Black magic has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for evil and selfish purposes.With respect to the left-hand path and right-hand path dichotomy, black magic is the malicious, left-hand counterpart of the benevolent white magic. In modern times, some find that the definition of "black magic" has been convoluted by people who define magic or ritualistic practices that they disapprove of as "black magic".
The concept of the supernatural encompasses anything that is inexplicable by scientific understanding of the laws of nature but nevertheless argued by believers to exist. Examples include immaterial beings such as angels, gods and spirits, and claimed human abilities like magic, telekinesis and extrasensory perception.
Evil, in a general sense, is the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, though in everyday usage is often used more narrowly to denote profound wickedness. It is generally seen as taking multiple possible forms, such as the form of personal moral evil commonly associated with the word, or impersonal natural evil, and in religious thought, the form of the demonic or supernatural/eternal.
In Western esotericism the Left-Hand Path and Right-Hand Path are the dichotomy between two opposing approaches to magic. This terminology is used in various groups involved in the occult and ceremonial magic. In some definitions, the Left-Hand Path is equated with malicious black magic and the Right-Hand Path with benevolent white magic. Other occultists have criticised this definition, believing that the Left–Right dichotomy refers merely to different kinds of working and does not necessarily connote good or bad magical actions.
Like its counterpart white magic, the origins of black magic can be traced to the primitive, ritualistic worship of spirits as outlined in Robert M. Place's 2009 book, Magic and Alchemy.Unlike white magic, in which Place sees parallels with primitive shamanistic efforts to achieve closeness with spiritual beings, the rituals that developed into modern "black magic" were designed to invoke those same spirits to produce beneficial outcomes for the practitioner. Place also provides a broad modern definition of both black and white magic, preferring instead to refer to them as "high magic" (white) and "low magic" (black) based primarily on intentions of the practitioner employing them. He acknowledges, though, that this broader definition (of "high" and "low") suffers from prejudices because good-intentioned folk magic may be considered "low" while ceremonial magic involving expensive or exclusive components may be considered by some as "high magic", regardless of intent.
Robert M. Place is an American artist and author known for his work on tarot history, symbolism, and divination.
An invocation may take the form of:
Ceremonial magic encompasses a wide variety of long, elaborate, and complex rituals of magic. The works included are characterized by ceremony and a myriad of necessary accessories to aid the practitioner. It can be seen as an extension of ritual magic, and in most cases synonymous with it. Popularized by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it draws on such schools of philosophical and occult thought as Hermetic Qabalah, Enochian magic, Thelema, and the magic of various grimoires. Ceremonial magic is part of Hermeticism and Western esotericism.
During the Renaissance, many magical practices and rituals were considered evil or irreligious and by extension, "black magic" in the broad sense. Witchcraft and non-mainstream esoteric study were prohibited and targeted by the Inquisition.As a result, natural magic developed as a way for thinkers and intellectuals, like Marsilio Ficino, abbot Johannes Trithemius and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, to advance esoteric and ritualistic study (though still often in secret) without significant persecution.
The Renaissance is a period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and 17th centuries and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the Middle Ages.
Witchcraft or witchery is the practice of magical skills and abilities.
Western esotericism, also known as esotericism, esoterism, and sometimes the Western mystery tradition, is a term under which scholars have categorised a wide range of loosely related ideas and movements which have developed within Western society. These ideas and currents are united by the fact that they are largely distinct both from orthodox Judeo-Christian religion and from Enlightenment rationalism. Esotericism has pervaded various forms of Western philosophy, religion, pseudoscience, art, literature, and music, continuing to affect intellectual ideas and popular culture.
