The ancients’ description for mankind was mind, body, and soul. Then the psychologists of the twentieth century added the subconscious to the mix thus producing a four-fold classification. The universe itself is also divided into four corresponding parts ('worlds'), as shown below:
Quality: Intuition/Rational Thought/Emotions/Physical Senses
World: Spiritual World/Mental World/Astral World/Physical World
Body: Spiritual Body (soul)/Mental Body (conscious mind)/Astral Body (subconscious)/ Physical Body
The astral body (subconscious) is the intermediary for intuition, magical and psychic phenomena, and is the 'psychic link' to the physical world. J.H. Brennan says that the astral is the realm of visual imagination. It seems to be both a 'place' and at the same time a 'state of mind'. Most occult and magical phenomena originate in the invisible, non-sensate, non-physical realm. Each of the four worlds inter-acts with the other worlds. Psychic energy flows from the spiritual to mental to astral to physical. The physical world is a projection (manifestation, reflection, or shadow) of the higher worlds. Our center of consciousness is generally within these higher worlds. "We are", after all, "spirits in the material world".
There are many similar terms used by other occult groups. For example, 'astral light' is another name for the astral world, although it may sometimes also refer to the entire non-physical realm, as could 'inner planes' or 'the invisible world'. Planes are essentially the same as worlds. Vehicles or sheaths are the same as bodies. Some groups include an etheric or vital body between physical and astral: it is mostly 'physical' with a little of the lower 'astral' besides. And sometimes astral and mental are each divided into two parts (upper and lower). The 'causal body' is the upper 'mental'.
We have been describing 'traditional' occult philosophy here, and certainly, an important part of the tradition is the idea (and terms) microcosm and macrocosm. The greater universe, known as the macrocosm, includes everything that exists. It corresponds with the microcosm, or tiny universe, i.e. man — who is thought of as a miniature replica of the macrocosm (whole universe). The magician, as a microcosm is thus connected to the macrocosm. There is an intimate relationship of energies between you and everything else. The universe is reflected within us and we are projected into the universe. This is an important theory behind magick and dare I say astrology.
'Personal magick' is that magick used to affect the self; often involving affirmation, self-suggestion, and self-hypnosis. 'Active magick' is an outer-directed magick used to affect someone or something or to bring about an event. 'Passive magick' is to be affected by an outside non-physical cause. Everyone possesses some magical (and psychic) potential. Some are especially gifted. Usually, people are better at one kind of magic than they are at the other; only rarely does an individual excel at both. Training and practice will, of course, improve ability somewhat.
Although the forces of magick are neutral, various systems may take on the qualities of good and evil. There is so-called white magick or good magick, baneful magick or evil magick, and gray magick, the state of in-between. When reference is made to white magick it means magick for unselfish purposes, including healing and mental influence with specific permission. By baneful magick reference is made to magick for self-interest and healing without specific permission. Using magick to forcefully control another's will is, in a sense, baneful magick too.
There are also some people on the occult fringe who claim to be, possibly even think they are Dark Arts practitioners. These people are most likely charlatans, hoaxers, dabblers, or merely misinformed. They may be attracted by the 'art' of baneful magick, or even by the 'glamour' of doing something against the 'rules'. But a real dark arts practitioner can be very dangerous.
We usually think of 'white magick' as having unselfish intent, and of 'baneful magick'(in the extreme case) as being actual dangerous unconventional magical practice. It is all a matter of degree. Most mild self-interest magick (one of the most common kinds) would be called 'gray'. Better terms may be constructive magick as being beneficial; and aversive magick as magick intended to work against the natural order, and to tear down.
There is also the high magick of spiritual alchemy (spiritual growth), also known as 'the Great Work'; and conversely, there is 'low magick' which is concerned with materiality.
Any magick act is likely to produce side effects regardless of whether or not the desired result is achieved. Such side effects are no problem for constructive magick, since they are beneficial as well. However, aversive magick can produce aversive side effects which may even harm the magician — aversive magick can be hazardous.
What we have been calling 'magick' is actually a continuous process. Since your subconscious never rests, your environment is continually being shifted into line with your model. This is true whether you study magick or not.
For most people, these effects are usually very subtle, and they are probably not aware of them. However, as you work with the occult, the flow of psychic energy and your awareness of it increases. Your true will is more likely to be strongly expressed. Your luck may be affected (either in a positive manner or adversely). Remember, our lives tend to follow that which we desire most deep within. That is why a positive outlook is always very beneficial to be maintained.
ii-wy em Hotep - Patrick Gaffiero