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english  Religion and magic.

ARIOCH, 12.10.2003, 21:21
Original: english  Religion and magic. (PG), 11.10.2003, 17:13



What is religion and what is magic?
Why do people use all kinds of amulets or perform ritual dances etc?
Both give us something to believe in. Neither can be proved to exist.
Please share your views on this.


PG,

The practices of the enchanters, the wizards, the magicians, and the sorcerers, were derived from the superstitions of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the ancient Canaanites. Amulets and all sorts of incantations are futile either to win the protection of good spirits or to ward off supposed evil spirits.

Divination, sorcery, and witchcraft are superstitions of ignorant minds, as also are the delusions of magic. The belief in magic numbers, omens of good luck, and harbingers of bad luck, is pure and unfounded superstition.

Charms and relics are impotent to heal disease, ward off disaster, or influence evil spirits; the belief in all such material means of influencing the spiritual world is nothing but gross superstition.

The spirits of good or evil cannot dwell within material symbols of clay, wood, or metal; idols are nothing more than the material of which they are made.

The quest for miracles is a harking back to the primitive religions of magic.
Religion evolves favorably as the element of magic is replaced by the concept of morals.

But this early magic and mythology very effectively prepared the way for later and superior religion by assuming the existence and reality of supermaterial values and beings.

Magic has usually signified an attempt to manipulate reality without affecting the ego of the manipulator, the practitioner of magic.

Man evolved through the superstitions of mana, magic, nature worship, spirit fear, and animal worship to the various ceremonials whereby the religious attitude of the individual became the group reactions of the clan. And then these ceremonies became focalized and crystallized into tribal beliefs, and eventually these fears and faiths became personalized into gods. But in all of this religious evolution the moral element was never wholly absent. The impulse of the God within man was always potent. And these powerful influences -- one human and the other divine -- insured the survival of religion throughout the vicissitudes of the ages and that notwithstanding it was so often threatened with extinction by a thousand subversive tendencies and hostile antagonisms.

From magic and ghosts, religion evolved through spirits and fetishes to taboos.

Civilized man attacks the problems of a real environment through his science; savage man attempted to solve the real problems of an illusory ghost environment by magic. Magic was the technique of manipulating the conjectured spirit environment whose machinations endlessly explained the inexplicable; it was the art of obtaining voluntary spirit co-operation and of coercing involuntary spirit aid through the use of fetishes or other and more powerful spirits.

The object of magic, sorcery, and necromancy was twofold: To secure insight into the future. Favorably to influence environment.
The objects of science are identical with those of magic. Mankind is progressing from magic to science, not by meditation and reason, but rather through long experience, gradually and painfully. Man is gradually backing into the truth, beginning in error, progressing in error, and finally attaining the threshold of truth. Only with the arrival of the scientific method has he faced forward. But primitive man had to experiment or perish.

The fascination of early superstition was the mother of the later scientific curiosity. There was progressive dynamic emotion -- fear plus curiosity -- in these primitive superstitions; there was progressive driving power in the olden magic. These superstitions represented the emergence of the human desire to know and to control planetary environment.

Magic gained such a strong hold upon the savage because he could not grasp the concept of natural death. The later idea of original sin helped much to weaken the grip of magic on the race in that it accounted for natural death. It was at one time not at all uncommon for ten innocent persons to be put to death because of supposed responsibility for one natural death. This is one reason why ancient peoples did not increase faster, and it is still true of some African tribes. The accused individual usually confessed guilt, even when facing death.

Magic is natural to a savage. He believes that an enemy can actually be killed by practicing sorcery on his shingled hair or fingernail trimmings. The fatality of snake bites was attributed to the magic of the sorcerer. The difficulty in combating magic arises from the fact that fear can kill. Primitive peoples so feared magic that it did actually kill, and such results were sufficient to substantiate this erroneous belief. In case of failure there was always some plausible explanation; the cure for defective magic was more magic.