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To: Christian Magick Elist
From: tyagi mordred nagasiva 
Subject: Re: Sorcery
Date: Kali Yuga 49941101

Quoting: |anonymous

|> Gal 5:19-21 (NRSV)  Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
|> fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities,
|> strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy,
|> drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I
|> warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the
|> kingdom of God.

|What are the thoughts of people in this group on sorcery?

My initial thoughts:

The various terms used for occult sciences and arts have often been 
applied by detractors and oppressors, sometimes those who knew very 
little of either language or of the discipline.  For this reason 
there is little consistency in how these terms are used, especially
when used negatively.  They tend to be used as synonyms and applied
against what I'd call 'competing religious forms'.

|How do you define it?

I'll take this two ways.  First as a question of method, second as one of
personal preference.  I usually use the first to determine the second.
I haven't done this in a while.  Your posts gives me incentive to do it
again with these terms.

A. Method

1) I look in my Bible (Am. Heritage Dictionary) and see what my culture
   has to say about the matter.  Here's what I found this morning:

# sorcerer...n.  A person who practices sorcery; wizard.  [ME *sorser*
#  < OFr. *sorcier* < VLat. *sortiarius* < Lat. *sors*, lot, chance.]
# sorcery...n.  The use of supernatural power over others through the
#  assistance of evil spirits; witchcraft....
# wizard...n. 1. A sorcerer or magician.  2. A skillful or clever person:
#  *a wizard at math.*  3. *Archaic*.  A wise man or sage. 
#  -adj.  1. Of or pertaining to wizards or wizardry.  2. *Chiefly Brit*.
#  Excellent.  [ME *wysard* < *wys*, wise < OE *wis*]
# magician...n. 1. A sorcerer; wizard.  2. One who performs magic for
#  entertainment or diversion.  3. One whose skill or art seems to be
#  magical: *a magician with words*.
# magic...n. 1. The art that purports to control or forecast natural
#  events, or forces by invoking the supernatural.  2. a. The practice
#  of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural
#  effects or to control events in nature.  b. The charms, spells, and
#  rituals so used.  3. The exercise of slight of hand or conjuring for
#  entertainment.  4. A mysterious quality of enchantment: *the magic of
#  the distant past*.  [ME *magik* < OFr. *magique* < LLat. *magice* <
#  Gk. *magike* < *magus*, magician.  -- see MAGUS.]
# magus...n., pl. ma-gi... 1. A member of the Zoroastrian priestly caste
#  of the Medes and Persians.  2. Magus.  Of the three wise men from the
#  East who traveled to Bethlehem to pay homage to the infant Jesus.
#  3. A sorcerer; magician.  [ME < Lat. *magus*, sorcerer < Gk. *magos*
#  < Pers. *magus*.]  -- ma'gi-an...n.
# witchcraft...n. 1. Black magic; sorcery.  2.  A magical or irresistible
#  influence, attraction, or charm.
# witch...n. 1. A woman who practices sorcery or is believed to have
#  dealings with the devil.  2. An ugly, vicious old woman; hag.
#  3. *Informal*.  A bewitching young woman or girl.  -tr. v. 1. To work
#  or cast a spell upon; bewitch.  2. To cause, bring, or effect by
#  witchcraft.  [ME *wicche* < OE *wicce*, witch and < OE *wicca*,
#  wizard.]

