|“||This is a world permeated with magic, permeated with witchcraft. Where everyone, from the lowliest beggar on the street, to the president of Harvard in his chambers, is practicing a kind of magic.||”|
— Adam Simon on Magic
Magic is an extremely powerful and primordial force of Nature that is inherent within the Earth and the forces of the Universe.
Magic is a practice of supernatural powers that encompasses many different types of activities including astrology, divination, spell casting, and spirit communication. It includes the practices of many cultures, nations, and religions as well as many books and writings from ancient times. Depending upon the individual, some witches practice their power by certain belief systems, such as Druidism, Shamanism, Witchcraft, or any number of other magical practices from countries and cultures all around the world. While the majority of sorcerers are known to have obtained their power through contact with or reverence of a Higher Power, others have been known to obtain their power through hereditary lines. According to Adam Simon, co-creator of the show, magic itself is simply a method of controlling the natural world (including events, objects, people and physical phenomena) through supernatural means. Furthermore, while the Church commonly disapproved of all magical practices, the only tradition that was considered illegal was the practice of Witchcraft. Adam Simon states that there are many traditions of magic that anyone can practice, given the know-how. However, only the practice of "Malice" was prohibited by law. Nevertheless, it has been proven that one does not need to be an actual witch in order to practice magic, as everyone has the potential to practice magic should they understand the formula. However, due to the fact that witches are known to have more knowledge and understanding of the supernatural forces that permeates the universe, witches are able to perform much more powerful works of sorcery than the average person.
Paganism is an umbrella term for a number of pre-Christian beliefs and religions, or at least spiritual beliefs not related to Abrahamic faiths. Alternately called Heathenism, the followers of such religions are known as pagans or heathen, although every belief and religion are particular to itself (Greek, Egyptian, Norse, Native American), with names and beliefs different from one another. Essex Hive was originally a pagan tribe, and their practices were earth-based nature-worshipping.  Native American shamanic beliefs fall under the macro category of Paganism.
High Magic is a field of magic in which the practitioner uses specific invocations and rituals as a means to obtain guidance, knowledge or supernatural abilities from a Higher Power. High Magic differs from Low Magic as Low Magic is method of controlling the natural world through the employment of natural elements, objects and rituals (i.e. Herbalism), whereas High Magic is a highly complex tradition whose main purpose is to bring the practitioner closer to the Divine itself, whether that is in the form of a deity or another spiritual being. While shamans and witches alike have been known to use High Magic in order to interact with the Lord of their religion, many priests have also been known to practice High Magic in their attempts to interact with their biblical God. Reverend Cotton Mather once explained to Anne Hale how the prophets of biblical times used High Magic in order to communicate with the Divine.
Alchemy is a branch of magic that falls into High Magic due to the complex wisdom of the old masters, including secret knowledge, ceremonial magic practices, and communications with divine entities, such as angels. Not much is known of their practices, but according to a statement from The Sentinel, Alchemists are aware of certain angelic artifacts like Angel's Tears, known to them as Red Mercury.
- Main article: Witchcraft
Maleficium (or Malice) is a Latin term meaning "mischief" or "wrongdoing" and is used to describe Magic that is dangerous, harmful or malevolent. In general, the term applies to any magical act intended to cause death or harm to other people or property. According to Adam Simon, Malice is an extremely powerful form of sorcery that draws on malevolent powers, and may be used for negative purposes (i.e. to cause destruction or misfortune, to injure or kill, or for the profit of oneself rather than for the benefit of others). While the Church is known to disapprove of all magical practices, Maleficium is the only magic that is prohibited by law due to its dark and violent nature. During the Middle Ages, it was widely believed that all magic was evil, especially by the clergy who influenced the masses, and the equation between Witchcraft and Maleficium became so strong that nowadays witches are still considered satanic.
- Main article: Shamanism
Shamanism is a spiritual belief system based on the observance of the Earth and reverence of the Great Spirit. The main goal of most Shamans is to honor the design of nature and to maintain stability in the world. Shamanism is intimately tied to one's spiritual relationship with the divine, and the idea that all things (i.e. animals, humans, life, etc.) are considered sacred, as they are all different aspects of nature. Shamanism has been found in many indigenous cultures in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Central and Northern Asia, Eastern and Northern Europe and Africa. A Shaman is an intermediary between the human realm and the spirit world. They act on behalf of the community conducting ceremonial rituals, healing the people, and helping to guide others on the Shamanic path. A Shaman’s life belongs to the community and it is their responsibility to ensure the well-being of their family and village. Shamans believe in using ancient ceremonies and rituals to attune themselves with the natural rhythms of the universe in their efforts to obtain guidance and knowledge from their Gods. Many Shamans believe that the Great Spirit is an all-powerful and benevolent deity that exists in all things.
