Before embarking on a detailed discussion of the practice of wizardry, it is best to define, as accurately as possible, what it means to be a wizard.
A wizard is a person who, through the intentional practice of true magic, seeks to make manifest the Divine Plan for Humanity on earth. This Divine Plan is simply that every human being has the potential for becoming a conscious co-creator of his or her own reality, in allegiance with the Divine Creator, in whatever aspect the person may envision through the right application of Free Will. In doing so, the wizard seeks to become a Conscious Soul Incarnate; that is, to manifest the energies of his or her soul through the mental, astral, and physical bodies and render conscious creation in his or her world.
The word "wizard" simply meant "wise one" in olden times. The root word can be traced through the Indo-Aryan word "Vizier" and the Arabic "Waz-ir", who were at one time valued advisors to those who ruled, taking the role of the now modern-day prime minister of a nation. In the Nordic tradition, the word for wizard was "Vitki", again, meaning, "the wise one." The words "advise" and "advice", as well as the prefix "vice" in "vice-president" or "viceroy" derive from the same root as does "wizard." The ancient roots of all these words meant "burden-bearer," "carrier," or "he who assists." Throughout history, the role of the wizard was as an ancillary; a power behind the throne. In the game of chess, the Persians still refer to the queen piece as "Wazir".
Types of Wizards
There are many different branches and practices of wizardry. One may think of these as "career-paths", although the spiritual sense of "calling" may be a better description; one less confusing at least, lest one think of these practices as resulting in monetary remuneration.
The Adept is the wizard that is most concerned with outward manifestation of magical energy. Most textbook wizards (the "pointed hat and wand" variety) tend to fall into this category, although it is not the predominant wizard type.
Adepts tend to work consciously with the manipulation of magic through the use of ritual and ceremonial evocation. Adepts pull energy from the outer world through their instruments, and relay it back to the outer world in their manifestations. They are concerned with the form and style of magical expression, and they glean their powers through focused study and active ritual meditation. Adepts actively seek to bring the unmanifest into physical expression, and are interested in the mechanical process by which the unmanifest may be evoked.
Adepts are rarely solitary practitioners and seek the protection of a ritual organization or lodge. Many such lodges exist to this day, including Freemasonry, Argenteum Astrum, and the Rosicrucians. Those who practice solitary adeptship tend to be drawn towards the darker manifestations of the energy.
Types of adept magic include theurgy, goetia, and qabbala.
Unlike the medieval alchemists, who sought the Philosopher's Stone to transmute base metals into gold, the modern Alchemist is concerned with refining the human Soul in order to achieve divine status. The goal of the modern day alchemist is to achieve ultimate wisdom and knowledge. Like the Adept, the Alchemist relies heavily on ceremonial order and ritual magic, but rather to draw Divine energy into the physical; that is to say, to bring God unto Man. Alchemists tend to be healers rather than teachers, although they do a fair amount of teaching as well. They also tend to be highly skilled craftspeople and can imbue amulets and charms with powerful healing energies to be used by others.
Types of alchemical magic today include modern psychology, gnosticism, qabbala, and metachemistry.
The bardic tradition is a long and varied one. The bardic practitioner seeks to evoke magical energy by use of creative techniques such as music, art, literary or dramatic expression, scientific exploration, dance, structural design, sexual expression, and education. In short, the Bard is most likely to work with "Muse-ic" energy, and the Bard is most closely associated with music and poetry. Bards pull energy from within themselves and relay it into outer manifestation.
Quite often, a bard will devote an entire lifetime to the study and mastery of one particular manifestation of their energy through a particular medium; for example, mastery of the piano, or mastery of the written word. Others, however, may go for a holistic approach and seek to learn as much as they can about as many forms of expression possible, rather than seeking mastery in one.
Johann Sebastian Bach was a master Bard who sought spiritual perfection through music. Both a musician and mathematician, he sought to channel Divine Energy through his compositions, comprised of mathematical and magical formulae embedded within the music itself.
Bardic magic is not relegated to any one form, as in other types of magical practice. Poetry, dance, artistry, and musical composition are all manifestations of bardic energy.
Although "Druid" is a term germane to the Celtic tradition of magic, the practice of Druidry can be embarked upon by anyone.
