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History of Magick

Author: Summer Woodsong

SWoodsong@aol.com
Connections Journal

I. Early Magick



One tradition holds that Witchcraft began more
than 35 thousand years ago, when the last great sheets ice began
their journey across Europe. Legend holds that small groups of
hunters followed the free-running game and bison across the
tundra. Armed only with the most simple weapons, these tribes
depended on the extraordinary gifts of their shamans. These
shamans could attune themselves to the herds, the animal mind,
the spirit of the herd. As they became an integral and
interactive part of the energy all life forms share, they were
able to call those of these herds who were willing, to pits,
cliffs or traps that allowed the clans or tribes to be fed. This
was an ongoing cycle of life, in which both the herd animals and
the humans understood and regarded as a sacred gift the life of
the food animals.



Other traditions hold that “25 thousand
years ago in Paleolithic Wo/Man depended upon hunting to survive.
Only by success in the hunt could there be food to eat, skins for
warmth and shelter, bones to fashion into tools and
weapons…. Nature was overwhelming. Out of awe and respect
for the gusting wind, the violent lightning, the rushing stream,
Wo/Man ascribed to each a spirit; made each a deity … a God.
It was at this time that magick became mixed in with these first
faltering steps of religion.” (Buckland's Complete Book of
Witchcraft, Raymond Buckland, p 2-3)



“Male shamans dressed in skins and horns
in identification with the God and the herd; but female
priestesses presided naked, embodying the fertility of the
Goddess. Life and death were a continuous stream; the dead were
buried as if sleeping in a womb, surrounded by their tools and
ornaments, so that they might awaken to a new life.” (Spiral
Dance, Starhawk p3). The power of Woman to bring forth life was
one of the greatest mysteries, and women were revered. Through
new life, came the survival of the clans, and provision for
children and the elderly. When these were provided for, there was
new strength and the wisdom of the elders which allowed all to
thrive.



The first true example of what we consider
sympathetic magick took place, when those early people put on the
antlers and robe of their prey, invoked the power to draw that
animal into the dance of life and death, and played out the hunt
they sought to occur in future days. “The Penobscot Indians,
for example, less than a hundred years ago, wore deer masks and
horns when performing rituals for the same purpose.” .”
(Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, Raymond Buckland, p 2-3)
The rituals and processes we use for magick today appear to be
similar or the same as those used by our ancestors. Models found
of life-size prey were found, complete with spear marks in the
clay.



Human psychology is blessed with the gift of
imagination, of visualization. And there is little practical
difference between creative visualization and spellwork. The same
steps, procedures, preparations, focus and energy are present in
both. Only the name and the respect given the process differs.



The primary difference between these early
magickal practices and later, more formal, religious practices
has to do with who performs the acts related to the desired
outcome. In the tribal system, the entire clan performed the
dances, the sacred plays of the hunt. Sometimes there was a
leader considered a specialist, a shaman. Many times, the entire
group was part of the process.



II. Difference between Religion and Magick



The differentiating factor between religion and
magick seems to be whether or not there was a specialist assigned
the role as intercessor to the Gods or Elemental Energies. This
is also one of the key issues in present day WitchCraft - whether
or not each person is a direct link to the energy and can meet
their needs without assistance, or if we need those persons who
have the time, talents, interest, etc. in being a full-time
conduit between these energies and those who consider themselves
as Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, etc.



While the jury is still out, the majority of
Witches think it would be a travesty if we allowed any third
party interpretation or mandatory access to that natural energy
we are all heir to as humans and part of the interactive Sacred
Play that is Gaia, our world and our spiritual world. Many early
religions that began as a one-on-one link with the divine later
came to a formal, procedurally bound, mockery of our Divine
nature. The power in Paganism is that we claim our power by
right, and will never give or dilute it by channeling it through
others. We are as much a mirror of the Gods, as they are a
reflection of us.



The nature of deity is that we have created a
personalized representation of those forces which are
awe-inspiring and important to us, and given them characteristics
and names so that we may refer to them amongst ourselves handily.
Those outside this rich interactive style came to believe that
these forces were indeed outside of us, and labeled them as
transcendent, or other. As Luke was taught by Obi Wan and Yoda,
there is a life-force which all beings naturally have. We are
part of it, have need of it, and can learn to listen and use it.
Only recently did we forget as a race, that it is our birthright
and the nature of our being. Life, death, rebirth, creation,
beauty - these are all a natural use of the energy so readily
available.




  1. Religion and Magick



There is a wonderful book called When Santa
was a Shaman
(1995 Llewellyn Publications) Tony van
Renterghem makes a basic and fascinating distinction between
types of religions. He breaks down the major religions into
either supplication or celebration. The rituals and ceremonies
associated with these religions, also divides up into those
categories.



If one is a member of a religion that is
supplicatory, you would appeal to this God for assistance, you
would bargain with them - perhaps appropriate behavior for
benediction of some sort. However, the overall character of the
relationship is that this God, good or bad, is completely in
charge of the relationship and must be deferred to and placated
in order to achieve happiness and success - perhaps even ongoing
life. This is not an equitable relationship, the God is totally
in charge. Typically, they are not bound by any rules of
behavior, either. So, it is a somewhat perilous relationship.



