Magic or sorcery (also magic ; earlier also magic art ) is a (secret) art that seeks to make use of supernatural powers or a fascinating, mysterious power; tricks of the magician (in the vaudeville theater) are also called magic. The word is of old Persian origin and originally referred to the activity of a Persian priest and dream interpreter (cf. Mager ). The one who does magic is called a magician ( sorcerer ).
Attempts at demarcation and definition
Magic is based on the idea that everything in the cosmos is permeated by a transcendent force and that this force can be influenced by magic. The power or effect supposedly emanating from a spell - in the sense of a magical act or a magical means - as such is called magic power (Latin: vis magiae , vis magica ). Magic is inextricably linked with mythology , ethnology , religion and esotericism . The philosopher Tommaso Campanella (1568–1639) defined magic as follows:
“Everything that scientists do in imitation of nature or, to help it, with the help of an unknown art, is called magic. Because technology is always referred to as magic before it is understood, and after a certain time it develops into a normal science. "
If 'magic' is defined on the level of social action , it can be understood as a ritualized and instrumental access to supernatural forces in a fixed social context that came about through certain objects, arrangements or rituals.
The word “magic” goes through Greek-Latin magia and ancient Greek μαγεία ( mageía ) to μάγος ( mágos ) “wise man; reject, magically “. This is based on the ancient Persian magus , the name of a tribe with priestly duties that lived in ancient times in the northwest of what is now Iran. According to the Greek historian Herodotus (490 to approx. 425 BC) there were a particularly large number of wise men who dealt with dream interpretation and astrology. The term mágos was therefore used synonymously with “sage”.
History of magic
The earliest written sources of magic go back to the times of the Mesopotamian , Sumerian and ancient Egyptian high cultures (cf. Magic in Ancient Egypt ). Legacies such as cave paintings , artefacts or stone circles have also been discovered from the Stone Age , which are interpreted as tools for performing magical acts and ceremonies not unlike today's shamanism (cf. Religion in the Paleolithic ). In ancient China of the Shang and Zhou times , the Wu and the Fangshi practiced magical practices, later also Daoism and the Chinese folk religion .
The magical- mythological traditions of the Nordic-European, Roman, Greek and Hebrew cultures go back similarly .
Sumerian and Akkadian writings dating back to 2600 BC. And from the 2nd millennium BC Ch available. Writing, tell of magic known practices such as Nestelknüpfen (named after the Nestel , a well Nestelband laces called on the trousers of a man), love spells , power spells and Glamor . Astrology and divination using animal intestines are also described. From the 1st millennium BC Manuals were systematized, which were intended for specialists at court. An apotropaic magic emerges here , but it was integrated into the official religion and the worldview. Ea or Enki , the god of wisdom was also considered the god of magic, and Asalluhi was considered a divine incantation priest. Asalluhi was the son of Eas and was later equated with the Babylonian Marduk . Mages were highly regarded in Sumerian and Akkadian society. An Asipu was responsible for incantations and exorcism, an Asu for diagnosis and therapy of diseases, and for the prophecies of the Baru.
Mages in Mesopotamia identified with the god Marduk or related their arts in semi-divine, primeval ways who were considered to be teachers of humanity. Magic has been called the "mystery of heaven and earth," and in order to acquire these secrets, a magician had to become a sage and familiarize himself with the written traditions. Magicians were among the few who, as literary experts, disseminated the messages of Babylonian scriptures, as scholars who worked in public, made house calls, discussed problems and sought solutions.
A dualism such as that found in the Christian theory of magic, in which God and the devil are determining elements of religion and magic, did not exist in the early Mesopotamian cultures. The gods themselves were considered Magoi, a demonology was not developed, and the magician was a constitutive element of society.
In Egyptian mythology, Thoth was the god of magic. Religion, mythology and magic were inextricably linked in ancient Egypt and had a great impact on people's lives. The ancient Egyptian myths and the religious and magical rituals associated with them essentially revolved around the creation and destruction of the world, the story of Isis and Osiris , the dispute between Horus and Seth and the daily journey of the sun god Re .
One of the most famous magical symbols from ancient Egypt is the eye of Horus . The eyes of Horus symbolized the sun (right) and moon (left). In the battle for his father's throne with Seth, Seth seriously injured his left eye. This was healed by Thoth (as a symbol for the moon), according to other versions by his mother Isis (as a symbol for femininity). The eye of Horus is therefore a protective symbol and is also used as an amulet. The Horus eye is also an Egyptian hieroglyph meaning: intact, complete, whole, healthy.
Ancient Greek sources in which magic appears are those associated with Homeric poetry , sources of the Hellenistic period, and sources of the Roman imperial period that are strongly syncretistic in orientation.
Miracle workers, Magoi, who were said to have magical powers and who were famous for them, were in the 6th century BC. The mathematician and metaphysician Pythagoras , a historical figure, and the semi-mythical Orpheus , to whom the Orphic mysteries refer.
More recently, Greco-Roman Egypt, there are fragments of books on magic recipes. The Papyri Graecae Magicae, which date from the 2nd century, but probably go back to older sources, should be emphasized here. Some magic recipes are related to disease prevention and treatment. The magic recipe books often have the character of private notebooks, as they contain special recipes, notes, thoughts and hints from practicing magicians who first tested and improved each recipe and then wrote down its formula.
In science there is the assumption that these magic papyri came from the Egyptian religion , but other experts such as Fritz Graf assume that in the 2nd century AD there was already a Graeco-Roman paganism in which the Egyptian religion was absorbed be. Graf assumes that this goes back to many sources, e.g. B. Greek, Jewish, Babylonian, Sumerian and Assyrian. He calls the result a “late pagan syncretism”. The Greek Magic Papyri show a syncretistic pantheon in which Egyptian, Greek and Roman gods stand side by side on an equal footing, and YHWH and Jesus have also joined these gods of magic.
According to Graf, there were changing views on magicians in ancient Greece and Rome. The Magos was associated with the figure of the Goes. The Goes was seen as a mediator between gods and humans and represented a kind of ecstasy healer or fortune teller, reminiscent of traditional shamans. Goetia , a word that was specifically associated with black magic in the Middle Ages, comes from this Greek word Goes. Charges against magicians accused of summoning the dead and bewitching people were on hand in ancient Greece, and it was common in the Hellenic world to accuse one's neighbors of sorcery.
Plato saw in magicians and sorcerers a threat to the right relationship in which humans and gods are normally united. He also mentions a distinction between religion, in which the gods have free choice, and magic, which tries to persuade the gods to take certain actions.
One of the most powerful forms of magic from ancient times to our time was to obtain a secret source of power. Well thought-out rituals and the knowledge of secret so-called barbaric names were enough according to the opinion of the time to make the lower gods weigh themselves and to influence them in favor of the Magos, but an initiation was required to become a real magician. The magicians of antiquity strove to collect effective binding and cursing spells, but they also tried to acquire a knowledge of the names of deities who could be invoked for concrete forms of assistance. The sacred name of a deity was thought of as its attribute, and knowing its sacred name was to share in its power. Since it was strictly forbidden to reveal details about initiation rites, knowledge of secrets became more and more the hallmark of magic.
Some forms of Greek magic were believed to have a parhedros, a divine or superhuman assistant that closely resembles the allies of traditional shamanism. Irenaeus of Lyon claimed that the Gnostic Markion had a Parhedros and that he had supported Markion in his prophecies. Manifold magical powers were attributed to a Parhedros, from bringing water, wine and bread to breaking the fangs of snakes and killing opponents to creating banquet halls out of gold and silver. The philosopher Kelsos said that Jesus was a magician because he had some such abilities.
However, magic was not only limited to achieving practical results, but the magician sought a spiritual transformation through certain rituals. The ritual Sustasis to Helios, for example, served to transform the magician into a “lord of a divine nature”. This ritual was interpreted as an invocation of Seth - Typhon , whose essence the magician occupies. Seth-Typhon takes on the role of a sun god who lives through death and resurrection, a motif that is still present in modern western magic.
From the 6th century BC The mystery cults are proven in various regions of the Mediterranean . These seem to have overlapped with the magical initiations. In contrast to magic, however, the mysteries did not represent anything individual, but a communal cult and rite. As a result of the mystery cults, magic and myth were now shaped by a direct encounter with the gods, and the initiates of the mysteries and magicians were now looking for ways and means to integrate the gods into their everyday life as well as for closer contact with the gods. Visionary and meditative techniques have now also been explored in order to attain the sacred. A magic was formed that sought after personal encounter with the gods, theurgy . The fruit of theurgy was called Gnosis , the "sacred knowledge". From antiquity to modern times, this Gnostic thought formed the very core of the magical tradition of the West.
