Basics of Magic
The practice of magic is based on a root set of principles. These ideas govern how a magician views the world and attempts to influence it.
The most important of these is the importance of symbolism. Any magical action from the simplest spell to the most complex ritual depends on symbolism. This use comes in three major forms. The first are symbols used to represent the target of a spell. This group includes dolls, photographs, drawings and the like. The second form is symbols relating to what the magician is trying to achieve. These include: the use of colors, some insense, amd some music. The third group is symbols that represent power in more general terms. THis includes: swords, wands, staffs, circles, and cups.
Aside from symbolism, names are another extremely improtant concept in magic. Its believed that the act of naming some thing gives power over it. This is partly because names help us define the world. If some one wanted to tell another person about their childhood pet they could explain that it was four legged, covered in fur, had sharp teeth, was primarily a carnivore, and showed considerable loyalty or theey could simply tell the person they had a dog. Since most people ahve a common understanding of what the word dog means this instantly clarifies the subject under discussion.4 Coupled to this is also a belief that using the name of a supernatural being draws its attention, which is the origin of the old adage "speak of the devil and he will appear."
History of Magic
In Ancient Times
It's impossible to date the beginning of magical practice. Its extremely likely thatboth the neanderthals and cro magnons practiced it in some form. We know this both because of surviving cave paintings and items found in Neanderthal burial sites. Beyond that we know with greater certainty that early human tribes practiced magic.
The earliest written documentation comes from ancient Babylon and Summeria. Archeologists have found a number of texts from these societies laying out a complex system of magic for every thing from controlling the weather to expelling demons.
PRobably the most famous of the ancient magicians were the practicioners in Ancient Egypt. "The Book of the Coming Forth by Day," aka "The Egyptian Book of the Dead, is probably the best known example of Egyptian magic. This book contains specific rituals intended to protect the spirit of a deceased person during it's journey through the afterlife to judgement.5
Texts also appear in Greece, and Rome6. It is here that some of the first examples of ritualized Necromancy appear. These records refer to Greek sorcerers using human corpses to attempt to fortell the future.
Probably the most signifigant, in terms of its impact on modern magical practice, is what is known as the kabbalah. In Judaic tradition the Kabbalah is a series of mysticism directly tied to the books of the Old Testament. Among other things, it holds that each letter in Hebrew has a numerical value assigned to it, which is probably the origins of 666, along with other meanings which allow a more complex understanding of the Bible by looking at the letters used as well as the words and phrases. Another particularly important aspect of kabbalah is relates to the stories of King Solomon. It is in kabbalah that the Jewish traditions of exorcism are found and also the legends regarding King Solomon. According to some texts, as far back as the 1st and 2nd centuries, Solomon was given authority over all manner of spirits when he asked for wisdom. This authority came principly through his ring known as the seal of Solomon