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January 24th, 2007


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11:48 am - Magic and some new DVD's . . . plus some storytelling
"Come, come to my house," reads one section in the Semitic language that is supposed to be the snake's mother speaking, trying to lure him out of the tomb. In another passage, the snake is addressed as if he is a lover with "Turn aside, O my beloved."
Classic, this text is, in terms of magical inscriptions. It may be the oldest text in a Semitic language, and, of course, it's magical.

Of course, the researchers are wild about its age and its connection with pre-Cannanite linguistics, which is all well and good, but it's magic, Baby!

Modern magic isn't like its grandaddy. It's been reformatted in a lot of ways to reflect that moderns don't really feel like they can (or, perhaps, should) affect reality in amazing ways. The ancient world's magic involved such creative things as masquarading as Moses (the greatest of Jewish magicians), pretending to be archangels and commanding the legions of lower-order angels to do piddly tasks, and making women "burn until they come to me." In the above example, the magician masquarades as the snake's mother and then as his lover in order to cause the snakes to leave.

In all, ancient magicians sure talked a lot of shit.

Modern magicians don't really do this. We tend to focus on change on a really small scale (generally within ourselves) or a really amazingly huge scale (e.g. changing the world so that it's got more "positive energy" floating around in it). Our results are not measurable, nor are they often testable. We avoid using magic to find things, obtain love (all the ethical "love spells are bad" dogma is amazing), and hurl fireballs down the street.

We talk in very . . . uncertain terms about what our magic can do, or will do. If asked to measure our success, we often don't produce a lot of tangible evidence, or we dodge the question entirely by saying, "Magic is too important to be used for experimentation."

I sometimes wonder: is this because we have little faith in our magic, or because we are afraid of what might happen if it actually worked?

Or is modern magic just not as strong, useful, or (possibly) egotistical as ancient magic? Which then begs the question: is it then inferior or superior to ancient magic, and can we even make that comparison bear fruit?

On a side note, after finishing off the Alias TV series (and feeling like it was rushed and anti-climatic for the most part), I have moved on. With a gift certificate to Amazon.Com, I have the opportunity to get myself hooked on a new series that is much shorter and yet has far more promise than Jennifer Garner in lingerie. . . The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

I have also ordered Jack of All Trades and expect to enjoy that just as thoroughly. It is, after all, Bruce. And Bruce, as we all know, could give God a run for his money in an election.


January 27, 2005, was the last "Rabbit Hole Day" on LiveJournal. My post on that date in 2005 is still fun for me to read. I wonder if it will happen again this Saturday?
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: "Nautical Wheelers", -JB

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[User Picture]
From:nontacitare
Date:January 25th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)
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Or is modern magic just not as strong, useful, or (possibly) egotistical as ancient magic? Which then begs the question: is it then inferior or superior to ancient magic, and can we even make that comparison bear fruit?

I think you're talking about two very different questions: What are the limits of magic? and What can or should we do with magic? In terms of what is done with magic today vs. what was done (or what was considered ethical) with magic, I think we need to look at the different values in the respective societies in question. In the example of the coercive love spell, which most (though not all) modern Neo-Pagans would consider unethical, magicians of the ancient world lived in cultures that accepted slavery as the norm. Some people had the right to control other people, and some people were meant to be controlled. With that mindset, making a woman "burn until she comes to you" would not be that different that simply buying a woman. In today's society, we view slavery as anathema, and so forcing someone to fall in love with you against their will using magical means is seen as a violation of their free will.

I think the mistrust of love spells has more to do with respect for others than with a lack of faith in magic.

If you're interested, this is a very good essay on a Wiccan approach to magical ethics, which can to a certain extent apply to the greater Pagan community. I especially like the idea of coercive vs. non-coercive magic, rather than good vs. evil, or black vs. white.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos113.htm

Just muddying the waters with my two cents. ;-)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 25th, 2007 04:00 am (UTC)
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In one of my late night thought streams, just last night actually, I wondered if that's because of the different world our brains grow up in now, and the different paths they prune while we go through adolescence?
[User Picture]
From:styskel
Date:January 25th, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC)
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Whoops, that was me not realizing I wasn't logged in.
[User Picture]
From:nontacitare
Date:January 25th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
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That makes a lot of sense.

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