Yep! There are many varieties of magic, not all of which include the idea that magical spell-casting is efficacious or morally sound. Even in those types of magic where spell-work is taught, there is no general agreement on what magic is, or what it is not.
Here's some different types:
A theory that accounts for the form of magic called natural magic is that certain objects, including but not limited to natural curios such as roots, herbs, minerals, and animal parts, have within them a certain a-causal link to some realm of human endeavour, often by virtue of their shape, colour, size, or scent. In natural magic, the visible link between a curio's physical attributes and its magical symbolism is called the Doctrine of Signatures. Thus, to give two examples of the Doctrine of Signatures, violet leaves, which look like hearts, are used in love magic, and lodestones, which are natural magnetic rocks, are used to "draw" wealth, love, or luck to the holder. These operations may be carried out with or without reference to religious entities (gods, spirits, saints).
An overlapping, but actually slightly different form of magic involves human-made artifacts -- amulets, lucky charms, talismans, and the like. This form of magic is generally called talismanic magic. Talismans can be made by the magician him or herself but are often prepared for clients by a conjurer, craft-worker, or jeweler. If they are commercially purchases, they must be empowered, fixed, or consecrated for use, and once prepared, they are said to work on behalf of the mage.
A third popular form of magic is called will-based or thelemic magic. Its practitioners tend to disdain natural magic, although they may use talismanic magic as a way to focus their will-power. Magicians of this type also have been know to say that performing magical spells is unimportant to them because simply visualizing the performance of the spell is sufficient to strengthen their will-power and this bring about the magical results they desire.
Each culture (or social sub-culture) seems to have its own rules regarding the workings of magic, but many of these rules are found in more than one culture. For instance, ritual cleaning and bathing occurs in the magic of most cultures, including urban ceremonial magick (with a k) and Sicilian folk magic (without a k). But some forms of ritual or rule are not as widespread. For example, footprint or footstep magic (performing magical operations on others through use of their footprints, shoes, or by scattering material where they will step on it) is typically an African magical custom, which is found also in African-American magical practice.
For most folk-magicians, symbology is very important. Faith, technical knowledge, precognitive intent, and emotional power fuel belief and confidence in the effects of a culturally appropriate symbological working.
However, once the rules of each system of magic are internalized by the practitioner, a great deal of improvisation may be done for any given ritual or magical job of work. The mark of a good magician in his or hr own school of magic is his or her ability -- to borrow an analogy from music -- to seamlessly improvise a tune within the chord structure of the system being used.
Perhaps magic seems "too good to be true" to you because you have an inflated idea about the practice of magic from the perspective of movies or tv shows -- but in actuality, magic is not a cure-all for problems. Rather, it is a way of working with subtle energies, with the natural virtues of plants and stones, with spirits, with -- well, with as many different forms of non-ordinary reality as there are schools of magic, i suppose!
Answered By: ethereal spirit - 5/5/2008