Introduction: What Is Magic?

Ariel Glucklich

in The End of Magic

Published in print May 1997 | ISBN: 9780195108798
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853434 | DOI:
Introduction: What Is Magic?

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What is magic? What does magic do? Why do people believe in magic in the face of experience? After living in the Indian city of Banaras and making several trips to tribal areas in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Orissa, the author of this chapter discovered a surprising fact: magic is rarely a simple matter of belief. Few magicians and clients in Banaras ever ask themselves why their magic works or what it means. Without belief, the supernatural aspect of magic becomes moot. Magic is based on a unique type of consciousness: the awareness of the interrelatedness of all things in the world by means of simple hut refined sense perception. This awareness can be called “magical consciousness” or, less ambiguously, the “magical experience.” In Banaras, mind reading depends on subtle forms of nonverbal communication that skilled or intuitive practitioners can read like an open book. The magician is the man or woman who creates the context in which minds enter a relationship, and this is often experienced as an “occult” event.

Keywords: Banaras; India; magic; belief; supernatural; magicians; mind reading; occult; magic consciousness; magical experience

Chapter.  5237 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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