By Marcel Mauss

First written via Marcel Mauss and Henri Humbert in 1902, A normal conception of Magic won a large new readership while republished via Mauss in 1950. As a research of magic in 'primitive' societies and its survival this day in our options and social activities, it represents what Claude Lévi-Strauss referred to as, in an creation to that version, the spectacular modernity of the brain of 1 of the century's maximum thinkers. The publication deals a desirable photograph of magic all through numerous cultures in addition to deep sociological and non secular insights nonetheless greatly proper this present day. At a interval whilst paintings, magic and technology seem to be crossing paths once more, A basic conception of Magic offers itself as a vintage for our instances.

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Extra resources for A General Theory of Magic (Routledge Classics)

Example text

In both these cases, the magician obtains advantages of a permanent nature through momentary contact with the spirits. To obtain the permanence of this magical transformation, it is said that the magician’s personality has been profoundly modified, as we have already described. The spirits have refashioned his entrails, beaten him with their weapons, bitten him on the tongue—among the central Australian tribes the hole in his tongue is proof of the treatment meted out to the magician. It is expressly stated that the novice actually dies in order to be reborn after his revelation.

His own person emanates influences before which nature and men, spirits and gods must give way. Apart from a general power over objects, the magician has power over his own being and this is the prime source of his strength. Through force of will he accomplishes things beyond 41 42 a general theory of magic the power of normal human beings. The laws of gravity do not apply to the magician. He is an expert at levitation and can betake himself anywhere he wishes in a trice. He is to be found in many places at once.

A simplistic theory of magic might speculate on their intelligence and the marvels they perform, and explain their profession as a complete tissue of inventions and hoaxes. Yet these concrete characteristics which continue to be attributed hypothetically to the magician form only one part of his traditional image; many other features have also served to bolster his prestige. Included among these are those mythical and fantastical elements which feature in myths, or rather in a society’s oral traditions which are generally recounted in the form of legends, fairy tales or romances.

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