If you’ve been reading here for a bit, you’ve probably noticed that I follow the “magic-with-a-k” spelling convention for witchy things. It’s definitely not uncommon to see in witchcraft- or Pagan-related writing, but the origins, reasoning, and utility of it might be a little confusing.
Where’d the k come from?
The short answer? Aleister Crowley had opinions about magicians. As in, the guys who pull bunnies out of hats.
For much of the modern era (at least ever since stage magic has been a thing), magicians have kind of had a monopoly on the word “magic.” So the guys who turn flowers into doves and make bridges disappear did magic, and that was basically the end of it.
During the 20th century, an interest in the occult happened. This, perhaps needless to say, made things a little confusing. (If you’re telling someone you do magic, you probably don’t want them to picture ladies being sawed in half when you’re talking herbs and candles, you know?) Thus, followers of Aleister Crowley began spelling magic as “magick” in order to differentiate between a deeply personal, spiritual practice and stage magic.
The pronunciation doesn’t make any sense, though.
I always end up reading it as “maggick.”
Not all Pagan and witchcraft resources even spell it that way.
It started as a Crowley thing and kind of spread from there, so there are plenty of practitioners that have never been associated with Crowley’s teachings and have no real attachment to the term (and just as many non-Pagan healers and lightworkers that have kind of co-opted it over the years). Besides, if you’re talking rituals, you’re probably not going to be confused with someone who does card tricks at this late stage of the game. Now that people know witchcraft is a thing in the main, it’s not as much of an issue. If someone’s going to disrespect your practice, they’re going to do that regardless of whether they actually think it’s related to stage magic.
So why use “magick”?
Search engine optimization is kind of a pain in the buttmeats, especially if you’re attempting to write things a human would ever want to read. There are nearly a billion websites, and all of them are trying to be seen. A big part of that involves making it to the first page of a search engine’s results for a given keyword– if you’re selling athletic shoes, you want to make sure you’re one of the top hits when someone searches for the word “sneakers.” If you’re writing about magic (not the top-hats-and-bunnies kind), it behooves you not to have to fight for relevancy against magic (the top-hats-and-bunnies kind). Since “magic” is, overall, a more general term than “magick,” it kind of makes more sense to stick with the latter. Other writers’ mileage may vary.
Really, it’s equally correct to refer to spellcraft as magic or magick. It’s worth knowing that some people may take offense to having their practice labeled “magic” because of the conflation with stage magic, but, for the most part, it isn’t really the kind of deal that it was years ago.