Download A General Theory of Magic (Routledge Classics) by Marcel Mauss PDF

By Marcel Mauss

First written by means of Marcel Mauss and Henri Humbert in 1902, A normal conception of Magic received a large new readership whilst republished through Mauss in 1950. As a research of magic in 'primitive' societies and its survival this day in our concepts and social activities, it represents what Claude Lévi-Strauss referred to as, in an creation to that variation, the impressive modernity of the brain of 1 of the century's maximum thinkers. The ebook bargains a desirable photo of magic all through a variety of cultures in addition to deep sociological and spiritual insights nonetheless greatly correct this day. At a interval whilst artwork, magic and technological know-how seem to be crossing paths once more, A normal conception of Magic offers itself as a vintage for our occasions.

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He is said to lack a shadow. In the Middle Ages people looked for the devil’s mark on the witch’s body. Doubtless many witches were hysterical cases capable of producing 33 34 a general theory of magic stigmata and anæsthesic zones. As for the beliefs regarding the particular appearance of magicians, they mainly depend on actual observation. All over the world there are people who have a peculiarly cunning look, who appear odd or untrustworthy, who blink at one strangely. It is summed up in the idea of the ‘evil eye’ and applies to persons who are feared and suspected.

On other occasions the double may be quite separate from the magician, a person to some degree independent of his control, who from time to time appears to carry out his will. The magician may be escorted by a retinue of assistants, animals or spirits, who are none other than his doubles or external souls. Midway between these two extremes we have shape-changing. This is, in fact, a kind of splitting in two which involves animal disguises, and while the metamorphosis seems to involve two formal beings, they are, in essence, still one.

Magic is also part and parcel of some professions. Doctors, barbers, blacksmiths, shepherds, actors and gravediggers have magical powers, which clearly are not attributes of individuals but of corporate groups. Virtually all doctors, all shepherds and all blacksmiths are magicians: doctors because their skills go hand in hand with magic, and in any case their use of such complex techniques makes it inevitable that their profession should be considered marvellous and supernatural; barbers, because they are so intimately involved with bodily waste, which is commonly hidden away or destroyed through fear of sorcery; blacksmiths, because they work with a substance which universally provokes superstition and because their difficult profession, shrouded in mystery, is not without prestige; shepherds, because of their communion with animals, plants and stars; gravediggers, because of their contact with death.

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