Magick to appease the gods is not uncommon.
Folks try to figure out what precisely it is they have to do in
order to avoid a bad storm, too much rain, too little rain, etc.,
etc. The one thing we don't seem to have a good handle on is that
we are a part of Nature, and that the ultimate confluence of
many, many events bring into concert those components which make
it rain. There is much evidence which shows that we can influence
and encourage these situations, but in general, we are part of
the entire system and cannot create nor beg for Nature to turn on
Her head for our benefit. Always keep in mind that when one
intervenes for somebody, then there are other places which may
now be lacking in those things you have called to you. Be certain
to do all workings for the good of all - otherwise you may find
you have created strife and hardship for others to satisfy a
minor whim. Besides, appeasing and placating gods is a loosing
battle for control over one's life. Because we cannot see the
larger whole, and there is no way to grasp all the intricacies
and complexities of a situation, we cannot foresee all the detail
that would allow us to forecast success in providing whatever
ritual, ceremony, sacrifice, or other action that would make a
God/dess smile on us, and bring good fortune. To be honest, one
would have to be incredibly confident, or deluded, to ever be
comfortable in a religion that required you to constantly attempt
to reading the changing will of the deity.



In the instance of placating the Gods, it is in
our interest to invest our energy only in those areas we wish to
encourage development in, rather than to spend a lot of energy
trying to avoid the ill effects from a trickster God/dess or a
God/dess of destruction. Do not devote a lot of time to a
God/dess of chaos, or other poor behaviors. You would concentrate
instead on the God/dess you prefer prevail. Lots of energy to
justice, to success, etc. Just be very careful what you ask for.
As far as praying or performing magick to a God/dess for
prosperity, we do far better to bend our will and make as many of
the arrangements as we can through our own efforts.



Magick for luck and good fortune is always
considered fair, if you back it up by contributing as much of
your daily efforts as possible to your goals. If you want a good
job, you must read the papers, respond to inquiries, be prepared
to interview, go to work on time each day, etc. All the spells in
the world will not work, if your personal actions work in
opposition, i.e. you do a love spell, but you never bathe, or go
out to places where you might meet someone, or, you do a spell
for success, but all you ever do is whine and make excuses,
rather than put effort into attaining the type of lifestyle you
say you desire. If you actions and stated desires are not in
concert, then your internal focus and will are not working on
your goals, and the magick or energy working is too diffuse to
have any effect. Magick is not simple, not easy, not a panacea
for the lazy person.



III. Separation of Magick from Religion




  1. Prayer is Energy work. Modern day clergy
    of many religions provide their flock, parishioners,
    congregation, whatever it is called, with access to
    divinity. Although each person is admonished to lead a
    “Godly” life, the primary focus of worship
    tends to be through large group ceremonies where a
    leader, priest, channels the prayers and energy of that
    congregation through themselves and off to whatever the
    focus of the prayer was. I personally feel that this
    channeling through a third party, as a required step and
    mindset, dilutes the efficacy of that energy somewhat.
    However, it does not differ substantially from the Wiccan
    coven practice of channeling or focusing energy through a
    high priest/ess. And even though many are not aware of
    it, there is strong, statistical, scientific proof that
    prayer is incredibly effective when used for healing the
    ill. This study simply looked at the survival rate, and
    healing speed among people who had been prayed for, all
    other factors being the same, and those who had not been
    prayed for. The energy is the same in prayer, or healing
    spells, which is a strong indicator that Wiccan magick
    provides the same power - a power that is effective and
    measurable by contemporary science.

  2. Spells are Energy Work. Such energy was
    always amongst us. It is only in the last few hundred
    years that we have had the technology to document and
    examine these energies and their effects. In the past
    there tended to be an individual who was more gifted than
    others in interpreting and understanding such things.
    These folks probably devoted time to things such as
    herbal remedies, and as their healing skills improved,
    they were able to devote more time and thought to it.
    People were willing to trade these healers, treatment for
    food, and over time these people became specialists in
    their discipline - whatever that entailed. Perhaps
    reading omens, herbal preventatives, cures, etc. And
    these folks also had the knack of knowing what would
    happen. Whether it was early psychology or a good guess,
    their reputation made them into the Village Wise Woman -
    the Country Sage. Sometimes these folks skills combined
    with an inheritance of knowledge from their ancestors,
    provided them with a powerful knowledge of people,
    healing, and energy use. These were truly the witches of
    renown. Powerful people, but without today's
    communication ability, their influence tended to stay
    local, only effecting their village or county. Their
    skills also included various forms of divination, but not
    usually religion as such. That was left to the Church
    which was a powerful and distant force. And religion was
    best left to the priests and ministers of that church,
    since it was punishable by death for commoners to have
    read the bible.

    1. Even the Christian church, which
      condemned magic as a devilish art, was also
      filled with magical beliefs and practices. Magic
      was legal in Roman times, and this tolerance
      continued on for many centuries. Sir Walter
      Raleigh praised said magic, “bringeth to
      light the inmost virtues, and draweth them out of
      Nature's hidden bosom to human use.”. The
      nobility - including princes of the church -
      supported court magicians, astrologers, and
      diviners who helped them conduct their affairs.
      Scholars carefully classified different types of
      magicians, as if to distinguish the heretical
      from the acceptable. (The Woman's Encyclopedia of
      Myths and Secrets, p 566) Although the Christians
      had the most documentation, almost all cultures
      had their version of magician or magic workers.



  3. Shaman/ka - Other cultures less effected
    by the power of the formal Church included the
    interpretation of the god's will among th

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