Theurgy and ThaumaturgyTheurgy is religious or spiritual magic; thaumaturgy is practical magic. Putting it another way, theurgy is directed at changing the magician, thaumaturgy is directed at changing the world.

The theurgist uses magic to come into closer relationship with divine, to evolve spiritually, to rise to higher levels of awareness. The theurgist may focus on aspecting deity, communing with angelic entities, or unlocking the subconscious, healing wounds, and forming a more integrated personality. The “high magic” of the renaissance and the occult ceremonial magic tradition is very much in this mold. The worker of high magic studies religious symbolism and ancient wisdom, not to achieve worldly rewards, but to learn the deep structure of creation and thus draw nearer to a divine consciousness.

Thaumaturgy, on the other hand, is more concerned with earthly needs and desires: wealth, love, career, health, and so on. Most “folk magic” is thaumaturgic. The magician isn’t seeking an internal change of consciousness, but rather external physical effects. This is the type of magic that most readily captures the popular imagination. Who wouldn’t want to cast a simple spell and get a $1000 check in the mail the next day?

In truth, the line between the two types of magic is not a line at all, but a continuum of gradations. Every act of magic changes the relationship between the magician and the world, so every act of magic has both internal and external effects. In fact, the strongest acts of magic seem to affect both self and world in very powerful ways. For these reasons, a magical practice should be undertaken only by those who welcome spiritual growth and inner change. Once the door between the inner and outer worlds is open, there will be a flow in both directions.