Leek, Sybil. Diary of a Witch. New York: NAL Signet Library, 1968.
Summers, Montague. The History of Witchcraft and Demonol-ogy. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd., 1926.
Macumba The Brazilian form of Vodun and santería, or the worship of the ancient African gods through spirit possession and magic. There is no "Macumba" religion; the word is an umbrella term for the two principal forms of African spirit worship in Brazil: Candomblé and Umbanda. Macumba sometimes refers to black magic, but that is more properly called Quimbanda.
Black slaves transported to Brazil by the Portuguese in the 1550s found their tribal religion had much in common with the spiritual practices of Indian tribes along the Amazon River. Forced to syncretize the worship of their gods, or orishas, into the veneration of Catholic saints to escape persecution, the blacks continued to follow the old ways and rituals in secret. By the time the slaves won their independence in 1888, more than 15 generations of Brazilians—black, white and Indian—had heard the stories of the orishas and how their magical intervention had snared a lover, saved a marriage or a sick baby or eliminated a wicked enemy. Today, some members of all classes and races in Brazil believe in some sort of ancient spiritual communion with the gods while professing Catholicism in public.
Candomblé. Candomblé most closely resembles the ancient Yoruban religions, as does Santería, and retains the Yoruban names of the orishas. Spellings are Portuguese, not Spanish, so Changó becomes Xango, Yemaya is Yeman-ja or lemanja, Oggun becomes Ogun and Olorun is Olorum. Figures of Catholic saints represent the orishas, although Jesus Christ, also known as Oxala, is venerated as a saint on his own.
The term Candomblé probably derives from candombé, a celebration and dance held by the slaves on the coffee plantations. The first Candomblé center was organized in 1830 in Salvador, the old capital city of Brazil and now the capital of the state of Bahia, by three former slaves who became the cult's high priestesses. The slave women inherited the formerly all-male ceremonial duties when the men were forced to spend their time in slave field labor. The women also served as mistresses to the white Portuguese and claimed that the exercise of their magical rites helped maintain their sexual skill and prowess. These "Mothers of the Saints" trained other women, called "Daughters of the Saints," ensuring that the men were excluded from major responsibilities. Even today, the men perform political rather than spiritual roles.
Candomblé ceremonies follow much the same pattern as those for Santería and Vodun, with invocations to the gods, PRAYERS, offerings and possession of the faithful by the gods. Afro-Brazilian traditions stress the importance of healing the spirit, and devotees of Candomblé believe the moment of greatest spiritual healing occurs when a person becomes one with his orisha during initiation into the cult. Such possession is often intense, requiring constant aid from the other worshipers. The priest may beg the orisha to treat the initiate gently, offering a pigeon or other SACRIFICE to the orisha in return for his or her mercy. The stronger the orisha—gods like Xango or Ogun are considered the strongest—the more violent the possession.
Instead of asking LEGBA or Elegguá to let the spirits in, followers of Candomblé call on the Exus, primal forces of all nature who act as divine tricksters and messengers to the gods. Connections exist between Elegguá/Legba and Exus, however; some of Elegguá's manifestations in Santería are called Eshus. They are the gods of mischief, the unexpected and life and death, as well as messengers to the other orishas.
One of the major celebrations to the orisha Yemanja, "goddess of the waters," takes place every January 1. Bra zilian television broadcasts the event in Rio de Janeiro live to the entire country, although smaller ceremonies occur in other coastal and river towns and cities. More than one million celebrants, dressed in white, wade into the ocean at dusk. A priestess, or mao de santo (mother of the saint), lights CANDLEs and then purifies and ordains other young priestesses. As the sun sinks behind the mountains, celebrants decorate a small wooden boat with candles, flowers and figurines of the saints. Sometimes doves sail on the boat as well. At midnight, the boat is pushed from shore, and all watch eagerly as the craft bobs in the waves. If the boat sinks, the orisha Yemanja (believed to be the Virgin Mary) has heard her children's prayers and accepts their offering, promising her support and guidance for another year.
