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Magic in the Olden Times The history of magic and magical powers date back to the earliest times. For example, many magical papyri have been recovered in Egypt. These sources offered a lot of information regarding magic – especially ceremonial magic – which were practiced in Western civilizations. There are also records of how spirit mediums were used for spells. These would normally involve a “magic circle,” and at the center would be a child who served as a communication point between the dead and the living. During the era of Emperor Julian of Rome, when Christian influences faced severe resistance, there was a revival of magical practices related to neo-Platonism in the guise of theurgy. Middle Age Magic
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During this time, medieval authors were controlled by the Church and limited their magic to wonderlore and spells. Albertus Magnus was one of those who received credit for such compilations, whether or not this was deserved. Christianized variants of magic were created during this period.
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During the early part of the Middle Ages, there was a cult which treated relics as objects of veneration, but also as having supernatural powers. There were tales about saints’ relics’ miracles, not only in curing diseases but in affecting the outcome of battles as well. Soon, relics were used as amulets, with various churches buying the scarce examples. True to an economic principle, demand made way for supply. Later, the miraculous saint relics’ tales were collected into precious compilations like the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine and the Dialogus Miraculorum of Caesar of Heisterbach). And then other Chritianized magic varieties were soon proscribed. According to the very first grimoires or textbooks on magic, Christian implements and sacred rituals were very popular. Christian demonology includes the belief that a magician must fortify himself through fasting as well as sacraments and prayers; thus, by uttering God’s name in garbled foreign tongues, he can call upon the demons to appear and grant his lustful, egocentric wishes. Of course, the Church condemned such rites, but they were Christianized anyway, assuming a theology of mechanical sacramentalism. Magic in the Renaissance Renaissance humanism was a time when hermeticism and other Neo-Plantonic variants of ceremonial magic were revived. Scientism, on the other hand, dominated the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, where magic was replaced by the germ theory of disease, astrology by the Ptolemaic theory of the universe, and alchemy by chemistry. The tension caused by the Protestant Reformation sparked an upswing in the practice of with-hunting, specifically in England, Germany and Scotland. Ultimately, Protestantism became magic’s biggest enemy as it reduced the value of ritualism that tied religious rites to earthliness.