2) I take what I found, what I've been told, what I have experienced
   and what I imagine and enjoy the exploration.
a) what I found - There appears to be a synonym-structure here among the
terms as they are used within my Bible.  The term 'sorcery' appears to
relate in root to the idea of lots or chance.  The act of sorcery or the
role of being a sorcerer appears to be seen (in relation to 'wizard' and
to 'magician') in both positive and negative lights.  On the one hand it
is associated with wisdom and on the other with 'evil' or 'the devil'.
{This latter would certainly explain the passage in _The Bible_.}  It also
appears that sorcery is associated with some sort of manipulation of
what are called here 'natural events', a type of power derived of 'the 

b) what I've been told - I've been told that there has often been a very
intense conflict between 'sorcerers' or 'magicians', on the one hand, and
'priests' (esp. Christian) on the other, usually on the basis of the
association of sorcery with 'evil' and 'the devil'.  I've been told that
at least 'Magick' is both Science and Art, that it may be seen as a kind
of tool or energy, and that it is or may be associated with Jewish, 
Christian and Muslim mystical practices.  I've been told that those 'Three
Magi' were also called 'The Three Wise Men', and that they were indeed
somehow associated with Persian religion.  I've been told that the stage
performance of magic is a lost element of the artful mystique of Magick,
and that the Science involves ceremony, tools and a kind of in-depth study.
I've been told that witches ride brooms, have warts on their noses, have
black cats as 'familiars', and enjoy poisoning and eating people, living
out in the countryside, especially in the heart of a deep, dark wood.  I've
been told that that is a myth and that witches are really nature-worshippers
who don't hurt people, are often wise in the ways of herbs and medicines,
are or have been midwives and counsellors.  I've been told that witchcraft
is a ceremonial art called 'Wicca' which was largely fabricated by a man
named Gerald Gardner in the 1950's and has become a fragmented tradition
among what is popularly called the 'Neopagan' religious movement, often
supposing itself (inaccurately) to be a replication of pre-Christian 

c) what I have experienced - this includes too much to relate here in full,
though I have met nobody besides myself who associated with the term
'sorcerer'.  I have at one time corresponded briefly with an organization
which characterized itself as a 'Sorcerer's Guild', and they weren't clear 
in either their concepts or in their terminology.  I have heard the term
'sorcerer' used in popular fiction and fantasy, as well as in other media
and in games.  I remember quite vividly the part in Disney's 'Fantasia'
in which 'the Sorcerer's Apprentice' appeared (Mickey Mouse), and his
master was portrayed as an old man in robes with long beard, if memory
serves.  I have met and spoken with many who called themselves 'mage' or
some variant thereof.  These rarely spoke of sorcery, wizards or wizardry,
though their discussion of magic(k) typically included some sort of 
aspiration toward the divine or manipulation of events/objects using
transphysical means.  Those I've met who called themselves 'witch' also
did not associate with the term 'sorcery', and they usually characterized
their activities as worship or as 'magic(k)'.  I have never met anyone
who called hirself 'wizard', though I do find that my own path may be
characterized as Wizardry.

d) what I imagine - I imagine that the root terminology of words gives
some measure of apprehension of its original meaning.  I imagine that
the association with 'lots' and 'chance' may have some connection to
games, which derived from divination devices.  I imagine that there may
have been some religious cross-over and rivalry between the Persian Magi 
and the emergent Judeo-Christian religion - that on the one hand we retain
within our culture a reverence for the 'wizard' or 'magician' yet also
find these repugnant from certain Christian perspectives (notably those
which include or emphasize the concepts of 'evil' or 'the devil').  I
imagine that the popular notions regarding 'nature' and 'the supernatural'
may not always have applied or apply to the individuals involved with
what is called 'sorcery' or 'magic', though that the connection to that
'beyond the natural' may indicate an association to a god or gods which
may appear to be antagonistic or to at least compete with the most popular
religious paradigm during the development of the language (Christianity).
I imagine that the association of witches with women and wizards for men
is no mistake, and that in some measure this language indicates a kind of
oppression against women, or at least a fear of them, perhaps the projection
of the men who may have been responsible for the care and passage of the
language and the most popular religious tradition.  I imagine that these
images of the hag and bewitcher are very important to the modern psyche
and that they connect very deeply to any meaings which 'sorcery' might 
have, especially in that they involve fear and desire.

3) I take all of the above and, incorporating my motives (not completely
analyzed here :>), determine my preferences.

