Deliberate magical duels between sorcerors are generally regarded as 'black magick' by westerners, yet magical combat can be an extremely powerful way of bringing a trainee magician to full operancy. Such 'tests of fitness' can be found in the trials of Zen pupils under various masters, the shamanistic explorations of Carlos Casteneda or Lynn Andrews, and the legend of Nimue and Merlin.

As part of an initiation, a candidate may be expected to defend a spot or object, despite all the combined efforts of the group to flaunt her. Long-range magical attack may employ telepathic destructive impulses, projection of thought-forms or sympathetic (unsympathetic?) magick.

Magical Combat should be differentiated from psychic attack, with which a large proportion of 'fringe' occultists concern themselves with, and is largely a product of self-delusion and varying degrees of megalomania. True magical combat has its own rules and boundaries, which are known to the skilled, while the trainee must quickly learn them if trauma is to be avoided. Caught up in a situation which s/he finds incomprehensible and alien, the trainee only knows confusion and terror. Stripped of the smug self-assurance of "it can't happen to me" s/he learns to perceive the environment with clarity, to give attention to the rhythms and pulses of the world. Truly, Death is a great teacher. If you can reach forwards and see the moment of your 'death', then that moment will give you a glimpse of your potential.

In this, the magician is less of a warrior and more of a thief (granted, 'Chaos Thief' isn't as attractive a label as 'Chaos Warrior'). Prometheus is the appropriate mythic image - the stealer of fire. No-one can fight Death and win, but s/he can be outwitted. The magician is one who capers and antics, the wise fool. No-one takes a fool seriously. Become a fool and lay a false trail. Drop the po-faced mask of 'initiate' and take your partners for the masque!

The progress of western magicians does not seem as terrible as the travails of magicians in other cultures. Since so much 'knowledge' can be bought, the idea of striving against trials for power seems foreign. This is not just a glamour; life-threatening or mentally-traumatic situations can open the floodgates of magical ability in a way that no weekend workshop or correspondence course ever can. Living on the Edge is an appropriate phrase, as there is no room for half-measures. A magical combat, if properly arranged, will force you to relearn what you need to be able to do in order to survive. If a Magus is going to pass her power to another, she must be sure that the candidate has the qualities (i.e. a survival instinct and staying power) necessary to accept the responsibility (karma?) that attends the position. The aim of such combat is constructive, but if the candidate fails - so must it be.