A first peak of rational examination of magical practices also begins in ancient Greece. The League of Pythagoreans prepared the ground for this. Thinkers like Plato and Aristotle subjected theurgy and ancient Greek theology to philosophical consideration, right down to ethics .
Also characteristic for the later magic was Iamblichus , whose work De mysteriis Aegyptorium distinction between magic that is to be rejected, and the theurgy. As a term, theurgy comes from the Chaldean oracles and is also considered to be fundamental to Proclus' philosophy. According to these philosophers, theology is only related to the logos , while theurgy includes theory and practice. Theurgy aims at henosis, union with the divine; the practice is regarded as the work of God and the performance of God-given rites. The compulsion to gods is here removed from magic, which is transformed into a philosophical religion in theurgy. Forms of sacrifice and prayer, ecstasy and the use of cult images and other magical practices acquire a new meaning in theurgy.
The teachings of Gnosis, Neoplatonism and the writings of Augustine , who, influenced by Neoplatonism, presented a demonology and theory of magic that gave medieval theologians the framework, magic now as a pact of demons, were essential influences of antiquity and late antiquity on magic and the understanding of magic in Europe and to view and pursue the devil's pact .
During the time of the Roman Republic , Goes was used to describe a seer or fortune teller, while the term Magos only referred to the representatives of the Persian priesthood with their traditional rites and divinations. From 27 AD, under Augustus , a witch-magician was first referred to as Magus. At the time of Pliny , magia was also understood to mean medicine, astrology and divination. A typical element of magic were the curse or bond tablets. Originally they seem to come from Greece, where from the 5th century B.C. Are detectable, and from there they have spread over the Mediterranean area. The first curse tablets , Katádesmoi (Greek κατάδεσμοι katádesmoi ) or defixiones were thin lead plates in which the victim's name was engraved. Later they took on more sophisticated forms and contained increasingly longer texts. Complex rituals were used to make it, in which dolls were burned, tied up or pierced. The escape tablets were sunk in graves, wells or pits in order to deliver the victim to demons or spirits. Such defixiones were meant to subordinate other people to their own will. They were used as love spells or to eliminate legal and economic competitors. There were already laws against black magic in ancient Rome, for example it was forbidden to use evil spells to curse crops. Such sayings were called mala carmina, while good carmina, incantations, were considered medicinal, but the incantations were not called magic.
Descriptions of the tricks of magicians and fortune tellers have been handed down from Roman times, for example in the "Refutation of All Heresies" by St. Hippolytus of Rome , who alone already knows about three dozen of these supposedly magical performances and wanted to expose them. In experimental archaeological tests show that some of these tricks actually work left.
In the 5th century BC BC magic appeared in Rome in the Twelve Tables law as a criminal offense. Later, under Emperor Constantine , divination was also made a criminal offense. Magic was now used to fight political and ideological opponents. Emperor Valens , for example, had the Hellenistic-pagan opposition executed because of the crimen magiae , which allegedly tried to find out the name of the future emperor by moving the table . The crime of magic related less to individual magicians than to groups supposedly operating underground as an organization . This organized opposition motif lived on in Christian ideas about devil sects, which were supposed to consist of non-conforming members of society such as heretics , Jews, apostates, and finally witches .
Magic also occurs in several places in medieval literature. Seið (f. And n.) Is the norrøne term for magic. This includes the magical attack on a person and divination. The term is based on certain mythological ideas and is tied into a larger religious system that was widespread in the subarctic cultures. Therefore the magic of the Seiðkona (sorceress) and the seiðrmenn (magician) is closely related to the Siberian shamanism.
In the Scandinavian area of the Viking Age , the Seiðmaðr was despised and often persecuted. This is due to the fact that seið was linked to the cult of the goddess Freyja and was therefore practiced by women. In Loki's Eddic abuse he accuses Odin :
En þik síða kóðo
You are said to
The word "arg" in the last line is significant: It means feminine appearance, passive homosexuality and ritual change of gender. Odin certainly has shamanistic traits. The son Harald Hårfagres with the Samin Snøfrid Svåsedotter named Ragnvald was Seiðmaðr . According to the Historia Norwegiae , he was drowned, the usual method of execution for seiðmenn . Apparently his father thought he was a pervert. According to Mircea Eliade , the Siberian shamans changed their sex or became transvestite . The spirits forced him to do this.
In the Icelandic sagas, too, magic sometimes plays a role. This is how Kotkell, an immigrant from the Hebrides, kills by magic in the Laxdæla saga Þórður, who had summoned him to the Allting for magic:
“Siðan lét Kotkell gera seiðhjall mikinn. Þau færðust þar á upp öll. Þau kváðu þar harðsnúin fræði. Þat váru galdrar. Því næst laust á hríð mikilli. "
“Kotkel had a large magic scaffolding erected on it. They [he and his sons] all went up together. Then they sounded grimly composed sages: They were magic spells. A severe storm broke out immediately. "
Þórðr, who had left on a ship, was killed in the storm. Kotkel was later stoned with some sons, another son was drowned. Captured wizards were immediately put a sack over the head to prevent the " evil eye ". Kotkel's last son, Stigandi, was eventually caught too. The sack had a crack through which it looked out onto a meadow slope.
"En því var líkast sem hvirfilvindr komi at. Sneri um jörðunni, svá at aldregi síðan kom þar gras upp. Þar heitir nú Brennu "
“It was now just as if a whirlwind came over it and turned the ground upside down, so that grass never grew there. The place is now called Brenna. "
He too was stoned.
Magic in Christian Europe
Between 300 and 1050 AD, the time of the Christianization of Europe, magic was equated with paganism , a term used to describe the religions of the Celts, Slavs, Teutons, Scandinavians and other non-Christian peoples who were demonized by Christian missionaries. Even so, these indigenous practices and beliefs were Christianized and used for their own purposes, especially by church leaders. So were z. For example, writings were found in monasteries that combined Christian rites and recipes with Germanic folk rituals. This magic was used to repel demonic forces, cause attacks by elves or cause healing. Despite the condemnation of magic and healing spells by the Christian church, the church was able to survive and formed a complex of native and Christian religious forms. Similar complex connections between Christianity and indigenous magical practices are later found in Africa and South America.
In the period of the High Middle Ages (1050–1350) magic was viewed as heresy by the Christian Church and opposed, but various writings and recipes show that magic was nevertheless widespread. Likewise, magic was an important literary theme in the literature of the period; B. the magician Merlin in the Arthurian myths .
As interactions of Christianity with magical activists Christianized forms of magic came up specifically in the Middle Ages. The grimoires, as magic books that taught demonology or angelology , spread magical practices that were interspersed with Christian elements. So the magician should fast, pray, and invoke the Trinity that he might receive divine power to subdue demons.
The records of Abraham von Worms from 1387 attest to the first written and completely preserved rite of a Jewish man to subdue subservient spirits under the patronage of the holy Guardian Angel . His magical life, a late medieval autobiography, was also handed down. The ethical claim of this magic moves the text to magia naturalis .
In 1496 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola described his understanding of the phenomenon of magic in On Human Dignity : “As the farmer wed the elms with the branches of the vine, so the magician wed the earth with the sky, that is, the lower with the gifts and Forces of the upper world. "
The book by the humanistic theologian , doctor of law and medicine , Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim , published under the title De Occulta Philosophia 1530 , is based on the writings of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and represents the world's first systematically structured theoretical and practical overall presentation of magic.
Paracelsus , the alchemist and innovator of naturopathy , rejected the scholasticism , which goes back to Aristotle , and the strictly traditional medicine of the Galen tradition associated with it. With an irrepressible thirst for knowledge he learned medicine from people of all walks of life. For him, magic meant healing: “But magical operation, like the science of Kabbalah , does not arise from spirits or sorcery, but from the natural course of subtle nature.” (Volume medicinae Paramirum).
At the time of Christianization, it was mainly provincial synods that dealt with magical practices. It goes without saying that the real effect of magic was assumed. In this context, the ecclesiastical laws, such as the Decretum Gratiani and the comments written on it by the decretists , decretalism and the amounts of fines, are instructive .
In the sixth canon of the Synod of Elvira (around 300) it was determined that someone who had killed another with a maleficium should not receive communion even at the hour of death, as he could not carry out his crime without worshiping demons. Given the length of the texts, it can be assumed that the most common application was to induce impotence in men ( impotentia ex maleficio ). A well-known case is the opinion of Archbishop Hinkmar von Reims on the marriage of the Frankish King Lothar II , whose wife Theutberga had not given birth to any children. He came to the conclusion that a maleficite could very well be the cause, but behind it there was an unfathomable, but never unjust judgment of God. His views on impotence caused by harmful magic, which were also recorded in other reports, influenced the decretists when they commented on the Decretum Gratiani . But they also believed in the ability to do harm by weather spell also exorcisms ( incantationes ) to the casting of lots ( sortilegium ) to the "evil eye" ( fascinatio ). One known method is, for example, saying prayers backwards. Magic could also be linked to Christian rites. The 7th canon of the 13th Synod of Toledo (683) and the 5th canon of the 17th Synod of Toledo (694) forbade dead prayer by holding a funeral mass for people still alive. This ban was also included in the Decretum Gratiani and renewed several times in the 13th century. There is evidence that such funeral masses took place or were planned for the living as far back as the 16th century.
