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This argument was elaborated by Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, exploring a similarity in human beliefs about the power of words and concepts of magical power. Like language in other performative contexts, such as theater, oratory, and religion broadly, the language of magic is not like the language of everyday life.


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It is likely to have specialized vocabulary—perhaps archaic or foreign, perhaps secret—and specialized forms such as incantations, spells, prayers, or chants. The ability to perform such language effectively is part of the role of the magician, however she or he is identified in the culture. Not surprisingly, some of the ideas developed in the anthropological study of magic also appear in the literature on witchcraft and sorcery.

Conditions that lead to fissures in social relationships, conflicts of interest, and cognitive jarring recur among many populations separated in time and space. Worldviews that develop conceptions of magic, witchcraft, and sorcery, while varying in specific details, share certain similarities in how they conceive of, and respond to, misfortune and harm.

The most highly regarded and influential explanation of magic as a distinct way of thinking comes from E. His book Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande [] was groundbreaking in its time for its relatively neutral, nonjudgmental stance on the validity of Zande beliefs. Drawing on the Azande's own distinction, sorcerers intentionally seek to affect—likely to harm—others.

They have studied and acquired skills to apply spells, carry out rituals, or use objects to afflict others. In contrast, the power of witches is unconscious and innate. To the Azande, witchcraft resides in mangu , a substance in the witch's belly, inherited from a parent of the same sex. The substance leads something of a life of its own and can independently afflict people, especially those with whom the witch likely unaware of the substance has disagreement. Azande have developed rituals to protect against witchcraft, as well as a legal system to identify witches and resolve conflicts with their victims.

He emphasized magic, witchcraft, and sorcery as explanations of misfortune, raised when no other explanation is possible, in circumstances others might attribute to bad luck. For example, he described anecdotally how a person walking down a path might stub his toe on a log. A Zande would understand that the toe was injured because it struck a log but why that person happened to be hurt at that time by that log could only be explained as a result of witchcraft.

This orientation long dominated anthropological studies of witchcraft and sorcery, as evidenced in two multiauthor collections, both first published in Witchcraft: Confessions and Accusations, edited by Mary Douglas, and Witchcraft and Sorcery, edited by Max Marwick with a second edition in Such integrations range from minimalist views that see only a small number of unifying factors to lengthy and highly specific trait lists that see a fundamental similarity in disparate examples. First, the idea of a life force, essence, or energy within people, and possibly in animals, objects, and the natural world.

Azande mangu is an example of this concept. Because such a life force can potentially be harmed or manipulated by others, a specialist—a diviner—may be called on to deflect the attack or to identify the assailant. Second, the idea of limited good: if there is only so much fortune, health, and happiness to go around, anyone who has a great deal of these or suddenly gains them may be suspected of profiting at someone else's expense.

In cultures with the idea of limited good, people are inclined to hide good fortune and level themselves within the community. Bowie points out that these ideas, with regionally and culturally specific details depending on the part of the world, appear as beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery, or in the related phenomenon of the evil eye involving the ability to cause harm through a gaze, motivated by envy , or both. To Bowie, these phenomena cannot be reduced to a single pattern and must be treated separately. Douglas identifies only two main patterns of witch belief—those where the witch is an outsider and those where she or he is an internal enemy—which yield subclassifications according to the kinds of social relationships typifying witch roles and allegations in each culture , xxvi—xxviii.

Lists of characteristics associated with witches anywhere in the world might include nocturnal activity, flight, community meetings or sabbats, and ritual murder. Many structural—functionalist accounts argued that, aside from witch persecution in historic Europe, witchcraft is benign or even of positive benefit to a community. A classic ethnographic work that advances this claim is Clyde Kluckhohn's study of the Navaho [] Kluckhohn —60 observed that belief in witchcraft contributed positively to society by encouraging generosity, conformity to social values, and by leveling economic differences, as community members sought to avoid accusations of witchcraft.

