Dion Fortune famously described magic as the art and science of causing change in consciousness in accordance with will. Will is a concept that Schopenhauer was discussing almost 200 years ago and its importance must be clearly understood in the context of magic.
Will operates at various levels. The ‘will’ to exist is fundamental to matter – yes, will exists in the rocks that form mountains and the hair that grows on our heads. Emma Restal Orr describes this will as ‘mind’ in her exploration of Animism (The Wakeful World). For me matter appears to be a combination of energy and will.
Schopenhauer talks of increasingly complex manifestations of will, from physical to biological, social and up to human. Compare this with Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego or with Plato’s charioteer. John Michael Greer sets this out superbly in his series on will where he talks of the rational mind and its attempts (often unsuccessfully) to control the biological and social minds (or will).
It is this ability of one layer of will to override another that is the essence of magic: the art and science of causing change in consciousness in accordance with will.
When this happens by an operative mage gaining internal control through intent and will, their rational mind controlling the barrage of information and drives from biological and social levels that tries to make us behave in certain ways, this is a form of theurgy. Personal spiritual development, internal magic: there are lots of terms for this!
When this happens by a corporation advertising sweets to children or by political campaigners convincing large swathes of the public to vote for something, it is thaumaturgy. The direct and intentional manipulation of the drives of others, i.e. the will, to act in a certain way.
Will (or mind) is the thread that runs through this. It is the concept that unifies the spirit of the river with 19th & 20th occult practices, the Tao with advertising, Plato with Freud. Intention (or will) is everything.
How can we apply this to our work? How do we respond? We need to be able to defend ourselves and we need to be able to have a plan for counter attack.