Magick pervades theology. It has to. The institution of sacrifice. Our habit is to look at sacrifice from the needs of the god. The god demands sacrifice. Of course, this is a human projection. What’s really happening is that we expect Sky Alpha to work the same way as ordinary alphas do:
- When alpha blocks you, give him a gift to placate his anger.
- When alpha is neutral but might help you, give him a gift to win his favor.
Sacrifice originates not with a
But both of these have something in common: human desire. What animates our acts of placation and pleasing—acts that theology will eventually locate in the “essential nature” of God—is really our desire, expectation, and fantasy about what such a threatening, thundering fellow could want. The details of theological theory are originally tools for manipulating God to help us attain a goal. Our original orientation to God, then, is magickal—we are trying to cause a change to occur, in conformity with his will. It just so happens that the object of this effort happens to be another mind, i.e., Sky Alpha. But lying behind the “pious” desire to placate and please him is our desire for this or that material end.
Theurgy is magick performed by a beta who is smart enough to give the alpha a cut—if not of the acquired end, then of flattery and praise for helping him get it.
Theology is what is “taught by God, teaches of God, and leads to God.” But God is power—the thundering, threatening agency behind physical necessity that usually blocks our way but may be bent to our wills. In relation to our ends, God is the power to supply or deny our wants.
What theology teaches us about God is what we have put there—not from a journalistic, scientific, or philosophic concern with what’s really true, but with our biological and social concerns. God arises on the human radar on a par with all other original pertinencies—as a threat or a benefactor. Sacrifice originated as an adjunct to magick, to getting what we want. Theology is the debugging and cleaning-up of this ugly first encounter. We don’t sacrifice to coerce or convince, we say. We sacrifice out of love. Later, when these roots are forgotten, we ask: Why would the ideal God of philosophy care about sacrifices? Trying to make our projected fantasies about Sky Alpha rational—that is, a necessary consequence of divine perfection—is the impossible task of theology.