Bowie , —12 contrasts the structural—functional approach with alternative interpretations, including Robert Brain's study of child witches among the Bangwa of Cameroon. As with the Azande, witchcraft accusations follow lines of social tension, for example among children with the same father but different mothers, rivals for resources and inheritance.

The Western history of persecution of suspected witches, especially during the medieval and early modern periods, is well documented. Their ultimate goal is to diminish traditional African religion by drawing attention to injustices associated with witchcraft and sorcery as part of those indigenous belief systems. However, because patients also want to avoid witchcraft accusations—perhaps by avoiding assistance from family networks that might result in the appearance of sudden wealth or good fortune—they may delay medical assistance or not utilize the help of family and friends when needed.

While witchcraft exists as a form of scapegoating and accusations—a method of explaining causation and healing, or avoiding, social rifts—other practitioners around the world actively seek to harness supernatural power in order to affect others or control the conditions around them. As typically used in the anthropological literature, sorcery is a pragmatic, conscious practice, involving acts of magic and leading to personal power for the practitioner.

Sorcerers typically must learn the texts, practices, rituals, or other components of magic as understood in their culture; such knowledge is esoteric and not normally available to everyone. Like other specialists documented in anthropology, such as shamans and diviners, the sorcerer may work on behalf of clients. Depending on the context, sorcery may be viewed as suspicious, fearful, or prohibited behavior, or a powerful means to right social wrongs and resolve conflicts. To contemporary anthropologists, the practices of sorcery offer opportunities to study how consciousness is formed and how humans constitute, and operate within, reality.

Kapferer carried out a detailed study of a ritual of exorcism, showing how sorcery and other aspects of social life are intertwined. As with many examples in the history of anthropological terminology, conventional understandings of sorcery date back to the influential pioneering studies that initially made the term significant in the field.

Magickal Aids In Wicca

It has already been shown how E. Another early ethnography that documents essentially the same dichotomy is Sorcerers of Dobu by Reo Fortune — Dobuan men and women feared each other's power and viewed one another with considerable suspicion. In other literature, however, sorcery is shown to be morally complex but not invariably harmful.

Malinowski's early, detailed work in the Trobriand Islands—which so influentially shaped conventional uses of the concept of magic—also documented sorcery. In the Trobriands, sorcery was both a criminal practice and a form of punishment, depending on the agent. To the Kabana of Papua New Guinea, there are subtle lines between sorcery as deviance and sorcery as a way to control deviance, which McPherson found could only be teased out through careful examination of human interactions and community attitudes toward behavior.

Researchers in this area attribute such patterns to intervillage and interethnic tensions within the context of violent political situations in the region Whitehead and Wright The role of such sorcerers is distinct from the more typical shamans of the region, who should be perceived as healers who work beneficially on behalf of clients.


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  • In the West, long before there was a discipline of anthropology based on ethnographic study, there were popular and artistic images of the witch. Contemporary witchcraft can be traced to the research and writings of Margaret Murray and Charles Godfrey Leland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Their work was academic and detailed but ultimately rejected by scholars later in the twentieth century, though Murray is recognized today as a pioneering woman in archaeology and the study of ancient Egypt.

    The true popularizer of contemporary Wicca was Gerald Gardner, who developed the ideas of Murray, in particular, and claimed that the practices of his British coven went back to Paleolithic times. Through a series of books published in the middle of the twentieth century, Gardner inspired what are variously called the pagan, Wicca, or occult communities today. A significant body of ethnographic literature devoted to documenting such communities has been emerging in anthropology, folklore studies, and related fields.

    As already seen, understandings of witchcraft fall into two basic patterns: allegations about witchcraft purportedly practiced by others and the understandings associated with people who claim identity as witches or related roles.

    A similar bifurcation characterizes Satanism. Throughout most of Western history, periodic panics or allegations of satanic practices have erupted, often with roots in social tensions similar to those associated with witchcraft accusations. A significant satanic scare flared in North America and Europe in the s, most likely based in rumors, urban myths, and in evidence associated with a few highly publicized courtroom trials.

