When Maslow was drawing up his Hierarchy of Needs, at some point in the 1940s, we are pretty sure he didn’t imagine it would be later used by our school as part of a magickal philosophy.
Maslow’s Hierarchy is most often shown as a pyramid shaped model that represents what he thought of as the wants and needs of society. It shows ‘basic’ needs at the bottom with more complex wants and needs towards the apex of the pyramid. It is widely used to depict the motivation behind human behaviour. This is why we find it so interesting.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Magick
As we explain in this previous post, magick can be used for mundane reasons as well as helping to achieve those higher goals. Our Humanistic Magick is rooted in personal growth and change so this is why we find Maslow’s Hierarchy so appealing. The pyramid structure, so often attributed to Maslow, is a useful framework to visually connect wants and needs with magick.
So rather than dividing magick into categories like ‘love spells’, ‘binding spells’ or ‘good luck spells’, we tend to approach magick with the Hierarchy in mind. This means we spend time thinking about “wants and needs” then create magick in support of things like ‘esteem needs’ (which might be a confidence spell) and ‘cognitive needs’ (which might be a spell to learn a new skill).
Maslow’s Hierarchy and Correspondences in Magick
As well as using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a useful framework for magick, we also use it as a basis for the correspondences. Especially colour correspondences.
If you Google the pyramid representation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it is sometimes shown using different colours for each layer of the pyramid. This is a central tenet we have folded into our style of magick. We have attributed colours that we use in magick to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, rather than other systems such as C.W Leadbeater’s Chakras. We do this to move our Western magick away from appropriated ideas and to create a deeper connection between colour correspondences, their use in magickal practise and us as practitioners.
Colours of Magick using Maslow’s Hierarchy
So how does using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs work in this context?
We recognise that colour is an emotive tool, means different things to different people and can be culturally conditioned. For example, the colour black for a funeral in some cultures, but not in others or red for good luck in some cultures, but not in others. It is important to point out that there is no one right way to use colour correspondences with candles or crystals. For example, a lot of the colour correspondences used in Western magick today were originally created by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 19th and 20th Century. The Golden Dawn were highly influential, and their correspondences have been widely accepted by Western practitioners. To be honest, we haven’t checked our correspondences against these because just because this group decided they were the right correspondences, it doesn’t mean they were correct. Or that this group represented all practitioners.
So back to Maslow. It works for us like this…….darker coloured candles or crystals like black and dark red we use for the base level on Maslow’s Hierarchy. The physiological needs and the needs of the Self. This might be for things like self protection or grounding spells.
Bright red and orange is for the next level. The physical and emotional protection of others.
Yellow is for the third layer on the pyramid. The belonging and togetherness needs and used in confidence, friendship magick and for mental wellness spells.
Green is the next level. Used for esteem and achievement needs and used in love or abundance spells.
Bright Blue is bringing us close to the apex. This for all those knowledge and cognitive based needs. Things like communication, responsibility and forgiveness.
Just about the top of the pyramid for dark Blue and Purple. This is for magick in support of wisdom. This is about inner wisdom, intuition and spiritual magick.
At the apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy is transendence. Using white, magenta (or transparent in the case of crystals) is for magick in support and in service of others.
Use a system you know and feel comfortable with
As Humanistic Counsellors, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a system makes absolute sense to us. As a framework it provides the structure showing human motivation, nicely colour coded, to deliver our magickal aims.
But we absolutely encourage everyone to find out where the colour correspondences being used came from. Check in that there is history you know, and are comfortable with. If you find you’re not sure or not comfortable with it, make up a system. Or use ours.
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