The Druid is most interested in working with the existing, natural energies of Earth and the Universe, rather than evoking new manifestations such as the Bard and Adept do. Druids are much less hung up on a particular process and are focused on obtaining end results and solutions to existing problems. Thus, the Druid is the most versatile of all the various wizard types.
Druids are predominantly schooled in practical magic. They employ magical herbalism on a regular basis, as well as work with magical symbols such as runes and oghams (pronounced OY-ams), carved on wood or stone. The oghams and runes function as alphabets as well, because druids' practice of magic is carried by the word; the essence of thought transmitted through language. Each one of the oghams represented a tree energy, which could be tapped upon by the druid by the use of focused concentration.
Druids love all true natural manifestations, including mineral, plant, and animal Life, and work diligently to embody the natural process within their own invocations. Druids pull energy from the outer world of form through their own equipment and embody it in their own internal structure, generally for healing themselves, others, or the natural world. Druids tend to be both healers and teachers, both in a practical (Earthy) sense or in a spiritual (Soul-oriented) sense.
Types of druidic magic include herbalism, runic studies, divination, geomancy, aromatherapy, and channeling. The proper use of modern-day "white witchcraft", Wicca, or other neo-pagan studies draw heavily from druidic tradition.
The mystical tradition of magic relies heavily on meditation, intuition, and insight. Like the Druid, the mystic performs as a healer and teacher. Unlike the Druid, though, the Mystic is less inclined toward practical manifestations and seeks spiritual perfection through union with the Divine. Eastern traditions of magic, including Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, are more inclined toward mystical practices and the intention to transcend physical boundaries to achieve spiritual union.
The mystic pulls inner meaning from his or her own equipment, and embodies it within themselves. Mystics tend to be the quietest and most introspective of the wizards, as they tap into and help create the vast repositories of information available to all of humanity.
Types of mystical magic include all forms of yoga, transcendental meditation, Taoism, Buddhism, empathy, clairvoyance, faith-healing, EST, and theosophy.
Many people equate shamanism with the spiritual practices of the Native Americans, and it is true that they tend to manifest their energies in the shamanic tradition of healing practices. However, Shamanism has its roots in Siberia, in the Altai region, where it was practiced in neolithic times.
Shamans are intermediaries between the physical and spiritual planes. They are both healers and diviners. Shamans work directly with discarnate beings (spirits), either allowing them to manifest through his or her physical equipment to work out prior karma, or to glean information from them about the spiritual realms and to provide healing or answers to problems of others. Spiritual healing is predominantly a Shamanic art; the Lakota term for "magic" and "medicine" are the same word.
Shamans tend to be the most predominant of all the wizard types, being found in many ethnic cultures. Types of shamanic magic include native American shamanism, voudoun, curanderia, psychopompos (those who assist the dying with their transition to the spiritual plane), spirit work, vision questing, and divination.
Darker forms of shamanism, associated with lower energies and older magical practices, include shapeshifting, demonology, and necromancy. Such practices are no longer needed in the higher energy vibrations.
Thaumaturgy, in many ways, is an integration of all other forms of magic. Literally meaning "miracle-workers", thaumaturgists transcend physical reality through the practices of their art. The goal of the thaumaturge is to abrogate or bend physical laws to bring about conscious creation. Next to adepts, thaumaturgists are what most people think of when they think about the concept of "wizard."
One of the most famous examples of thaumaturgy is in the Biblical story of the Wedding at Cana, where Christ changes water into wine. Most of Christ's miracles were thaumaturgical in nature, including the ability to walk on water, curing of lepers, healing the deaf and blind, multiplying the loaves and fish to feed the multitude, and bringing Lazarus back from the dead. Earlier in the Bible, Elisha evidences similar thaumaturgical practice in performing miracles of multiplication (creating more oil for the widow in debt), raising of the dead (as in Jared's daughter), and the neutralization of poisoned well water. Levitation is another thaumaturgical practice, practiced by many saints, as is illusion (the ability to seemingly dematerialize; to become invisible, or to project images into others minds).
Of all the magical arts, thaumaturgy is the most difficult to master. Those who do are considered to be of a very high origin; saintly or holy, in that Divine energies of manifestation are working directly through them.
Types of thaumaturgical practice include conjuration, telekinesis, illusion, and transformation of matter.
Update: 08.10.2009. Page formerly "A General Taxonomy of Wizardry".