An Interview with Raymond Buckland
Alex J Coyne
Originally for People Magazine; republished partially in Penton Press.
Author’s Note: This article was originally published in People Magazine SA in 2016; the first part of it appears here: An interview with Raymond Buckland, author of many books including “The Complete Guide to Witchcraft” and known as the father of American Wicca.
“Magic is a practice” says Raymond Buckland, author of more than 40 books on the occult and often referred to as ‘the father of American Wicca’. “Many religions use it (Roman Catholicism, for example). It can be used by anyone, and there are many, many types of magic with many ways of performing it and reasons for using it.” He defines magic as a tool like electricity, which can be used for good and bad.
Is there a difference between religion and magic? Buckland says no. “Religion is performed as a basic need to make contact with a deity, while magic is performed to bring about something desired, regardless of belief in deity.”
The first step for someone who wants to practice magic, says Buckland, is an absolute belief in it for it to work. As a start for beginners, he recommends very simple magic, such as candle-burning. “This is seen in churches and temples where candles are burned with the utterance of prayers… Is it the prayer that brings the result or the candle?”
Buckland notes that magic should only be performed when there is a genuine need. “You cannot do magic ‘just to see if it works’ (it won’t!) There has to be a need, enough to cause an emotional connection to bring about the effect.” He says that this is why magic performed by others for others with no emotional ties will often be unsuccessful.
Many newcomers to magic will shell out thousands on crystals, daggers and robes. “No tools are necessary“ says Buckland. “If you feel more powerful with expensive tools, it can help, but if you’re going to use tools than the best ones are actually home-made.”
Magic comes with controversy, especially on the continent of Africa, where people are persecuted for only being accused, let alone actually practicing magic. On this, Buckland says it is location dependent, but it still pays to be aware of the general feeling and beliefs in one’s area. “Practicing openly in the deep south, for instance, may not be a good idea. But then, there’s no reason to broadcast one’s beliefs.”
Science and magic are integrally interlinked, and Buckland says the gap between the two are forever narrowing. “Science is, in many instances, an explanation of what had previously been regarded as magic. Yet there are many instances of magic that seem inexplicable and so are still regarded as pure magic. Ritual is part and parcel of all actions in life and is a part of both magic and of science.”