Signs that you might not be a real magician
Signs that you might not be a real magician

Signs that you might not be a real magician

Everyone who follows this path wants to believe that they are a real occultist or a magician.  It is a bit like those people who tell you at parties that they are “writers” and when you ask them what they have published it turns out that they have been sitting on their autobiography for 40 years.
Being a real magician is like being a real writer. It is not as easy as claiming you are.   So here is my list of indications that you might not be a real magician

1.    You always wear black, have a pentagram, or an esoteric tattoo which can be seen.
A real magician is someone you would think was an ordinary person.  The Rosicrucians actually swore to wear the standard clothes of people around them.  Dressing up is advertising “hey I am an occultist” for people who do not care.  This can be extended to the idea of appearing all dark and mysterious and writing long tombs on Black Magic usually with a Crowley angle.

2.    Each day you do not do at least half an hour’s PRACTICAL magical work.
Practical work means doing a ritual, shutting your eyes and going somewhere, with full concentration.  Sounds obvious but people call themselves magicians when they only have read a few books.

3.    Your life is the same.
Practical magic results in dramatic changes to you and your environment.  If you are doing it properly you will be completely different from what you were.

4.    You have not lost at least one relationship because of magic.

It is hard to have lived a magical life and stayed with the same partner.  If you are attached to a muggle they often do not understand your way of thinking, and if you are not then magical events can become “relationship events”.   Although I didn’t believe it either, it is incredibly likely that a partner will say to you to choose between you and your magical work.  If you chose the partnership you are not a magician.

5.     You own a ton of magical gear which you use in all your rituals.
I am in the GD, so I have shedloads of gear which I have made and bought over the years.  However for some reason in most of my rituals I use my (non-air) dagger which is connected to a spirit who helps.  That is not to say that I will not get out the whole lot for a serious working, but a lot of the work requires the minimum amount of equipment.

6.    You talk about occultism more than you do it
While it is possible to read a few books and know a lot, you can find yourself quoting other authors all the time.  When you are talking about experiences, if you need to quote others then you are playing at it.  Give yourself a test.  Time how much you spend actually doing occultism and how much you talk about it.  If you do an hour a day in your magic circle then you can’t talk about it for more than an hour.

7.     You have lots of hobbies.
While some hobbies work with a magical life, such as art, computing, reading, historical research, but others don’t and you probably will not have time to do them.
But there is more to it than that, there is a social life which goes on with hobbies and you will find that you really have nothing in common with these people.   Hobbies are a way of opening a conversation with someone else.  Once the conversation has moved beyond that you find that they are interested in muggle things and you will be shoved in the corner with nothing to say.

8.     You have an active social life
You don’t. Occultism is a very lonely thing.  As I said above you find that you have very few things to say to muggles.  If your social circle is other occultists then that will become problematic over time.  Occult social circles are hotbeds of intrigue and nastiness dressed up with holier than thou smiles.  Your best friend could decide that they want to take over a group you have set up and take your entire circle away from you.  Another might think that you are evil and start launching black magic attacks on you.  One thing that is weird though is that sometimes if you make a magical change in your life, you suddenly lose the ability to communicate to your old set of friends.

9.     You think that something else is important
Occultism is all consuming.  It provides you with a way of life and method of thinking.  There is no room for making something else more important than it.  Politics is not important; neither are ideals, animal rights, Greenpeace or anything like that.  A magician helps the world but through different methods.  That does not mean that they will not get their hands dirty helping people directly. But the “idea” thing is dealt with a magical level, they do not sell their time to causes.

10.     You do what you are told
There are occult groups which are based less on respecting their teachers and more obeying them.  If a teacher spouts rubbish and people are expected agree with it, even to the point of offering their public support for it without question, then they are not magicians.  Magic is a path of questioning and certainly not obeying without question.

11.    You think that things in magic are literal and physical
If you had any real experience with magic, and being a magician, you would know that nothing in magic is literal, most of it is symbolic and few things relate to physical events.  Magicians have a mystical language similar to storytelling, often with real events and places in the mix.  When a magician tells you they summoned a dragon, chances are they summoned an astral entity…. If you can’t see that you are not a real magician.

12.     You think magic is about what you can get.
While it is true that magic gives you some control over creating your universe, you will always find that you have to give up a lot.  This is the path of sacrifice and it is damn hard. People who tell you that magic made their life easy are lying.   In fact I am sure a large number of real magicians would love to give it all up if they could live their lives like normal people again.  It is just they can’t.  Having tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge you can’t return to Eden.