The production of contraceptive and love potions was also condemned as a maleficite. Predominantly penalties were set for clerics , which suggests that they, as educated, had access to relevant literature. In general, clerics who knew Latin and who had a supernatural means at their disposal by reading Mass were often ascribed magical abilities. Not only were priests condemned who recited incantations during mass in order to make women submissive, but they were also able to serve as service providers (for a fee) the magical concerns of ordinary people. As an alternative to the magical killing of a person by funeral offices, there was a dead prayer with the help of repeated recitation of certain curse psalms or the use of Atzmännern (mostly wax figures of the victim), which were also used in love and death spells.
Even Augustine of Hippo condemned all magic, since it was always based on a contract between humans and demons. The Decretum Gratiani followed this verdict . This notion of the devil's pact occupied an important place in high scholastic demonology. But it was hardly mentioned in the canonical sources. In the few places only the text of the Decretum Gratiani was reproduced, and only the French glossy apparatus Animal est Substantia brings as an example the legend from the 9th century that a Theophilus Vicedominus made such a pact but was then redeemed by the Virgin Mary be. The decretists dealt with the devil's covenant in connection with fortune-telling and distinguished between the learned fortune-telling, which could predict the future based on special knowledge and was considered by some to be permitted, and the furor , the obsession with the future due to a devil's pact and therefore be a grave sin. The penalties also emphasized that magical practices are only possible with the help of the devil, which leads to the conclusion that such behavior played a role in the practice of confession.
The synods issued many precepts against “divination”, such as the synods of Ancyra (314) , Agde (506) , Orléans (511) , Braga (572) and Toledo (633) and others. This also included astrology. Isidore of Seville made a distinction in his Etymologiae between an astrologia naturalis , which for example made it possible to forecast weather conditions, and an astrologia superstitiosa , which predicted human behavior.
Medieval literature was essentially concerned with two forms of fortune telling: 1. Astrology, 2. Letting go. In addition, there was the consideration of certain ominous days.
Astrology was familiar to Christians through the entire Middle Ages. It flourished in the High Middle Ages, when Arabic and Greek works on astronomy and astrology became generally accessible. During the Renaissance, court astrologers had a great effect on the decisions of the rulers, especially on determining the right time for their implementation.
Among other things, the story of the three wise men from the Orient who followed a star to Bethlehem was referred to ( Mt 2 EU ). The church criticism emphasized, however, that the belief in the action of the stars denies both the omnipotence of God and the free will of man.
In the Decretum Gratiani , astrology and astronomy ( superstitiones divinationis ) as well as other observations of nature for the purpose of prediction ( superstitiones observationis ) are discarded as forbidden magic. Decretistics then began to differentiate. It is permissible to interpret the course of things with the help of the stars, just as one inferred from certain symptoms about the disease and its further course. The pure observation of the stars without the intention of prophecy is permitted. Pope Alexander III describes in a decretal the case that a priest tried to track down the stolen property of a church with the help of an astrolabe , and sentenced him to a church sentence. It was assumed that the stars exert an influence on this world, but rejected any influence on the human will by the stars.
There were also certain days when magical properties were ascribed. The so-called “Egyptian days”, which were particularly unfavorable for certain activities (travel, marriage), were particularly common. Mostly 24, sometimes 36 “discarded days” were involved. The New Year forecast was also widespread. The day of the week, on which New Year's Day fell, predicted the course of the year for the harvest. Their observance was forbidden as a sin. The fine sums allowed the observance of meteorological omens for agriculture if no demons were invoked. Thomas von Chobham named some of the superstitious observations: sneezing when getting up in the morning, the night owl calling or nocturnal barking of dogs as a sign of death in the house.
Throw it off
The method of loosing was also very popular. The bible-less was particularly common among clerics ( sortes biblicae ) by opening any page of the Bible and interpreting the text passage found according to the question asked. This method was even recognized by the church. Lots were even recognized in ritualized form ( prognosticum ) in bishopric elections . The ecclesiastical prohibitions of bibliomancy were only directed against the application for profane questions. There were several variants of this kind of lottery ticket: the drawing of labeled pieces of paper, sometimes also with Bible verses, the use of lottery books with tables and the corresponding keys. Such a lottery book under the name Sortes Apostolorum has already been documented for the year 494. Pope Gelasius I mentions a "liber, qui appellatur Sortes Apostolorum " .
Thomas Aquinas distinguished three types of lottery tickets:
- the distributing lot ( sors divisoria ),
- the advisory lot ( sors consultatoria ) and
- the fortune telling lot ( sors divinatoria ).
The distributing lot is used to divide goods among several beneficiaries. The consultative lot is used when it is necessary to decide what to do with various options for action. The fortune telling lot serves to explore hidden facts. While under certain circumstances he had no reservations about the first two lottery procedures, he rejected the sors divinatoria because the knowledge of what is hidden belongs to God alone. The essential condition for the admissibility of the former was imperative. Under these circumstances, he also declared the lottery procedure in church elections permissible.
The Decretum Gratiani , the decretists and canonists of the 12th and 13th centuries dealt extensively with the topic of the sortes . Because drawing lots, especially by opening the Psalter, was by no means uncommon for election to church offices. Gratian considered casting lots as a means of finding the truth approved by God in the past and referred to ( Jos 7,16 EU ), where a thief is identified with the help of lottery, to ( 1 Sam 14,42 EU ), where Saul's son Jonathan is convicted by lot of having violated a ban on Saul, as well as on further descriptions up to the choice of Matthias as the successor of Judas in ( Acts 1,26 EU ). Gratian also quotes Augustine that throwing away is not an evil, but a means that indicates the will of God in human doubts. But then he rejects throwing away for the present. Because the development of canon law has resulted in a general ban, because the loosing could lead the believers to idolatry. The decretists were also of the opinion that throwing away is not a bad thing in itself, but is forbidden because of its proximity to idolatry. But some considered the sortes admissible by opening the Bible after prayer and fasting. The influence of Roman law also meant that some decretists exempted the distributive lottery to arbitrate legal cases and the procedure for bishopric elections from the prohibition. The glossy apparatus Ecce vicit leo of a French decretist (possibly Petrus Brito) gives a further differentiation: He also considers the loosing to find the truth to be permissible in principle, but it should not lead to a conviction, since it is a circumvention of the confessional secret .
In this context, preserved forms of divine judgments can also be seen, in particular the so-called Last Supper rehearsal , in which divine activity was assumed, as in the case of lots. The 4th Lateran Council of 1215 forbade clerics to take part in judgments of God with injurious consequences, such as the water test or the fire test . Also the chrism was used in magic acts. So it should protect against injuries during the iron test.
Magical objects and texts
Spells ( incantationes ) have always been used for magical practices. According to the ideas of the time, amulets or the ingredients required for magic, such as herbs, roots or stones, often only got their effect through magic spells that are spoken during collection or preparation. According to the Decretum Gratiani , the use of magic spells is basically excommunication. Gratian makes an exception when the Creed or the Our Father is used. As a result, such herbs and stones were only useful if they were collected and prepared in accordance with Christian ritual regulations. Under these circumstances they were even tolerated as amulets against possession. The Decretum Gratiani forbids all these means, citing Augustine, who rejected all means that medical science does not recognize as useless sorcery. They were called "phylacteries" when they are hung around the neck to produce certain magical effects. Some practices can be found in the decreetistic scriptures. According to the decretist Rufinus, it was a question of notes with secret symbols or small plates with ten words of the Old Testament stretched around the forehead. Apparently he alluded to the old Jewish practice of wearing parts of the Torah when praying around the upper arm or on the forehead ( phylacteries ). According to the French decretists, notes that were worn around the neck and bearing the creed or the Lord's Prayer were said to have healing properties, and this custom was accepted. The fine sum of Thomas von Chobham emphasizes the power of the "holy words" and sees their secret in the correct combination of several letters or voices, an art that has been forgotten, but if someone has mastered it, it is permitted if no demons are involved would. When it comes to amulets, too, Thomas differentiates between permitted and forbidden. However, anyone who uses sacred words as an incantation to give herbs a power that is not theirs is committing a grave sin. In his commentary on the Summa de casibus by Raimund von Penyafort, Wilhelm von Rennes named as permitted practices when slips of paper with short texts were described on Ascension Day; But it is a question of forbidden magic if one believes that the notes are only effective if they are written after reading the Gospel or after Mass. Since this is a handout for confessors, this exercise was apparently widespread.
