In my experience there is generally a great difference between Magick systems and Mystical systems.
While a tradition might include both magick and mysticism (such as Aleister Crowley’s work in Thelema – including both Hindu mysticism with Western Occult magick systems), there is generally a big difference.
In Magick, the aspirant (or operator) makes sure to separate the work from their regular life. The magickian will construct wards and protective circles to make sure nothing can penetrate their space.
Going back to the ancient traditions of Solomonic Magick, there’s the use of the Triangle of Art even. No only were circles utilized to keep the barriers between the operator and the energies/spirits, but in invocations the spirits were held in the Triangle.
The ancient paths of magick, that formed the Western Mystery schools later on, took an adversarial approach to magick. Fear based philosophy created the idea of evil work that spirits could do. This led the users to employ “weapons” and tools of the art.
The sword and wand are examples of this.
A formula of modern magick is to start by clearing the space. In a Golden Dawn operation someone shouts: “HEKAS HEKAS ESTE BEBALOI.” which is a license to depart.
Next someone performs a banishing ritual (like an LBRP.)
They might employ a secondary banishing ritual (such as the BRH.)
In theory, a void is now created. Before going further, a divination is often performed to verify the end result of the work will be beneficial.
From this state, the magickian does the work of the operation. In the case of an invocation, they would now invoke the energies they wish to work with.
Other magick might be employed, like creating artificial elementals, or Kabbalah based pathworking on the Tree of Life.
Once the work is complete, the magician does a tear down – the exact opposite of the start. Banishing rituals are once again employed, and a license to depart is made.
The entire process is like a doctor entering a ward of diseased patients. They put on all these garments, protections and then do the work, retreat back and remove all the clothing.
What is lacking is communion or any empathy with the beings.
Conversely, the mystical approach is one in which the operator is one with the operation. Barriers are often not employed. Friendly powers are called upon and a bond is constructed between the aspirant and the energy.
Energies are not often dispersed but remain as part of the operator, space and the operation.
The first time I did such an approach was on the advice of a teacher of Enochian magick. I had stopped attending a Golden Dawn organization and learned from a teacher of Enochian magick. She didn’t employ the standard wards and barriers. Instead she interfaced directly… I was apprehensive at first. I thought, “this is crazy, no banishings?”
In time I found I preferred that approach. It felt more natural and humane. Instead of treating the spiritual entities as hostile, they are treated with more respect.
Shamanism is another approach that works similarly. While they may use smudging to banish energies, that isn’t part of their daily work. Instead they incorporate the spiritual energies of nature into their daily lives.
This I like a lot more.
Difference in Goals
Magick seeks to establish some sort of return. You manifest something, or you call on something. You have a need and attempt to get a desired result. Crowley defined magick as change conforming to will.
Mysticism is different entirely – the mystic is seeking union with Source. Source can be “God” or “Goddess,” or some spiritual energy. Ultimately the mystic track takes one to the world of Divine union – where all is one and duality ceases to exist. It is the God state or the self-realized state of awareness.
Often the mystic is seen as having “higher” ideals. Meaning that the mystic is looking to overcome the world, whereas the magickian is controlling it.
Relating to Hardships
Magick systems tend to overcome hardships. Consider most Book of Shadows of various pagan crafts. They often have spells and remedies to fix a situation like job loss, or healing. They may also have rituals to find “a mate,” or perhaps methods to manifest various things into one’s life.
The book and move “The Secret,” was very big on manifestation. So much so that it ends up being just like a pagan form of Donald Trump – manifest, manifest, manifest!
Not all magick systems are like that – but when hardships are found in life, the magickian looks at it as an opportunity to use magick to avoid or overcome it.
Quite different is the mystical take on hardships. For the mystic, the hardship is a blessing in disguise. It’s an opportunity to let go. It is the way out of suffering – by letting the attachments of the world become lost to the decaying properties of the world.
Hindu mystics, Christian mystics, Gnostics, Buddhists, Sufis and Kabbala mystics often see the hardships as our karma projected back into our space. It is how we relate to them that determines if they will decay out of our life or if we will continuously be caught in a cycle of pain and suffering.
In other words, the mystic strives to relate to hate, with love. They relate to violence with compassion. They may die in the process, but the success in this world is not the measuring of their real success. It is in the ethical action that determines their absolute victory – and this victory often manifests outside the time track of one’s physical lifetime.
In the modern era, we have other schools of thought. Gurus, psychics and mediums may all have a variation of these approaches. They may not call themselves a magickian, nor a mystic.
Instead they may state their nature as psychic. Look for their motivating factors. What are their endgame goals? Is the guru seeking students to worship them? Or are they trying to help people self-realize Divinity?
Is the psychic focused on mundane affairs of the world (like current events, politics)? They may not call themselves a magickian, but that’s their approach.
Those who seek change in the mundane world are working a form of magick. Those who seek to transcend the mundane world are working a form of mysticism. – Skotadi