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African Magic Overview

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The English word “Magic” derives from the Persian word “mag” (i.e. “a priest”) and “mag” probably originated in Africa for several reasons. One is the African “Three Wise Men” (called “Magi”) from 'the East' (Africa) attended the divine birth of Osiris thousands of years before Jesus (Walker, Woman’s Encyclopedia, p749). To control or resist unwanted Unseen powers in the assumed Supernatural realm, Primitive Africans engaged in Magical Thinking and Magical Practices in order to encourage the good Spirits and to soothe or defend against bad Spirits. This necessarily included crude ideas of Religion. Magic SEEMS to work because it will attempt to bring about naturally occurring events. In curing illness, including colds and fevers, 90% will eventually disappear naturally. Thus, most cures will SEEM to follow the ritual. Magic to bring rain at the end of the dry season or to make a garden grow is likely to work, but not to pass an examination or fly off a roof. Magic is clinged to because one remembers a rare success and forgets the other 99 failures.

Early Africans subdivided Magic into two major groups, but with many subtypes. Those Africans assumed to be especially good at influencing or controlling the Spirits were called “Ritual Specialists”--derogatorily termed "Witch Doctors" by the observing dumb Europeans having no clue of African Tradition's magnificence. First, Good Magic, carried out by “Ritual Specialists,” tried to produce beneficial results to certain people or things. Second, Evil efforts were to benefit those who prostituted their rudimentary occult powers, called "Sorcerers" while doing harm to victims. Both were renamed by 18th century racist Europeans as White Magic (which was said to be curative) and Black Magic (destruction) respectively--adding "Entertaining Natural Magic" (which was exciting). Black Magic is what most people think of when the term "Magic" is used. It concerns being in the hands of unofficial persons or those practicing it as a profession with malefic (evil) intentions. If it generates enough fear, it can cause illness or even death. "White" Magic is subdivided into that which is practiced for the benefit of others + the art of performing tricks and exhibiting illusions by aid of apparatus as well as with the performance of such automation figures as are actuated in a secret and mysterious manner. Other European names are: Celestial Magic--a supposed Supernatural power which gives Spirits a kind of dominion over the planets, and, to the planets, an influence over humans. Natural Magic is the art of applying natural causes to produce effects apparently Supernatural. Goetic (or Superstitious) Magic is the invocation of devils or demons involving the supposition of some tacit or expressed agreement between them and human beings.

Early Africans engaged in Super-Naturalism--beliefs in the mystic and magical potency of such things as unseen Spirits, the Moon and the Sun--and to fashion mutual communication they resorted to sacrifice, prayer, and magic. Metaphysics, though thought of as vague, lofty, and not down to Earth, is associated with establishing absolute principles and standards to serve as fundamental assumptions on which one bases ones life. Its intent was to have a kind of circuit of vital and mystic forces which met their needs and those of the gods. To this end, the typical African trait of intense curiosity caused them to continually search and discover new things that had a relationship to each other, regardless of the plane of existence it was on. This was called the Principle of Correspondence: “As above, so below; as below, so above”--meaning if one knows something on one plane of existence, that will enable one to know what other planes are about. This Principle embodies the Truth that there is always conformity between the laws and phenomena of the various existence planes of Being and Life. Thus, by understanding the known, African Sages could infer (by Deductive and Inductive reasoning) much that would otherwise be unknowable. This enabled, as if by magic, reasonably accurate Occult Predictions. Such Rational Predictions were based upon facts used to make estimations or an educated guess. They, when verbalized, are statements about an event not yet observed, detailing what will be found when it is observed. It presumes a considerable amount of factual knowledge relevant to the unobserved event and of the general principles of Nature that bear upon the issue at hand. Imposters were not tolerated.


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