In the Renaissance were hermetic writings rediscovered. Inspired by this, magicians practiced their own variants of Neoplatonic ceremonial magic . Marsilio Ficino is considered the founding figure of Renaissance magic . Other magicians of the Renaissance were Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim , Johannes Trithemius , Giambattista della Porta and Giordano Bruno . In the Renaissance, a distinction was made between spiritual magic, demon magic and natural magic.
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola , like Ficino, adhered to a worldview of the emanation of the cosmos from the divine. He created a connection between Ficino's Hermetic Neoplatonism, Christianity, Kabbalah and Mageia , the high magic. Pico della Mirandola's magic concept assumes that the universe and nature are permeated by spirit and that magic can make the inner workings of nature and the cosmos accessible to man. According to Pico della Mirandola, the holy magician unites earth with heaven, matter with spirit. Through access to the world of the divine, one can recognize a Gnostic and mystical approach in Pico's magic, which however also contains a magical fundamentalism according to which man is a god in the making. In the hermetic tradition, especially with Pico della Mirandola, there is already a holistic perspective in Renaissance magic, according to which everything is an aspect of the divine in a comprehensive sense.
The mathematician, geographer, developer of navigational instruments, astrologer, mystic and alchemist John Dee was arguably the most important Christian angel magician. In contrast to his predecessors, he developed his angel magic in public. This gave rise to a version of the Enochian language that was revealed to him . Dee's private library was the largest library in England. Its holdings are now the core of the British Library . According to Anthony Grafton's research on modern magicians, magic is by no means, as prejudice suggests, the antipode, but rather the forerunner of enlightenment.
Under Magia naturalis - the term was coined in 1558 as the title of a book by Giovanni Battista della Porta in which it was conceived as part of natural philosophy and natural science - one understood a magic that by Agrippa of Nettesheim as a kind of universal science had to apply and the Physics, mathematics and theology included. In the Renaissance, attempts were made to use the magia naturalis to make the limitation of permitted knowledge more permeable. Heinrich Solter stated in the defense of his dissertation in 1648 that the preoccupation with magic is firstly physics and secondly not every form of magic has to be regarded as forbidden ( illicita ). The misuse of magic is to be eliminated so that its use may remain, and magic, which has its basis in nature and is free of superstition, is permissible and revered.
According to Solter, the magia naturalis comprises six areas (species):
- Interpretation of extra-natural signs that occur in nature and have been given special powers by God, especially astrology
- Transformation of bodies preformed in the transfiguration of Christ
- Creating and using words that have power
- Pictures and sculptures in which the forces of heaven are shaped by characters and figures
- Pictures made of wax and similar materials that work against damage spells
- the Ars Cabalistica, which here does not refer to the theology of Kabbalah , but to the application of letters, signs, words, figures and sigils .
The magia naturalis shows a close relationship to the magia daemoniaca , the forbidden magic, so that natural mysticism and natural philosophy were brought close to the magia illicita . At that time, the judgment as to whether it was natural, permitted magic or demonic sorcery was often only based on subjective, collective, spiritual and denominational evaluations of the judge.
What was new and also momentous in the magia naturalis was the consideration of nature as an explanatory model, even if, according to our understanding, the effects do not apply to the object that supposedly creates them. Nonetheless, the magia naturalis represented an important starting point for the development of scientific thought . In addition to the power of evil, the nature of the occulta qualitas appeared in magic, and within the limits permitted within theology, but increasingly expanding, now stood the Nothing more in the way of exploring nature.
Marsilio Ficino assumed a dual being of magic. The Magia naturalis as a natural and spiritual magic and demonic magic that can only be inferred indirectly from his writings. Agrippa von Nettesheim and Paracelsus show the influences of this demonic magic, which is to be regarded as rather popular, while the magia naturalis shows an elitist nature mysticism. Ficino's natural magic found its way into the most diverse areas, for example in the music and poetry theories of Guy Lefevre de la Boderie, in Veneto Giorgio's speculations about orthodox Christianity and in Antonio Persio's thoughts on unorthodox Christianity. In Fabio Paolini's planetary oratorio and in Tommaso Campanella's theory of magic, these two strands were reunited towards the end of the 16th century. The Magia naturalis became a synonym for the Philosophia naturalis at this time and made significant contributions to the aesthetics of art, religion and the beginnings of psychology.
Ficino assumed that love was a natural form of magic. For him it represented a universal force that radiated into the whole universe. In contrast to the general form of love, Ficino's magic is a conscious act of attempting to manipulate another person's mind through his own mind. The positions of the stars play an important role for Ficino, since it depends on them whether the magic works, so that magic in the sense of Ficino is a complex astrological magic in which the stars have their counterparts, e.g. B. in minerals, metals and animals, which also have an astral fluid. Ficino's magic is often called theurgy , but basically there is no exact opposition between demonic and spiritual magic, rather both overlap in their practices and assumptions. The theurgical component here consists in the fact that the magician aligns himself with the celestial bodies, through an astrological diet, and uses objects and people that represent the three lucky planets, the sun, Jupiter and Venus, so that he attains a pure mind that leads to higher contemplations leads.
Giordano Bruno's two manuscripts De vinculis in genere are considered to be the creative elaboration of a single form of magic, while Ficino, Trithemius and Agrippa show no individual originality of magic. Bruno's theories of magic lead Ficino's theory of love as natural magic to extreme expression. Bruno assumed that anything could be influenced and manipulated through the creation of phantasmata. His erotic magic is based on the idea that erotic phantasmata, if charged with a feeling of devotion, can influence other people. According to Bruno, the person to be influenced absorbs such phantasms through their own mind, which then show their effects in it. According to Bruno, psychological conditions for this kind of magic are of two kinds. The magician must both be burning with desire and desire, and at the same time be completely cold and indifferent to these emotions in order not to become their victim.
Bruno not only refers to the Ficino tradition, but the art of memory is also part of his magic. Phantasmata or imaginations are manipulated in the sense that they become a mystical contemplation. This form of magic was linked to rhetoric . Giulio Camillo Delminio (approx. 1480–1544) was the first to bring the art of memory explicitly together with magical-mystical experiences.
Folk healer in the early modern period
In the early modern period of European history (1450–1750), in addition to the high intellectual magic of the Renaissance, there were also diverse magical practices among the common people. These were carried out by so-called "white witches" in almost every village who were sorcerers, sorcerers or wise men who were considered to be popular healers and whose services were used, especially to exorcise the negative effects of harmful witches. Other magical practices of the white witches were e.g. B. Fortune telling and the making of remedies and healing spells for many diseases, both of humans and animals. The white witches were regarded as fighters against the dreaded harmful witchcraft, for which magical means were used, which is why the white witches were feared among the people, although they were shown deference. Witches and magic were part of the popular culture of this time, the image of the wicked witch, who had demonic traits, was constructed by the Christian church, also with reference to older Greek and Roman views. So it gradually came to the cliché of the wicked witch, who was viewed as an anti-Christian devil bundler.
The white witches often wore flashy costumes and magically protected themselves with spells and oracles. However, they also used many elements of Christianity in combating malevolent witchcraft and its harmful effects, including a. also catholic prayers.
Belief in witches was strong among the people in the early modern period, and Christianity was not spread in a perfectly Orthodox manner or was practiced everywhere in an Orthodox manner. So were z. For example, in England in the 16th and 17th centuries, the poorest sections of the population did not go to church regularly and so did not all have Christian religious ideas, which explains the widespread use of magical ideas and means.
Magic from the 18th century
From the 17th century, magic was pushed underground in Europe, as magic was increasingly considered irrational compared to science. From this time on, many magical secret societies were founded, whose traditions have shaped magic to the present day. The magia naturalis was passed down into the 18th century, u. a. of Kabbalistic, Alchemy, Rosicrucian and Theosophy or Pansophy . In England, the magical or occult tradition was passed on from the 16th to the 19th centuries by Freemasonry . The magic of Freemasonry was incorporated into the "Golden Dawn" and has had a strong influence on modern western magic to this day.
At the beginning of the 18th century there was again an increased focus on inner soul, mystical , magical and esoteric topics. Outstanding phenomena of this time were z. B. Cagliostro and Franz Anton Mesmer with his doctrine of animal magnetism , which paved the way for later hypnotherapy and the development of spiritualism . Particular importance is attached to ceremonial magic in initiatory Rosicrucian orders .
The romance with her devotion to the unconscious walked out of the classic and its tendency to produce Apollonian mind moderating. Authors such as the painter, doctor and natural philosopher Carl Gustav Carus , who was one of the forerunners of parapsychological researchers, developed with this. Exotic spirituality received increasing attention. Outside the classic colonial countries , this was reflected in the magical texts of the 18th and 19th centuries. Elements of magical thinking can be found, for example, in Novalis , Friedrich Schlegel and Franz von Baader .
