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Religion

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By danibaby
Words 1787
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Week 2 – Essay Assignment
Spring Quarter 2011

The Certification Statement

This is to certify that this essay is my own original making after the researches I made personally from the Web and elsewhere. It contains all the statements which I downloaded and credited appropriately for the sources, also my own remarks and opinions in between many of these paragraphs, which I have made in ITALICS. The conclusion is my own reflection and opinion and the concluding remarks.

I certify that this Essay was never submitted anywhere else, and if I had submitted it elsewhere, then I have reworked, revised and added and altered with supplementary and latest information, spending as much time as I would require to produce an original Essay for this class.

Thank you,

Sally

Introduction
Most cultures of the world have religious beliefs that supernatural powers can be compelled, or at least influenced, to act in certain ways for good or evil purposes by using ritual formulas. These formulas are considered to be called magic. This is very different from television and stage "magic" that depends on slight-of-hand tricks and contrived illusions rather than supernatural power. At times, this magic was called “black magic” and was used together with other forms known as sorcery, witchcraft and fortune telling. Centuries ago, these forms of magic were considered to be less ‘religious’ by some and looked down upon as evil although the theories spread and were practiced by many. Even though magic was initially used as a substitute to religion in order to improve the standard of living, it vastly became an evil ritual used towards the pain and suffering of others which led to its demise.
Frazier's understanding of the relationship between magic and religion was structured according to a linear evolutionary framework composed of three forms of thought: magical, religious, and scientific. He postulated that magical thought, the earliest stage of human development, was replaced by religious thought as people observed its failures and came to believe that they could propitiate gods in order to control nature. Religious thought was then replaced by scientific thought as human beings understood natural laws. http://science.jrank.org/pages/10048/Magic-Magic-Religion-Science.html#ixzz1Jn8kmGQG We can now see that magic and religion have gone hand-in-hand for centuries. It is impossible to create a distinct line between magic and religion, because they both have relatively the same concept. There are other reasons as well seeing that they both depend on the belief of supernatural powers. One such example is Stonehenge. Magically, it was believed to be made by Merlyn, but religiously, it was known as a site for Druidic rituals. The Heel Stone, or the center stone, was placed there so that on June 21, the summer solstice, the sun would appear directly above the top of the stone. By performing certain magical acts in a particular way, crops might be improved, game herds replenished; illness cured or avoided animals and people made fertile.
In the beginning, magic was used for various purposes and often included in many ceremonies known as rites of passage. Some rites are birth, naming, puberty, marriage, illnesses, and death. The ceremonies may include magical objects, words, songs or places. Other ceremonies are performed to pray to the people's gods for help; rain dances, protection against diseases or parasites, preparation for planting season, harvests, hunting and fishing ceremonies, and returns of victorious warriors. Some ceremonies may be a sort of two-in-one deal. For example, ceremonies that heal one person may also protect the entire community. Here we can see that magic was originally used to aid family’s wellbeing, but soon became a device for inflicting pain upon others. http://library.thinkquest.org/26485/religion_and_magic.htm
The practice of witchcraft, or divination, was a means for extracting information or guidance from a pagan god. All of the Prophets condemned divination because it was used to ‘curse’ people which were viewed as evil. Sorcery, sometimes known as witchcraft, was forbidden because it was apparently practiced by the worst of the kings of Israel and Judah, but it was denounced by the prophets. A name was given to those who practiced sorcery, known as witches or sorcerers, as they had superpowers to “influence one’s fate”.
Magic was used in ancient Native American tribes for many purposes. An example of this exercise is blowing powdered tobacco up a patient’s nose to rid him or her of evil spirits. But, then there is the well-known practice of the art of Voodoo. Voodoo is when you make a doll with a distinct likeness of a person, and inflict pain upon the doll to duplicate the damage on the victim. To do this, a personal item of the victim must be taken, and ceremonies must be performed, specifically for that person. For instance, whatever happens to an image of someone will also happen to them which today the basis for use of Voodoo dolls in the folk tradition of Haiti as stated earlier. As a consequence, believers of Voodoo had to take special precautions with their hair, fingernails, teeth, clothes, and feces. If anyone obtained these objects, magic could be performed on them which would cause the person they came from to be affected. Countries such as South Africa and Haiti still use Voodoo and other ritualistic practices today. The religious aspect of magic turned into satanic rituals as the people began to realize the power of magic. http://www.redentormio.exactpages.com/Terminology_M.html
