The Practice of Religious Magic in Wicca
Wicca is a beautiful religion that embraces the use of magic, as do most religions. However, there is a difference between the religion and the magic and between magic and religious magic. One can be Wiccan without ever practicing magic and one can practice magic without being Wiccan. Although most Wiccans do practice magic and religious magic, it is not a necessity.
So, just what is magic anyway? Magic is difficult to describe to someone who has no previous knowledge of its practice. I believe the best definition of magic came from the late Scott Cunningham. He termed magic "the projection of natural energies to produce needed change". This is a very basic definition of the concept but a good one, nonetheless.
In Wicca, we believe that magic is a religious practice in and of itself. This is because when we practice magic, we often use divine power as well as personal and natural energies. The divine energy of the God and Goddess are used to aid our magic thus making it a religious practice. Some people practice magic using only natural and personal power and this is not a religious practice. Anyone can practice magic but in Wicca, we often practice a sort of divine magic. Of course, this is not always the case. Many Wiccans practice folk magic and earth magic as well as religious magic.
When someone uses personal power to fuel their magic, they are using their own inherent energies, their life force, so to speak. In this way, we would gather our personal energy, program it with a set of specific instructions and send it out into the universe to do its work. This sort of magic can be accomplished by anyone and is not specific to Wicca alone. However, most Wiccans do utilize personal energy when performing magic.
Natural energy is the energy that comes from nature. The earth beneath us, the plants and trees growing on the earth, the stones and gems of the earth, the water, fire and air are all natural energies that can be used in the practice of magic, Wiccan or otherwise. Any person can learn to use natural energy in the practice of magic and this, again, is not specific to Wicca alone.
Divine energy is energy of the Goddess and God. This is the energy that we use in Wicca that sets it apart from ordinary magic, turning it into a religious practice. Although personal and natural energy are a part of divine energy, non-Wiccans do not work exclusively with this power as do practitioners of Wicca.
Another of the traits that make the practice of magic a religious practice in Wicca is when we invoke our Goddess and/or God during ritual. Here, we will give our personal energy directly to the deities and ask for our need to be fulfilled. This is the truest form of religious magic in Wicca.
In Wicca, we work together with personal, natural and divine power to bring about the changes needed in our lives. This is a harmonious experience that could never be labeled evil or supernatural as is often the popular belief. Magic, in Wicca, is a religious and spiritual endeavor that we hold sacred. By practicing religious magic, we strengthen our bond with deity and improve our lives each time we perform a spell.