Page:EB1911 - Volume 17.djvu/323

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308
MAGIC


by the law of sympathy, without the intervention of any volition, human or otherwise; thus, the crow which carries stray hairs away to weave them into the structure of its nest is nowhere supposed to be engaged in a magical process; but it is commonly held that the person whose hair is thus used will suffer from headache or other maladies; this seems to indicate that the law of sympathy operates mechanically in certain directions, though the belief may also be explained as a secondary growth. In general the operation of these laws is limited in the extreme. For example, the medieval doctrine known as the Law of Signatures asserted that the effects of remedies were correlated to their external qualities; bear's grease is good for baldness, because the bear is a hairy animal. But the transference was held to terminate with the acquisition by the man of this single quality; in some magical books powdered mummy is recommended as a means of prolonging life, but it is simply the age of the remedy which is to benefit the patient; the magician who removes a patient's pains or diseases does not transfer them to himself; the child whose parents eat forbidden foods is held to be affected by their transgression, while they themselves come off unharmed. The magical effects are limited by exclusive attention and abstraction; and this is true not only of the kind of effect produced but also as to the direction in which it is held to be produced. The Magic of N ames.-F or primitive peoples the name is as much a part of the person as a limb; consequently the magical use of names is in some of its aspects assimilable to the 'processes dependent on the law of sympathy. In some cases the name must be withheld from any one who is likely to make a wrong use of it, and in some parts of the world people have secret names which are never used. Elsewhere the name must not be told by the bearer of it, but any other person may communicate it without giving an opening for the magical use of it. Not only human beings but also spirits can be coerced by the use of their names; hence the names of the dead are forbidden, lest the mention of them act as an evocation, unintentional though it be. Even among more advanced nations it has been the practice to conceal the real name of supreme gods; we may probably explain this as due to the fear that an enemy might by the use of them turn the gods away from those to whom they originally belonged. For the same reason ancient Rome had a secret name. Magical Rites.-The magic of names leads us up to the magic of the spoken word in general. The spell or incantation and the magical act together make up the rite. (a) The manual acts are very frequently symbolic or sympathetic in their nature; sometimes they are mere reversals of a religious rite; such is the marching against the sun (known as 'widdershins or deisul); sometimes they are purificatory; and magic has its sacrifices just as much as religion. (b) There are many types of oral rites; some of the most curious consist in simply reciting the effect intended to be produced, describing the manual act, or, especially in Europe, telling a mythical narrative in which Christ or the apcstles figure, and in which they are represented as producing a similar effect to the one desired; in other cases the “ origin " of the disease or maleficent being is recited. Oral rites, which are termed spells or incantations, correspond in many cases to the oral rites of religion; they, like the manual rites, are a heterogeneous mass and hardly lend themselves to classification. Some formulae may be termed sympathetic; it sufhces to name the result to be produced in order to produce it; but often an incantation is employed, not to produce a result directly, but to coerce a god or other being and compel him to fulfil the magician's will. The language of the incantations often differs from that of daily life; it may be a survival of archaic forms or may be a special creation for magical purposes. In many languages the word used to express the idea of magic means an act, a deed; and it may be assumed that few if any magical ceremonies consist of formulae only; on the other hand, it is certain that no manual act in magic stands absolutely alone without oral rite; if there is no spoken formula, there is at least an unspoken thought. It is in many cases difficult to discover the relative proportions and importance of manual and oral acts. Not only the words but also the tone are of importance in magic; in fact, the tone may be the more important. Rhythm and repetition are no less necessary in oral than in manual acts. (C) As preliminaries, more seldom as necessary sequels to the central feature of the rite, manual or oral, we usually find a certain number of accessory observances prescribed, which find their parallel in the sacrificial ritual. For example, it is laid down at what time of year, at what period of the month or week, at what hour of the day a rite must be performed; the waxing or waning of the moon must be noted; and certain days must be avoided altogether. Similarly, certain places may be prescribed for the performance of the ritual; often the altar of the god serves magical purposes also; but elsewhere it is precisely the impure sites which are devoted to magical operations -the cemeteries and the cross roads. The instruments of magic are in like manner often the remains of a sacrifice, or otherwise consecrated by religion; sometimes, especially when they belong to the animal or vegetable world, they must be sought at certain seasons, May Day, St George's Day, Midsummer Day, &c. The magician and his client must undergo rites of preparation, and the exit may be marked by similar ceremonies.

