Monday, 26 February 2007

9:5 What do we learn from witchcraft?

We learn to distinguish between types of power. There is power to do good, which we approve of, and power to do harm which, if directed at us, we dislike. So people, using the association of black with night and evil, call these ‘black’ and ‘white’ witchcraft.

We distinguish power which is internal, a matter of thought and emotion, which leads to prayers and curses, and we call this witchcraft or religion. Such power usually comes from requesting, addressing words of an imploring kind, to a larger power, Satan or God. We ask for diabolical or divine power.

On the other hand there are externalized actions, making of images and sticking pins in them, burning of hair or fingernails, making a potion and uttering a commanding spell aloud. Here by the manipulation of objects, often accompanied by words, we force or conjure nature to act. This is magic.

This famous distinction, first developed in the study of the Azande tribe, is somewhat similar to that between religion and science. Witchcraft is internal and invisible, like religion. Magic is external and visible, like science. Magic like science aims to control nature. Its goals are also very similar to those of science.

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