B. Preference 

what I like - I like to think of sorcerers as explorers of the diverse
realms of consciousness.  I contrast them with shamans, preferring a rather 
anthropological taxonomy in that while sorcerers traverse the hinterlands
of their minds they have not perfected a means to bring what they found 
back into what many would call 'ordinary experience'.  When the sorcerer
learns to 'ground their explorations in the center of their lives', so
to speak, then she is becoming a shaman.  I like to think of shamanism as
incorporating both modern and primitive forms of worship, divination, and
symbology.  I like to think of shamans as walking the paths between the
worlds (all of them: socio-political, cultural, magico-religious, and even
the moral dimensions of evil/good).  Shamans live in-between the ordinary
world of jobs and families and taxes and foreign policy, and the nonordinary 
world of demons and angels and djinn and faeries and elementals.  I like to 
call CHRIST, symbolized by the Cross and Crossroads.

|Doesn't the above statement condemn Christian magicians/sorcerers?

1) I think it does condemn 'sorcery' as a 'work of the flesh', though
what this may mean I am not sure.

2) I'd guess that it actually defines 'Christian sorcerer' as a contra-
diction in terms.

3) I gather that this is an English translation of another language,
apparently Greek, since 'Galations' is a book in the 'New Testament'
of _The Bible_.  As such, if we care what the original meant, then we'd
have to look pretty closely at the Greek terms and consider them in
context to determine if it is a condemnation, what it may in fact be
condemning, and whether 'sorcery' is part of this, not to mention
whether the individual was attempting to tie in 'Christianity', which
I think we may presume from the outset.

To: Christian Magick Elist
From: tyagi mordred nagasiva 
Subject: Re: Sorcery
Date: Kali Yuga 49941103
Quoting: |unknown
|    5331. pharmakeia, far-mak-i'-ah; from G5332; medication ("pharmacy"), 
|    i.e. (by extens.) magic (lit. or fig.):--sorcery, witchcraft.

I interpret this two ways: 

1) Herbalist/Poisoner

The individual in question uses chemicals to influence others.  When we
benefit by this we call them 'herbalist' or 'doctor'.  When we suffer,
we call this 'poisoning'.  

By the overall condemnation meted out in this text I'd have to suppose 
that 'poisoner' is more likely the intent, though it is true that there 
has been a severe shift in the medical authority within our culture over 
the years, passing largely from the hands of women to that of men.

2) Alchemist/Chemo-ritualist

The individual in question uses chemicals to influence themselves.  When
they are doing so to investigate the properties of the chemicals and have
a parallel influence on themselves (performing a kind of metaphor), then
we call them 'alchemist', from which modern chemistry is derived.  When
they are using chemicals as tools to achieve certain states of conscious-
ness, then I don't think we have a name for this (I use 'sorcerer'), aside
from 'drug-user', which, in our 'Just-Say-No' atmosphere, amounts to a
criticism.  Above I am more judicial, calling them 'chemo-ritualists'.

I gather that it is possible that religious differences may have inspired
a severe condemnation of either of these endeavors, but the fear inherent
in the verse and the obvious reference to influencing OTHER people could
only be ascribed to the alchemist of this pair.  That deception is a part
of the bag (Rev 18:23 being an example here) would seem to support this
statement also, in a superstitious sort of way).


What I gather from reading all of this wonderful research within _The Bible_
is that to a great extent 'sorcery' seems to be heavily laden with meaning
and may not function very well for the job of conveying the idea here being
presented.  Then again, perhaps the sands of time have eroded relevance in
text which applied to a culture long ago and far away.

In any case I think it can be quite easily resolved by transliterating
rather than translating directly.  Rather than associating 'sorcery' with
the 'pharmacy' (or various other meanings) that its counterparts imply, 
I'd suggest that we might more easily use 'harmful magick', what the 
ignorant often call 'black magic(k)': that magick which intends to hurt, 
deceive or coerce.

Beyond this it would seem a religious rivalry which need not apply to us.

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