Magick has been practiced in all cultures and by all religions. From cave paintings to the casting of spells to elaborate church rituals, magick has been present in all civilizations, and it is still practiced today.
Magick in Ancient Times
There are many indications that magick was practiced in ancient times. For example, there are paintings in caves showing depictions of animals being chased by hunters, and often being slaughtered by them. There are many other paintings as well, showing many things. It is highly unlikely that these were simply utilized for decoration.
An array of ancient artifacts that have been discovered; many of these objects suggest that ancient societies had a sense of spiritualism and it's believed that some may have utilized magick and ritual. Small bones that represent the phases of the moon. Small carved animals that may have been worn as pendants. Skulls and other bones that have obviously been carefully arranged.
It seems likely that these had ritual or magickal significance. The magick of ancient people may have served an array of purposes, such as to honor spirits and gain their protection, to ensure a successful hunt, or to promote the fertility of both their own people and the land they relied upon. However, this is but speculation, for true evidence of this time is elusive.
Magick in Mesopotamia
The magick of Mesopotamia, including Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria, was powerful and well-respected in the ancient world. In Babylonia, for example, it's said that magicians could banish evil, heal the sick, and invoke the power of the gods.
It's believed that some of the magicians of Mesopotamia were also astrologers, and among the first to predict the future by the use of animals entrails. Many specialized in the creation of protective charms and amulets.
Magick in Ancient Egypt
The magick of the Egyptians was tied to the cycles of nature. They knew that spirits followed a cycle of life, death, and rebirth, and their magick focused on this. They used their magick to protect the body on its journey to the afterlife, and sometimes they created amulets or talismans that could take the place of a damaged organ if it was necessary.
The Egyptians has other magick as well. They firmly believed in the idea of replication magick. That is, they felt that if they created something, such as a false door, it was as effective as the real thing, since all matter was essentially spirit. The Egyptians developed a great variety of magicks, for they embraced the new, but never discarded the old.
Magick in Ancient Europe
Little in ancient Europe that was recorded. Most of what was written down was done so by the enemies of the people native to Europe, or by those of a religion so different that they couldn’t begin to understand the practices of the native people. So some of the practices of the Norsemen and the Celts may be lost to time.
Educated guesses can be made. That the Druids were well versed in plant lore seems fairly certain, as is the fact that they believed that each species of tree had a spirit and purpose. It can be assumed that the people of northern Europe also practiced magick relating to animal totems, based upon clan surnames and horned masks.
Magick in Ancient Greece and Rome
Greece was a powerful seat of science in the ancient world. And yet, its scientists firmly believed in magick as well. Some of them were even magicians themselves. They spoke of horoscopes, divination, healing, and necromancy in the same breath as logic, geometry, and architecture.
In early Rome, magick and religion were intertwined. Legionnaires would wear pendants sacred to Mars, the Roman God of War, for protection in battle. The healers of Rome often used remedies that combined herbology and the phases of the moon. Some of these were highly effective.
Magick and the Rise of the Church
Emperor Constantine of Rome converted to Christianity, and declared magick illegal throughout the Empire. This put magick, in all its various forms, in jeopardy. As this religion swept through Europe, overzealous churchmen lashed out at all who did not accept the authority of the church.
The Crusades against ‘infidels’ in the east was quickly followed by the European Inquisition. All those who were either heretics or practitioners of magick became targets. Though the practice of magick did survive, its development was severely curtailed by the policies of the Church of Rome. This continued for several hundred years.
The Rise of Magick in the Modern World
The Age of Enlightenment, during which magick had been forced into secrecy, brought about an interesting time. During the Industrial Age of the 1800s, people began looking to the mystic arts once again. New orders of Druids arose, and divination became quite fashionable. Magickal groups thrived, and orders such as the Golden Dawn quickly became well-known.
In the 1900s, after the passing of World Wars I and II, this interest in the occult intensified. A man named Gerald Gardner was reinventing magickal practice in Britain, and in doing so, created what would become modern Wicca. This quickly spread to other parts of the world, including North America. At the same time, Asatru, Druidism, Goddess spirituality, and other magickal groups appeared. These and others now make up the modern magickal community.
Magick has always existed, and has always been a part of the world. Though sometimes overshadowed by science, it is quickly becoming acceptable in the greater world community once again.
Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.