  1. I believe much of what Nick wrote in this post but not all.

    Reading through his statements reminded me of a friend from Hawaii. About 20 years ago, this friend shared with me his “rule #1. No matter I said, he would say, “See rule #1.” If someone shared the so-called truth, he would say, “See rule #1.” Why? He was trying to help me learn the difference between facts, opinions, and beliefs. Over the years, this tool has proven beneficial for me. Maybe it will be useful for you too.

    Rule #1 is this, “Your world is what you believe it to be.”

    If you want, you can try a little experiment. Read over Nick’s 12 points but this time keep the words of my Hawaiian friend in mind. For example, in point 12 above, Nick wrote, “People who tell you that magic made their life easy are lying.” Read it again with my friend’s advice in mind, “the world is what you believe it to be.” Reading it this way helps you to see that this is a statement describing Nick’s beliefs–something that is true for him, something he believes. Nothing wrong with beliefs. We all have them. The question my friend encouraged me to keep in mind was “is this belief useful?”

    Over the years, I found this exercise helpful in separating opinion from fact. Nick’s statement “People who tell you that magic made their life easy are lying” is not the truth, is not a fact unless you believe it is. Then it is true for you, not necessarily anyone else.

    When you read the 12 statements above, there are words that sometimes clue you in that the writer is about to share an opinion. These clue words include “is” and “are.” It isn’t that these words always introduce a belief or opinion. It’s more of warning to the reader to slow down and be on the look out. “Warning–possible opinion ahead. Stay alert.”

    Anyway, I’ve found my friend’s rule #1 one to be a useful tool and this post provided an opportunity to share it with you. Of course my friend would suggest you read everything that I wrote keeping rule #1 in mind.

  2. Anonymous

    Based on an unknown tail, fanatics are always trying to make conclusions about the whole animal. That is all that you will ever have as far as intellect is concerned, just a tail. As long as your knowledge remains incomplete, and knowledge must always remain incomplete, there can only be short-sightedness. In grasping onto knowledge, those who fail to see into their own short-sightedness continue driving themselves to madness with self-deception.

  3. Anonymous

    #2 is partially exact. For a real magical, the practice is 24h/24h, 7/7 the whole year round. The real magician find practice even in mundane activity, he stay focussed 100% of the time on the Great Work. For the real magician, the world around him is the mirror of his own sphere of sensation. His will to clean his own sphere is enough to repulse all unnecessary and attract the necessary.

  4. Anonymous

    #13 You proclaim to be high rank in several spiritual paths at the same time.
    Following seriously a spiritual path is time consuming, mastering it is life consuming. so chasing two hazes at the same time is idiot.
    The real magician is proud to follow only one path at a time, even if he change path after mastering one after many dozen of years of dedication. If the real magician is a leader of the group he created he hand it to someone who is dedicated to it, and he continues his road.

    1. I agree completely that is why I am entirely focused on MOAA and have been for the last four years when I was involved in its founding. Before that I was entirely focused on HOGD although I had a minor interest (Four meetings a year for two years) in Blue Masonry. So really that was one order for a decade.
      I am also a member of one other group with I have visited three times in the last 20 years but stay connected to because of historical reasons.
      I never claim “high rank” or “grade” anywhere. Would you like to provide some evidence for that first sentence?

  5. Very potent post, Nick. This is a very deep discussion and difficult to establish any red flags, because there are always exceptions to the rules. But I would have to say that all of these guidelines you have given are *usually* true. I didn’t see anything that I had any major objections to. We all fall off the horse from time to time, but if a person is serious, they will keep getting back up and trying harder the next time. I particularly liked how you said “Your life is the *same*”, rather than saying “Your life is not any better”. You understand how becoming a strong magician means first burning away the dross and that is sometimes a long and painful process. Most don’t know that, because they don’t go deep enough into the pool to see how deep it really is.

  6. Here’s another red flag that pops up for me: Anyone who consistently uses the word “praxis” when discussing magick. It’s almost always used along with a lot of other pseudo-intellectual jargon intended to make the speaker sound educated without actually saying a damned thing. Most of the time, once I see the word “praxis”, I just stop reading.

  7. Anonymous

    I do generally agree with a lot of the points but this list just reminds me of being a teenager and kids calling other kids posers and doing “you’re not a real goth” lists.
    I think everyone should take what they want from magick and truth is not everyone wants to be a “real magician”.

