Magic and religion  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A belief in magic as a means of influencing the world seems to have been common in all cultures. There was considerable overlap between beliefs and practices that were religious and those that were magical, such that their mutual influence was significant. In many cases it becomes difficult or impossible to draw any meaningful line between beliefs and practices that are magical versus those that are religious. Communal rites and celebrations contained elements of both religion and magic. Over time, especially within the specific religious context of western monotheism as expressed in the Abrahamic religions, religiously-based supernatural events ("miracles") acquired their own flavor, and became separated in those religious worldviews from standard magic. Some religions today, such as Neopagan religions, still embrace their connections to magic, while others retain only distant echoes.

Unlike other kinds of magic, religious magic usually involves requesting the intervention of a personal deity or deities - or often an impersonal divinity or spiritual force - to enact the desired effect. It is up to the deity in question whether or not to grant the request. In the case of an impersonal spiritual force, as in Taoism or other eastern or shamanic or pagan religions, it may require some specific religious or spiritual discipline, such as esoteric meditation methods or fasting or vision questing, to attune oneself to the divine power that is capable of effecting the desired magical change.

In some religious contexts the supplicant may be regarded as having few or no innate magical powers of their own. (Although some might claim a personal divine gift, such as clairvoyance or healing or speaking in tongues). In other religious contexts, especially neopagan witchcraft and magical traditions, deities may be called upon as tutors or guides in magic - to assist the individual in learning to develop his or her own magical abilities, and in learning the principles and practices of magic. Such tutelary deities are sometimes called "hermetic deities" or "spirit guides." Such deities would include gods and goddesses such as Exu or Legba in African-based religion, Thoth in Kemetic (Egyptian) religion, and the Greek goddess Hecate in Wicca.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Magic and religion" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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