Low Magic is a field of folk magic that is commonly, but not always, practiced for beneficial purposes, such as healing and protection. Low Magic is known for its utilization of colors, herbs, and images, as well as the belief in and study of alchemy, astrology, and hypnosis. Contrary to High Magic, whose primary purpose is to obtain guidance, knowledge and supernatural power from a deity, Low Magic is a more secular method of controlling the natural world through the employment of natural elements, objects, and rituals (i.e. effigies, stones, symbols, etc.). Low Magic is a much less controversial practice than other magical traditions and can be practiced openly by anyone willing to learn. Even the infamous witch hunter, Reverend Increase Mather, was known to employ Low Magic for protection against malevolent spells and spirits.
Contagious Magic is based on the principle belief that contact with or proximity to a certain object, person or place can influence the other. Contagious magic focuses on the belief that there is a permanent relationship between the body and the spirit and that personal DNA (i.e. fingernails, hair, teeth, etc.) can be used as tools to influence the person of whom they belong.
- Main article: Cunning Ones
Cunningcraft is a branch of magic whose adherents are alternatively called "Cunning ones". Unlike Witchcraft that has more similarities with High Magic because of Satanic worship and the complexity of its ceremonies and rituals, Cunningcraft is an array of beliefs and practices that fall into the Lesser Magic category. This practice is used for a variety of purposes, mainly divination and low flow spells. Unlike witches, cunning ones don't seem to come with many supernatural abilities with the exception of Clairvoyance. Instead, they resort more to ritual actions and the preparation of concoctions and potions. It should be recognized, however, that some cunning ones, such as Petrus, are proficient enough to hinder even sorcery of powerful witches like Mary Sibley. Unlike Witchcraft and Shamanism, Cunningcraft seems to have no direct connections with Higher Powers.
Sympathetic Magic is based on the principle belief that "like attracts like" or "like produces like". Therefore, sympathetic magic focuses on the belief that whatever befalls a representational image or object of a person, place or thing, will befall the target of the spell.
- Mary Sibley (to Anne Hale): You have yet to feel the terror, slowly becomes fascination, and eventually joy as you learn to take in the life force in all the creatures around us, turning the power within it, directing it as you will, into another person...Or into say, a doll.
- — Book of Shadows
- Dr. Wainwright: My religion is science and I am more convinced than ever that what the Church calls magic and witchcraft is but undiscovered science. I told you once that I had never met a woman like you, one who would peer into the abyss with me. And this orrery, like some celestial clockwork, tracks the comet overhead? Only the great Edmond Halley has even speculated that comets are not singular occurrences, that they cyclically return. And yet you witches have known for centuries. Such knowledge, such power, and yet you hamstring your own great achievements. You are scientists years beyond the rest of us. Why do you hide?
- Mary Sibley: Because they kill us if we do not.
- Dr. Wainwright: I understand now. Like Socrates, like Galileo, like Bruno, you are martyrs of truth. And finally, you are fighting back, waging war against the Puritans. And wiping out your enemies. Well, I will tell you, your enemies are my enemies.
- — Dead Birds
- According to Mary Sibley, magic is more than just a tool for changing reality but is also an essential aspect of life overall. Magic is responsible for the aesthetic gratification experienced by everyday people (specifical things like art, music and poetry and even the will to live for some).
- Opposed to witches, who practice malevolent forms of sorcery, regular people who are accustomed to magical practices are known as Cunning Ones. Before Essex Hive made a pact with the devil, thus becoming witches, they were a pagan tribe that worshiped nature similarly to shamans.
- Magic is an all-inclusive, supernatural force that does not actually violate the laws of nature but is simply a law unto itself that remains a mystery by scientific means. It appears that everyone and everything is connected to this power and is able to access it through practice and training. This power allows them to perform extraordinary, reality-altering feats which ranged from modifying one or more aspects of reality to reshaping the nature of an entire world.
- According to Mary Sibley, when a witch performs a spell it leaves a magical trace that can be harnessed and used against the original spellcaster if the victim of the spell is a witch who knows how to do this resorting to a special talisman. At the time it was proved that the spells that travel through water leave a magical trace, but it is possible that all the spells do so, only that none of them has ever been directed against its creator so far.
- Heathen is a term used by the show's producers to indicate Salem fans.