Page:EB1911 - Volume 17.djvu/322

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307
MAGIC


seems to be a thing of gradual growth. (i) In the earlier stages there was probably no animistic feature about ma ic; it was essentially " the prohibited." (ii) Then with the rise ofganimistic beliefs and practices came the association of the magician with demons-the spirits of the dead, or of animals, or unattached spirits-upon whose co-operation the powers of the magician are often now held to depend. These spirits were not in the position of gods; such recognition, worship, or cult as they received was often not a social institution, but the work of individuals, liable to fall into desuetude at the death of the individual, if not earlier. (iii) Again, the magical tends to be the less important and eventually the less respectable; therefore ancient cults which are conquered, like the religion of Rome by Christianity, come to be reckoned as within the sphere of magic and witchcraft. (iv) All non-animistic practices tend to become ipso facto magical; many ritual prohibitions fall under the head of negative magic. Religion is predominantly animistic, and with the rise of gods magic and religion become antagonistic. Thus rites of a neutral character, such as leech craft, and perhaps agricultural ceremonies which are not absorbed by religion, tend to acquire the reputation of being magical, as also do all amulets and talismans, and, in fact, everything not directly associated with religion. We therefore arrive at a period when magic is distinguished as white, i.e. the laudable, or at least permitted form, and black, i.e. the prohibited form.

Magic and Demonology.-Primitive psychology tends to anthropomorphize and personify; it is in many of its stages inclined to an animistic philosophy. To this is due in part the difficulty of distinguishing magic from religion. In many rites there is no obvious indication that a spirit or personal being is concerned. A portion of the ceremonies in which the spirits of the dead are concerned falls under the head of religion (see ANCESIOR WORSHIP), but in the very name “ necromancy” (vexpos, corpse) lies an implication of magic; and dealings with the departed are viewed in this light in many parts of the world, sometimes concurrently with a cult of ancestors. Side by side with the human souls we find demons (see DEMONOLOGY); but on the whole only a small proportion of the world of spirits is recognized as powerful in magic; others, such as disease spirits, are objects, not sources, of magical influence. Magic is sometimes made to depend upon the activity of demons and spirits, and it is true that the magician usually if not invariably has a spirit helper, often an animal; but there is no evidence that magical power had ever been confined to those who are thus aided. It is not easy to define the relation of fetishism (q.v.) to magic. Magic and Science.-It is a commonplace that the sciences have developed from non-scientific beginnings; the root of astronomy is to be sought in astrology (q.'v.), of chemistry in alchemy (q.v.), of leech craft in the practices of the savage magician, who depends for much of his success on suggestion, conscious or unconscious, but also relies on a pharmacopoeia of no mean extent. The dynamical theory of magic and religion brings primitive man from one point of view far nearer to the modern man of science than was previously suspected, we may fairly say that the Australians have an idea not unlike that of the transformation and conservation of energy, that this energy they store in accumulators, transmit by means of conductors, and so on. The discovery of these complicated ideas only serves to show how far the present-day peoples in the lower stages of culture have travelled from the primitive man who knew neither magic nor religion. But it is perhaps less in respect of abstract ideas than by its concrete investigations into properties, experiment and otherwise that magic has been the forerunner of science. Magic and Divination.-Magic is an attempt to influence the course of events, divination (q.v.) to foresee them; but divination is frequently regarded as magical. It is certain that a large part of divination is religious, and the knowledge is explained as a message from the gods; but necromancy, the practice of discovering the future by consulting the dead, is in many respects essentially magical. Perhaps the magical character of divination may be in part explained, when we regard it as a group of practices in many varieties of which animism plays no part; for non-animistic ceremonies tend to be regarded as magical (cf. rain-making). Thus, heteroscopic divination seems to involve the idea of what may be termed a return current of magicoreligious force; the event is not influenced, but itself determines the issue of the diviner's experiment.

II.-LAWS AND RITUAL or 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. lust 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.

S ympathy.-That the law of sympathy is an essential element of magic is admitted equally by the associationist school and by its critics. Under the head of sympathy are embraced the laws of contiguity or contagion, of similarity or homoeopathy, and of contrariety or antipathy.

a. In its simplest form the law of contiguity asserts that whatever has once formed part of a body continues to form part of it or to represent it for magical purposes; thus, by obtaining possession of the parings of a person's nails, or the clippings of his hair, and by working magic upon them, it is held to be possible to produce on the actual human body the effects which are in reality produced on the object of the magical rite. As is clear by the well-known case of the “ life index, " the current of magical power may pass in either direction; if the life of a man is supposed to be bound up with the life of a tree, so that any injury to the tree reacts on the man, it is equally believed that the death of the man will not fail to be manifest by the state of the tree. In particular this sympathetic relation is predicated of wizards or witches and their animal familiars; it is then known by the name of “ repercussion." It is not only upon parts of the body that contagious magic can be worked; anything which has been in contact with the body, such as clothes, anything which has been in part assimilated by the body, such as the remains of food, and even representations of the body or of parts of it such as footprints, &c., may be used as objects of magical rites, in order to transmit to the human being some influence, maleficent or otherwise. The contact demanded may be actual, or mediate, for in Australia it suffices to connect the magician and his patient by a thread in order that the disease may be removed. (i) The use of clothes for magical purposes gives us perhaps the clue to the widespread custom of “ rag-trees "; in nearly every part of the world it is the practice to suspend wool or rags to trees associated with some spirit, or, in Christian countries, with some saint, in order to reap a benefit; similarly nails are driven into trees or images; pins are dropped into wells, stones are cast upon cairns, and missiles aimed at various holy objects; but it cannot be assumed that the same explanation lies at the root of the whole group of practices. (ii) This law may perhaps be taken as the explanation of the “ couvade "; in many parts of the world relatives, and in particular the father of a new-born child, are compelled to practise various abstinence's, in order that the health of the child may not be affected, members hi of the same family therefore establishes a sympathetic relation. (iiig In this direct transference of qualities if exemplified another magical process, which may also be referred to the operation of the law of sympathy; it is a world-wide belief that the assimilation of food involves the transference to the eater of the qualities, or of some of them, inherent in the source of the food; a South African warrior, for example, may not eat hedgehog, because the animal is held to be cowardly and the eater would himself become a coward; on the other hand, the flesh of lions is fit meat for brave men, because they at the same time transfer its courage to themselves. b. The law of homoeopathy takes two forms. (i) The magician may proceed on the assumption that like produces like; he may, for example, take an image of wax or wood, and subject it to heat or otheqinfluences under the belief that it represents the human being against whom his malelice is directed, and that without any contact, real or pretended; so that any results produced on the image, which may be replaced by an animal or a portion of one, are equally produced in the human being. There need not even be any resemblance between the representation and the person or thing represented; a pot may serve to represent a village; hence step by step we pass from the representation to the symbol. (ii) The law of homoeopathy also manifests itself in the formula similia similibus curantur; the Brahman in India treated dropsy with ablutions, not in order to add to, but to subtract from, the quantity of liquid in the patient's body. So, too, the yellow turmeric was held to be a specific for jaundice. c. Here we approach the third class of sympathetic rites; it is clear that a remedy produces the contrary, when it cures the like; conversely, like by producing like expels its contrary. Some statements of the law of sympathy suggest that it is absolute in its application. It is true that the current of magical power is sometimes held to be transmitted along lines indicated