Umbanda. Umbanda was not founded until 1904 and has its roots in Hinduism and Buddhism in addition to African tribal religions. The teachings of Spiritism—that communication with discarnate spirits is not only possible but necessary for spiritual healing and acceptance of one's earlier incarnations—also plays a large part in the practices of Umbanda.
The term umbanda probably derives from aum-gandha, a Sanskrit description of the divine principle. Umbanda incorporates not only worship of the Catholic saints but the beliefs of the Brazilian Indians. The orishas go by their Catholic names and personae, and Umbandistas do not call on the gods directly, fearing their intense power. Instead, spirits of divine ancestors act as intermediaries on the worshipers' behalf.
Although followers of Candomble and Umbanda approach their faiths quite differently, researchers Alberto Villoldo and Stanley Krippner found they share three beliefs:
1. Humans have both a physical and spiritual body.
2. Discarnate entities constantly contact the physical world.
3. Humans can learn to contact and incorporate the spirits for the purposes of healing and spiritual evolution.
Like the devotees of Candomble, Umbandistas also call on the Exus to protect their temples and let the divine presences enter.
Communication with the spirits of Umbanda resembles very closely the practice of trance channeling. During ceremonies, the Fathers or Mothers of the Saints—ei-ther men or women can lead the congregation spiritually in Umbanda—become possessed with a spirit guide, usually of an Amerindian or African, or perhaps of a child who died quite young. The two most popular spirit mediums are the Old Black Man (Preto Velho) and Old Black Woman (Preta Velha), representing the wise old slaves who perished in toil and torture, taking their African wisdom with them into the spiritual world.
As with possession in Vodun and Santería, those receiving the spirits assume the characteristics of their possessors, performing medicine dances of the American Indians, smoking cigars and pipes (tobacco was sacred to the Indians) or bending over from advanced age and labor. Any worshiper can receive the spirits, with help from the priest-mediums. Umbandistas believe that healing of the physical body cannot be achieved without healing the spirit; opening the mind to the entrance of a spirit guide via ecstatic trance is essential to spiritual growth. Spirits enter the body through the head—this is true in Candomblé, Santería and Vodun—and are perceived by the physical body through the "third eye," located in the center of the forehead. Spirits never die but continue on an eternal journey through other worlds, sometimes reincarnating in another physical body. Um-bandistas believe the most enlightened spirits teach and heal through the mediums of Umbanda, and medium-ship forges a link with these highly evolved minds. Every time a medium receives a spirit guide for teaching and healing, the medium's mind and spirit are raised to another plane of consciousness.
Quimbanda. Umbandista mediums generally refer to "lower" or "mischievous" spirits, rather than "evil" ones, believing that all spirits evolve to higher consciousness. The misbehavers simply need education to set them on the right path.
But the practitioners of Quimbanda or Cuimbanda— black magic—find that evil spirits suit their purposes quite well. Here again the Exus serve, this time as the tricksters, the gods of witchcraft and sorcery. Equated by some with Lucifer himself, "King Exu" receives assistance from Beelzebub and Ashtaroth, known as Exu Mor and Exu of the Crossroads.
Exu of the Closed Paths inspires the most dread. To sicken or destroy an enemy, the Quimbandista prepares a RED satin cloth adorned with mystical symbols and takes it to a CROSSROADS; the magician places upon it four red-and-black crosses. (Red and black are the Exus' colors, as they are for Legba and Elegguá.) Accompanying the crosses are a COCK, plucked and stuffed with red pepper, and other devilish items. Then the Quimbandista lights 13 candles, intoning the name of the enemy and invoking the powers of darkness to do their work. If the Quim-bandista is successful, the unlucky victim will find "all paths closed" and will lose his job, become ill, lose his lover and family and eventually dye if not cured by the powers of the orishas.
