A General Theory of Magic (Routledge Classics) by Marcel Mauss

By Marcel Mauss

First written by means of Marcel Mauss and Henri Humbert in 1902, A basic concept of Magic received a large new readership while republished by means of Mauss in 1950. As a research of magic in 'primitive' societies and its survival this present day in our concepts and social activities, it represents what Claude Lévi-Strauss referred to as, in an creation to that variation, the amazing modernity of the brain of 1 of the century's maximum thinkers. The e-book bargains a desirable picture of magic all through quite a few cultures in addition to deep sociological and non secular insights nonetheless a great deal correct at the present time. At a interval whilst paintings, magic and technology seem to be crossing paths once more, A common conception of Magic provides itself as a vintage for our occasions.

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Nevertheless, even then a relative independence is always maintained between the two images. On the one hand, a sorcerer keeps his human shape during night flights, simply by climbing onto the back of his erstwhile animal form. On the other hand, it can happen that continuity is broken, the sorcerer and his animal double sometimes being found engaged in different activities at the same time. In this case, the animal is no longer a witch’s counterpart; it is her familiar and the witch remains quite separate.

To obtain the permanence of this magical transformation, it is said that the magician’s personality has been profoundly modified, as we have already described. The spirits have refashioned his entrails, beaten him with their weapons, bitten him on the tongue—among the central Australian tribes the hole in his tongue is proof of the treatment meted out to the magician. It is expressly stated that the novice actually dies in order to be reborn after his revelation. The idea of a temporary death is a common theme in both magical and religious initiations.

It was said that the magician attended the sabbaths, leaving a demon in his bed, a vicarium daemonem. This demon counterpart was in fact his double. This example shows that the same idea of splitting oneself in two may have quite opposite results. Moreover, this basic power of the magician may be conceived in a thousand different ways involving an infinity of degrees. A magician’s double may be a fleeting materialization of his breath and his spell—a whirlwind or a dustcloud, out of which 43 44 a general theory of magic on occasion, appears the corporeal figure of his soul or even himself.

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