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Mystical vs. Magical: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 11, 2023
Involving a sense of spiritual or transcendent reality. Pertaining to the use of or resembling magic.

Key Differences

Mystical experiences or aspects always hint at a deeper, often spiritual or transcendent reality. On the other side, magical aspects, while they may enchant, largely engage with the extraordinary through a lens of supernatural powers or spells, quite separate from spiritual dimensions.
Paragraph 2: The mystical typically involves a union or connection with a higher power or truth. In stark contrast, the magical often hinges on the use or manifestation of power that alters or influences reality, with no implication of union with a divine being or essence.
Paragraph 3: Mystical experiences are often characterized by ineffability, being beyond words, and a kind of knowing that is not rooted in typical cognition. Magical, meanwhile, conjures notions of visible transformations or results achieved through unseen, supernatural forces, often enacted through spells.
Paragraph 4: Mystical, sometimes involves a path or practice aimed at achieving spiritual awareness or union. In contrast, magical may not require a philosophical or spiritual path, instead, it may focus on manipulating supernatural forces to achieve specific, tangible outcomes.
Paragraph 5: Thus, mystical leans towards introspective, spiritual experiences, while magical often steps into the realm of external power, affecting change or astonishment in the physical world. The former connects deeply with spirituality, while the latter engenders a sense of wonder and surprise.

Comparison Chart

Basic Nature

Spiritual, transcendent
Supernatural, enchanting

Connection to Divinity

Often inherent
Not necessarily present

Typical Context

Religious/spiritual experiences
Enchantments, spells, fantasy

In Narratives

Suggests a deeper, unseen truth or reality
Often involves visible, extraordinary occurrences

Example Sentence

He had a mystical experience in the desert.
The wizard cast a magical spell.

Mystical and Magical Definitions


Mystical often pertains to experiences of spiritual insight or union with the divine.
The monk’s mystical visions were revered by those in his community.


Magical refers to something pertaining to, or obtained by, the use of magic.
The magician conjured a rabbit in a decidedly magical display.


Mystical refers to having a sense of mystery and wonder associated with the divine.
The ancient temple had a mystical aura that left visitors in awe.


Magical can describe an enchanting, delightful occurrence or ability.
The sunset created a magical atmosphere on the beach.


Mystical involves a hidden or spiritual significance that transcends human understanding.
Her dreams often took a mystical nature, hinting at deeper truths.


Magical also implies something characterized by or producing unusual, inexplicable phenomena.
The potion had a magical effect, healing the wounded animal instantly.


Mystical can describe something that is symbolic and holds secret spiritual meaning.
The mystical symbols in the ancient text were difficult to decipher.


Magical might suggest something beautiful or delightful in a way that seems removed from everyday life.
The concert was magical, transporting the audience to another world.


Mystical suggests a direct, intimate communion with spiritual truths or God.
Her prayer led to a mystical encounter that changed her life forever.


Magical can represent a charming, seemingly enchanting effect or characteristic.
Her magical voice could calm even the most restless spirit.


Of, relating to, or stemming from mysticism or immediate understanding of spiritual matters, especially when experienced as direct communion with God
A mystical trance.
A mystical treatise.


Of, relating to, or produced by magic.


Symbolic or allegorical, especially with regard to spirituality
A mystical interpretation of a parable.


Enchanting; bewitching
A magical performance of the ballet.


Awe-inspiring or mysterious
"Had his dabbling in the unknown awakened a liking for more mystical sounds, the magical conjuring of sea upon the shore?" (Daphne du Maurier).


Of, relating to, or by means of magic.


Believed or maintained with awe or deep respect, especially when contrary to or lacking factual evidence
Mystical theories about the securities market.


The fireworks created a magical atmosphere in that beautiful summer night.


Of or relating to mystic rites or practices
Stones arranged in a mystical circle.


Possessing or using or characteristic of or appropriate to supernatural powers;
Charming incantations
Magic signs that protect against adverse influence
A magical spell
'tis now the very witching time of night
Wizard wands
Wizardly powers


Relating to mystics or mysticism.


Having a spiritual or magical significance that transcends human understanding.


Inspiring a sense of spiritual mystery, awe, and fascination.


Relating to or characteristic of mysticism;
Mystical religion


Relating to or resembling mysticism;
Mystical intuition
Mystical theories about the securities market


Having an import not apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence; beyond ordinary understanding;
Mysterious symbols
The mystical style of Blake
Occult lore
The secret learning of the ancients


Can "Mystical" be used to describe an experience?

Yes, it can describe experiences, especially those that connect with the spiritual or supernatural, e.g., a mystical journey.

Can "Magical" refer to something scientifically unexplainable?

It might, though typically in a figurative sense, describing something bafflingly beautiful or wonderful, not denying science.

Can "Magical" relate to moments that aren't literally magical?

Yes, "Magical" can describe moments that feel extraordinary or enchanting without literal magic, like a magical evening.

How is "Mystical" employed in psychological terminology?

"Mystical" may describe experiences of unity and transcendence, often during meditation or altered states of consciousness.

What is the fundamental meaning of "Mystical"?

Mystical primarily refers to relating to mysteries, the spirit, or the divine.

How does "Magical" fundamentally differ from "Mystical"?

Magical generally relates to using, or relating to magic, often evoking wonder or enchantment.

Is "Mystical" always related to religious or spiritual experiences?

Predominantly, yes. Mystical often involves a spiritual reality or transcendental experience, though not always overtly religious.

Can "Magical" be used in a non-literal sense to describe feelings?

Absolutely. Describing a moment as "Magical" might convey feelings of enchantment or wonder, not necessarily literal magic.

Is "Mystical" used in specific religious or spiritual contexts?

Yes, it's often used to describe aspects of spiritual traditions, like mystical experiences or mystical theology.

Can "Magical" describe a type of thinking?

Yes, "magical thinking" refers to believing one's thoughts, words, or actions can achieve specific, impossible outcomes.

How does "Mystical" relate to metaphysical studies?

"Mystical" might be used to describe phenomena or experiences considered beyond the physical, exploring metaphysical realms.

Does "Mystical" imply an understanding beyond sensory perception?

Yes, mystical often denotes knowledge or experiences that transcend normal sensory or intellectual insights.

Does "Magical" always imply a positive experience or description?

Not always. While often used positively, "Magical" can describe anything supernaturally out of the ordinary, even if it's ominous.

Can "Magical" describe an atmosphere or ambiance?

Yes, describing an ambiance as “Magical” suggests it has a captivating, enchanting, or wonderfully extraordinary quality.

Can “Mystical” refer to something cryptic or enigmatic?

Yes, it can describe something mysteriously symbolic or hidden, particularly in spiritual or esoteric contexts.

Can “Magical” be utilized to describe a high-quality performance?

Certainly. Describing a performance as “Magical” implies it was captivating or enchanting in its brilliance.

Can "Magical" imply something is unreal or fantastical?

Yes, it might suggest something appears so extraordinary that it seems as though magic has been involved.

Is “Mystical” used in poetry often?

Yes, poets might utilize "Mystical" to suggest an otherworldly, transcendent, or ineffable quality within their work.

Can “Magical” imply something children are typically fond of?

Yes, "Magical" might describe things or experiences that tend to enchant children, like fairy tales or theme parks.

Can "Mystical" relate to a secretive aspect of spiritual traditions?

Yes, it might describe elements deemed secret, hidden, or only accessible to certain members of spiritual paths.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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