In the 19th century, magical organizations such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn were formed with culturally significant figures such as William Butler Yeats and Algernon Blackwood as members. A well-known pioneer of modern occultism in the 19th century was z. B. also Eliphas Levi .
At the beginning of the 20th century, magic experienced a renaissance through the work of the magician Aleister Crowley , who was a member of the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis , founded in 1903 . Other well-known modern magicians include: B. Franz Bardon , Dion Fortune , Austin Osman Spare and Israel Regardie .
The trend towards esotericism and magic of the present was reinforced by subgroups of the US hippie movement as an alternative world model for pacifists after the Second World War. This is where the term New Age originated . Parts of the hippie culture took up disciplines such as astrology , parapsychology and occult practices such as tarot and pendulum .
With the alternative movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the magic movement received a new impetus. The last remnants of ethno cultures were discovered by beatniks , hippies and civilization weary, shamanism and drugs were tried out. Carlos Castaneda became a cult author. His controversial portrayals of his encounters with the Yaqui magician Don Juan, classified as fictional, and visionary and paranormal phenomena sparked fundamental discussions about rationality in the sciences and in Western culture. At that time, the ethnologist Hans Peter Duerr explained a "magical universe" of rites, traditions of thought, logics and notions of non-Western cultures, which were suitable for strongly criticizing Western scientific traditions with regard to unquestioned agreements and self-satisfied axioms. Irrationality is provocatively highlighted and rehabilitated in Duerr's studies and the requirements of the Enlightenment are questioned, magic serves as a vehicle and as access to so-called "wild thinking". Duerr's studies "Traumzeit" (1978) and "The Scientist and the Irrational" (1981) explain a theory of magic that is still current today and that moves programmatically "between civilization and wilderness".
Forms of western, modern magical-spiritual practices are mostly called paganism . The term paganism encompasses different systems and practices, from Wicca and neo-Druids to chaos magic and so-called high magic, which is also known as Western mysteries or ceremonial magic . Wicca is a modern nature religion that practices magical techniques. Other new religious movements or organizations in which magic, here often called magick , is practiced are e.g. B. Thelema , the Fraternitas Saturni and the Temple of Set . Although these groups have different mythologies and cosmologies, they share common characteristics. In particular, there is a general reference to the "other world", the realm of spirits, gods, angels, demons and similar beings with whom contact is made (cf. Celtic other world ). For the purpose of communication with this other world, changed states of consciousness are mostly sought and rituals are practiced. The otherworld is seen as the source of magical power and is considered holistic and co-existent with the normal reality of which it belongs. Magic is seen not only as purposeful, but as a transformative discipline that encompasses the individual and the cosmos. Magic is mostly understood as a form of a counterculture .
Although many traditions see themselves as "pagan", one can determine within the various groupings that most of them present themselves as opposition to Christianity or as strongly Christian-influenced magic in the form of esoteric interpretations of the same. Many approaches to contemporary magic refer to Hermetic Renaissance magic and the practices and beliefs of the Golden Dawn , more than indigenous forms. These assumptions are clarified e.g. E.g. through Dion Fortune , who developed an esoteric-Christian magic, and Aleister Crowley , who saw himself as strongly anti-Christian, against the biographical background of a strictly Christian youth. Some magical practices are directly shaped by Protestantism, which assumes a relationship between the individual and the deity, even if followers of paganism see this as antithetical to Christianity.
High magic could be defined in a mythical framework in such a way that the magician transforms his lower nature into his true identity. This represents a spiritual quest related to the Light and the Supreme Existence. Wholeness and union with the divine represent the goals of high magic. Here, a Judeo-Christian myth is based, according to which man is separated from the godhead and strives for reunification. The high magic of the Renaissance relates to a large extent to the use of heavenly powers and "energies", and this form of magic has been handed down to the present day.
There are major differences between high magic and the witch cults, but there are also fundamental similarities that underlie almost every form of contemporary magic. First, the ritual is common here, then the creation of a magical language as a symbolic system, which is used ritually and is seen as a means to obtain magical powers from the otherworld, and the magical will that is to be developed. You can also see that there is an emphasis on the physical. Practices of magic are mostly aimed at creating a sacred space or a sacred sphere that contrasts with the normal world. For this purpose, a special language is used, which is also considered a source of otherworldly power. By using a special language, the attempt is made to attain a changed state of consciousness and to enter the otherworld, in which communication and the "channeling" of mystical and magical powers should take place. The magical language is associated with these forces and magic can be interpreted as a linguistic system to explain, obtain and use magical and mystical powers.
Since the Renaissance, the magical will has been a central aspect of magic. The magical will represents the focus of the mind and feelings on a particular magical endeavor or goal. The magical will is intended to energize the imagination and embodies the power of the magician. The microcosm is understood as a body of its own, into which the power and energy of the macrocosm flows and is directed towards a specific magical goal through active imagination. The power or energy should be channeled into the form of the magician. An important and common ritual of high magic, the Abramelin ritual , is an expression of these assumptions. The aim of this eighteen month ritual is to meet the 'holy guardian angel ' who is considered a higher self. In this ritual the magician tries to use the forces of evil in order to animate the good and thereby achieve the transcendence of evil. After the magician has met his holy guardian angel, who represents the principle of enlightenment , grace and splendor of the soul, he continues to practice the evocation of good and evil forces in order to submit them to his transcendent will and thus also all of nature. The good and bad forces are seen as unconscious forces or spirits, as personal neuroses or complexes. The holy powers of good and evil are supposed to serve to purify the self. In this sense, the practice of rituals consists of the goal of personal transformation, the source of magical identity, which is intended to give meaning and direction to the magician's life and is understood as a spiritual awakening.
Areas in which magic or magical thinking have taken hold are, for example, neuro-linguistic programming ( NLP ) and positive thinking , certain psychotherapeutic practices, neo-shamanism , channeling , the Kabbalah , tarot and contact with angels . Many religious rites also suggest their origin from magical thinking. C. G. Jung sees his psychology in close relation to magical traditions and calls "magical" just another word for "psychic".
White and black magic
With white magic a charitable benefit for individuals or groups to be achieved, to effect only with the orientation, good and healing in the world in general and his neighbor over in particular. The white magic practices include, in the popular sense, defense and protection magic, healing magic, fertility magic , luck magic , fortune telling , weather magic.
Black magic describes the attempt to cause damage using magic. Examples are damage spells and curses.
Instructions on the practices of white and black magic were handed down orally and often also passed on in writing, as the rich tradition of magic books , which goes back to antiquity, shows (see also list of magical writings ).
Magic in cultural anthropology
Magic and religion
Georg Luck (1926–2013) did not find a modern definition that clearly defined the difference between religion and magic. According to Konrad Theodor Preuss , religion developed out of magic. For James Frazer , religion is an attempt to reconcile personal powers because magic has failed. Religion and magic - as RR Marett sees it - “have developed from common roots in very different directions. [...] In reality, these extremes never existed, only transitional forms. "
Of anthropologists and sociologists of religion as Bronislaw Malinowski and Max Weber , the difference between religion and magic practices was often based on the distinction between expressive and practical functions. According to Malinowski, magic often serves as a means to specific goals in the event of problems for which the available technical possibilities are insufficient. In contrast, religion does not serve any concrete, practical goals, but has an expressive function. Malinowski also refers to Frazer's religious studies theory, according to which “primitive” human cultures harbor the idea that one can control nature through supernatural forces that can be influenced by human will and certain rites and spells; A developed religion, on the other hand, presupposes the understanding of the spiritual impotence of man and insofar does not dispute science in its field. Frazer's idea of the prescientific, instrumental function of magic was later criticized by Ludwig Wittgenstein , who ascribed both religion and magical practices an expressive function so that neither would compete with science.
Edward Evans-Pritchard, whose important work is based on research by Malinowski and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown , demonstrated in "Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande" (1937) that magic is to be regarded as part of religion and culture in general. Under the Azande of Africa, magic is understood as a normal part of society and nature and, together with oracles and witchcraft, forms a closed logical system.
Currently, based on anthropological studies of symbolism and cognition, it is believed that magic is not a separate, delimitable system because it contains a range of religious concepts and practices similar to the principles underlying religion. In addition, one can see in many different religions that the spheres of the practice of magic and religion cannot be separated.
Scientific approaches until the 1960s
Until the 1960s, research on the ethnology of religion with regard to the concept of magic was shaped by an evolutionist and ethnocentric view in which the Judeo-Christian religion was viewed as ideal. In this view, magic has been contrasted with religion and science.
