Professor Armitage Gives a Lecture

“Yes,” he said. “Yes. Um… please be seated. Yes! Well. Welcome back, I trust you all had a good weekend? No one killed or injured? Good, good… Today I think we’ll be talking about basic magical theory… unless there are any objections? No? Ah, good, good… Where was I?” A pale young man in the back raised his hand nervously. Armitage blinked at the hand blankly. “Miister, er, Machen, is it? Yes?”

Mr. Machen flushed. “The basics of magic, sir.” He had a slight English accent.

“Yes, of course. Now, fundamentally, all magic is based on the idea of symmetry, that to change some fundamental aspect of the object you wish to influence — its name, say, or the order of its various parts — is to change the object itself. This is found throughout all magical theory, from the relative complexity — note I don’t say sophistication — of Jewish mysticism or western astrology to the simpler — but, again, no less sophisticated for all that — totem magic of the Pacific islanders or what is crudely called ‘voodoo’ of our own slave culture.” Another hand. “Miss Waite?”

Miss Waite flushed. She was pale and lovely with large, almost protuberant eyes. “What about the Abramelian magic of Mr. Crowley?”

Armitage frowned. “An interesting point, but a little beyond our present topic.”