    This scare and others are documented in publications by anthropologist Jean La Fontaine. Also in the second half of the twentieth century, organizations claiming satanic identity emerged in the West, primarily as a form of countercultural protest. Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey was a prolific writer of some celebrity status; among his publications, the Satanic Bible is a primary scriptural source for the movement.

    Most adherents, especially the many who might more accurately be described as interested followers, did not actually worship a satanic devil figure but professed atheism and a concern with criticizing the status quo. Significant nodes of scholarship take up the three themes in relation to subjectivity, experimental forms of participation and methodology, and modernity, the state, and capitalism.

    Consistent with anthropology's long interest in magic as a mode of thought, some researchers in recent years have considered magic in relation to subjectivity as a way to understand personhood or as a clue to human consciousness. A few anthropologists in recent decades have pursued experiential methodology in the study of magic, steering away from the cultural relativism or methodological agnosticism typical of the discipline.

    Researchers drawn to this approach tend to reject the position of rationality implicit in anthropological theory, which typically treats magic, witchcraft, and sorcery as about something other than what the participants say they are actually about. The most significant shift in anthropological studies of magic, witchcraft, and sorcery has come with scholarship in the late twentieth century and early s, in which these phenomena are viewed in relation to modernity, political power, and the state.

    In some cases, the researchers document magic, witchcraft, and sorcery as they continue to exist and emerge, ever changing in light of a changing world. Important examples include the works of Peter Geschiere on witchcraft in Cameroon and elsewhere. A work of wide scope and historical depth, Geschiere's Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust: Africa in Comparison identifies a persistent factor in witchcraft as noted by the structural functionalists: accusations and vulnerabilities occur frequently within the scope of intimate relationships, between people closely connected through home and family.

    For example, such studies have documented witchcraft as it has been reconfigured in relation to the state, education, churches, and global financial institutions. In a few cases, contemporary anthropologists have reconceptualized magic considerably, springboarding from conventional definitions to understand magic as a component in capitalism, transnationalism, and state leadership.

    Michael Taussig investigates the powers of the modern state and global capital as forms of magical practice in The Magic of the State , an inventive, unconventional work that calls into question typical modes of ethnographic representation. As part of a broader theoretical essay seeking to understand the nature of capitalism and neoliberalism around the millennium, Comaroff and Comaroff also extend the term magic in new ways. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username.

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    Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Joss-sticks, especially those made with pure Sandalwood, called "Chandan," are great for short rituals, but for longer rituals self-lighting powders, granular or cone incense seems to work better. Another issue with joss-sticks is that you cannot blend sacred or magickal herbs into them and they only come in a range pre-made scents, some of which are highly articifial in frangrance. Self-lighting Incense Powders are the most popular form of incense in Hoodoo and Conjure and nicely bridge the gap between our Witchcraft traditions and those of the traditional Southern Conjure workers.

    They contain herbs in a base of wood flour, and they are usually scented. To use them, the powders are formed into corn shapes for burning.

    magickal aids in wicca Manual

    This is done by using a candle snuffer as a cone-shaper or cuting a small half-circle of paper that is folded to make a cone shaped form that the self-lighting powder is molded in. Special Purpose Incenses are made in our Coven out of Self-lighting Incense Powders with added herbs and essential oils that correspond with the ritual work we are peforminging.

    Careful planning and care should be used when making up your own Incense this way; use your intuition and intent to help guide you in making up what is best for your ritual.

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    It is also very helpful to dedicate the incense you have made up. This can be done by simply making a prayer or statement of intent over the Incense, such as, "I dedicate this incense for the use of The following is a list of incense fragrances and their properties that can be used in assistance of your magickal work.

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    Products mentioned here:. Anointing Oils. Baths, Overview. Baths, Ritual. Baths, Types of.

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