Magic, mysticism, and the paranormal. Figuring out what they are is confusing enough. But what’s the difference between the three?
As a paranormal mystery writer, these are questions I get to ask on a fairly regular basis. To smarten myself up, I’ve been taking a class on mysticism and modern psychology. And it’s getting me a bit closer to answering the above question.
So get ready to dazzle your friends at cocktail parties, because here we go:
1. Magic is all about changing the world around you, ala Harry Potter. Well, maybe not quite so dramatically. But just check the Internet – people are buying magical assistance every day such as love charms, spells for wealth, etc. And at heart, the goal is to make something we want happen in the real world.
2. Mysticism, on the other hand, is about changing our perception of the world. Mystics will try and change the way they experience reality. In turn, when we start seeing the world differently, we tend to start interacting with it differently.
And in case you’re wondering where the psychology comes in, this is it. In common with mysticism, psychology tries to change the way we interact with the world, perceive the world, and hold ourselves in the world. Like mysticism, psychology attempts to change our internal space.
3. Paranormal abilities seem to almost combine magic and mysticism. Mystics believe that the mind transformed by mystical practice has different abilities than the ordinary mind, and this can grant them paranormal powers. But don’t call it magic. Mystical paranormal abilities are based on how the mystic has changed his or herself.
Of course, there’s another “magical” theory for paranormal abilities as well. Many modern day magical practitioners believe that amulets and spells and incantations are simply a method to… change the way they perceive and act in the world. And this in turn changes their world.
Because if you’re behaving differently, it’s a good bet that those around you are reacting differently.
I can’t get enough of this idea. In fact, it’s threaded through my Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mystery novels, including my latest, The Elemental Detective.
To sum it all up, magic and mysticism may simply be two sides of the same coin. What do you think?
If you haven’t already done so, check out Kassandra Lamb’s post over at The Dark Side of Love, on why some women are attracted to abusive men. Talk about needing to change something on the inside in order to change what is happening in the world!
Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten works part-time as a writer and part-time as an international development consultant. She writes the Riga Hayworth urban fantasy/paranormal mystery novels. (Riga is a Metaphysical Detective.) Kirsten is currently working on Book 6, The Hoodoo Detective.
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