King, Francis X. Witchcraft and Demonology. New York:
Exeter Books, 1987. Laugguth, A. J. Macumba: White and Black Magic in Brazil.
New York: Harper & Row, 1975. Villoldo, Alberto, and Stanley Krippner. Healing States. New
York: Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1987.
magic The ability or power to manifest by aligning inner forces with natural and supernatural forces. Inner forces are will, thought and imagination; natural forces are found in nature, such as the elements; and supernatural forces are spirits, deities and the Godhead.
Humankind's awareness of magic and efforts to use it to enhance life are ancient and universal and have been a part of all religious systems. The earliest evidence of magic dates from cave paintings of the Paleolithic Age, some of which suggest that magic RITUALS were employed to secure successful hunts. Magical systems and philosophies have developed around the world, and volumes of literature have been written on them. The discussion here will focus on the development of Western magic and its role in SORCERY and modern WITCHCRAFT and PAGANISM.
The word magic comes either from the Greek megus, which means "great" (as in "great" science), or from the Greek term magein, the science and religion of Zoroaster. Numerous definitions of magic have been offered by many who have practiced and studied it, yet magic eludes precise description. Though systems of magic exist—and some are quite complex—magic remains an
individualistic experience. Every person who practices magic sees it in a different way.
Magic, like science, works in conformance to the natural laws of the universe. The Goetia portion of the Lemegeton of King Solomon, a GRIMoiRE, said to be in existence since around 1500, defines magic as
. . . the Highest, most Absolute, and most Divine Knowledge of Natural Philosophy, advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult virtue of things; so that true Agents being applied to proper Patients, strange and admirable effects will thereby be produced. When magicians are profound and diligent searchers into Nature, they, because of their skill, know how to anticipate an effect, the which to the vulgar shall seem to be a miracle.
ALEisTER Crowley gave perhaps the most succinct modern definition of magic as "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity to the will" (Magick in Theory and Practice, 1929). Crowley further postulated that "any required Change may be effected by the application of the proper kind of degree of Force in the proper manner through the proper medium to the proper object." He said that "every intentional act is a Magical Act" and that if a magical act failed, it meant the performer had not fulfilled all the requirements for success.
Occultist Dion Fortune, whose novels have inspired RITuALs for many contemporary Pagans and Witches, defined magic as "the art and science of changing consciousness according to the Will."
P. E. I. Isaac Bonewits, in Real Magic (1971), defined magic in terms of energy, as
. . . a science and an art of comprising a system of concepts and methods for the build-up of human emotion, altering the electrochemical balance of the metabolism, using associational techniques and devices to concentrate and focus this emotional energy, thus modulating the energy broadcast by the human body, usually to affect other energy patterns, whether animate or inanimate, but occasionally to affect the personal energy patterns.
Thus magic, when properly performed, changes not only the environment but the magician as well.
Magic is variously described as white, black and gray, but actually it has no color to its character. Magic is neutral and amoral. It can be bent to good, evil or ambiguous purposes, depending on the intent of the practitioner. The distinction between "white" and "black" magic is modern, according to occultist A. E. Waite, and depends upon sharp contrasts between good and evil spirits. The distinctions were far more obscure in ancient times.
Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski stated that magic has three functions—to produce, protect and de-stroy—and has three elements—the spell or incantation; the rite or procedure; and the state of the practitioner, who usually undergoes a purification process that alters his state of consciousness (fasting, inhaling fumes, taking drugs, chanting, dancing, and so forth).
The simplest form of magic is mechanical soRCERY, in which a physical act is performed to achieve a result. For example, a waxen image is melted over a fire to make a victim die; BLooD is scattered over a field to ensure a bountiful harvest in the next growing season; knots are tied in a cord to store wind for a sea voyage. Such sorceries, or sPELLs, are performed while reciting magical incantations or CHARMs, to aid the effectiveness of the act. A higher form of sorcery involves petitioning the help of spirits or deities.
