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Patti Wigington

On "Magic" vs. "Magick"

By September 12, 2008

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I got an email not too long ago from a reader who chastised me for using magic-with-a-c instead of magick-with-a-ck here on the blog. According to the email, obviously I'm not a Real Pagan or I would stick a K on the end of the word -- which came as a bit of a surprise to me -- so I thought perhaps I should explain why I spell it the way I do.

The use of the spelling "magick" originated with Aleister Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn. They used the pseudo-archaic magick-with-a-k to mean ceremonial or high magic as opposed to practical magic. In some traditions of modern Paganism, the magick-with-a-k is still used today, however, just as many traditions choose not to use it. Some, in fact, find it a wee bit pretentious to use unless you happen to actually BE a ceremonial magician (or would that be "magickian"?).

Because I'm someone who really needs consistency in my life, when I took over this site a year and a half ago, I made the decision to use magic-with-just-a-c-on-the-end in all pieces of content that make references to magic. The only time you'll see me use magick-with-a-k is if I'm directly quoting a source which spelled it that way. It's just a matter of personal preference, and anyone who really likes to spell it with a K is more than welcome to do so.

At any rate, I hope that clears up any confusion that might be lurking out there. For more info on things magically delicious, you can read here: Glossary - Magick
September 12, 2008 at 2:14 pm
(1) spellcaster24354 says:

You use the word in any way you choose!
we know what ya mean! LOL

September 15, 2008 at 3:42 pm
(2) Grey says:

On a side note, I’ve noticed some new fantasy themed video games I’ve played have taken to using “magick” instead of “magic” like they used to; FFTA:Grimore of the Rift for example. Curious as to why the recent usage and what the reaction of the people who insist on the use of “magick” for what they practice seeing their word of choice in a fictional context.

September 19, 2008 at 10:56 am
(3) Luna H. says:

Personally, I use magick with a ‘k’ to differentiate from the practice of slight of hand type of magic. It not pretention, simply allowing people to know at a glance or through a web search what topic I’m discussing. Whether with a ‘k’ or without, I enjoy your articles, blogs and the chance to interact with others interested in the same topics. Blessings on you, Patti!

September 19, 2008 at 2:55 pm
(4) Paula says:

Some people have no life, they have to criticise other people because obviously, they are not satisfied with themselves. You know who you are, and stick to it… More power to ya.

you go girl

February 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm
(5) Magaly Guerrero says:

Paula, you made me roar.

September 19, 2008 at 5:40 pm
(6) Rebecca says:

Good for you.

I personally find it asinine to add an extra letter, correct grammar and spelling is something we should all upkeep. Besides ‘magick’ is darn fluffy.

September 19, 2008 at 11:04 pm
(7) PhoenixWindwalker says:

Anyone who says someone is not a “true Pagan” simply on the basis of spelling is mislead, shortsighted, or delusional.

That being said, I choose to spell the word with a “k” on the end simply to differenciate between stage magic (illusion) and actual magick.

But I say spell it any way you want, it doesn’t make you any less of a Pagan for spelling it with a “c” any more so than it makes me more of a Pagan for spelling it with a “k” added on the end or vice-versa.

September 20, 2008 at 11:22 am
(8) Dolores says:

Any way you spell it, Patti, we know what you mean, and we appreciate your always informative newsletter.

Just want to add that language is a living thing that’s always changing to suit the times.

I started out using “magic” in my books but in my later manuscripts have switched to “magick” just because I like its slight difference from mundane usage.


September 20, 2008 at 4:35 pm
(9) Drauga says:

I’ve never really given thought to the whole “ck” or “c” thing. I think like Luna H though, I use it more as a differentiation between the types of magick we do to the magic David Copperfield does. It annoys me that anyone whose beliefs are not agreed upon with someone else’s views, the oppositional person is automatically called a “fluff bunny” or some other typical remark to try and scare new practitioners into certain beliefs. Seriously, convincing someone else of your beliefs by saying that they’re not “real” or a “fluff bunny” (a.k.a. insulting) is not an effective way of arguing. Take a Public Speaking course at your local college, university, OR look it up on the Internet. You’ll get more people to come around to your views rather than insulting or intimidating them into it.

