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Author Topic: Magic and Religion  (Read 22992 times)
HeartShadow - Cutethulhu
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« Topic Start: March 09, 2007, 01:18:19 pm »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?
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« Reply #1: March 09, 2007, 01:30:13 pm »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

It doesn't.  For me, magic and religion are separate.  I do not invoke deities during spell work.  I don't know if I can articulate why, but it has to do with my belief that magic is work *I* do to utilize energy; while religion is about my relationship with my deity(ies) and what *they* do or *we* do together.  (I'm not sure that makes sense outside my head.) 

There are certainly times when I use magic AND prayer to approach the same problem.  But not in conjunction with each other.

A belief in magic is certainly compatible with my path -- maybe even helpful.
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« Reply #2: March 09, 2007, 01:45:42 pm »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

That all really depends on your definition of "magic", right? In my belief, magic and prayer are synonyms.
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« Reply #3: March 09, 2007, 02:48:34 pm »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

Not really, magic is separate from my religion. While I may call on the Gods in my magic, Hellenic religion does not incorporate magic into the religion itself. In fact, it looks upon magic with some suspicion as it can be used for ill so easily.

Quote
If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

Why not?  For the same reason that biology or auto repair or printing books aren't a part of my religion. While these are all things people do and one may ask the Gods for aid, they aren't things done for the Gods.
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« Reply #4: March 09, 2007, 10:24:01 pm »

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How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

Magic has nothing to do with my own personal practice. I am interested in it and enjoy learning about it (particularly ceremonial magic) and I have done workings before but in my day to day spiritual life it plays no role.

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If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

My own path focuses heavily on prayerful worship of Deity, honoring ancestors and connecting with local land spirits. I don't consider any of that to be magical (although I do trancework regularly and the I suppose the shamanic aspects of some trancework could be considered a type of magic although I wouldn't classify it as such in my case). Since I seem to be the only member of my religion so far I think it's fair to say that it's not required. Wink
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« Reply #5: March 09, 2007, 10:31:14 pm »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

It really has no role in my path; one can believe or disbelief in it, and even if one believes in it they don't have to practice it. I myself am not really sure what I believe on the subject.
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« Reply #6: March 10, 2007, 01:00:53 am »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?
Your question set in motion a whole 'nother train of thought - I've got several ways in which I can answer the question, "What is your religion?" depending on the context, so I wind up revisiting the subject at regular intervals.  A really complete answer to your question will have to wait until I chew on this revisitation some (and may wind up starting a different thread rather than being added to this one, depending where it goes - we'll see.)

The quick and dirty answer is that magic is integral to my religion - in this instance, "religious witchcraft" is the contextually relevant religion to cite, with LibCraft as a tradition thereof.  Magic is active participation in the dance of all-that-is, and is therefore a celebration of being part of that dance; in this way, magic is an act of worship.  (This is the context in which the word "worship" comes most comfortably to me.)  Like many who've answered, magic is something I do, not something I ask my deities to do for me (though there are various ways they might be involved), but unlike many others, this doesn't put a separation between religion and magic for me.

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« Reply #7: March 10, 2007, 02:57:12 am »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

I'm still working on figuring out what makes sense for me, so I don't know that I have a religion so much as a set of theories I'm working with (and constantly tweaking).  Magick does have a place in my spirituality, though I'm still not sure exactly what that place is.  Right now, it's part comfort, part experiment, part semi-scary thing (because I'm realizing that it's just not something I can learn and be great at from a book; I have to practice it, which means mistakes are pretty much inevitable).

I guess that's about as far as I've gotten so far; I'm not even sure it answers your question lol.  It was a good question to ponder, though.
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« Reply #8: March 10, 2007, 11:50:10 am »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

Magic is not a part of my religion, however, on the rare occasions that I do work magic, I include my religion as a big part of it. I do it within the context of my religious practices.
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« Reply #9: March 10, 2007, 01:33:57 pm »

For me, magic is about working with what God has given us.  So to work in magic is a way to connect with the devine with concious intent.  It's hard for me to seperate the devine from everything else.  I feel that there is magic in everything.  It's there even when I'm not thinking about it. 

So therefore, I am working with it, living with it, on a daily basis.  But to open up your conciousness to it and to work with intent is what I think we are talking about here.  So yes, magic is a part of my religion.  It's one of the ways I connect with my diety and work mindfully within my place in existence.   
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« Reply #10: March 10, 2007, 03:57:02 pm »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

Well, I don't really have a religion per se.  I have what I think of as more of a spiritual practice.  I work solitary so that kinda nixes the whole community based concept of 'religion'.  For me, there is no hard distinction between my spiritual practice and magic.  They're more overlapping circles, as in a venn diagram.  I work on connecting with the Divine on a daily basis, seeing the ebb and flow of energies and consciousnesses around me and using techniques to work with them.  These techniques run the gamut from prayer to ritual but as the intent is to bring myself into greater harmony with the Divine I don't differentiate strongly between them.
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« Reply #11: March 10, 2007, 06:41:08 pm »

My answer to that is kind of off-kilter, and is one of the major reasons I'm a Hellenic Pagan, not a Hellenic Recon.   Cheesy

