1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Magic

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MAGIC[1] (i.e. “art magic”; Lat. ars magica), the general term for the practice and power of wonder-working, as depending on the employment of supposed supernatural agencies. Etymologically the Gr. μαγεία meant the science and religion of the magi, or priests of Zoroaster, as known among the Greeks; in this sense it was opposed to γοητεία (? necromancy) and φαρμακεία (the use of drugs); but this distinction was not universally recognized, and γοητεία is often used as a synonym of μαγεία. There is no general agreement as to the proper definition of “magic,” which depends on the view taken of “religion.”

I.—Nature of Magic

Theories of Magic
Definition of Magic
Magico-religious Force
Origin of Magic
Magic and Demonology
Magic and Science
Magic and Divination

II.—Laws and Ritual of Magic

The practice of magic involves the belief in the operation of certain laws, and demands certain conditions. The number of positive rites is not unlimited; a certain rite tends to become stable and is finally used for all sorts of purposes; and each magician tends to specialize in this respect. Just as there are well-marked schools of magic, and the rain-maker is not the same as the fetish-man, so within the school there are various groups, differentiated not by the purposes at which they aim nor by the powers they claim to possess, but by the ceremonies which they practise. Chief among the laws lying at the base of magical practice is that of sympathy.

The Magic of Names
Magical Rites
Talismans and Amulets
Evil Magic
Negative Magic
History of Magic
Psychology of Magic

Bibliography.—For a general discussion of magic with a list of selected works see Hubert and Mauss in Année sociologique, vii. 1–146; also A. Lehmann, Aberglaube und Zauberei; the article “Religion” in La Grande encyclopédie; K. T. Preuss in Globus, vols. 86, 87; Mauss, L’Origine des pouvoirs magiques, and Hubert, La Réprésentation du temps (Reports of École pratique des hautes études, Paris). For general bibliographies see Hauck, Realencyklopädie, s.v. “Magie”; A. C. Haddon, Magic and Fetishism. J. G. T. Graesse’s Bibliotheca magica is an exhaustive list of early works dealing with magic and superstition. For Australia see Spencer and Gillen’s works, and A. W. Howitt, Native Tribes. For America see Reports of Bureau of Ethnology, vii. xvii. For India see W. Caland, Altindisches Zauber-ritual; and W. Crooke, Popular Religion; also V. Henry, La Magie. For the Malays see W. W. Skeat, Malay Magic. For Babylonia and Assyria see L. W. King’s works. For magic in Greece and Rome see Daremberg and Saglio, s.v. “Magia,” “Amuletum,” &c. For medieval magic see A. Maury, La Magie. For illustrations of magic see J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough; E. S. Hartland, Legend of Perseus; E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture; W. G. Black, Folkmedicine. For negative magic see the works of Frazer and Skeat cited above; also Journ. Anthrop. Inst. xxxvi. 92–103; Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (Verhandlungen) (1905), 153–162; Bulletin trimestriel de l’académie malgache, iii. 105–159. See also bibliography to Taboo and Witchcraft.  (N. W. T.) 

  1. For what is often called “magic,” but is really trick-performance, see Conjuring.