When witchcraft became a widespread belief, it was used as a means of social control. Anti-social or otherwise deviant behavior often resulted in an individual being labeled as a witch in such societies. Since witches were feared and often ostracized or even killed when discovered, the mere threat of being accused of witchcraft was sufficient to force people into modal behavior. http://anthro.palomar.edu/religion/rel_5.htm
In a belief system that used magic as the most logical explanation for illness, accidents, and other unexpected occurrences, there was no room for natural causes or chance. Witchcraft provided the explanation which was the cause for most effects. Since it can be practiced in secret, the existence of witchcraft was not easily refuted with arguments. Believers did not need evidence that witchcraft was used against them. Should one trip over an object and get hurt, the obvious reason was not an accident, but rather a person practicing divination against them. The research stated that once a guilty person using divination was discovered, retribution may have been gained by public exposure and punishment or by counter witchcraft. Believers let the idea of magic take over their logical reasoning and in return, placed fear into their minds that all negative occurrences were influenced by magic being used against them.
Divination was accomplished by many different methods around the world. Shamans usually go into a trance to find out the answers from their spirit helpers. The ancient Romans divined the outcome of battles or business deals by autopsying chickens and examining the condition of their livers. Divination remains popular with many people in the United States today and is known as a form of entertainment. There are many individuals who set up business to divine the future for their clients by examining such things as tea leaves in the bottom of a cup, lines in the hand, and tarot cards. http://www2.kenyon.edu/projects/margin/witch.htm
In societies in which magic and witchcraft were accepted as realities, mental illness was usually explained as being a consequence of witchcraft or the actions of supernatural beings and forces. In Nigeria, folk curers were, and still are, licensed by the government to use supernatural means and herbal remedies to cure people who are suffering from mental illness. Nigeria also licenses doctors trained in Western medicine, which totally rejects the idea of illness being caused by magic or other supernatural causes. However, the Western trained doctors and the folk curers in Nigeria often work cooperatively and send each other patients that they cannot cure with their own approaches. This is especially interesting seeing that over the last hundred years; modern ways of thinking on religion or science have yet to reach Nigeria. http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/sta24.htm Another form of divination is the practice of fortune telling. This is the practice of analyzing character or predicting the future via one of any number of methods. Readings are based on the ancient belief that there is no such thing as 'chance' but that all actions are dictated by superior, outside forces regardless how coincidental or irrelevant they may seem, are in fact clues to determining fortunes through unfolding events. The most significant thing about fortune telling is how despite centuries of being condemned by churches, rationalists and sceptics, the fact that there is still a demand for the art of the divination today is obvious at all levels of society. http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/a_short_history_of_fortune_telling.html In conclusion, the use of magic originated as a form of “replacement” religion due to god’s inadequate results of healing and personal comfort. During this time, magic in terms of mental super natural powers and rituals, became a widely used practice that led to the modification of faith and religion. Because a lack of faith in god, people began to use magic as a means of finding solitude that allowed them to ‘believe’ in something more powerful. Magic, sorcery, witchcraft and fortune-telling were common among the pagan nations of the ancient world, but today are looked upon as evil spirited and satanic. Because many of these forms of magic were used to inflict pain and take control of others, it was condemned by rulers and therefore, magic was forced out by killing those associated with its use. Once word spread that magic was being condemned, witches and ritual leaders began to hide and practice in secret. The presence of magic was abolished by believers in god; as a result, the masses of Christians and Jews took faith back and continued to spread the word. Today, even though our nations practice different faiths, the main purpose of any and all believers is to encompass a positive connection in order to find happiness and solitude rather than a means to inflict pain and or power on others.
Webliography
http://anthro.palomar.edu/religion/rel_5.htm http://library.thinkquest.org/26485/religion_and_magic.htm http://science.jrank.org/pages/10048/Magic-Magic-Religion-Science.html#ixzz1Jn8kmGQG http://www2.kenyon.edu/projects/margin/witch.htm http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/sta24.htm http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/a_short_history_of_fortune_telling.html http://www.redentormio.exactpages.com/Terminology_M.html…...

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