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Ancient European Religions

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Magic has always been a living reality as a serious means of commanding success in any critical human undertaking. In contrast to the Demonists (operating through Spirits) and Religious (through the Priesthood and the cult) forms, Naturalistic Magic consists in the direct control by humans of the hidden forces of Nature. Religions of Nature combine this with Religion's reliance upon the propitiation (appeasing) of these forces and other higher powers. European Magic is a type of belief or a piece of a human's intellectual apparatus + involvement of the Supernatural needed to turn aside the normal operating of the forces of the external world + an art in which theory and dogma at every step are translated into action for practical purposes. The Elements of Magic include: (1) The Spell, with magical powers in the formula believed to have been handed down from Legends of the miraculous deeds of Ancestors and made effective by citing their names in Charms and Spells as part of the formula (and without variation). (2) Rite, a set of actions needed to convey the Spell to the object which it is desired to affect. (3) Condition of the Performer--avoiding taboos, certain foods, etc. Religions of Nature are those forms of Magic intended to work for constructive and destructive purposes. Most of those working either way contain elements of both magic and religion. Amulets, Talismans, Fetishes, Totems, Necromancy, and Taboos are all elements of both magic and religion. Depending upon the agreement or disagreement of a given magician, all Magic actions are able to influence Spirits, ghosts of the dead, demons, or gods by certain Rites, or at least that certain imagined powers in an object respond to certain actions.

In ancient cultures, some Magicians specialized in the Supernatural by engaging in Divination--"Seers" or Fortune-tellers'--those attempting to discover future events by extraordinary or Supernatural means. To Divine has reference to the ancient Soothsayers’ arts (as in Gen. xliv, 5, 15) and refers rather to instinct or intuition than to reading the future. Divination includes Telepathy (ESP affecting another); Clairvoyance (seeing objects far away and hidden); and Precognition (acquiring information about the future). Natural Magic (Sorcery, Juju use of roots, herbs, animal substance, etc.) and Ceremonial Magic require Words of Power and Symbols because of an intimacy with Imagination. Conjuring produces illusions involving the Supernatural. Foreign Magic found its way into Greek civilization. Here, all sorts of Prophecy, Astrology, Invocation of the gods, Psychomancy (a form of divination involving communication with the spirits of the dead), and Anthropomancy (a method of divination using the entrails of dead or dying men or women, often virgin female children, through sacrifice) were in constant use. In ancient Greece and Rome the Supernatural included prodigies, portents, apparitions (ghost) of the dead, miraculous occurrences, intrusion of demonic agencies into normal affairs, and eclipses. The Greeks conceived of the world as full of spirits, of malefic characters in operation at all times, everywhere. The use of spells was a regular technique in Greek medical practice. Wounds were healed with incantations. Thessaly was the ancient home of Witchcraft. Spirits constituted, not subjective projections, but objective reality.

Medieval authors spoke of a universal Magnetic fluid by which living Beings influence one another, much in the same way that they supposed the Planets influence plants, animals, and humans--adding that many respond to mere touch (because of a supposed magnetic fluid in the body), magnets, or the use of some simple means of appealing to the imagination. In the Middle Ages the Supernatural was the idea that finally turned Europeans' world into something like a wasteland, a land where people were living inauthentic lives, never doing a thing they truly wanted to because the Supernatural laws required them to live as directed by their clergy. This was because of the European Bible's story of the Fall in the Garden causing believers to see Nature as corrupt--a myth which corrupted the whole world because every spontaneous act was thereafter deemed sinful and must not be yielded to. In a wasteland, people are fulfilling purposes that are not properly theirs but have been put upon them as inescapable laws. The C12 troubadour poetry of courtly love was a protest against this Supernatural justified violation of life's enjoyment in truth.


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