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Dec 11, 2008

More recent periods of renewed interest in magic occurred around the end of the 19th century, because Symbolism and other offshoots of Romanticism cultivated a renewed interest in exotic spiritualities. European colonialism, which put Westerners in contact with India and Egypt, reintroduced exotic beliefs to Europeans at this time. Hindu and Egyptian mythology frequently feature in nineteenth century magical texts.

The late 19th century gave birth to a large number of magical organizations, including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Theosophical Society, and specifically magical variants on Freemasonry. The Golden Dawn represented perhaps the peak of this wave of magic, attracting cultural celebrities like William Butler Yeats, Algernon Blackwood, and Arthur Machen.

Nov 14, 2008

I was interested in the development of magic rituals and traditions in Greco-Roman world. During my research in archives of web analytics company I found some interesting facts about it.

It seems, that a huge interest in magic was on the rise in the Hellenistic period, especially around 3d century b.c. Piles of texts, both literary and some from actual practitioners, in Greek and in Latin came to us from this time. Truly speaking, a lot of existing magical papyri was written in the first centuries after Christ, but the manuscripts’ concepts, formulas and rituals reflect the earlier Hellenistic period. These magical papyri are no doubt only a fraction of the magical literature available in antiquity. The ascendancy of orthodox Christianity by the 5th century CE had much to do with this. This is reflected by the book of Acts where the Apostle Paul convinces many Ephesians to bring out their magical books and burn them.

The language of the magical texts reflects various levels of literary skill. Generally they are standard Greek, and may well be closer to the spoken language of the time than to poetry or artistic prose left to us in literary texts. Many terms are borrowed from the mystery cults. The texts are often written as we might write a recipe. In other words the magic requires certain ingredients. Of course it is not just as simple as knowing how to put a recipe together. Appropriate gestures, at certain points in the magical ritual, are required to accompany the ingredients, different gestures it would seem produce various effects.

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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