By Marcel Mauss

First written by means of Marcel Mauss and Henri Humbert in 1902, A basic conception of Magic received a large new readership while republished through Mauss in 1950. As a research of magic in 'primitive' societies and its survival this present day in our ideas and social activities, it represents what Claude Lévi-Strauss known as, in an creation to that variation, the extraordinary modernity of the brain of 1 of the century's maximum thinkers. The booklet deals a desirable picture of magic all through quite a few cultures in addition to deep sociological and non secular insights nonetheless a great deal correct at the present time. At a interval whilst paintings, magic and technology seem to be crossing paths once more, A basic conception of Magic provides itself as a vintage for our instances.

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

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Kinship is a common factor in the relations between a magician and the spirits. He is said to have a father, a mother or an ancestor who is a spirit being. In India today a certain number of families claim that their magical gifts originated this way. In Wales, families who monopolize the so-called magical arts are said to be descended from the union of a man and a fairy. More commonly, however, the relationship between a magician and a spirit is described as a kind of contract or pact, either tacit or expressed, general or particular, permanent or temporary.

Medical rites, however useful and licit they may be made to appear; do not involve the same degree of solemnity, nor the same idea of an accomplished duty, as do expiatory sacrifices or vows made to a curative divinity. When somebody has recourse 29 30 a general theory of magic to a medicine man, the owner of a spirit-fetish, a bone-mender or a magician, there is certainly a need, but no moral obligation is involved. Nevertheless, there are examples of cults which are magical. There was the Hecate cult of Ancient Greece, the cult of Diana and the devil in the magic of the Middle Ages and the whole cult devoted to one of the greatest Hindu divinities, Rudra-Shiva.

This is particularly so when their souls have left their bodies, that is to say when they are performing. Thus, as we said earlier, they really belong more to the world of the spirits than to the world of men. Thus, if a man does not qualify as a magician through his social status, he may nevertheless do so because of the coherent representations which are directed at him. A magician is a man who has special qualifications—special relationships and, more particularly, special powers. It is one of the highest classed professions and probably one of the first to be so.

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