Grace & Peace!
A funny irony–many of the greatest Kabbalists were in their twenties when they began their work.
Re: magic, this has always been a particularly grey area. Most of the Pentateuchal commandments against it are very contextually specific–dealing with “knot magic”, the practices of other tribes and cultures, necromantic practices, etc. Despite the prohibitions against divination, for instance, it is widely believed that the breastplate of the high priest was a divinatory tool. The difference between good divination and bad? The good is what “we” do within the context of officially sanctioned religious practice, the bad is what “they” do.
When Moses kills the Egyptian with the stone, many Kabbalists see the word stone as related to the word for “word” and have interpreted that to mean that Moses (master of Kabbalah) killed the Egyptian with a word.
The Prophet Daniel was the chief of the enchanters, diviners, Chaldeans, and wise men.
To many outside observers, the practice of saying a novena is magical. The various requirements enforced on those seeking aid from St. Jude in some popular devotions have a similar flavor of the magical.
I think the distinction between theurgical practice and “magic” is a good one, though. In their proper religious contexts, these practices, which from the outside look like magic, are means of surrendering to God, of giving oneself over to the will of God and of making oneself, through an infusion of grace, the vessel of God’s work. This is theurgy, as I understand it. An act (prayer, even) which seeks to manipulate hidden forces, which seeks not God but some other thing, which sees God as a means, which is done out of curiosity, selfishness, or worse, even if the end result should be a “good”: that is dark magic indeed.
Kabbalah is basically theurgically oriented, though it it does comprehend magical practice. But sacramentals are also theurgically oriented, but can be used not as means of grace, but as means of coercion. Even the blessed Sacrament itself can be offered with a purely selfish intention, as if it were not our job to conform to God’s will, but for God to conform to our whim.
Kabbalah is a tool for understanding the world and it’s relationship to God within a particular religious context. A tool can be used well or poorly. The tool does not decide how it will be used.
Under the Mercy,