will In Magic, the deliberate, organized direction of intent toward a goal. Without good execution of will, magic is not successful. Will works in equal partnership with IMAGINATION, the faculty that creates the goal.

Will not only marshals personal resources but also engages divine and supernatural forces toward manifestation. Through will, the help of spiritual entities such as Angels, religious figures, and spiritual masters is invoked and directed. Will commands unruly entities, such as DemonS.

A highly concentrated will is necessary to succeed in ceremonial magic and also in the casting Spells. In a magical Ritual, the magician uses Tools, sound, and Symbols to change consciousness.

Aleister Crowley said that the projection of a magician’s will should be done “without lust of result.” That is, the use of will in and of itself should be done in accordance with the laws of one’s own nature. Will affects a complex flow of forces in motion, working outside of time to bring desired results into being, sometimes without an obvious appearance of causality.

Celtic spells for Shapeshifting assume that there is an underlying unity of all things in nature and that by sheer force of will, a magician can reassemble the basic factors of nature into any shape desired. Thus, the magician could focus the entire force of his will and shape-shift into another person, an animal, or even an object.

In Alchemy, the Red Lion is a Symbol of will and the highest powers of the Adept. The red represents perfect strength.

William Wynn Westcott, one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, stated:

To obtain magical power, one must strengthen the will. Let there be no confusion between will and desire. You cannot will too strongly, so do not attempt to will two things at once, and while willing one thing do not desire others.

Eliphas Levis said that “a strong and decided will can in a short space of time arrive at absolute independence.” In ritual, said Levi, the will is determined by words and the words by acts. P. W. Bullock, another member of the Golden Dawn, whose occult name was Levavi Oculos, said that this state of independence is necessary to manipulate the will. He described the will as a kind of electric force that is the “executive of desire,” more than the ascending of higher desires over lower desires. “It is through the agency of the will that the hidden becomes manifest, whether in the Universe or Man,” said Bullock.

The magician must not be hasty or premature in the exercising of will, but must first cultivate spiritual knowledge and purity, and conquer ignorance and inner darkness. “Until we know we must refrain from doing,” said Florence Farr, whose Golden Dawn Magical Motto was Sapientia Sapienti Dona Data.

The will should always be directed for higher spiritual purpose. To attempt to use it superficially, especially without adequate training, can result in problems. For example, it is difficult to truly control the will of another person to cause them to go against their natural tendencies. Farr said that “this once done the force you have set in motion becomes almost uncontrollable, the other individual seems sometimes to live in your presence, and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Farr described a method for cultivating the will:

. . . imagine your head as center of attraction with thoughts like rays radiating out in a vast globe. To want or desire a thing is the first step in the exercise of the Will; get a distinct image of the thing you desire placed, as it were, in your heart, concentrate all your wandering rays of thought upon this image until you feel it to be one glowing scarlet ball of compacted force. Then project this concentrated force on the subject you wish to affect.

Israel Regardie advocated yogic techniques for strengthening the will. For example, the magician chooses a minor activity and makes a commitment to not doing it for a specific period of time. It might be avoiding a commonly used word or crossing one’s legs. Inadvertent violations should be punished, Regardie said, such as by cutting the arm with a razor, a practice advocated by Crowley. In that way, the will comes increasingly under conscious control. Another yogic technique is to practice pranayama, a regulated inhalation and exhalation of the breath that alters consciousness and energizes the body.


  • Bardon, Franz. Initiation into Hermetics: A Course of Instruction of Magic Theory and Practice. Wuppertal, Germany: Dieter Ruggeberg, 1971.
  • Crowley, Aleister. Magick in Theory and Practice. 1929. Reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1976.
  • King, Francis, (ed.). Ritual Magic of the Golden Dawn. Rochester, Vt.: Destiny Books, 1997.
  • Spence, Lewis. The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain. Van Nuys, Calif.: Newscastle Publishing, 1996.

From :The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.