October 8, 2008 at 7:34 pm
(10) Satori says:

Honey, you spell it whatever way you choose. I think people just overdo it when they insist on it being spelt with a k. As for being “real” I wonder what this reader’s definition of real is.

January 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm
(11) Aric says:

If memory serves correctly. Mr. Crowley stated that the reason was to clarify the public perception of a magician, one who performs illusions, as opposed to one who performed true magick, spells, incantations and alchemy which is not slight of hand.

September 7, 2009 at 9:59 pm
(12) Gina says:

I thought the wiccan belief was different than that of Mr. Crawley! He was a black magick believer of Satan. There is no devil in Wicca! So why should we debate the spelling of the word magic in wiccan use compared to a Satanist’s version of the word? I’m just curious because I do not see the relivance or logic in this ordeal.

September 8, 2009 at 8:01 am
(13) paganwiccan says:

Gina – because not everyone who practices magic is a Wiccan. There are plenty of people who practice magic who identify as witches, Pagans, or other types of practitioners.

Not only that, Crowley wasn’t a Satanist.

March 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm
(14) Ray says:

i spell it without the k also

April 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm
(15) Dave says:

I thought ‘Magick’ was for the verb, for example: ‘Harry Potter magicked the door open’. Whereas Magic was the noun… But I’m not 100% sure. I don’t even use that word in writing, so it’s not exactly important, but if I were to use it, I’d use it my way.

November 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm
(16) Lizz Moon says:

I dont think it really matters how anyone spells magic(k), but I do like how it is discribed about the origin of the spelling so that new pratictioners can understand the orgin of magic(k) a little better. It dose get to be a little confusing when you see so many people spell diffrent ways.

January 18, 2011 at 9:29 am
(17) Magaly Guerrero says:

You made me laugh so loud with your ” magician or would that be ‘magickian’?” bit. I was just confronted (or talked to) about the same issue. I’ll write a post and will DEFINITELY quote you–your answer explains my feelings to the t.

July 22, 2011 at 10:04 am
(18) Mickey Finn says:

I hate to say it, but those who insist on using magic with a k are well…let’s just say they’re better patted on the head, smiled at and sent on their happy little way. It can be difficult enough to follow a different path without these try hard elitists making things look “fluffy”. Now watch out, the Magickans might get the Elves onto you…they’re tough you know, they have +1 longswords!

October 25, 2011 at 1:50 am
(19) Hermione says:

I think spelling Magic with a K is being fluffy. The problem is that when you bring this up Pagans and Wiccans will say to you that it doesn’t make a difference how you spell it. I’m afraid that it does and the sooner these fluffs get it through that bunny skull that Magic has always been spelled that way the better off they’ll be. The problem that I have is that some Pagans and Wiccans have a problem with Crowley but they have no problem using the word Magick. The next time that you have a problem with someone stop using the words that he invented, or changed around.

That is my own opinion and take it for what it is. I spell it Magic and not Magick. Sorry about you going through heck with that person.

December 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm
(20) TPW says:

The first time I read the word “magickian” in a book was the last time I wanted to use a K at the end of it, and I have always appreciated that this is the only major Pagan-focused site I have found which uses the original spelling.

Not only are there pronunciation challenges like that one, the two spellings are phonetically identical, so the confusion isn’t even eliminated in conversation. (Actually, I have a friend who pronounces the ending “k” quite loudly, but it’s entirely sarcastic.)

What sealed it for me was Crowley. If I practiced Thelema, I would use six letters, but I don’t. We Pagans have enough problems without unwittingly linking ourselves to a fellow like that, who is surrounded by his own set of rumors and misinformation. I prefer to render unto Crowley what is Crowley’s, and use tried-and-true English for my own writings.

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