First, from what we can discern of "mainstream" Hellenic religious practice, magic was not incorporated into it, and, as Randall says, people tended to be suspicious.  However, it's worth remembering that that "mainstream" actually means "what we have written records for," and most of those written records for Greek attitudes are from educated urbanites suspicious or condescending with regard to folk traditions.   We do have an absolute BOATLOAD of evidence, archaeological and otherwise, that ancient Greeks did practice magic -- and the bulk of those spells invoked the gods.  So, while it may be accurate to say that "official" Greek religious practice, insofar as we can tell what "official" is, didn't incorporate what we and the Greeks would have thought of as "magic," it's also accurate to say that many Greek *magic practitioners* had no qualms about integrating their magic with aspects of religion, such as calling upon the gods to help them with their spells.  There's some sense, among the Greeks, that "magic" is "that which falls outside 'official' religious practice" -- in other words, it's folk stuff.  However, you also have a strain of "natural philosophy" among educated sorts, which talks about the magical properties of various natural materials (herbs, rocks, animal bits, etc.) -- it's "magic," but it didn't have the same valences as the magic that average Greeks were suspicious of, because the people doing it were not socially fringe-y.    You also have the learned Hermetic traditions as well.  So it's complicated.  (I don't have my books on the subject at hand, otherwise I'd give you terms and stuff.  *g*)  While it's fair to say that magic wasn't an integral part of Greek religion, religion *was* a part of Greek magical practice, and so combining the two is hardly without precedent -- if you're starting from the perspective of a Greek magical practitioner. 

Recon insistence that never the twain shall meet has a LOT more to do with 'WE'RE NOT WICCANS!!!" than it does with Greek history and practice.  The very fact that certain gods -- Hermes, Hekate -- were explicitly connected with magical practices makes it difficult to argue that magic and religion were ALWAYS 100% separate spheres.  If someone wanted to reconstruct some kind of ancient Greek folk magical-religious tradition, I think it could probably be done, if you're willing to fill in the gaps with adaptations of modern Mediterranean folk magic; after all, the pile of evidence for Greek magical practice can't be much smaller than the ENTIRETY of evidence for Celtic religious practice, and the Celtic Recons do just fine.   

For myself, I was encouraged to learn hoodoo by Hermes; I've got a strong sense of "place" when it comes to magic, and tend to think that what will work best, for me, is magic that's geared toward the place i live, and I live in hoodoo country.  (I feel differently, obviously, about religion.  *g*)  Some of the basic assumptions of hoodoo overlap with certain assumptions of strains of Greek magic; also, since hoodoo is a set of techniques, it's something that can be combined with any number of actual religious beliefs.  I don't incorporate magic into my straight religious practice, but my magical practice sometimes involves elements of my religion.  I am in no way claiming that this practice is Recon -- I'm not a Recon! -- or even close, though i do think that if I were using *Greek* magical systems, then I wouldn't be outside of the Recon realm, if that makes sense, no matter what more "orthodox" Recon types might say.
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« Reply #12: March 10, 2007, 07:10:15 pm »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

I think it might, but it didn't at first.  In fact, the whole magic/k thing even put me off of paganism because of the connotations that come with it.  This is, of course, a result of terrible misconceptions, my faulty identification of Silver Ravenwolf with "what Wiccans think", and of course, the whole misconception that Paganism==Wicca.  I'm a little more knowledgable now, although maybe not by much :-).

I now look at magic as anything done with our manipulation that we don't understand and/or can't explain scientifically.  If a sorcerer/druid in the ancient times blessed a vial of ammonia and rubbed it on a silver spoon, and the spoon became a mirror of perfect clarity, he might be seen to onlookers as performing magic.  We know by today's scientific process that this is due to the properties of silver and ammonia, and this is in fact how many mirrors are made.  Who knows if this manipulation of energy that most Wiccans call magic/k might be explained some time from now, by some future equivalent of Einstein, as some new version of the theory of relativity?

If we could explain everything scientifically and knew everything about how the world worked, there wouldn't be much of a place for the gods and religion.  Thus, in my eyes, there isn't much place for a religion, or at least one that fulfills my needs, that doesn't account for my definition of magic.  It's not the primary purpose I'm religious, but it does certainly factor in.
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« Reply #13: March 10, 2007, 07:30:31 pm »

How does magic play in with your religion?  Does it at all?

If it doesn't, why not?  If it does, why?  Is it required to believe in magic to be a member of your faith?

Magic can play a part in my religion and does for many of the people I've communicated with.  For the reconstructionists, there is ample evidence of magic being used by the ancients.  Magic is not a part of my own religious practices though.  I don't feel a pull toward using it and my beliefs on it are unclear.  I'm not even sure if I believe in it some days.   Undecided

Is belief in magic required?  I would say no, but there may be people who would disagree.  It could also depend on the definition of magic being used.
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« Reply #14: March 10, 2007, 08:39:15 pm »

For me, there is no hard distinction between my spiritual practice and magic.  They're more overlapping circles, as in a venn diagram. 

Oooo, that's a really good way of putting it.  Much more articulate than what I came up with. Wink
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