In the social sciences, until the 1960s, two traditions can be seen with regard to judging magic. In the form of evolutionism , magic is viewed as an early developmentally and misleading preliminary stage of science. In the second tradition of judging magic, it is viewed as immoral and anti-social. The analysis of the life of those peoples who consider magic to be important is passed over. Magic is disparagingly compared to important institutions of Western culture such as religion and science. However, these Western assumptions of theoretical dichotomies such as magic / science and magic / religion do not correspond to the real circumstances and realities of the life of peoples who do not belong to Western culture.
In anthropology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the view was held that magic was distinguishable and demarcated from religion and science. An evolutionist view was held, according to which magic, religion and science develop linearly, in a linear progression of the human mind and cosmological ideas. Edward B. Tylor saw magic as the lowest level of culture. Frazer interpreted magic as a preliminary stage to religion and science, but considered the principles underlying magic to be scientific, while he saw in their representatives, the priests and magicians, opponents. He introduced the distinction between "sympathy magic" based on the law of similarity and "contact magic", which is based on the idea that a secret connection continues to exist between things or people who came into spatial connection.
Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert explain magic from a social perspective and perceive it as a social phenomenon that represents a technology that has similarities in its practical goals in relation to modern science and technology. Mauss generalized the concept of mana from the Polynesian cultural area and sees it as a mystical force that has parallels in all cultures. He assumes that this power was once a universal belief whose expressions were magic, the spiritual and the sacred.
Claude Lévi-Strauss criticized Mauss' theories 50 years later, because the latter, based on a culturally specific concept, defined magic in relation to this specific concept and then derived a universal concept of magic from these assumptions and ideas. According to Levi-Strauss, Mauss uses the Polynesian idea of mana to demonstrate general beliefs in magic, so that any form of magic is reduced to this specific idea of Polynesian mana.
Like Mauss, Émile Durkheim postulated that magic was antithetical to religion . Magic is individualistic and of little relevance with regard to the structural and moral purposes of societies and their understanding. According to Durkheim, magic is not to be understood evolutionistically as a preliminary stage of religion and science, but represents the appropriation of social methods of religion by an individual. These would then be used privately, primarily for healing and divination.
Bronislaw Malinowski has also presented detailed studies on magic in the Melanesian culture, which he studied intensively. For Malinowski, magic is not social, but individual. According to Malinowski, magic and religion both relate to the desire for control over nature and security. Likewise, both relate to the sacred, myths and taboos. Magic, however, should be understood as practical and endowed with specific goals, while religion is an end in itself. Magic can appear as good or bad, religion represents and relates to cultural values of the moral. According to Malinowski, magic is to be understood as complementary to practical and technical knowledge, so that it does not represent a 'primitive science' or is an aberration in the mixture of the supernatural and the natural. Rather, in the social context it is presented as a supplement to areas of everyday knowledge and action such as agriculture or fishing, in which it is also used. Malinowski concludes that the use of magic arises from a rational approach.
Critics accuse Malinowski of insisting that magic is the same everywhere and that he generalizes observations on specific cultures.
Newer scientific concepts of magic
Anthropologists like Victor Turner , Clifford Geertz and Marshall Sahlins question the Western paradigm of magic-religion-science and subject the magic of different cultures to a more differentiated and more sensitive approach.
Ethnographic studies come to the following assumptions: Magic consists of the attempt at an immediate human manipulation of the forces of nature. This attempt is based on at least five principles: natural forces, a mystical force, interconnecting relationships within the universe, the use of symbols and the principles of Frazer's sympathetic magic. There are six magical-religious practices: black and white magic, protective magic, divination, taboos, blessing and cursing.
Anthropological studies of symbolism and cognition show that magic and religion have many overlaps, magic contains religious concepts, and magical and religious practices are similar in many areas. Often magic and religion are presented as complementary and intertwined. Supernatural powers play a role in both. The idea of a supernatural or mystical power underlying all things, namely mana , is found in various cultures.
New magical concepts assume that all things and events in the past, present and future in the universe are related to each other. From the 1960s onwards, the meaning and purpose of magical and religious symbols, objects and amulets was widely studied in various cultures.
In early evolutionist interpretations, magic was viewed as primitive and atavistic . As it occurs in all cultures and historical epochs, however, it is an integral part of our culture. Magic refers to questions that are not asked and answered in science. Magic cannot be scientifically explained rationally.
Magic in different religions
Since magic is also viewed as a pure technique, it does not necessarily have to fulfill a religious function. However, the practice of magic in older cultures was often the task of the priestesses and priests, although there has always been a widespread “popular magic”. In western and monotheistic cultures, magic often moved away from religion. However, many practicing magicians consider themselves priests. Among practicing magicians, there is even the reading that religions that refer to a founding figure who has been proven to have died and invoke him, i.e. evoked and invoked, are nothing more than necromancer cults ( necromancy , spiritualism ).
Christian magic and also pagan-religiously oriented magic, Wicca (witchcraft) and Germanic neo-paganism work primarily with the thesis "It is my will, if it is your (God, universe, different gods) will". In this magic, the magician is a supplicant who has the interests of his fellow human beings in mind and often wants to function as a healer.
Magic in South Asian Religions
In the religious history of South Asia, the written tradition of magic goes back to the time of the Veda , which is the oldest text corpus. In South Asia magic presents itself as a tradition of manipulating cosmic forces. The respective goals, methods and social conditions vary. The Veda is already filled with magical ideas and teachings. A world view appears in the Veda in which all phenomena are related to one another. This relates to living beings and substances, qualities, forces, symbols, processes, the symbolized, etc. There are no fundamental distinctions between these elements. The Vedic rituals try to use these connections systematically, especially the mantra , the sacred word that is used ceremonially, is considered the key to hidden realities that are to be manipulated by this mantra.
With regard to the Vedic religion, a distinction between magic and religion is hardly possible. A distinction is made here between private magic and cultic magic. Rituals relate to the life processes of the universe that are sustained by the ritual, to the forces of the invisible with which good relationships must be maintained, and to the general well-being of people, which depends on the safeguarding of the cosmic order. In Vedic ceremonies one finds both a religious impetus of the encounter with the gods and a magical context of manipulation. In the use of mantras for certain worldly goals and purposes, however, the magical aspect predominates.
In the post-Vedic culture different forms of the magic of Atharvaveda were distinguished: Atharvana means magic which is aimed at the common good and the appeasement of evil influences. Angirasah, on the other hand, means a magic that is directed directly against harmful persons and powers.
In later Hinduism, the supernatural powers refer to the supreme deity, often Shiva ; in popular Buddhism , Buddha is considered the one who has supernatural powers. Although magic and religion are very intertwined in the South Asian post-Vedic religions, they are also very different from those who practice them. A distinction is also made between good and harmful magic.
A word that corresponds directly to the Western concept of magic does not exist in Indian culture. However, there are different terms associated with magic. The Maya concept corresponds most closely to the Western concept of magic.
Mantravada (doctrine of the mantra) denotes a magical ritualism that is laid down in Sanskrit scriptures and vernacular scripts to a large extent. In these writings a terminology of the classification of magical acts appears. Basically, Shanti, protective rituals, are distinguished from Abhicara, attacking rituals, and there are six groups of magical acts.
In the tantras , a tradition of non-Vedic esoteric religion, these magical methods are explained in detail. In Jainism , in Buddhism, in the Indian folk religion and religions of South Asian indigenous peoples as well as in Indonesia there are influences of magical tantrism.
Magic in East Asian Religions
In China, magic and mantic appear in everyday life and in a religious context, especially in Chinese Buddhism , Daoism and Chinese folk religion . In Korea and Japan, indigenous people have been intertwined with Chinese magical ideas and practices.
In China, purposeful magic using gestures, talismans, amulets and spells is differentiated from occult practices such as geomancy , Chinese alchemy , divination ( Yijing ) and astrology . From the 5th century onwards, magic was practiced in China, especially in tantric Buddhism, using formulas, mantras, mudras and mandalas .
Daoism is a religion whose practices can to a large extent be called magical. This applies e.g. B. for the Daoist ritual , certain forms of Daoist meditation or special practices such as that of Fulu .
In Korea a magical form of shamanism was practiced called Mu-Sok . In Japanese Shintoism there were female shamans, the miko , who acted as a medium. The Kannushi, on the other hand, had more priestly functions. They led the worship of the spirits and became priests of the state cult. Shintoism blended heavily with Tantric Buddhism, resulting in syncretistic magic in Japan. Buddhist ascetics in particular were ascribed magical abilities.
Magic in African Religions
In Africa , the spiritual world is part of everyday life in most societies, there is often a pantheistic worldview in which the natural world and people in otherwise very different cultures are connected with a strong magical power that is seen as manipulable, both for positive ones as well as for negative purposes.
