Magick: Theory and Practice

0 Conversations

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

4Its interesting to note that in traditional Judaism the commandment to not take the lords name in vain once meant more then using the word God as an explitive. It was believed that God had a true name, known as the Tetregramitron or simply Yhwh, that could only be used in very specific circumstances and was only known to an elite few. While many people today will attempt to pronounce Yhwh (Yaheweh or Jehovah being common) these are never been proven to be the proper pronunciation.5On the other hand the stories of mummies having been cursed are largely an invention of the media.6It's worth noting that by the 1st century AD the Roman empire had outlawed magic and taken to persecuting practicioners. Among other things this was a charge brought against the early Christians.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Written and Edited by


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more