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MAGIC

the associationist account of magic cannot be true. It is therefore by an analysis of actually existing practices that we must define and limit the term magic. There is, however, a serious difficulty in the way of determining the attitude of non-European peoples towards religio-magical practices; general terms are things of slow growth; it is therefore prima facie improbable that peoples in the lower stages of culture will have anything corresponding to our terms “religion” and “magic”; moreover, if we are right in assuming the fundamental unity of the two, it is by no means certain that they have even the consciousness of any distinction. Even when this consciousness is present, it by no means follows that the whole of the field is mapped out according to our categories; there will be a large indeterminate area which is neither magical nor religious. This suggests that the consciousness of the educated Occidental, for which the spheres of magic and religion in civilized society are sharply defined and contrasted, should be the ultimate arbiter; but here again we are confronted by a difficulty, for, to the educated man, the characteristic of magic is its unreality, and this does not help us to distinguish primitive magic and religion.

We must, it appears, determine the relation of magic to religion by an analysis of the conceptions of those who believe in both; but in so doing we must consider that, like all other institutions, magic has a history. Even if we go back to the 16th century and take the view of magic then held by the average European, it is still a complex idea. When we ask what the most primitive races now on the earth regard as magic, we are applying to their ideas a touchstone made for a very different age and culture; as well might we ask what their theory of knowledge is. If, however, we reverse the process and ask what elements of primitive institutions correspond most nearly to later conceptions of magic, we can at once say that the forbidden and private arts are the prototypes of the magic of later times. Magic is therefore the practice of maleficent arts which involve the use of religio-magical power, with perhaps a secondary idea of the use of private arts, which are to benefit, not the community as a whole, but a single individual. Religion. in the lower stages of culture is essentially the tribal creed which all practise and in which all believe; if therefore an individual has a cult of his own, even if otherwise indistinguishable from a public cult, it is for this very reason on a lower plane, and probably corresponds in a degree to what is later regarded as magic. But our information as to the attitude of the uncivilized towards magico-religious rites in general is seldom sufficiently clear; our terminology is influenced by the prepossession of alien observers whose accounts cannot be assumed to correspond to the native view of the case.

Magico-religious Force.—The mere fact that we cannot draw an exact line between magic and religion suggests that they may have some fundamental feature in common. Both terms have greatly changed their connotation in the course of their existence; religio seems to have meant originally καταδεσμός (magical spell), and Pliny says that μαγεία is a deceptive art compounded of medicine, religion and astrology. Among the Greeks, on the other hand, μαγεία occupied a respectable position. More important is the fact that taboo (q.v.) is both religious and magical. There is a universal tendency to regard as magical the religions of alien races, as well as national religions which have been superseded; Leland tells us that witchcraft in Italy is known as la vecchia religione. An examination of the ideas of primitive peoples shows that there is a widely found notion of a power which manifests itself both in religion and magic. Observers have often been content to describe ceremonies without attempting to penetrate to the fundamental ideas which underlie them; this is particularly the case with magic, and only recently have anthropologists realized that in many primitive societies exists a fairly well-defined idea of magico-religious power, to which the generic name of mana, from the Melanesian word, has been given.

a. Mana in Melanesia is a force, a being, an action, a quality, or a state; it is transmissible and contagious, and is hence associated with taboo; it may be regarded as material and seen in the form of flames or heard; it is the power which is inherent in certain spirits, among which are included such of the dead as are denominated tindalos; it may also be a force inherent in some inanimate object, such as a stone which causes the yams to grow, but it is a spiritual force and does not act mechanically; it is the power of the magician and of the rite; the magic formula is itself mana. There seem to be a variety of manas, but probably the underlying idea is essentially one, though it does not follow that the Melanesians have arrived at the consciousness of this unity. Hubert and Mauss go even further and regard all force as mana; it is a quality added to objects without prejudice to their other qualities, one which supplements without destroying their mechanical action.

b. Similar ideas are found in other areas. (i) The continental Malays have a word Kramât (hrm), which means sacred or magical; in Indo-China the Bahnars use the word deng; in Madagascar hasina seems to embody in part the same notion. (ii) In Africa the idea is less apparent; perhaps the ngai of the Tanganika tribes comes nearest to the notion of mana; on the Congo nkici has a similar but more restricted sense. (iii) In Australia there are two, or perhaps three, kinds of magical power distinguished by the aborigines; all over the continent we find the maleficent power, boolya in West Australia, arungquiltha in the central tribes, koochie in New South Wales; the central tribes have certain objects termed churinga, to which magical power (which we may term churinga) is attributed; the power of magicians is held to reside in certain stones, called atmmgara, and in this we must, provisionally at any rate, see a third kind of magical power: churinga is beneficent and seems to originate with the mythical ancestors, whereas arungquiltha is of immediate origin, created by means of incantations or acquired by contact with certain objects; the power of the magicians seems to proceed from the ancestors in like manner. (iv) In America these ideas are widely found; the orenda of the Hurons has been elaborately described by J. N. B. Hewitt; everything in nature, and particularly all animate objects, have their orenda; so have gods and spirits; and natural phenomena are the product of the orenda of their spirits. Orenda is distinct from the things to which it is attached; the cry of birds, the rustle of the trees, the soughing of the wind, are expressions of their orenda; the voice of the magician is orenda, so are the prayer and the spell, and in fact all rites; orenda is above all the power of the medicine man. Among the Algonquins we find the word manitu, among the Sioux wakanda, mahowa, &c., among the Shoshones pokunt; all of which seem to carry, at least in part, the same signification. In Central America, according to Hubert and Mauss, naual or nagual is the corresponding term. (v) Traces of similar ideas may be found in more advanced nations; the Hindu brahman is identified by Hubert and Mauss as the correlative of mana; in Greece φύσις is possibly the echo of a similar idea; but we are yet far from having adequately fathomed the dynamical theories of pre-scientific days.

Origin of Magic.—The associationist theory of magic sets out With the assumption that primitive man began with general conceptions; he started with certain means at his disposal—the law of sympathy—by which he could, in his own belief, influence the outer world. But it is more probable that he argued from concrete instances and arrived little by little at abstract ideas of magical power.

a. Death and disease are universally regarded by uncivilized people as due to so-called “ magic,” i.e. to non-natural causes. Primitive man was familiar with the wounds and bruises caused by physical means; he would naturally attribute any pain not so caused to the operation of analogous but invisible weapons, and eventually attempt to discover how he himself could apply on his own behalf the forces thus used against him. Similarly he may have asked himself to what causes were to be attributed the superiority of one man over another; he may have decided the problem by referring it to the superior power of the one, and then inquired in what way this power could in individual instances be increased. In fact we may say generally that man probably explained the already existing and happening by reference to the super normal, and then endeavoured to guide the super normal for his own benefit, direct or indirect.

b. Ritual, however (the primitive magico-religious plasm), is negative as well as positive. The corpse is uncanny, and man's dread of the corpse may well have been an early development; this dread, become traditional, with accretions of various sorts, crystallized into taboo, the magico-religious prohibition. The notion of the uncanny, once arrived at, may have been exploited positively; psychical abnormalities are present among savage races in very different degrees; but if they were developed at an early stage in human history they doubtless suggested the possibility that man might exploit them for the collective advantage. But it by no means follows that beneficent rites were originally regarded as magical; and it should be noted that the initiator of the so-called magician in Australia is often the god of the tribe or nation. The limits of magic or its correlatives in the lower stages of culture are thus far undecided.

c. Magic as it represents itself to the Occidental mind of the present day, and perhaps to the great part of the inhabitants of the world,