While "natural magic" became popular among the educated and upper classes of the 16th and 17th century, ritualistic magic and folk magic remained subject to persecution. 20th century author Montague Summers generally rejects the definitions of "white" and "black" magic as "contradictory", though he highlights the extent to which magic in general, regardless of intent, was considered "black" and cites William Perkins posthumous 1608 instructions in that regard:
Augustus Montague Summers was an English author and clergyman. He is known primarily for his scholarly work on the English drama of the 17th century, as well as for his idiosyncratic studies on witches, vampires, and werewolves, in all of which he professed to believe. He was responsible for the first English translation, published in 1928, of the notorious 15th-century witch hunter's manual, the Malleus Maleficarum.
William Perkins (1558–1602) was an influential English cleric and Cambridge theologian, receiving both a B.A. and M.A. from the university in 1581 and 1584 respectively, and also one of the foremost leaders of the Puritan movement in the Church of England during the Elizabethan era. Although not entirely accepting of the Church of England's ecclesiastical practices, Perkins conformed to many of the policies and procedures imposed by the Elizabethan Settlement. He did remain, however, sympathetic to the non-conformist puritans and even faced disciplinary action for his support.
All witches "convicted by the Magistrate" should be executed. He allows no exception and under this condemnation fall "all Diviners, Charmers, Jugglers, all Wizards, commonly called wise men or wise women". All those purported "good Witches which do not hurt but good, which do not spoil and destroy, but save and deliver" should come under the extreme sentence.
In particular, though, the term was most commonly reserved for those accused of invoking demons and other evil spirits, those hexing or cursing their neighbours, those using magic to destroy crops, and those capable of leaving their earthly bodies and travelling great distances in spirit (to which the Malleus Maleficarum "devotes one long and important chapter"), usually to engage in devil-worship. Summers also highlights the etymological development of the term nigromancer, in common use from 1200 to approximately 1500, (Latin : Niger, black; Greek : Manteia, divination), broadly "one skilled in the black arts".
A demon is a supernatural and often malevolent being prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in media such as comics, videogames, movies and television series.
A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to one or more persons, a place, or an object. In particular, "curse" may refer to such a wish or pronouncement made effective by a supernatural or spiritual power, such as a god or gods, a spirit, or a natural force, or else as a kind of spell by magic or witchcraft; in the latter sense, a curse can also be called a hex or a jinx. In many belief systems, the curse itself is considered to have some causative force in the result. To reverse or eliminate a curse is sometimes called "removal" or "breaking", as the spell has to be dispelled, and is often requiring elaborate rituals or prayers.
The Malleus Maleficarum, usually translated as the Hammer of Witches, is the best known and the most thorough treatise on witchcraft. It was written by the discredited Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer and first published in the German city of Speyer in 1487. It endorses extermination of witches and for this purpose develops a detailed legal and theological theory. It was a bestseller, second only to the Bible in terms of sales for almost 200 years. It has been described as the compendium of literature in demonology of the fifteenth century. The top theologians of the Inquisition at the Faculty of Cologne condemned the book as recommending unethical and illegal procedures, as well as being inconsistent with Catholic doctrines of demonology.
In a modern context, the line between "white magic" and "black magic" is somewhat clearer and most modern definitions focus on intent rather than practice.There is also an extent to which many modern Wicca and witchcraft practitioners have sought to distance themselves from those intent on practising black magic. Those who seek to do harm or evil are less likely to be accepted into mainstream Wiccan circles or covens in an era where benevolent magic is increasingly associated with new-age Gnosticism and self-help spiritualism.
Wicca, also termed Pagan Witchcraft, is a Contemporary Pagan new religious movement. It was developed in England during the first half of the 20th century and was introduced to the public in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant. Wicca draws upon a diverse set of ancient pagan and 20th-century hermetic motifs for its theological structure and ritual practices.
A coven usually refers to a group or gathering of witches. The word "coven" remained largely unused in English until 1921 when Margaret Murray promoted the idea, that all witches across Europe met in groups of thirteen which they called "covens".
