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10 Reasons Some Wiccans Don’t Use a "K" in Magic

A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.

To "K" or Not to "K"?

Spelling magic with a "k" has become common in the Pagan community, particularly with Wiccans. As Wicca exploded in popularity in the 90's, and more and more books came out, almost all of them seemed to include that "k"—books were not about magic; they were about magick. With the growth of the internet, websites followed suit. I've even heard people go so far as to say that you're not a "real Pagan" or not a "real Wiccan" if you don't use the "k."

Not everyone uses the "k," though. I don't, and I have no problem with people who do. I'm just sick of people who criticize those of us who don't use the "k," so I thought I'd explain why there is no "k" required.

Sometimes people in the magical community can fight over the silliest things

Sometimes people in the magical community can fight over the silliest things

Reason #1: We Don't Speak Middle English

Some argue in favor of spelling magic ye olden way, but what is the point? Back then, the "k" was not an attempt to sound archaic; it was one way of spelling the word. Things have changed.

Just look at this snippet of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Beautiful as it is, my spell check is having conniption fits. Since things like this were written we have standardized spelling. Aprille has become April; shoures has become showers; Soote has become sweet—you get the idea. The word magic in our standardized modern spelling doesn't have a "k."

Reason #2: It's Not Original To Wicca

Gerald Gardner—Wicca's founder—used magic in all of his writings. So did Doreen Valiente, his High Priestess, known as the "mother of modern witchcraft." Not that Gardner or Valiente were prophets, or that their words were law, and not that everyone who practices magic needs to do as Gardner did— but using the "k" is often mistakenly believed to be a Wiccan tradition. It's not; the "k" didn't catch on with Wiccans until the 1980s. There's no actual historical relevance to the "k" in Wicca.

Reason #3: No One Is Going To Confuse Wicca With Stage Shows

When you write about witchcraft, spells, or famous magicians like John Dee, do you believe that without the "k" people would think you meant sawing a lady in half? There are a lot of homonyms in the English language. Context is everything. When a doctor says you need a cast, no one thinks he means you have to hire people to put on a show. When a tree surgeon mentions problematic bark, no one thinks he means a noisy yelp. When you as a Wiccan talk about magic with someone, rarely are they thinking you mean card tricks.

Reason #4: Magic and "Magick" Are Not the Same Thing

Alister Crowley was responsible for putting the "k" in magick in the 20th century. Crowley remarked that it differentiates between real and stage magic, but this was more of a flippant answer. He used the "k" to refer to specific Ceremonial Magic purposes. He was trying to align the word to specific purposes numerologically.

When Crowley used the term magick, he used it not just to differentiate from stage magic, but from other forms of metaphysical magic as well. To Crowley, magick meant something one would do to achieve their Will. To Crowley, the Will (capital "W" intentional) is your life's highest purpose.

The vast majority of Wiccans don't practice Ceremonial Magic or high magic; we practice low magic. Even among the noblest Wiccans, most of the time we use magic, we're not striving to reach our highest purpose in life. Our magic is typically seen as more practical and something to use in daily life. We use magic to help us pass a test, get a raise, or find those lost keys. If one is trying to follow Crowley's use of the word, substituting magic with magick would be inaccurate most of the time.

How Do You Spell It?

Reason #5: It's Hard To Take Us Seriously

While some Wiccans are adamant about spelling it magick, it's time to admit that after about 30 or 40 years of using that "k," the rest of the world is just not getting it. When debating the non-magical community, we have to give disclaimers about why we intentionally use archaic misspellings. Considering our religion is about 80 years old, this can make us come off as attention-seeking at best and pretentious at worst. To the broader occult community, we're misusing the term. Because of this, we come off as ignorant, if not posers. If we want our religion and practices to be taken seriously, deliberately misspelling words to look kewl will not help our case.

If you like using the "k," I'm not about to argue with you. I trust you have your reasons, and most Wiccan sources at this point would agree with you and spell it magick. Just don't correct those of us who don't use the "k" because we also have solid reasons for spelling magic the conventional way.

© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright


Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on September 27, 2016:

Hi Silver Dragon; Yes, it is directed towards Wiccans, which is why I even specifically refer to Wiccans in the title. It would be impossible to speak for groups of all magical systems. Keep in mind, Wiccans mainly practice Witchcraft, low magic, and are rarely trained in high magic.

Personally I don't feel there is any more or less truth to the word or practices by adding a 'k' or not adding a 'k'. It doesn't change anything for me personally, and no matter how we spell it we're going to be challenged on it.

I understand not everyone agrees; that's fine. I'm not telling people whether they should use a 'k' or not here; I'm not advocating any specific spelling. I'm only explaining why some of us don't use it... an explanation inspired by the many emails telling me that I'm spelling 'magick' wrong.

Thanks for your comment, I always appreciate different perspectives being brought up.

SilverDragon on September 27, 2016:

Although I see your perspective, I think that this article is mostly for those within the Wiccan community, no? As an Apprentice Wizard under Oberon Zell, I see a formulated difference between Magic and Magick based not on linguistic impact, but cultural impact. As you mentioned, Magick by Aleister Crowley had a higher place, a higher meaning. To me, and other Wizards I suppose you can place us in the 'other crowd', that we practice both High and Low Magick. From everyday practices to attaining a higher state of mind naturally, Magic is more for ceremony, illusion whereas Magick would be the "experimental science and art" as Oberon Zell says. Combining science with art and humanities, one can be influenced by a word more notably. In a world where 'words' do matter, I think it is imperative we fight to separate the meaning. While Foucault may not agree, I see truth in language and words.

Great article nonetheless!

Very respectfully and many blessings,

Silver Dragon

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 16, 2013:

Thanks fivesenses; it seems to be just one of those little oddities that caught on like wildfire to the point at which people forgot it wasn't necessary I guess. It just became 'the thing to do'. Thanks for your comment.

Leena from new delhi on November 16, 2013:

Actually I've also wondered about the k and c in magic...informative and interesting.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 15, 2013:

Thanks Thomas; yes, LaVey was definitely influenced by Crowley, as was Gardner. I appreciate your comments!

Thomas Swan from New Zealand on November 15, 2013:

This is great work Wiccan. I remember reading this last week in my notifications and being fascinated by it, but I didn't have time to comment then. Reason #5 rang true for me a bit. I think I remember seeing `magick' used in Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible, though it's been about 10 years since I read it. I appreciated his philosophical arguments, but the whole `magick' part of the book really ruined it for me. Perhaps LaVey was following Crowley's use of it though? Again, very interesting hub. I do love hubs about the origins of words!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 07, 2013:

I've seen a lot of creative spelling over time: magick, magik, majick, majik, etc. I can get past the k since people have reasons for it, but sometimes people get a little too creative and it looks kind of ridiculous. Thanks MsLizzy!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on November 07, 2013:

Agreed! I've often wondered about that; thanks for the explanation.

(I've also occasionally seen it as "magik" minus the 'c'.)

Voted up, interesting and useful.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 07, 2013:

Thank you dilipchandra12, glad you find it interesting!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 07, 2013:

People get fixated on details sometimes that don't really mean anything, lol. I agree. Thanks for your comment!

Dilip Chandra from India on November 07, 2013:

Informative hub and interesting as well. Thank you.

Liz Davis from Hudson, FL on November 07, 2013:

Very interesting! Our culture is so focused on external labels and symbols when we should instead concentrate on the internal, spiritual path. Saying that a person isn't really Wiccan because they don't spell a word a certain way seems pretty mundane!