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Greek amulet against enemies: IVth-Vth centuries. Similarities with Hebrew, Arabic and Chinese magical notations are striking {See pp. 24 and ijj]

Greek amulet against enemies: IVth-Vth centuries. Similarities with Hebrew, Arabic and Chinese magical notations are striking {See pp. 24 and ijj]

At the instigation of the Church many such places were ploughed up in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Tradition had it that storms and ill-luck would follow such disturbance, and it is reported that ploughing had to be stopped through frightful storms and blizzards which overcame the ploughmen. As a result these places are known today as the 'devil's own' land.

The international fraternity—or conspiracy—of magic is perhaps as significant in its general principles as in specific rites. While, for example, it is generally conceded that magic in one form or another may be practised by most people, yet there have always been those whose particular province it was. Forming a kind of initiated priesthood, secrecy is the general rule. A modern occultist cult sums up this almost primordial urge for secrecy in one of its dicta: "Knowledge is Power; Knowledge shared is Power lost". Following the principles of secrecy and initiation, other important common features are magical words and special ceremonial dress. Rituals, with few exceptions, involve some form of sacrifice, actual or implied, and the use of symbolism, Magical words—words of power—are uttered; mystical movements are made; special apparatus, in the form of weapons and talismans, are extensively employed. Next in significance come the preparation of spells and charms, generally with animal, vegetable and mineral contents, in that order of prominence.

While a belief in supernatural beings is very general in all forms of magic, nevertheless many maintain that the actual names and rites, the very paraphernalia of magic in action, carry special powers, capable of producing supernatural results. The Wand, for instance, is potent because of its consecration: not necessarily because it conjures up a spirit to perform an action.

The objects of magic are known to most people: certainly to those who have studied the subject to any extent. Rituals, too, are contained in many works, written by 'adepts' or commented upon by their opponents. I have already mentioned the possible historical and ethnological importance of a study of the roots of occult practices. There will still remain a number of people who are not interested in culture-drift but want to know 'Is there anything in magic?' The answer to this is that there very possibly is a good deal 'in magic'. What it is, however, and where it might lead, is for researchers to show.

What was there 'in' alchemy? For one thing, there was modern chemistry; though what is left in it is not for me to say. Hypnosis, now not only an accepted fact but a very valuable technique, comes direct from magic. As to what there is 'in' modern spiritualism, the descendant of Mongolian shamanism, again, I cannot say. One thing, however, is certain: that magic as it stands, in the mere repetition of the rituals which are available to general readers, is of very little value to anyone. According to Hindu occultists, as is described in these pages, many forms of magic, and hence certain well-documented so-called miracles, are accounted for by the existence of an undiscovered force ('akasa), which seems to have some connection with magnetism. Arab-Islamic writers, too (who gave the world modern science), suspected the presence of this force. If it is there, it is up to experimenters to find it.

Man is a 'symbol-inventing animal'. This fact has led anthropologists to conclude that the strange similarity between arcane rites in communities without apparent mutual social intercourse is coincidental. Man, they argue, is limited in his very definition. His range of experiences, his hopes and fears, desires and hates, are very little varied, wherever you may go. Does this not mean that he should come to similar conclusions about supernatural subjects, independently of what is called inspiration or occult communication?

The scope of this work is not to seek to prove that all magic has its root in some single, original revelation. It is doubtful, indeed, whether such a contention could ever be proved. But, buried in Eastern folklore, in untranslated manuscripts and legend, in magical books by Eastern writers, there is a vast amount of information which sheds considerable light on the origins of much of the magic which flourished in Europe up to the beginning of the nineteenth century (10).

Diffusion of cross and circle symbol in magical usage: (i) Character from the Seal of Solomon. (z) Seal of the Spirit Ose, according to the Grand Grimoire. (3) Arabic exorcism formula ('La Haw!'). (4) Chinese character with constellations, from 'felicity' talisman. (5) 'Seal of Decarabia', from the Grand Grimoire [See p. 24]

The actual practice of magic is still carried on, in Europe and Asia alike. How widespread this is it is not my object to investigate. At the same time, it is very widely conceded that the study of magic is of considerable historical, cultural and ethnological interest.

Magic is a part of human history. It has sometimes played a decisive part, as in the case of Moses at the court of Pharaoh. More often it has been of less, though still great, importance. In either case it cannot be ignored.

Very many characteristics of magic as contained in Western grimoires have been traced by such authorities as Sir Wallis Budge to Eastern, and particularly Mediterranean, sources. The magical circle, from which refuge the magician may summon spirits, has been traced to Assyria, and is important in nearly every ritualistic operation of this nature in the Far East. Knowing the names of spirits, and the possession of magic words, familiar even to juvenile readers of fairy tales, is equally, if not more, widespread and highly regarded. The 'Words of Power' (i i) by which the Jinn were summoned by Solomon, formed an important part of ancient Egyptian teaching.

The diffusion of the wax-image type of curse is as wide as almost any other spell. It is still in use today; as I have myself seen. An early instance is preserved in an incantation from Assurbanipal's bilingual tablet, originating in the Accadian, and probably derived from the rites of Mongoloid tribes from Central Asia. This tablet, from the royal palace at Nineveh, contains twenty-eight spells, and even in 700 b.c. was considered to perpetuate extremely ancient rites. Part of it runs as follows:

He who forges images, he who bewitches, The malevolent aspect, the evil eye, The malevolent mouth, the evil tongue, The malevolent lip, the finest sorcery, Spirits of the heavens, conjure itl Spirit of the earth, conjure itl

All these interdicted items are still standard constituents of magical processes.

Magic shares with religion more characteristics than most people have cared to discuss. The inevitable clash, based on the supposition that like repels like, is most marked in the organized campaigns against sorcery carried out by such bodies as the Inquisitional tribunals of Spain. Either due to this, or because the Church insisted that magicians were servants of the Devil, magic in Europe took on a characteristic of evil which is not so marked elsewhere. Christian theologians took the stand that propitiation of any spirit meant an automatic reduction in the belief that should be reserved for God alone. From this thesis, and certain Biblical references, it was taken for granted that magic meant devil-worship. In this general attitude, Catholicism followed Rabbinical precedent in relation to the growth of magical activities among the Jews.

The second great instrument which—consciously or otherwise— stimulated the study of magic in the West was the Catholic Church.

Compelled, by references in the Old and New Testaments, to acknowledge the reaUty of supernatural phenomena, including the power of witches and sorcerers, Roman Catholic theologians took up a stand against witchcraft ("Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live", Ex. xxii, 18) which caused the subject to be considered as one worthy of investigation, if not study. This attitude towards occult sciences continues in that Church in a form very little altered from that which obtained at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia (12), witchcraft definitely exists, the fact being droved by the Bible.

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