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. To be fair, humanistic counselling and magick may seem unrelated, but upon closer examination, we could see how closely they aligned with each other.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory that describes human motivation and behaviour, while magick is a practise focused on affecting intended change through unseen causes. We have set about understanding how these two frameworks intersect, so that we can gain a deeper understanding of how to use magick as a tool for personal growth and transformation. We’d like to share this with you as a concept.
Explanation of the levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
First of all, what on earth is this Hierarchy? Well, it is most often represented as a triangle or pyramid. The bottom level of the pyramid consists of the most basic needs that human beings must have met for survival, such as food and water. Maslow believed that once these needs are met, individuals begin to desire the next level of human need, and work to progress or move up to the next level.
Level two could be things like shelter, safety and secure access to resources. Then comes a desire for love and belonging. The fourth level is often about esteem needs, which involves feelings of accomplishment and recognition.
Finally, at the top of the pyramid is self-actualisation, which involves reaching one’s full potential and achieving personal growth and fulfilment.
Understanding the principles of magick
Magick, for us, is the philosophy and art of affecting intended change through unseen causes. At its core, this means magick is about using intention to create change in the world around us. This can involve rituals, spells, visualisations, affirmations, and other techniques to align our thoughts and actions with our desired outcomes.
For us, magick is a practise that involves personal responsibility and self-awareness, as we must be aware of our thoughts and beliefs in order to create the changes we desire. So we recognise that the changes that we may want can oftentimes be aligned with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs somewhere.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the principles of humanistic magick
When we consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the principles of magick, we can see how they align with each other but of course it won’t be an exact match, and we have included some creative differences through our philosophy. Remember, Maslow was trying to explore human behaviour and motivation imagined from a place of trying to survive in the material and mundane world.
So for Maslow, he proposed that in a time of food scarcity, this would be the need that humans would most desire. Meeting this basic needs is more front of mind than worrying about how well we’re doing at work or school. When we come to a hierarchy of needs overlay in a magickal sense, we can use inspiration from Maslow and make some creative substitutes. So we have thought long and hard about what are the basic magickal needs, and when we meet those, what is next and so on.
Basic needs and survival – aligning with the principles of humanistic magick
At the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we have the most basic needs for survival which includes food and water. A basic need in our magickal hierarchy could include creating a sense of abundance and gratitude around these basic needs, but we prefer to think of basic magickal needs which for us is a sense of grounding and self-protection. It’s an important starting point for most magickal work.
A technique for meeting this basic need in magick is to practise working through any blockages, clearing any negative thoughts and giving yourself a solid foundation from which to begin attracting all the positive things you want into your life. We would suggest that self-care makes us all better humans so we routinely offer our subscriber audience with free guided meditations aimed at meeting this basic need.
Spell work that centres on self-protection, grounding or releasing can also be a really powerful way to practise humanistic magick such as ours.
Safety and security needs – aligning with the principles of humanistic magick
The next level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs involves shelter, safety and secure access to resources. One method of aligning magick with this need could include creating a sense of gratitude around our sense of safety and security, but we prefer to think of the next level in our humanistic magickal hierarchy as perhaps thinking about protecting others. Protecting our homes, or our families for example. Attracting more resources like money would certainly come into this need, especially if your family relies on you to protect them in this way.
In a magickal sense, we can use visualisation or cleansing work to create a sense of protection around our homes. This can involve visualising a protective shield around our homes, or using an air cleansing method to clear any negative energy from our environment.
Another technique for aligning this need with the principles of magick is to create a sense of safety and security that can be felt by others. For example, by giving those who live with you a safe space to be themselves. This might start with you and with your own practise of compassion for others or building up your own capacity for empathy.
Spell work that centres on the protection of others, empathy and attracting resources can also be a really powerful way to practise this kind of humanistic magick.
Love and belonging needs – aligning with the principles of humanistic magick
The next level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs involves love and belonging needs. One method of aligning magick with this need could include creating closer connections to the people around us. We also think of this level in our humanistic magickal hierarchy as about loving ourselves, and being confident in who we are and improving our mental wellbeing.
In a magickal sense, we can use spell work that centres on building relationships and attracting like minded people towards us. We can also embrace guided meditations or affirmations to improve our confidence. Whether this is self confidence, or confidence in our abilities or the abilities of others.
Esteem needs – aligning with the principles of humanistic magick
The fourth level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is focused on esteem needs, which involve feelings of accomplishment and recognition. One method of aligning magick with this need could include creating a sense of gratitude around all we have accomplished so far, but we prefer to think of this next level in our humanistic magickal hierarchy as creating opportunities for success and abundance.
In a magickal sense, we can use techniques like visualisation to see ourselves achieving our goals or receiving recognition for our accomplishments. Guided meditations and affirmations can also build our personal sense of recognition, work through issues connected to impostor syndrome or a fear of success.
Spell work that centres on abundance, creating opportunities or success can also be a really successful way to practise humanistic magick at this level.
Self-actualisation needs and more – aligning with the principles of humanistic magick
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs traditionally stops at level 5, which is the level of self-actualisation. Maslow suggested that this involved reaching one’s full potential and achieving personal growth and fulfilment. We think that there are probably a few more steps to get through, so our magickal level five is about knowledge attainment, truth and forgiveness.
When we reflect on what this means in our humanistic magickal hierarchy, it certainly aligns with Maslow’s personal growth aims. It’s about finding peace in knowledge, accepting truth and finding forgiveness either from ourselves or by taking responsibility.
In a magickal sense, we can use visualisation or cleansing work to clear any blockages that may be preventing us from achieving our goals. This can involve guided meditations that release limiting beliefs or cleansing any negative energy from ourselves.
Another technique for aligning this need with the principles of magick is to look at how we communicate with others in order to create an improved sense of communication and understanding that can be felt by others. For example, by giving those who you need to influence the awareness and information they need to help you. This might start with you and with your own ability to communicate or influence others.
Humanistic magick spell work that centres on communication, learning, knowledge sharing or taking responsibility is a useful overlay with Maslow at this level.
Reaching one’s full potential and achieving personal growth and fulfilment leads us to our own level 6, which for us is about acceptance, and inner wisdom.
In a magickal sense, we can use spell work that seeks to develop our inner wisdom or our intuition. We can also start working with tarot or lenormand cards to uncover inner strength that we can tap into.
Finally at Magenta we recognise that so many magickal practitioners are keen to build up their communities. The top of our own magickal hierarchy is when we are supporting others. For Maslow, this was also the embodiment of fulfilment, demonstrated by raising others up. In a magickal sense, we can use spell work that seeks to develop others and connects us to our sense of purpose. All of which is a great way to practise humanistic magick within this context.
Working with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to create a place for humanistic magick in daily life
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a perfect framework to overlay lots of the common principles of magick. We call this humanistic magick because as a philosophy, it is the magickal practise that is used as a tool for personal growth and transformation. By focusing on what we think are magick’s most basic needs and working our way up to self-actualisation, we can still enjoy techniques like visualisation, energy work, spell work that gives a wonderful purpose to our magick. Magick that helps to align our thoughts and actions with our highest potential but also that develops us and helps us grow. Ensuring we are better people, better able to support those around us who are also on their own journey towards growth.
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