  8. Hi Nick, thanks for this post, even though I disagree on many of the criteria you suggest above. This was suprising to me, as I don’t find myself disagreeing with your posts very often. 🙂 However, I think any list that tries to claim entitlement to define who is and isn’t a magician will run into trouble and become obsolete in the long-run. — I gave this some thoughts over recent days and just posted a reply over at my blog… Thanks for the good debate this sparked in my mind! Cheers, Acher

  9. There are some interesting points in this thought provoking (and of course intentionally provocative article). However creating a them/us divide of magicians vs muggles is a way of thinking which is demonstrably false and vastly simplistic IMHO. As they say, there are two sorts of people in the world, those who believe there are two sorts of people and those who don’t.

  10. …You’re kidding, right?

    I agree with some of these points absolutely. Others, however, I take issue with, and for what I believe to be very good reasons.

    #1) Your preferred style of clothing and/or body modifications have nothing to do with your actual magical ability, or your theurgic attainment. The problem isn’t what you’re wearing, it’s how you’re acting.

    #4) …Really? If you’ve lost a relationship because of the magic I’d say you’re doing something wrong. I have an acquaintance who couldn’t figure out why his wife left him, even though he routinely spent several hours a day practicing and ignored her needs completely if her needs coincided with his ‘temple time.’ That’s not being a magician, that’s being a selfish prick. I believe this sort of thing should not be used as a benchmark.

    #7) I was with you until you included the social aspect. The inability to socialize with people who do not share your particular paradigm is a failure on the part of the mage. Being unable to relate to people who do not have similar experiences and beliefs is not a virtue to be tauted as a sign of a real mage, it’s a sign of a crap mage who can’t step out of his own shoes long enough to develop interest and empathy for people who aren’t like him.

    #8)This in three points.
    – See my point above about having things to say to normal (“Muggle”) people.
    – My friends have been nothing but supportive, even when I didn’t really deserve it, whether they be magic oriented or mundane. I’m not sure why social failings are being propped up as signs of legitimacy rather than used as examples of failures a mage should *not* fall into.
    -Regarding changes, yes, I’ve experienced that. Doesn’t mean that a person should abandon his old friends, just means to find some new ones who you *can* relate to now, whom you couldn’t beforehand.

    In other words: No. You’re wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having few friends, being an introvert, etc. It’s NOT a sign that you’re not a mage, however, to be socially active and/or extroverted.

    (Disclaimer: I am an introvert, with very few real friends and not much of a social life. I just disagree really, REALLY strongly with making a virtue of social failings.)

    #9) I am in agreement with the all consuming nature of occultism, and both magical and theurgic attainment. I disagree that nothing else is important. I don’t know a single spirit that would respect someone who would do a spell for a disaster relief effort but be unwilling to donate for them, or if they lived in the area and had the means, be unwilling to donate their time. This tells me again that the mage cares more about himself, and his social comfort zone.

    #10) Agreed. I personally feel this applies more to philosophical or spiritual teachings than to practical magical work. There are, for instance, reinterpretations of the LBRP that exist almost solely because someone decided they didn’t need to rely on the authority of the G.D. to explain what was going on. Questioning everything is, in the practical arena, better left until you actually understand what it is you’re questioning.

    #12) Magic is about what you can get, as you yourself proved when you used the example of tasting the fruit of knowledge. If it wasn’t about what you can get, you wouldn’t be doing it. I don’t expect to be conjuring Gold bars any time soon, but I do expect to become a better, more capable person who is more in touch with both deity in some fashion and better practically endowed. If magic didn’t provide all those things, I wouldn’t do it, and I doubt anyone else would either.


    Final disclaimer: This isn’t meant to be insulting. That said, my comments of the social aspects of this post are serious, and I do genuinely believe Nick may be making excuses for the social failings of Magicians, or even somewhat attempting to legitimize them.

  11. Anonymous

    Nah. You will find examples of able magicians who are not adhering to any given point of the list.

    Nobody knows all ways, methods and styles, so it is not feasible to make up such a list and call it absolute (if you implied that. If on the other hand, you say that those rules are just useful for your personal style of magic and anyone aspiring to imitate it, then this comment is obsolete).

    On a side note: why should one even do magic if it leads to a life which seems – according to your statements – a bit joyless and devoid of any meaningfull social interaction? What are the ends to justify such means? Are you implying some different kind of aesthetical (or ethical) values?

  12. Anonymous

    You think any subjective, social ideals are set in stone and you consistently use the word “muggle” (a word from a children’s book) as opposed to “mundane” and expect to be taken seriously at all.

