Novalis 1772-1801
 
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Novalis 1772-1801


 Anonymous
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An interesting precursor (by over a hundred years) to Crowley's definition:

"Magic is the art of using the world of the senses at will"*

Just thought I'd share this with you all, hope it helps.

*Novalis: Philosophical Writings, trans. and ed. Margaret Mahoney Stoljar, State University of New York Press, 1997


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 Anonymous
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Novalis is really great, a true mystic in a long tradition of German mysticism who expounded a magical idealism. Crowley actually has a couple precursors - he is not as original as some people would like it. That said, he is of course still a key figure in the modern occult revival and has been a most entertaining individual for sure.

Agape

Tau M


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 Anonymous
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That definition of magic is puzzling. What does the writer mean by 'world of the senses'?

It is not a precursor of Crowley's definition by any means after even general consideration of both.


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 Anonymous
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"KCh" wrote:
That definition of magic is puzzling. What does the writer mean by 'world of the senses'?

It is not a precursor of Crowley's definition by any means after even general consideration of both.

Perhaps Novalis meant something like "nature"* (I'm new to Novalis so I'm not yet sure if this is at all accurate) In which case defining magic as "the art of using nature at will" is, well, just like Crowley's definition.

*Mind you, Novalis, a poet, wrote in German and "world of senses" is an English translation. Any one know German?


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kidneyhawk
(@kidneyhawk)
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Any one know German?

LOL!

Tau?


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 Anonymous
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"In which case defining magic as "the art of using nature at will" is, well, just like Crowley's definition."

I disagree.

"Magick is the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with will."

There is no 'using' nature, you work 'with' nature. The simple definition above does not do justice to the numerous postulates and theorems that must be taken into account with the above for a complete understanding to develop. You must have a full and complete 'context', not bits and pieces taken out of context that you think help solidify your own notions.


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 Anonymous
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The original german is this: "Magie ist Kunst, die Sinnenwelt willkürlich zu gebrauchen«". It is always hard to translate properly mystical or poetic german into english because english is not as rich in words and vocabulary. I think the quote must be put in the context of Novalis Weltanschauung - only then one can get the real meaning. To just compare 2 quotes Crowley/Novalis will not do the job. Novalis also said that

"Will is magical, powerful ability to think - and is able to turn Nature into an expression and tool of the spirit/mind(Geist), to turn it into Thoughts. Who is able to do this is the 'Magical Idealist'.

Novalis is a very deep thinker, mystic and maybe even magician in a sense.


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 Anonymous
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Thanks, Tau! I'm only just beginning to learn about the Weltanshauung of the Romantics and I am most intrigued by his notions of magic and its role in our lives.

As far as the definitions as such are concerned, I do not think that "causing change to occur in nature in conformity with the will" implicitly suggests that this change occurs "with" nature. (it is not, for example, "causing change to occur in and with nature..." which would be expected if the "with" was of central importance) There is actually no indication that the will must coincide or work with nature's "laws" -- in fact, it seems to suggest that man's will is the element of central importance and does not acknowledge its relationship with nature in the least (e.g., is the "will" an aspect of nature? Can one's "true" will ever conflict with nature?). I'm not suggesting you are wrong, merely that it is by no means implicit in Crowley's simple definition that one works with nature in contradistinction to simply "using" nature to achieve the goals of the will; nor (and this seems important here) does the Novalis definition exclude the possibility of "using" nature "with" nature. In any case, clearly one uses nature in Thelemic magick (e.g., incense) Surely a further examination of what the two thinkers has in mind by these definitions will reveal more (and there is certainly plenty of information available in Crowley's "Magick" and Novalis' "Philosophical Writings") but it seems to me that you are taking the Novalis definition merely at face value while allowing Crowley's very similar definition to have a wealth of meanings, sub-contexts, postulates and theorems, etc. that are not implicit in the definition as such.

In the rest of your comment, KCh, I am uncertain as to whether you are speaking about me specifically (e.g., "You must have a full and complete 'context', not bits and pieces taken out of context that you think help solidify your own notions." -- are you saying that I am taking things out of context in this way? If so I find this unfounded in light of the fact that I merely pointed out how two one sentence definitions struck me as similar in some way.) In any case, I agree entirely with you and Tau that we cannot simply say that two definitions are similar and leave it at that; if we are to achieve a comprehensive understanding of what these two thinkers meant than we must explore the "contexts," "Weltanshauungs," "theorems and postulates," etc. That seems obvious and is in fact the very point of my posting in the first place: I was under the impression it would encourage this very kind of examination.

I think the two definitions are most similar in that they suggest magic is an art in which nature is the medium and man's will is the "motivating" central force. Further, they suggest that there is some kind of affinity between nature and will. Additionally, both thinkers perceived the accordance of the will with nature in the magical art as something very profound and beautiful, something to occupy man's highest goals. (or something like that...)

They differ primarily in so far as Crowley meant something far more systematic (cf, "theorems and postulates") by the practice of magic and something far more specific with the Will (in so far as it is a component of Thelema specifically -- something rather different than what an 18th cent. German Romantic poet might have had in mind).

One question I have for both definitions is: can nature ever perform magick without the will? That is, is it possible for nature to unfold in such a way that its effects are identical (or resemble very closely) the results of an act of magic?


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 Anonymous
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Dear A. and KCh,

I have no time to engage in this discussion right now, although I would love to as the German romantics are one of my favourite topics these days, I can only say that they are well worth researching.
Novalis is fascinating as are the others, as is the Naturphilosophen and the Lebensphilosophie. You can be sure that Novalis' system and Weltanschauung is very thorough and complex indeed and goes to depths which are rarely matched.

Interesting enough the above mentioned have a very deep influence on Michael Bertiaux for ex. who was able to absorb much of their thinking and include it in his system of Gnosis and Esoteric Voudon.

'best

Tau M


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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Tau, I'm not familiar with Michael Bertiaux, I'll be sure to check him out. Thanks.

I've been getting into the German Romantics lately myself after having recently explored the writings of Hermann Hesse, whose work was not only greatly influenced by the Romantics but was very much an extention of Romanticism itself. Theodore Ziolkowski has a lovely book ("The Novels of Hermann Hesse") in which he situates Hesse somewhere between German Romanticism and European existentialism. Tau, have you read Hesse? LaShtal readers may enjoy "Demian" as it explores some Gnostic and "occult" topics rather beautifully.

Further on German Romanticism -- didn't Crowley include Goethe in the Black Mass? A true Master -- "Faust" is a masterpiece of alchemy and the occult and should be of value to those serious about such topics.

On the topic of defining magic, does any one here know of a contemporary history of the subject? I'm thinking of something like a modern work along the lines of Levi's History. I wonder if Novalis is seriously considered in any such investigation?


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 Anonymous
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🙂 And here you mentioned another of the all time great, Hesse! I love him. Especially his Book Narziss and Goldmund (I am not sure if this is the correct english translation), The Journey to the East and Siddharta are of course masterpieces! Hesse, who was also a friend of Jung and very knowledgeable about esotericism, is a true metaphysician of the Soul.

In regards to Goethe, yes, Faust is of course very insightful and a milestone for many areas of thought and 'deed'.

'best

Tau M


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