Gnosticism is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Hellenistic Judaism and the Jewish Christian milieux in the first and second century AD. These systems believed that the material world is created by an emanation or 'works' of a lower god (demiurge), trapping the divine spark within the human body. This divine spark could be liberated by gnosis, spiritual knowledge acquired through direct experience. Some of the core teachings include the following:
The influence of popular culture has allowed other practices to be drawn in under the broad banner of "black magic", including the concept of Satanism. While the invocation of demons or spirits is an accepted part of black magic, this practice is distinct from the worship or deification of such spiritual beings.The two are usually combined in medieval beliefs about witchcraft.
Those lines, though, continue to be blurred by the inclusion of spirit rituals from otherwise "white magicians" in compilations of work related to Satanism. John Dee's sixteenth century rituals, for example, were included in Anton LaVey's The Satanic Bible (1969) and so some of his practises, otherwise considered white magic, have since been associated with black magic. Dee's rituals themselves were designed to contact spirits in general and angels in particular, which he claimed to have been able to do with the assistance of colleague Edward Kelley. LaVey's Bible, however, is a "complete contradiction" of Dee's intentions but offers the same rituals as a means of contact with evil spirits and demons.LaVey's Church of Satan (with LaVey's Bible at its centre), "officially denies the efficacy of occult ritual" but "affirms the subjective, psychological value of ritual practice", drawing a clear distinction between. LaVey himself was more specific:
White magic is supposedly utilised only for good or unselfish purposes, and black magic, we are told, is used only for selfish or "evil" reasons. Satanism draws no such dividing line. Magic is magic, be it used to help or hinder. The Satanist, being the magician, should have the ability to decide what is just, and then apply the powers of magic to attain his goals.
Satanism is not a white light religion; it is a religion of the flesh, the mundane, the carnal - all of which are ruled by Satan, the personification of the Left Hand Path.
The latter quote, though, seems to have been directed toward the growing trends of Wiccanism and neo-paganism at the time.
In some areas, there are purported malevolent sorcerers who masquerade as real shamans and who entice tourists to drink ayahuasca in their presence. Shamans believe one of the purposes for this is to steal one's energy and/or power, of which they believe every person has a limited stockpile.
Voodoo has been associated with modern "black magic"; drawn together in popular culture and fiction. However, while hexing or cursing may be accepted black magic practices, Voodoo has its own distinct history and traditions that have little to do with the traditions of modern witchcraft that developed with European practitioners like Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley.
Voodoo tradition makes its own distinction between black and white magic, with sorcerers like the Bokor known for using magic and rituals of both. But their penchant for magic associated with curses, poisons and zombies means they, and Voodoo in general, are regularly associated with black magic in particular.
The links and interaction between black magic and religion are many and varied. Beyond black magic's links to organised Satanism or its historical persecution by Christianity and its inquisitions, there are links between religious and black magic rituals. The Black Mass, for example, is a sacrilegious parody of the Catholic Mass. Likewise, a saining, though primarily a practice of white magic, is a Wiccan ritual analogous to a christening or baptism for an infant.. In Islam, the Quran contains Surahs that are recited to protect against black magic.
Seventeenth century priest, Étienne Guibourg, is said to have performed a series of black mass rituals with alleged witch Catherine Monvoisin for Madame de Montespan.
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Witchcraft and Black Magic
During his period of scholarship, A. E. Waite provided a comprehensive account of black magic practices, rituals and traditions in The Book of Black Magic and Ceremonial Magic.Other practitioners have expanded on these ideas and offered their own comprehensive lists of rituals and concepts. Black magic practices and rituals include:
Concepts related to black magic or described, even inaccurately, as "black magic" are a regular feature of books, films and other popular culture. Examples include:
Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan. Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.
Necromancy is a practice of magic involving communication with the dead – either by summoning their spirit as an apparition or raising them bodily – for the purpose of divination, imparting the means to foretell future events, discover hidden knowledge, to bring someone back from the dead, or to use the dead as a weapon. Sometimes referred to as "Death Magic", the term may also sometimes be used in a more general sense to refer to black magic or witchcraft.