Sorcery, out of which grew witchcraft, forms the bulk of the folk magic practiced to affect matters of everyday life, such as ensuring that one's cows give milk, that the butter churns, that one's illness is cured or that one's home is protected from lightning and bewitchment.
James G. Frazer, in The Golden Bough (1890), said that all magic is based on the Law of Sympathy, which holds that all things are linked together by invisible bonds. Sometimes sorcery is called sympathetic magic. Frazer further divided sympathetic magic into two types. Homeopathic magic holds that like produces like: a melted waxen image causes death. Contagious magic holds that things once in contact can continue to exert influence on each other, even at a distance. For example, a wound can be magically cured by rubbing ointment on the sword that caused the wound.
These principles are called correspondences: everything in the universe responds to something that corresponds to it. The magician further understands that emotions, thoughts, beliefs, states of mind and the imagination create correspondences and can effect change. "Thoughts are things" and "thoughts create reality" are fundamental to mystical traditions.
Sorcery was practiced extensively in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Hebrews had magical systems that greatly influenced later magic in the West. In Egypt, the pharaohs were considered divine kings and were thought to possess innate magical abilities. There were two classes of magicians. The most esteemed were the trained priests, professional magicians who acted as substitutes for the pharaoh, who could not possibly perform all needed magical services. The second class were the lay magicians, the equivalent of folk magicians, healers and WIZARDs. From Egyptian magic came the concept of the power of sacred names, which influenced later European magic (see NAMEs of power).
The Greeks developed both a system and philosophies of magic, which were influenced by concepts imported from Egypt, the Middle East and the East. The Greeks envisioned magic as divided into two classes: high and low. High magic, which calls upon the aid of beneficent spirits, is akin to religion. It is called theurgy, from theourgia, or
"working things pertaining to the gods." Theurgic magic was practiced by the Neo-Platonists, adherents to a philosophical and religious system developed in Alexandria in the 3rd century C.E. that was based on a blend of the doctrines of Plato and other Greek philosophers, Oriental mysticism, Judaism and Christianity. Plato believed in a morally neutral natural magic.
Low magic in Greece, mageia (sorcery), had acquired an unsavory reputation for fraud by the fifth century B.C.E. Practitioners were not members of the priesthood but individuals who claimed to have magical powers and would help clients for fees. The lowest form of this magic is goeteia, which in the classical world was practiced by persons who cast spells, "howled" incantations and concocted philtres and potions.
The Romans used sorcery and counter-sorcery, especially curses, to defeat rivals and advance themselves politically and materially. Though sorcery was popular with the public, the private practice of it was greatly feared by those in authority, and harsh laws were passed against it. The Cornelian Law proclaimed, "Soothsayers, enchanters, and those who make use of sorcery for evil purposes; those who conjure up demons, who disrupt the elements, who employ waxen images destructively, shall be punished by death."
The Christian Church separated magic from religion as early as 364, when the Ecumenical Council of Laodicea issued a Thirty-sixth Canon forbidding clerks and priests from becoming magicians, enchanters, astrologers and mathematicians. In 525 the Fourth Canon of the Council of Oxia prohibited the consultation of sorcerers, augurs and diviners and outlawed DIVINATioN by wood or bread. In 613 the Council of Tours instructed priests to teach the public that magic to cure illness would not work. The church excommunicated diviners in 692 and renewed its prohibitions against divining in 721. Divining is not magic, because it attempts to interpret omens and understand the future, not influence it, but the proscriptions against diviners indicate the church's overall attitude toward magic, which had a great bearing on the prosecution of sorcerers and witches during the Inquisition. While the church discouraged the private practice of magic, it absorbed both theurgic and goetic magic elements and Christianized them in its own rites and ceremonies. The goetic magic of sorcerers and witches was said to be evil; witches supposedly derived their magical powers from pacts with the DEVIL (see Devil's pact).
