you. The earth and sky, the trees. Just let go and surrender to this sense of Union with all of Nature, with all of Being. Now become aware of being in the grove, and in your imagination, sense you are leaning forward and touching the ground in front of you with the forefinger of one hand, as you stretch your arm. As you touch the ground a flower appears. Touch another spot, and another flower grows. After doing this a few times, stop. Close your inner eyes, and then gradually let your awareness of the Sacred Grove begin to fade as you become aware of being fully present wherever you are, Here and Now.

In the first part of the meditation, when you surrender to a sense of Oneness you are opening to the Mystic Within. When you create flowers with the ‘magic wand’ of your hand, you are expressing the Inner Magician.

34 Responses to “Are you a Mystic or a Magician?”

  1. I’ll comment here as Facebook had it’s technical difficulties:

    As for your poll question: I am a mystic dominant with mage tendencies on rare occasions. I’m nearing 40 trips around the sun. My personality type is a Mediator personality or (INFP-T).

    -WillowBard

  2. When a magician experience magic, he or she could enter the world of mysticism. As above so below and as within so without. What is magic?

  3. I’m a Sister Mary Lazarus (ISTJ—inspector, sentinel, duty-fulfiller). So I’m an introvert whose approach is primarily open-eyed, practical, and action-oriented (as soon as the correct course seems clear).

    So for the purposes of statistical analysis, I would fall into the magician category, according to the definitions that you have provided. My answers did not change as the discussion progressed.

  4. Of the choices given (reject the binary! :)), I’m definitely more of a mystic… and my answer was the same before and after reading.

    I generally test out in Meyers-Briggs as an INFP, and whilst I’m not convinced it’s the most accurate personality profile out there, the introvert part is definitely correct – being around too many people for too long saps my energy, and I recharge in solitude, whether at home or out in the woods.

    Hope this helps!

  5. Would it be way too much to state that a mystic experience preceeds the magic that stems from it? For instance : writing. I think it would be a mystical insight that one can represent sound, and thus language with symbols. The magic action following that, would be creating those symbols and putting them into an order to create meaningful words and sentences.

  6. Hi Philip, I’m one of those awkward people who never fit in the boxes! I used to be very introverted but have become more extrovert, interestingly this happened when I made the transition from mystic to magician a few years ago. These days I feel more of a mystic but with open eyes 🙂 (I am 36 btw)

  7. Before the terms were defined, I couldn’t pick clearly between Mystic and Magician, and both aspects still hold true afterwards. The definitions were super useful, though, thank you! I would say I had some early, formative mystical experiences, and these recur at times. I find magic a useful paradigm for getting things done my “little self” struggles with, and/or for identifying my Will.

    I would say I’m an introvert with good social skills: I can deal with groups of people but it saps my energy, so I often prefer to be alone. I also live and work alone, which is new-ish and may not stay the same. In the test you linked I scored 39, which sounds about right.

  8. Definitely a magician, and an introvert (INFJ); my choices did not change. Thank you very much for this…it will be fascinating to see the results.

  9. I’m an INFJ, and tested as magician and introvert. The thing that tipped me over to magician is the longing to explore other consciousness, other realms. Doesn’t mean I actually want to TALK to anybody, just take a look (ha-ha, introvert joke).

  10. First a mystic and extravert
    Second still a mystic but verry much aware of the magician in being a bard which for me in practise is still difficult to journey when I am in my grove alone. In my contact with the world and people I am outgoing and open extravert.
    Thank you Philip for your thought ir cup of tea

  11. Hi Philip,

    mystic or magician, a very interesting topic! What about exploring this more deeply in a coming Tea with a Druid? To me it boils down to the question: when is it appropriate to take action and aiming to change things actively vs. when is it wise to just observe and witness a situation without the impulse to interfere?

    I’m an introvert and used to be a magician but changed into a mystic during the Ovate Grade when I realized that things are like they are often for a good reason. It’s absolutely fine taking action to achieve goals or if someone needs help! But tampering with a situation just out of good intentions often makes things worse. It’s not easy to distinguish but sometimes it our responsibility NOT to act!

    I suggest using a free online polling tool, something like https://doodle.com/free-poll
    making analysis a bit easier. 😉

  12. Hi Philip, adding to my FB comment on this; I’m an introvert bordering extravert. I originally thought I was a mystic, even at a second look, but with an honest and closer look I might be a magician too, I would flip into mysticism as a more ‘trusted’ medium though. I think I am both????

  13. Introvert (INFJ), and I’d have said I lean more toward being a mystic until I read your description. Interesting!

  14. An introvert magician. My answer didn’t change. I’m 44, but feeling that after going through phases of depression I’m only now beginning to explore my full potential.

  15. Well, this is not so easy as to identify oneself as one thing or the other. We may well be born with inclinations either way, depending on circumstances. As a child, I was an introvert, a needy one. As I have grown older and achieved successful tours within my incarnation, then I have opened up and more confident. So I would say that my most strong energy is as an extrovert, because I am assured of my “own” Self. However, I am an avid ponderer, I look deeply and search for why, how and where, answers are given to me, with synchronistic events, a good deal of the time. That is another story! Much love, Margaret.

  16. INFP and magician, tho’ after reading your lovely article I realize I’m both magician and mystic. Depends on my mood (I’m a Pisces, so it all seems to come down to the weather and my mood!) 🙂 Kind thanks!

  17. Initial response: mystic,extrovert
    Secondary response: mystic developing magician skills, still extrovert.
    Thank you Philip for another lovely gathering.~~Ruth, Atlanta, GA

  18. I am an INFP but score borderline ENFP so basically an ambivert. Before reading your article I would have considered myseld a mystic but after reading their characteristics mystic magician would be more accurate.

  19. “I believe we have entered an era in which we can move beyond attachments to labels”.
    Quite – as you say elsewhere definitions are of little importance and the similarities between Eastern and Western mysticism and “religion” are more significant than the differences.

    I read Evelyn Underhill’s seminal work many years ago and was struck by the similarities between East and West. Unity, wholeness, merging with the “divine” can’t be all that dissimilar whoever and wherever it is practiced.

    I place my faith in science but believe that spirituality and science both aim to expose the same truths through different methods.

  20. Hi Philip, I’m playing catch-up with your tea broadcasts and this was an interesting one. My immediate reaction was mystic and introvert but I knew on both fronts it wasn’t entirely true. Did the test and came out with a score of 46 which wasn’t that surprising – thought I’d be somewhere in the middle with that set of questions. There are always so many instances of “well… it depends on…” etc. I’d say, if I really came clean that I was an extrovert who needed introvert time in order to find the energy to do the extrovert bit. I can babble away about myself to all and sundry at the bus stop but there’ll be things even my closest friends don’t know! I’m a Scorpio, what can I say! LOL. In my quiet time, which is essential, I’m a mystic, but in my social time I’m a magician! I think one feeds the other. So, in a way, your original surmise was correct for me. I’m, and I would imagine many other people, aren’t just one or the other. We all have elements of both. Thanks for the subject matter. 🙂 xx

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