The supernatural, magical power is viewed in different societies as part of the invisible power of nature in the entire cosmos or as the power of the ancestral spirits or the creative spirit . Black magic is practiced in Africa to produce harmful and anti-social effects. Misfortune and harm are often viewed in popular superstition as being caused by black magic. Practices of African magic are e.g. B. certain magical words, the use of medicinal agents, and the use of oracles to determine witchcraft, misfortune, and disease.
The Voodoo religion is practiced by 90% of the population in Haiti and is often seen as magical. The main practices of voodoo consist of necromancy and obsession with them, ancestor worship , drum music, song and dance, or trance dance .
Magic in pre-Christian, northern European religions
It is difficult to make statements about magical-religious forms of belief in the pre-Christian, northern European cultures of the Teutons and Vikings . Historians and archaeologists assume that there was not one form of these religions or magical ideas, but a wide range of different beliefs and practices. In general, all Germanic tribes had prophetesses, some of whom were also viewed as divine. Divination was also widespread, first in the form of symbols on wooden sticks called sigils , later as wooden sticks with runes on them.
The Vikings believed that heroes could magically work curses and heal through their poetry. They were believed to be inspired by Odin , a one-eyed god who was worshiped as the god of magic, poetry and wisdom.
The Anglo-Saxons had their own expression for the magical networking of all existence. Wyrd means prophetic power, power and fate and in the sense has an omnipotence of fate, which causes the world.
Magic in the Bible
There are many Hebrew lexemes relating to magic appearing in the Old Testament . However, magic is widely viewed as negative. It is forbidden by the Jewish God in Israel, used by evildoers whom God will destroy, along with magic itself. Against God's advice, the magic of strange peoples is powerless. Only snake charms as a magical practice seem to have been tolerable. However, there was not only forbidden magic, but also magical practices of everyday life that were considered legitimate. Magical aspects of the Israelite religion are, for example, cleansing rites for houses and shrines. Numerous practices that are viewed as magical by modern ethnology were part of the everyday life of the Israelites, but magic in the narrower sense was only ascribed to “godless” and strangers.
In the New Testament magic and mantic are not ethically affirmed, but a worldview is recognizable, which presupposes a self-evident possibility to achieve effects through magical powers and magical powers can have a fundamental effect on something. The magic promises occult "life enhancement" and omnipotence fantasies, which are directed against experiences of powerlessness. In the NT, magic and religion can be distinguished by their socio-cultural location, but not by their motivation. In the narrower sense, however, magic in the NT means religiously illegitimate empowerment. Like Judaism, theology is based on magic in the NT, including divination as a popular practice. However, some of Jesus' healings appear to be immediately close to magical practices, such as B. Healing with saliva and the laying on of hands. Jesus' opponents attributed his healings to demonic powers and illegitimate dealings with them, although the image of Jesus in socio-cultural terms did not correspond to that of the magician. In some passages of the NT, Jesus is considered possessed and in covenant with the devil . Later rabbinical sources and Celsus further elaborated on these allegations.
As an exorcism, Jesus' name was used magically early on.
Curse miracles and real power carriers such as shadows or sweat towels are close to magic. Announced events are introduced by prophetic symbolic acts that can be considered magical. In scenes of magical competitions ( Simon Magus ), the central theme is the competition between a Christian mission and magic.
Pagan rituals are placed close to magic, since the pagan gods are generally viewed as demons, but this is not reflected further in the NT. The ancient magic present historically is hardly mentioned in the NT. It is only with Marcus the Gnostic and the Elkesaiten that technical occultism emerges. However, the NT contains elements of speculative demonology and angelology and ideas of occult forces. Flowing boundaries can be seen between the ascetic preparations for revelation and the magic of revelation.
From a theological point of view, in the NT, the overcoming of demonic power and magical bonds through Christ emerges as the main idea with regard to magic.
Magic in Judaism
In the time of Jewish antiquity, there were many different magical ideas and practices. For example, exorcistic texts are preserved in the writings from Qumran . From 4.–6./7. From the 19th century, magic bowls and amulets are known from the Sasanian period, which were used as protection, to ward off demons and to heal. These bowls and amulets represent incantations and prayers of exorcism, in which a differentiated demonology, invocations of God, angels, magical names of God and so-called barbaric names are central. Other magical practices that probably existed have not been passed down in direct written evidence; they can only be deduced indirectly from magical texts, such as the Cairo Geniza .
In late Jewish antiquity, there is evidence of the custom of reciting psalms for magical purposes (Shimmush Tehillim). Magical handbooks such as the Sefer ha-Razim and the Harba de-Moshe perhaps lead back to older sources. In rabbinical literature there appear important representations of magical practices that are non-written. In relation to halakhic discussions on rabbinical and biblical penalties, magical practices appear in this , which are assigned to forbidden magic acts and not forbidden or punishable "eye illusions". Broad superstitious practices are called Amorite customs by the rabbis. They are not considered halakic if there is no suspicion of idolatry . There are also miracle stories in rabbinical literature about rabbis who are magically shaped. In the rabbinical tradition, in contrast to the Christian tradition, Solomon does not have a particularly prominent meaning. Strong magical elements appear in the early Merkabah mysticism , for example in the evocation of the prince of the brow (Sar ha-Panim) and the prince of the Torah (Sar ha-Tora), which are an important technical aid in this Jewish mysticism.
Middle Ages to modern times
In the Middle Ages, Jewish magic took two paths of development. More and more magical manuals were distributed, at the same time there was an increasing recourse to authorities, by whom the magical acts were to be confirmed and guaranteed. As a second development, large parts of the discussion were dominated by the fact that true magic was realized through spirits. Some editors of the Jewish Middle Ages spread that a text basically only had one author in order to clarify the origin, authority and the effectiveness of magical recipes. Pseudo-epigraphy has been widely attributed to famous people . There has been a terminological debate in some magical writings such as the Cairo Geniza about the precise identification of sorcerers. The Geniza assumes that both the magician and the "eye deceiver" had effects with magical powers. The only difference between the magician and the deceiver is that he performs prohibited actions, while the deceiver uses permitted actions. However, behind both stands the divine power. The Geniza assumes that the divine name has an effect even with unauthorized magic, since the name is effective, even in an impure state. Theologically it contains the conviction that only God exists as power, so that the power of magic also belongs to him. Other important elements of the Jewish reference to magic are the criticism of magical acts that arise from a rationalist exegesis (e.g. Maimonides ) and come from rabbinical circles who suspected the magic of idolatry, and a close connection between literature of mysticism and literature the magic. Mysticism and magic of Judaism show a close relationship, since both can theoretically be traced back to Platonic premises, in the sense of Neoplatonism , and also in the practical sense that magical acts appear as a condition and goal of mysticism. In modern times, Reform Judaism and also rationally determined Jews have distanced themselves from Orthodox Judaism, since it adheres to magic and mysticism. Magic and folklore of Judaism were initiated by orthodox circles and recorded anew. B. researched by Gershom Sholem and Max Grundwald.
Jewish motifs and elements can be found in the Greek magic papyri and amulets, which testify to a magical reception of them. However, Jewish magic also shows influences from pagan traditions. The ancient Christian and Mandaean magic has close parallels to the Jewish magic and the entire ancient Jewish magic was in close mutual relationship to its environment and has also crossed language barriers in this sense. B. Aramaic and Greek.
Magic in Islam
In Islam , magic and sorcery are referred to as Sihr (سحر / siḥr ) dealt with. In the Qur'an and hadith , they are often condemned as pagan practices. In some verses of the Koran, however, Sihr also appears as a remnant of heavenly wisdom that angels imparted to people. In Islam, Iblis is considered to be the devil who was expelled from paradise along with his entourage because he refused to prostrate himself before Adam. Since then, a distinction has been made in Islam between godly angels and rebellious devils . In Islamic mythology, the rebels try to alienate people from God through Sihr, while the godly angels try to lead people to God and to influence the human spirit through certain facts from the realm of nature. In sura 20 , 17, for example, the staff of Moses becomes a serpent, in sura 2 , 102 and sura 27 , 17 demons appear who are at the service of Solomon . Sihr himself was probably regarded by Mohammed as one of the most serious sins of mankind and according to the hadith a sorcerer ( sāḥir ) is to be sentenced to death. The Koran itself, on the other hand, only condemns those who allow themselves to be enchanted by the agents of the fallen angels. In Islamic law, magic is therefore tolerated if it does not cause harm. For this reason, a distinction is made in Islam between white and black magic, the latter is considered to be ruled by demonic powers, for example by invoking spirits and conjuring planets. The opinion of al-Ghazālī , who assumed that magic was based on knowledge of the properties of certain substances and astrological constellations, which were favorable, was decisive for the relationship between Islam and magic . As such, this knowledge should not be condemned, but it should not be used to harm people or cause evil.
