Thursday, December 11, 2014

Magic 1 for Priests Part 2

2. Identify the terms used within one Indo-European language to identify ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ examining what these terms indicate about the position of the magician in that society and the practice of his or her art. (minimum 100 words)

                There are many names throughout history to name what we today call magic. In the Hellenic culture, this force was termed “dynamis” (Luck 6) or “magikos” (Luck 502). Luck compares this to the term mana used by what might be called “primitive civilizations.” He goes on to say that these general terms were used because the source of these supernatural powered could not be determined. Luck goes on to say that it was believed that the dynamis or magikos resided in things such as stones or plants and where were thought to be animated through the use of words or names within ritual. It was not uncommon for practitioners to assume the identity or become possessed by a deity in order to acquire specific dynamis associated with that deity. These ideas seem to come across as having a high magic and a low magic. The high magic would be considered theurgy and according to Plotinus it “… attempts to bring all things in the universe into sympathy and man into connection with all things…” (Luck 52).   The lower magic or the goetia was “… a derogatory term connoting low, specious or fraudulent magikos” (Luck 52).

                As for those that used the dynamis and magikos, terms varied according to specific type of magic being employed by the practitioner. There were those that were called Magos “… one of the priests and wise men…”, Mantis “seer, prophet’, Mathesis referring to those that had astrological knowledge, Theurgia were those practicing theurgy, Goetes who practiced goetia, and so on. The impression we are given in Luck’s book is that magic and those that used it were as complex in labeling as they were in functionality.

                What is very clear is that the position of these people were both held in high esteem and feared. It was believed that these practitioners could have divine goals and those of a much more sinister nature. Those who sought to be of benefit to humankind were usually respected and well paid while those who sought to do hard were often charged with criminal acts.

                Within the Norse culture there were three specific groups of magical users. The first group was “the godhi [goh-thee] or gydhja [gith-ya], for the male and female respectively” (Thorsson, Northern Magic - Rune Mysteries & Shamanism 5).  They were those who would have been seen as the priest/ess within the culture. They would have had a more theurgy focus with their magic, working with sacrifice and divine energies like those in the Hellenic Culture who practiced divine possession. Their goal was to restore and maintain the sacred order of the universe. The other two types of magicians were the “… galdor and the seith [sythe]” (Thorsson, Northern Magic - Rune Mysteries & Shamanism 6). These two groups of practitioners might have also been known as the vitki, “meaning ‘wise one.” This is very similar to that of the Hellenic which had a separate class from those working with the theurgy [divine magic] and those practicing more of what we would term personal magic or Witchcraft in modern terms drawing on the energies from their own souls or from the elements.
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