From about the seventh century to the 17th century, alchemy was in its heyday. Alchemy is not a branch of magic, but many alchemists also were theurgic magicians. Alchemy is based on the HERMETICA and traces its roots to the ancient Egyptians, who, according to the Greeks, believed in the magical properties of metals and alloys and could separate gold and silver from their native matrices.
Alchemists pursued three basic objectives: the transmutation of base metals into gold and silver; the discovery
of the elixir of life, which would bestow immortality; and creation of the homunculus, an artificial man. The key to the transmutation and the elixir lay in the discovery of the Philosopher's Stone, an ambiguous material said to be either a stone, powder or liquid that was easy to obtain but recognized only by the initiated. The esoteric purpose of alchemy was mystical and concerned the spiritual regeneration of man.
From about the eighth to 16th centuries, various forms of magic emerged from a renewal of Neo-Platonism, plus Kabbalistic doctrines and Oriental doctrines brought back to Europe by the crusaders. Very little was transcendental. Medieval magic coalesced as a system in the 12th century in Europe. The Knights Templar, formed in 1118, developed a magical system learned from the Jo-hannites sect in Jerusalem. Other magicians of Europe were learned men, scholars, physicians and alchemists. Their magic consisted of intricate procedures involving dress, consecrated tools, magical symbols and, most importantly, sacred names of power, which, in incantations, summoned and banished various spirits. The unspeakable name of the Hebrew God, Yahweh, the Tetragram-maton, was the most potent name. The magician worked within a protective MAGIC CIRCLE.
Magicians were not troubled much by the church until the 13 th century, with the beginnings of the Inquisition. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Aristotelian philosophy gained favor over Platonic philosophy. Under Aristotelian thought, no natural magic exists: therefore, magic must be either divine or demonic.
By the 15th century, magicians—seen as competitors with the church—were harassed and hounded, though not to the same degree as sorcerers and witches, who were executed by the thousands for heresy.
Medieval magic reached a peak in the Renaissance in the 16th century under such figures as Agrippa von Nettesheim and paracelsus in Europe and John Dee and Robert Fludd in England. Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia dealt with divine names, natural magic and cosmology. Paracelsus stressed the Hermetic doctrine of "As above, so below," which holds that the microcosm of the earth reflects the macrocosm of the universe. Dee, with his partner, Edward Kelly, developed the system of Enochian magic, a language of calls for summoning spirits and traveling in the astral planes. Fludd, a Kabbalist, attempted to reconcile Neo-Platonic and Aristotelian philosophies and to relate Aristotelianism to the Kabbalah. He wrote in defense of the Kabbalah, magic and alchemy.
The 17th and 18th centuries witnessed a popularity of secret esoteric orders, such as the Freemasons and Rosi-crucians, whose rituals were based on the Hermetica, mystery schools, the Tarot, interpretations of the Kabbalah and astrology. Magical grimoires, containing detailed instructions for magical rites, circulated widely. The most important of these, still used today, is the Key of Solomon, whose authorship is attributed to the legendary King Solomon, said to be one of the greatest adepts of mystical wisdom.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, ceremonial magic, developed. Ceremonial magic is a complex art of dealing with spirits. It requires a rigorous discipline and has an intellectual appeal. In ceremonial magic, the magician derives power from God (the Judeo-Christian God) through the successful control of spirits, usually demons, which are believed easier to control that angels. Demons may be good, evil or neutral. In its highest sense, ceremonial magic is a transcendental experience that takes the magician into mystical realms and into communication with the Higher Self. It awakens the magician to the God within.