The Iranian scholar Fachr ad-Dīn ar-Rāzī divided Sihr into eight different types:
- the magic of the Chaldeans , based on star interpretation
- psychic magic based on the influence of the soul on the body
- Magic by earth spirits, d. H. through the jinn
- Juggling , which occurs through the deception of the senses, especially the eyes
- miraculous works that carried equipment and machines are produced
- Exploiting the effects of drugs
- Seduction of hearts by claiming that one knows the greatest name of God or that one can command the jinn
- Blowing ears and sowing discord.
Practices of magic
The ethnopsychologist Holger Kalweit , born in Erfurt in 1947, wrote in Dreamtime and Inner Space : “For magic, everything is connected with everything, one replaces the other, the law of pars pro toto governs, and consciousness has access, like a gigantic telephone switchboard all other levels of consciousness. In order to reach this level of experience, all mystical schools demand the temporary annihilation of "normal" consciousness and the abolition of rational thinking through mental techniques. Emptiness of consciousness allows an alternative way of existence to break through, provides access to the level of existence of transpersonal experience. "
The "magical techniques" ( Arnold Gehlen ) include altered states of consciousness . “Magical work” is mostly carried out in trance states or in meditative states that transcend personal identification . Some techniques of magic are mainly to be understood psychologically, serve the exploration and control of one's own inner being as well as the awareness of unconscious structures in order to develop the self . Thereby the reality is to be shaped according to one's own will.
In particular, magic makes use of various psycho-spiritual techniques, but has so far not provided any evidence that it has a real external effect, and thus represents a more cultural or social phenomenon based on metaphysical assumptions and beliefs . In the natural sciences, the alleged modes of action are accordingly mostly referred to as illusion or referred to the realm of autosuggestion and psychology.
Magical techniques and practices are, for example ritual magic and ceremonial , Nature Magic , protective magic counterspell , heals , sigil , neoshamanism , planet magic , mental magic , working with atavisms , acceptance of godforms, invocation and evocation , sexual magic , Astral magic ( visualization , imagination , astral projection and body experiences ), Fortune telling , training of the will and training of the mind through mental techniques, trance training , concentration , meditation , energy and breathing exercises ( pranayama ).
An early element of magical practices were letters and incomprehensible magic words. This includes in particular the magic of the name. It is about a communication between the magician and the divine. The magical success of this communication is based on the idea that there is an essential relationship between the name and the bearer of the name. Whoever knows the name of a demon or god also rules that demon or god. Hence, it is important to hit the right name. The tendency towards the darkened and dark word corresponds to the principles of the word magic. The mysterious power of magic formulas lies precisely in their incomprehensibility. The most powerful writing magic in antiquity was the alphabet series. There were also contractions, in the alphabet ΑΩ, in the nomina sacra the first and last letter, the anagram , palindromes and glossolic vowel and consonant series. The inscriptions on the Nordic gold bracteates offer rich material for this .
Modern western magic often does not work with systems and practices that are limited to this cultural area, but also includes symbols and systems from other cultures, in particular elements from Indian yoga and Jewish Kabbalah are incorporated and modified.
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- Christoph Daxelmüller: Magic practices. The history of ideas in magic. Düsseldorf 2005, pp. 218-219.
- Christoph Daxelmüller: Magic practices. The history of ideas in magic. Düsseldorf 2005, p. 220.
- Christoph Daxelmüller: Magic practices. The history of ideas in magic. Düsseldorf 2005, pp. 219-220.
- Christoph Daxelmüller: Magic practices. The history of ideas in magic. Düsseldorf 2005, pp. 220-221.
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- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 98.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 96.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 98, p. 100.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books, New York 2011, pp. 96 and 98.
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- Hans Dieter Betz (ed.): Religion in past and present. 4th edition. Volume 5. Tübingen 2002, p. 672.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 169.
- Klaus H. Kiefer (Ed.): Cagliostro. Enlightenment and occult documents. Beck, Munich 1991, 740 pp.
- Relevant literature list from this time in: Andreas Huettl, P.-R. King: Satan - Disciples, Hunters and Justice. Kreuzfeuer Verlag, 2006, p. 131 f.
- Susan Greenwood: Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld. To Anthropology. Oxford (et al.), Berg 2000, p. 1.
- Susan Greenwood: Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld. To Anthropology. Oxford (et al.), Berg 2000, p. 4 f.
- Susan Greenwood: Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld. To Anthropology. Oxford (et al.), Berg 2000, p. 6.
- Susan Greenwood: Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld. To Anthropology. Oxford (et al.), Berg 2000, pp. 35 f.
- Susan Greenwood: Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld. To Anthropology. Oxford (et al.), Berg 2000, p. 37.
- Jolande Jacobi : The psychology of C. G. Jung. P. 271.
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- Luck Georg: Magic and other secret teachings in antiquity. Kröner 1990, p. 5 f.
- Graham Cunningham, Religion and Magic: Approaches and Theories . Edinburgh University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-7486-1013-8 , p. 29.
- Graham Cunningham, Religion and Magic: Approaches and Theories . Edinburgh University Press, 1999, p. 30.
- Malinowski: Magic, Science And Religion And Other Essays 1948. p. 2.
- Brian R. Clack: Wittgenstein, Frazer and Religion . Palgrave Macmillan, 1998, ISBN 0-312-21642-4 , p. 31.
- The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 25: Macropædia, knowledge in depth. Chicago, Ill. Et al. 1988, p. 92.
- David Levinson, Melvin Ember: Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. Volume 3. New York 1996, p. 723.
- Mircea Eliade: The Encyclopedia of Religion. Volume 9. New York 1987, p. 110.
- Christoph Daxelmüller: Magic practices. The history of ideas in magic. Düsseldorf 2005, p. 52.
- David Levinson, Melvin Ember: Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. Volume 3. New York 1996, p. 721.
- David Levinson, Melvin Ember: Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. Volume 3. New York 1996, pp. 721 f.
- David Levinson, Melvin Ember: Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. Volume 3. New York 1996, p. 722.
- David Levinson, Melvin Ember: Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. Volume 3. New York 1996, p. 724.
- David Levinson, Melvin Ember: Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. Volume 3. New York 1996, p. 726.
- Mircea Eliade: The Encyclopedia of Religion. Volume 9. New York 1987, p. 109.
- Mircea Eliade: The Encyclopedia of Religion. Volume 9. New York 1987, p. 113.
- Mircea Eliade: The Encyclopedia of Religion. Volume 9. New York 1987, p. 114.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books, 2011, p. 42 f.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 45 f.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 44 ff.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 46 ff.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 24.
- Susan Greenwood: The Illustrated History of Magic and Witchcraft. Lorenz Books 2011, p. 25.
- Hans Dieter Betz: Religion in the past and present. 4th edition. Volume 5. Tübingen 2002, p. 678.
- Hans Dieter Betz (Ed.): Religion in past and present. 4th edition. Volume 5. Tübingen 2002, p. 669.
- Hans Dieter Betz (ed.): Religion in past and present. 4th edition. Volume 5. Tübingen 2002, p. 676.
- Hans Dieter Betz (ed.): Religion in past and present. 4th edition. Volume 5. Tübingen 2002, p. 677.
- Hans Dieter Betz (ed.): Religion in past and present. 4th edition. Volume 5. Tübingen 2002, p. 677.
- Hans Dieter Betz (ed.): Religion in past and present. 4th edition. Volume 5. Tübingen 2002, p. 678.
- Hans Dieter Betz (ed.): Religion in past and present. 4th edition. Volume 5. Tübingen 2002, p. 678.
- Cf. Duncan Black Macdonald : Art. Siḥr in First Encyclopaedia of Islam Brill, Leiden 1913-1936, Vol. IV, pp. 409-417. Here p. 414b.
- Holger Kalweit: Dream time and inner space. Scherz Verlag, Bern / Munich / Vienna 2000, p. 8.
- Theodor Hopfner: Greek-Egyptian magic of revelation. 2 volumes. Haessel Verlag, Leipzig 1921/1924, Volume I §§ 706, 759 ff. (Reprint: Hakkert, Amsterdam 1983/1990, ISBN 90-256-0716-0 )
- Iamblichos (4th century) wrote in De Mysteriis that the meaningless words and names have a meaning that only the gods can understand. The very fact that the names remain inaccessible and incomprehensible to the human mind makes them more sublime, holier and more venerable than we weak people could grasp them. Quoted from Hopfner, Volume I, § 718.
- Klaus Düwel: For the evaluation of the bracteate inscriptions. Knowledge of runes and runic inscriptions as characteristics of the upper classes. In: Karl Hauck (ed.): The historical horizon of the billy gods amulets from the transition period from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1992, ISBN 3-525-82587-0 , p. 37 f.