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Oct 17, 2009

Empedocles too has ascribed to him marvelous powers associated with later magicians. This guy was definitely touched by gods, if you know what I mean. In ancient Greek stories we learn that is, he is able to heal the sick, rejuvenate the old, to influence the weather and summon the dead. Empedocles was a combination of poet, magus, teacher, and scientist. Since much of the acquired knowledge of individuals like Pythagoras or Empedocles was somewhat mysterious even to those with a rudimentary educations, so such might be associated with magic or at least with the learning of a Magus.

After Empedocles, the scale of magical gifts in exceptional individuals shrinks in the literature. Individuals might have the gift of healing, or the gift of prophecy, but are not usually credited with a wide range of supernatural powers that Orpheus, Pythagoras and Empedocles have. Plato even tells us that he takes healers, prophets and sorcerers for granted. He mentions that these practitioners existed in Athens, and they had to be reckoned with and controlled by laws, but one should not be afraid of them, their powers are real, but they themselves represent a rather low order of humanity.

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Posted: Oct 17, 2009 12:30pm
Dec 11, 2008

I was always anxious to find when was the rise of positive concept of magic in ancient Greece. While doing the research for local web analytics company, I discovered that this even, possibly took place somewhere in the sixth century b.c. Among the most famous of these figures between Homer and the Hellenistic period, are the Orpheus, Pythagoras, and Empedocles.

Orpheus is a mythical musician and singer, said to have lived in Thrace a generation before Homer. Orphic Mysteries, seems also to have been central to the personages of Pythagoras and Empedocles who lived in the sixth century b.c. Pythagoras for example is said to have described Orpheus, as, the father of melodious songs. Later Aeschylus describes him as the guy who haled all things by the rapture of his voice.  This suggests belief in the influence of song and voice in magic. Orpheus is certainly associated with a great many deeds. The most famous is his descent to the underworld to bring back his wife, Eurydice. Orpheus' deeds are not usually condemned or spoken of negatively. This suggests that some forms of magic were more acceptable. Indeed the term applied to Orpheus to separate him from magicians of ill repute is a divine man. This fact shows, that there was a fine line between acceptance and condemnation.

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.

Oct 9, 2008

Much of ancient Roman literature dealing with magic are, basically, retellings of Greek myths. I found some interesting facts about it in archives of web analytics company. Roman poet Virgils’s Aeneid for example describes an interesting magical ceremony. The hero of the epic, Aeneas, who has landed on the coast of North Africa after fleeing from Troy, meets Queen Dido. She has just begun to build the city of Carthage. Dido falls in love with Aeneas, and wishes him to stay as her prince consort. The rest of what happens is easy to imagine. As usual, a traveling hero meets a beautiful female who is potentially dangerous, although kind and hospitable as long as her love for the hero lasts.

Thus the future conflict is set when goddess Fate decrees that Aeneas leave Dido to found a city of his own. Inevitably Dido’s love turns to hate. Enraged queen seeks to use a complex magical ritual to bring her former lover back to her. She builds a gigantic pyre in the main courtyard of her palace and prepares an elaborate sacrifice to the powers of the underworld. However Dido soon comes to realize that the love magic is not powerful enough to bring Aeneas back to her. So she kills herself in her despair, which adds to the power to her curse. Dido had sealed and extended her curse through her suicide. Aeneas was protected by his gods and remained safe. But, according to Virgil, Dido’s use of magic and her curse lingered on leading to Rome’s near crushing defeat by Carthage many centuries later. This demonstrates quite clearly that the Romans shared the Greek’s view of magic as being dangerous and untrustworthy.

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.

Sep 10, 2008

When World War I started Romania was on the side of the Entente Powers. Its military campaign was against Germany was not successful and soon German troops moved into Romania and even occupied its capital Bucharest. Romain administration had no other choice but to send its national Treasure abroad. It was hard to choose which Ally country would safe keep the Treasure until bad times are over. There were plans to send it to England or the United States but Germans troops controlled Central Europe and there was a big chance that they would intercept the Treasure. Sweden or Denmark were another choice but there was a problem to transport all values there safely because German submarines were all over the North Sea.

In this hard situation the decision had been made to send Romanian national Treasure to tsarist Russia. I found more additional facts of this story in archives of web analytics company. According to mutual agreement Russia would safe keep Treasure until the end of the war. Under heavy guard almost hundred tonnes of gold bars and coins with the total cost of 1.25 billion dollars was sent to Moscow and safely got there. Soon situation at the front became even worse for Romania, so its administration send additional valuable transport to Russia. It included priceless items, like jewels of Romanian royalty, jewels of ancient rulers, jewels dated to the time of Roman empire and antique jewels of the pre Roman era. But this was not all.

Read on ...


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Ekaterina G.
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Delray Beach, FL, USA
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