Magic enjoyed a great revival of interest at the beginning of the 19th century with the publication of Francis Barrett's The Magus in 1801; the book borrowed heavily from the works of Agrippa. The revival was greatly influenced by Eliphas Levi, whose explanation of how magic works, in Dogma and Ritual of High Magic (1856), had a lasting impact on the thinking of magicians. Levi described three laws of magic. The first law was that of will power, which Levi said was a tangible force, not an abstract concept. The success of magic depends upon the will summoned and directed by the magician. The ceremonial props of medieval magic—the tools, dress, symbols, etc.—had an express purpose, to facilitate the will. The second law was that of astral light, a substance or energy permeating the universe which the magician could access and use to effect changes at a distance. The third law was Lévi's interpretation of the Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below." Any force existing in the universe also existed in the soul of man. Magicians could invoke anything from the macrocosm into themselves and evoke anything from within their own souls into their magical triangle. Other factors contributing to the rise of ceremonial magic were Spiritualism and Theosophy, both of which brought public attention to communication with spirits and the dead.
Perhaps the greatest system of Western ceremonial magic was devised by the HERMETIC Order of THE Golden Dawn, an occult society founded in England by three Rosicrucians, in the late 19th century. The Golden Dawn expanded upon Levi's writings, adding a fourth law, that of the imagination, without which the will was ineffective.
The Golden Dawn influenced Crowley, said to be the greatest magician of the 20th century. Crowley used both Enochian Magic and Abra-Melin Magic in his explorations of the mystical realms, resulting in a popular interest in both systems that has continued into the present (see Abramelin the Mage).
Crowley's most significant contribution to magic is the Law of Thelema: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law," or do what you must and nothing else. In other words, know yourself and be true to yourself.
Another magical group that has influenced modern magic is the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), founded around the turn of the 20th century by a German, Karl Kellner, and devoted to sex magic derived from Tantra. Sexual energy is ritually aroused; practitioners identify with the gods and goddesses who personify the sexual principle. Crowley, an O.T.O. initiate, contributed to the rituals. Kellner served as head of its British affiliate and, from 1922 until his death in 1947, as head of the outer order of the organization. Following his death, the O.T.O. fractured. Lodges are in countries around the world.
Members of the Golden Dawn and O.T.O. exported their rituals to North America in the early part of the 20th century. Elements have been absorbed into some forms of contemporary Witchcraft and Paganism.
Components of magic rituals. To be effective, magic should be performed in an altered state of consciousness. Depending upon the practitioner and the type of ritual, the altered state may be a mild one of dissociation or one of trance possession. Sounds, gestures, colors, scents, visual images and symbols all contribute to attaining an altered state. This enables the magician to reach the astral planes, which are inhabited by various entities, and where magical work takes place.
The time for a ritual is set according to astrological auspices. The magician undergoes a rigorous and elaborate preparation, first by purifying his body with fasting and abstinence. He removes himself from distractions and prays, meditates and concentrates on the upcoming ritual. The purification process can last for days. Some magicians attempt to achieve an altered state of mind through food, drink, drugs or sex.
The magician bathes and dons his magical robe, a consecrated garment decorated with magical symbols sigils, words and names. He uses consecrated magical tools, which, ideally, he has made himself according to specific instructions, or purchased new. The principal tools are the wand, sword, knife or dagger, pentacle and chalice, but they can also include a sickle, lancet, hook, lamp, scourge, tripod, cross, spear, crook and other objects. He follows a procedure for drawing and purifying a magic circle. The magician burns incense, the formula of which is appropriate for the ritual. He also uses colors, such as colored CANDLES.
The incantations for invoking spirits are formulae including names of power, recited in a crescendo of intensity, with gesturing of the wand, until the magician directs his entire will and energy into the ritual.
The central part of the ritual is called the pathwork-ing, a complex meditation or visualization. The goal of pathworking is the apprehension of Truth, the uniting of the Self with the One. Popular tools for pathworking are the kabbalistic Tree of Life and the Tarot, the components of which represent archetypal and cosmic forces.
Some ceremonial magic rituals have the express purpose of summoning a particular spirit or deity.
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