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That's right: Life causes change in conformity with its Will to survive and reproduce successfully.

Now, Thelemites everywhere will scream, "You stole that from Aleister Crowley, and that's not funny!!!." No, I didn't. I know what he taught, "Magick is the Art and Science of causing change in conformity with Will." But that's also the hallmark of all life, as well. As such, it puts the cap on all efforts to define life scientifically. It doesn't depend on genes, proteins, and other things that have been used to try to define life, whether here or elsewhere in the universe. It depends on behavior alone. If something displays that behavior, whether at a gross physical, chemical, or other level, then ipso facto, it is alive. Terrestrial plants, animals, fungi, protozoans, bacteria, extremophiles all do this. If we find alien things, things clearly from other worlds, doing this, they are alive and should be regarded as such.

Animals eat vegetation, chase down prey animals, and in general use energy to meet their needs -- their employment of will in the service of survival exhibits that use of energy. Plants put down roots, such the sap of other trees, entice insects to enter the water the blossoms hold or come to a landing on their sticky surfaces from which they can't escape, fungi break up and eat dead material, parasitize ants, make common cause with plants in ways that benefit them both. Bacteria, protozoans, and thermophiles likewise strive to live and have offspring. All true life is Magick, does Magick, employing their manifold Arts and Sciences in the service of their survival and bringing their offspring into the world.

Think I'm stretching a point? It's becoming clear that non-local phenomena -- telepathy, telekinesis, and many other types of paranormal phenomena are quite real (see, e.g., Chris Carter's and Rupert Sheldrake's Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics). Biophysics, a relatively new field of study, concerns itself with, among other things, paranormal phenomena and processes brought about by living creatures, including humans, among many others. And Magick is the apotheosis of non-local phenomena deliberately used to cause change in conformity with the will of one or more living creatures.

There's an experiment you can do on your own: Get an incubator of the sort used to keep eggs warm until they can hatch out in cases in which their mothers have died or are otherwise not available. Set it up to have a computer switch it on and off at random such that total amount of heat in the incubator is less than what the chick embryos need to gestate properly and finally hatch out in good shape. Get an assortment of fertile chicken eggs and put them in the incubator. Turn on the computer and get the operation going.

What you'll find is that though the chick embryos don't live long enough to hatch out, they survive longer than they would if they could make no effect on the computer and incubator -- somehow the total amount of time that incubator stays on per day is more than the computer programs allows for. Those tiny baby birds fight for their lives -- and the only way they can do that is by paranormal means. Do the experiment over and over the same way each time and you will get the same result. Those little living things within the eggs battle valiantly to keep the light in the incubator on long enough enough to enable them to survive -- and they do succeed in that, if only in part.

God is alive, magic is afoot
God is alive, magic is afoot
God is afoot, magic is alive
Alive is afoot, magic never died

God never sickened
Many poor men lied
Many sick men lied
Magic never weakened

Magic never hid
Magic always ruled
God is afoot
God never died

God was ruler
Though his funeral lengthened
Though his mourners thickened
Magic never fled

Though his shrouds were hoisted
The naked God did live
Though his words were twisted
The naked magic thrived

Though his death was published
Round and round the world
The heart did not believe

Many hurt men wondered
Many struck men bled
Magic never faltered
Magic always led

Many stones were rolled
But God would not lie down
Many wild men lied
Many fat men listened

Though they offered stones
Magic still was fed
Though they locked their coffers
God was always served

Magic is afoot, God rules
Alive is afoot, alive is in command
Many weak men hungered
Many strong men thrived

Though they boasted solitude
God was at their side
Nor the dreamer in his cell
Nor the captain on the hill

Magic is alive
Though his death was pardoned
Round and round the world
The heart did not believe

Though laws were carved in marble
They could not shelter men
Though altars built in parliaments
They could not order men

Police arrested magic
And magic went with them
For magic loves the hungry

But magic would not tarry
It moves from arm to arm
It would not stay with them
Magic is afoot

It cannot come to harm
It rests in an empty palm
It spawns in an empty mind
But magic is no instrument
Magic is the end

Many men drove magic
But Magic stayed behind
Many strong men lied
They only passed through magic

And out the other side
Many weak men lied
They came to God in secret
And though they left him nourished

They would not say who healed
Though mountains danced before them
They said that God was dead
Though his shrouds were hoisted
The naked God did live

This I mean to whisper to my mind
This I mean to laugh with in my mind
This I mean my mind to serve 'til
Service is but magic

Moving through the world
And mind itself is magic
Coursing through the flesh
And flesh itself is magic

Dancing on a clock
And time itself
The magic length of God . . .

-- Buffy Saint Marie, Leonard Cohen, God is Alive, Magic is Afoot

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