Christian views on magic vary widely among denominations and among individuals. Some Christians actively condemn any form of magic as satanic, holding that it opens the way for demonic possession. Others simply dismiss it as superstition. Conversely, some branches of esoteric Christianity actively engage in magical practices.
Daemonologie—in full Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogue, Divided into three Books: By the High and Mighty Prince, James &c.—was written and published in 1597 by King James VI of Scotland as a philosophical dissertation on contemporary necromancy and the historical relationships between the various methods of divination used from ancient black magic.
The Church of Satan: A History of the World's Most Notorious Religion is a book by Blanche Barton, published on November 1, 1990 by Hell's Kitchen Productions.
Kulam or "Pagkukulam" is a form of folk magic, specifically natural magic, practiced in the Philippines. It puts emphasis on the innate power of the self and a secret knowledge of Magica Baja or low magic. Earth (soil), fire, herbs, spices, candles, oils and kitchenwares and utensils are often used for rituals, charms, spells and potions.
Asian witchcraft refers to any or all types of witchcraft practiced in Asia.
A folk healer is an unlicensed person who practices the art of healing using traditional practices, herbal remedies and even the power of suggestion. A folk healer may be a highly trained person who pursues their specialties, learning by study, observation and imitation. In some cultures a healer might be considered to be a person who has inherited the "gift" of healing from his or her parent. The ability to set bones or the power to stop bleeding may be thought of as hereditary powers.
Theistic Satanism or spiritual Satanism is an umbrella term for religious beliefs that consider Satan as an objectively existing supernatural being or force worthy of supplication, with whom individuals may contact, convene and even praise, rather than him being just an archetype, symbol or idea as in LaVeyan Satanism. The individual belief systems under this umbrella are practiced by loosely affiliated or independent groups and cabals. Another characteristic of theistic Satanism is the use of ceremonial magic.
Brujería is the Spanish-language word for "witchcraft". People of both sexes can practice; men are called brujo(s), women are called bruja(s).
Haitian Vodou is a syncretic religion practiced chiefly in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. Practitioners are called "vodouists" or "servants of the spirits".
Belief in and practice of witchcraft in Europe can be traced to classical antiquity and has continuous history during the Middle Ages, culminating in the Early Modern witch hunts and giving rise to the fairy tale and popular culture "witch" stock character of modern times, as well as to the concept of the "modern witch" in Wicca and related movements of contemporary witchcraft.
Greater and lesser magic, within LaVeyan Satanism, designate types of beliefs with the term greater magic applying to ritual practice meant as psychodramatic catharsis to focus one's emotions for a specific purpose and lesser magic applied to the practice of manipulation by means of applied psychology and glamour to bend an individual or situation to one's will.
Barang is a Cebuano term taken to mean all forms of malignant magic or sorcery.
Maleficium as a Latin term, "An act of witchcraft performed with the intention of causing damage or injury; the resultant harm." In general, the term applies to any magical act intended to cause harm or death to people or property. Its use in English comes from "Early 17th century; earliest use found in George Abbot (1562–1633), archbishop of Canterbury. From classical Latin maleficium evil deed, injury, sorcery from maleficus + -ium". In general, the term applies to any magical act intended to cause harm or death to people or property.
White magic has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for selfless purposes. Practitioners of white magic have been given titles such as; wise men or women, healers, white witches or wizards. Many of these people claimed to have the ability to do such things because of knowledge or power that was passed on to them through hereditary lines, or by some event later in their lives. White magic was practiced through: healing, blessing, charms, incantations, prayers, and songs.. With respect to the philosophy of left-hand path and right-hand path, white magic is the benevolent counterpart of malicious black magic. Because of its ties to traditional Paganism, white magic is often also referred to as "natural magic".
Cunning folk, also known as folk healers, are practitioners of folk medicine, folk magic, and divination within the context of the various traditions of folklore in Christian Europe.