  13. Nick, I would say that almost all the rules are agreeable with, but some of them just in certain cases, which is also why so many people disagree here with you. Eg #7, Magick is 24/7 philosophy of life. You truly must think, live and breathe as a Magician, but this mindset can also be projected into hobbies (instead of rejecting them). Ok, sell your PlayStation, switch off TV, but why to abandon study of languages, study of psychology, astronomy, mathematics, not even talking about sports, you cannot really be a magician if your body resembles a blob.

    #3 has few different viewpoints.
    You specifically talk about your perception of your life, which yes, will totally be different, different experiences, different ideas, but life itself can still be same (same job, same family, same friends, if you are happy, don’t change it, just use your new mindset as an advantage).

    On the contrary, #12 is probably your paradigm based, so I am not going to ruin it for you, but I would recommend to delete it, same as #4 and #8, you cannot really be a Magician if you project your personal experiences to some all-encompassing dogma, saying that anyone who hasn’t experienced it isn’t a Magician. We are still people, we have our individual experiences and handle things differently, therefore different situations and different outcomes.

  14. Anonymous

    How is it that when ever I read an email from D.Griffins blog and follow up on the person he so happens to be deriding I tend to find that they’re actually quite interesting and learn something from them? While I disagree with some of the list here for eg:

    In my opinion, a real magician should be able to converse with the most mundane of muggles and not find it necessary to distance him/her self from the/the general population as such a thing is based on fear a far seprioth from the heart. A real magician should stand as an example of conquest over the lower aspects of self and be able to translate that ability to others in presence and if necessary with compassion without a self-righteous or air of sense of aloofyness that would otherwise detract from such a thing being natural or inspired.

    Your blog is interesting Mr Farrell and I wish you all the best on it. Will sign up receive updates .lol. Mr Griffitns blog makes for great sensationalist reading, brilliant if you’re looking for an inspirational read following up on the people he spends so much time vomiting on.

    In light

  15. Agree with much of this, but not all. Especially do not agree with no.9.
    How can a real magician have his/her head so firmly up his/her ass as to not think animal rights or Greenpeace (or similar organisations doing environmental work) is important! To me Magic does not stop with what I do in Temple with a robe on. Campaigning or raising awareness against animal cruelty or damage to the environment or cruelty to children are all very Magical Acts. Magic, at least in one very important aspect, is about bringing about change, and unless it is black magic, it must be about change for the better, and unless it is magic of a purely selfish nature, then it must be what is better for everyone and every living thing. While ritual magical acts in temple may be enough to bring about the necessary change, often it will still have to translate into direct action in the world arena, through campaigning etc. For me (high) magic is about Balance, first and foremost, and what we do in temple must be balanced by what we do outside temple.

  16. Hi Nick, Just had a quick read through and yes can certainly agree and understand much of what you say, magic is personal/spiritual transformation and serious changes etc will indeed occur. Magic certainly has a way of finding the chinks in the armour when it comes to altering and re-orienting a person as well as leading to a lot of the things you describe. If a person is touched by magic they will change and evolve and lose many of their old attachments etc. Definitely not the easiest of pursuits but in that sense perhaps it will always remain for the few.

  17. 1. Personal aesthetic choices are irrelevant. This is a tired cliche that has been perpetually tossed at occult practitioners (from within and without the community) and only serves as a pithy dismissal rather than any sort valid metric of skill or commitment.

    2. This would be true if occultism was still solely the province of idly rich Victorian dilettantes with enough free time and manservants to choke a horse. The average person schedule is a little to full and hectic. More often than not that half-hour is better spent fulfilling mundane needs than waving sticks around an incense-smogged room. Furthermore, I’ve met plenty of competent and successful magicians whose regular ritual work is relegated to weekends.

    4. If you have lost a relationship because of magical practice you’re either doing something wrong or the relationship didn’t have much of a foundation to begin with. I wouldn’t be friends with you either if you smugly called me a name from a children’s book and acted like you were better than me because you think you’re a wizard.

    7. Only being interested in occultism doesn’t make you a better occultist. It makes you tedious and boring.

    8. See above for the reason why said person wouldn’t have a social life.

    9. This is just an excuse for apathy and irresponsibility. In order to mold reality to our will we must interface with it first. Cloistering yourself and believing you’re making the world a better place by vibrating Names of Power in your rumpus room is the worst kind of delusional self-aggrandizement.

    10. So what gives you the authority to dictate the terms of being a “real magician”?

    12. Everyone involved with magick wants something out of it be it as concrete as next month’s rent or some vague concept of enlightenment. If magic didn’t have the promise of fulfilling a need then no one would be involved with it.

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