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Nov 14, 2008

For most magic acts or rituals there existed counter-magic. it. Amulets were one of the most common protections used in the Greco-Roman world as protection against such fearful things as curses and the evil eye; which were seen as very real by most of its inhabitants. Amulets were often made of cheap materials, but precious stones were believed to have special efficacy. Many discovered thousands of carved gems clearly had a magical rather than an ornamental function. Amulets were a very widespread type of magic, because of the fear of other types of magic such as curses being used against oneself. Thus amulets were actually often a mixture of various formulas from Babylonian, Egyptian, and Greek elements that were worn by those of most affiliations so as to protect against other forms of magic. It is interesting to note that amulets are actually often abbreviated forms of the formulas found in the magical papyri.

Magical tools were thus very common in magical rituals. They were just as important as the spells and incantations that were repeated for each magical ritual. Direct evidence of this - a magician’s kit, probably dating from the third century CE, was discovered in the remains of the ancient city of Pergamon in Asia Minor. The find consisted of a bronze table and base covered with symbols, a dish, a large bronze nail with letters inscribed on its flat sides, two bronze rings, and three black polished stones inscribed with the names of supernatural powers. What emerges then, from this evidence, is the conclusion that a type of permanence and universality of magic had developed in the the Hellenistic period if not earlier. Most scientists agree that although many testimonies about magic are relatively late, the practices they reveal are much older.

Nov 14, 2008

A magical ritual done in the right way can guarantee the revealing of dreams and of course the rather useful talent of interpreting them correctly. In other cases certain spells allow one to send out a daemon or daemons to harm one’s enemies or even to break up someone’s marriage. There seems to be a self-defining negativity to some of the magical rituals being expressed in the papyri. So, for example, love magic can turn into hate magic if the victim does not respond to the love magic.

The same negative aspect to magic is found in various “curse tablets”, left to us from the Greco-Roman world. While doing my research in library of web analytics company I found something else. It was also possible to curse an enemy through a spoken word, either in his presence or behind his back. But due to numbers of curse tablets that have been found it would seem that this type of magic was considered more effective. The process involved writing the victim’s name on a thin sheet of lead along with varying magical formulas or symbols, then burying the tablet in or near a tomb, a place of execution, or a battlefield, to give spirits of the dead power over the victim. Sometimes the curse tablets were even transfixed with various items – such as nails, which were believed to add magical potency.

Nov 14, 2008

Seneca’s nephew Lucan in his work surpassed his uncle in portraying the horrors and powers of witchcraft. In his play, just before the decisive battle of Pharsalus, in which Julius Caesar defeats the forces of Pompey, the two armies are moving through Thessaly, the country of witchcraft in Lucan’s work. Here one of Pompey’s sons consults a famous witch called Erictho about the outcome of the future battle. In archives of web analytics company I found something else.

Erictho is the most powerful of witches, and because she is so powerful she is presented as being quite loathsome and disgusting. Such are her powers that she can even compel some of the lesser gods to serve her and even cause them to shudder at her spells. As exaggerated as these plays are they demonstrate knowledge of magical practices found in the Greek magical texts. These works also shows that Roman audience must have easily understood the concept of magic in a negative sense but also in the sense of being a practice aimed at influencing or controlling the forces of the cosmos, even the gods themselves.

Oct 9, 2008

I was always interested in the ancient belief in magic from the perspective of history. It was always amazing to learn how different cultures tried to attach to natural phenomenon supernatural powers. After all, magic, sometimes also known as sorcery, was formed as the whole conceptual system that asserted human ability to control the natural world, including events, objects, people, and physical phenomena, through mystical, paranormal or supernatural means. The term can also refer to the practices employed by a person asserting this influence, and to beliefs that explain various events and phenomena in such terms. Even today, as well as in the past, in many cultures, magic is under pressure from, and in competition with, scientific and religious conceptual systems. As a web analyst I had to go through so many Internet documents to understand how ancients view magic. I learned many things about magic when I was doing a new salvo of researches for my web analytics company.

So, let's start with the land of magic, India. All in all, it has been often stated that India is a land of magic, both supernatural and mundane. Hinduism is one of the few religions that has sacred texts like the Vedas that discuss both white and black magic. There are Vedas  that deals with mantras that can be used for both good and bad. The word mantrik in India literally means "magician" since the mantrik usually knows mantras, spells, and curses which can be used for or against forms of magic. Many ascetics after long periods of penance and meditation are alleged to attain a state where they may utilize supernatural powers. However, many say that they choose not to use them and instead focus on transcending beyond physical power into the realm of spirituality. Many wizards, called siddhars are said to have performed miracles that would ordinarily be impossible to perform.


 

 
 
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Ekaterina G.
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Delray Beach, FL, USA
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