As Aleister Crowley defined Magick – “The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”
Low or Natural Magick evolved out of the lowlands where farmers grew crops. Many Solitary Witches and Wiccans practice Low Magick as well as many ancient Pagan (i.e., from L. paganus meaning “a countryman or country dweller”) cultures did. Low Magick utilizes natural objects such as crystals, herbs, rocks, fire, air, earth, water, animal parts (i.e., not from sacrificial means but from the use of feathers, pelts, skins, horns, entrails, or bones found by a practitioner in the forest, fields, or grasslands), the weather, seasonal changes, or anything found within our environment and nature. It can be looked at as taking care of your physical earthly wants, needs, and desires such as love and relationships, money, health, personal protection and is generally short term.
Sympathetic Magick (a.k.a. Primitive or Imitative Magick) is a centuries old form of Low Magick based upon imitation and/or correspondence, practical experiences, and observations within the natural world of the past, present, and future. Imitation and correspondence are two key elements of this type of magick and represent a cause-and-effect relationship:
Imitation – refers to “like attracts or produces like” based upon the Law of Similarity where a spiritualist, for example, is able to produce any effect that she or he desires just by imitating the material object; i.e., the concept of an effect resembling its cause.
Correspondence – refers to objects having been in possession or contact with each other continue to react upon one another no matter the distance; this concept is based upon the Law of Contagion (Contact). A priestess, for instance, knows that whatever actions she performs upon or directs energy toward any material object will equally affect the individual who was once in contact with or possessed this object. This explains why practitioners of Applied Occult Metaphysics often use the personal effects of whom they are performing spellwork for; some of these personal items might include articles of clothing, hair, nail clippings, bodily fluids, photographs, or even jewelry. These items assist in empowering the spell and its potential outcome.
Also note, Sympathetic Magick is the foundation for most divinatory systems and practices where healing is concerned.
High Magick seeks to enhance your spiritual growth and development transcendentally and bring you closer to the deities; and has been claimed to have evolved from scholars and higher societies of people. This form of magick is highly used by practitioners of Kemeticism (Ancient Egyptian religion), Qabalism (Kabbalism), Enochian Magick, Tenebrae Artes (Dark Arts, Black Magick, or Infernal Sorcery), Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and Thelema (founded and further developed by Aleister Crowley) just to name a few. High Magick, in general, invokes great spiritual energy and power and usually does not concern itself with Nature. It uses complex rituals and symbolic invocations of deities, dramatic ceremonial wardrobe, and complex concoctions such as those used within Alchemy. Ceremonial or Ritual Magick is a good example of high magick and concerns itself with the conscious application of willpower to achieve one’s individual or a group’s spiritual objectives.
Both forms of magick can be quite useful, effective, and almost “equal” in their strength and purpose in order to achieve the intended results of the practitioner (e.g., a priest, priestess, shaman, magickian / magician, or alternative spiritualist).
So even further…
Once upon a time (probably pre dark ages) magic was one thing and one thing only, you did, it worked, then somewhere between 1000 and 1300 ad it all went pear shaped and practising magic became taboo, the “high” magicians continued to justify practising thier trade by christianising it and making it some how “higher” as they dealt with “angels” and “demons”. Whilst the more earthy side of magic became the realm of the witch. No less valid but a different, perhaps more practical side of magic dealing with the imminent here and now.
As a result, witchcraft has evolved “generally” to deal with more here and now things whilst ceremonial magic is more about the “higher” self which is where this whole low and high magic malarkey has come in, it’s now used by both side to make the other inadequate by those who have learned “just” enough to make themselves sound supercilious.
Now some who are religious minded think that for whatever reason “magic” is not involved in what they do. The ‘ritual’ of the marriage ceremony, or the ‘rituals’ of many fraternities/sororities are all in this same pot regardless if the participants think it is so or not. Even hazing has a ‘ritualistic’ magical intent. Now it doesn’t mean this magic is for better or worse or the benefit may just be the pain, pleasure or joy received.
And so it is,