Josephine McCarthy

The Importance of Magical Patterns

The foundation of a magical act is the pattern through which the power of magic can flow in an organised and formulated way in order to achieve the intended goal of the magical act. This is most apparent in ritual, but also has a deep and underlying influence upon the vocabulary of magical visionary experiences, the construction and execution of seals and sigils, and the method and construction of magical utterance.


A magical pattern places the magician in the flow of time, of inner and outer location, and allows the magician to tap into flows of energy and power in a way that best serves the magical action. It also creates a coherent ‘door’ for communication with inner contacts, a door that by nature of the pattern, is filtered, guarded and focused.


So what is a magical pattern? It is the use of geometric shape, of directional location in relation to the magician, the placing of filters, tools and vessels in relation to the directional locations, and the inner visionary construction of shapes in relation to the directions. The shapes are born out of the harmonic principles of nature, and those shapes by their very nature become vessels that can be filled with the power of magic: it is a circuit through which power can flow with all the appropriate checks, filters and balances.


The magical pattern, when it is harmonic and balanced, and works within the sacred principles of power, flows not only into the space, but also into the person. This creates a resonance that tunes and changes the deep underlying nature of the person in harmony with the powers, consciousness, and contact that flows around them: the magician not only becomes the conductor of the ‘music’, they become the ‘music’. Harmonically balanced magic evolves the person it flows through as is resonates with the deepest part of their nature.

In western magic, historically, men were the creators, conductors and recipients of magic – women if at all present, were often relegated to minor roles that more often than not was governed by the presence of their sexual nature: they became the stand in or mediator for a ‘goddess’, sexual recipient, or ‘vessel’. This is not true for all cases of western magic, but it was and still is enough of issue that it should be a concern for all women involved in magic.  

Any magical role, action or identity that defines a magician by nature of their gender, that is not specific to an individual polarised working, has the effect of defining the woman as ‘other’. This in turn disengages the woman magician from the holism of the pattern: she becomes an ingredient of a section of the pattern only. This not only prevents the woman from being able to be a fully functioning part of the circuit in all ways, and thus a recipient of the power in its whole form, it also prevents the woman from benefitting from the direct engagement with the overall pattern: she does not benefit from the direct catalyst of magical inner evolution. 

Gender should be irrelevant in magical patterns in general – there is nothing outside of cultural dogma and misogyny that limits a woman magically, and yet this is a common problem in magical groups and lodges, not only imposed by male leaders, but also by the learned behaviour of the women themselves. It is also an issue where the magical system is structured around mythic patterns and underlying religious patterns where women are either defined by their sexual nature or are consciously or unconsciously seen as ‘lesser’ by nature of their sex.

The solution to this issue for women lies within women themselves and not on waiting or expecting the magical community to change. By learning all the skills and dynamics of foundation magical patterns, by learning to bridge and work magical power, and by using those skills to the best of their magical ability, women by nature of their work will over time relegate the cultural dogma and misogyny to the place it deserves – the trash can.

Josephine McCarthy

 I am an occultist and author of twenty-eight books on western magic, including the Magical Knowledge series, The Work of the Hierophant, and the Quareia Magical Course. I have been teaching for twenty-five years in the USA and UK, before which I was generally causing trouble and blowing myself up with magical experiments.

 I am the current Director of the Quareia Magical School, and live in the south west of England with my husband, magical artist Stuart Littlejohn.