Magicians.-Most peoples know the professional worker of magic, or what is regarded as magic. (a) In most if not all societies magic, or certain sorts of it, may be performed by any one, so far as we can see, who has mastered the necessary ritual; in other cases the magician is a specialist who owes his position to an accident of birth (seventh son of a seventh son); to simple inheritance (families of magicians in modern India, rain-makers in New Caledonia); to revelation from the gods or the spirits of the dead (Malays), showing itself in the phenomena of possession; or to initiation by other magicians. (b) From a psychical point of view it may probably be said that the initiation of a magician corresponds to the “ development " of the modern spiritualistic medium; that is to say, that it resolves itself into exercises and rites which have for their object the creation or evolution of a secondary personality. From this point of view it is important to notice that certain things are forbidden to magicians under pain of loss of their powers; thus, hot tea is taboo to the Arunta medicine man; and if this seems unlikely to cause the secondary personality to disappear, it must be remembered that to the physiological effects, if any, must be added the effects of suggestion. Of this duplication of personality various explanations are given; in Siberia the soul of the shaman is said to wander into the other world, and this is a widely spread theory; where the magician is supposed to remain on earth, his soul is again believed to wander, but there is an alternative explanation which gives him two or more bodies. Here we reach a point at which the familiar makes its appearance; this is at times a secondary form of the magician, but more often is a sort of life index or animal helper (see LYCANTHROPY); in fact, the magician's power is sometimes held to depend on the presence-that is, the independence-of his animal auxiliary. Concurrent with this theory is the view that the magician must first enter into a trance before the animal makes its appearance, and this makes ita double of the magician, or, from the psychological point of view, a phase of secondary personality. (C) In many parts of the world magical powers are associated with the membership of secret societies, and elsewhere the magicians form a sort of corporation; in Siberia, for example, they are held to be united by a certain tie of kinship; where this is not the case, they are believed, as in Africa at the present day or in medieval Europe, to hold assemblies, so-called witches' Sabbaths; in Europe the meetings of heretics seem to be responsible for the prominence of the idea if not for its origin (see WITCHCRAFT). The magician is often regarded as possessed (see POSSESSION) either by an animal or by a human or super-human spirit. The relations of priest and magician are for various reasons complex; where the initiation of the magician is regarded as the work of the gods, the magician is for obvious reasons likely to develop into a priest, but he may at the same time remain a magician; where a religion has been superseded, the priests of the old cult are, for those who supersede them, one and all magicians; in the medieval church, priests were regarded as especially exposed to the assaults of demons, and were consequently often charged with working magic. The great magicians who are gods rather than men-e. g. kings of Fire and Water in Cambodia-enjoy a reverence and receive a cult which separates them from the common herd, and assimilates them to priests rather than to magicians. The function of the so-called magician is often said to be beneficent; in Africa the witch-doctor's business is to counteract evil magic; in Australia the magician has to protect his own tribe against the assaults of hostile magicians of other tribes; and in Europe “ white magic " is the correlative of this beneficent power; but it may be questioned how far the beneficent virtue is regarded as magical outside Europe.

Talisman.: and Amulets.-Inanimate objects as well as living beings are credited with stores of, magical force; when they are regarded as bringing good, i.e. are positive in their action, they may be termed “ talismans ”; “ amulets " are protective or negative in their action, and their function is to avert evil; a single object may serve both purposes. Broadly speaking, the fetish, whose “ magical ” properties are due to association with a spirit, tends to become a talisman or amulet. The “ medicine " of the Red Indian, originally carried as means of union between him and his manito, is perhaps the prototype of many European charms. In other cases it is some specific quality of the object or animal which is desired; the boar's tusk is worn on the Papuan Gulf as a means of imparting courage to the wearer; the Lukungen Indians of Vancouver Island rub the ashes of wasps on the faces of their warriors, in order that they may be pugnacious. Some Bechuanas wear a ferret as a charm, in the belief that it will make them difficult to kill, the animal being ver tenacious of life. Among amulets may be mentioned horns anciycrescents, eyes or their representations, and grotesque figures, all of which are supposed to be powerful against the Evil Eye (gan).