Exploring Our Weird Relationship With Magic

And not just the wizarding world...
Exploring Our Weird Relationship With Magic

Magic is generally written off as untrue and a phenomenon with a clear explanation. But then how did your uncle pull off his thumb and then meld it back together, Craig? A true magician in the works, or just a convincing divorced man? The business of magic has been deemed "a beautiful lie" by magicians Penn and Teller, but how did we get from mystical wonders to fraudulent finger amputation and sad statements from Vegas acts? 

The first recorded instance of a magical happening was thought to have originated back in mummy times. In ancient Egypt, Dedi was a man who was said to have decapitated a goose and brought it back to life as a deed for a pharaoh. Naturally, this was found to be a tall tale, with modern historians questioning if Dedi actually existed.

Dude … we know you didn't do it.

In the Western world, causality, or the concept that everything has a cause, is not always looked at creatively. In other words, there is not much consideration toward reasoning other than plain old boring logic. I was sitting under a tree, and a branch fell on me and broke my phone, probably because the wind blew and my dumbass happened to be right under it … though why not take it a step further and ask, "but why did this happen to me in particular?" Was I the chosen dumbass?   

Rather than believing only logic, "witchcraft explains unfortunate circumstances in situations that Western science would simply put down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time." Witchcraft can add a spiritual aspect to the ordinary, and this is the healing magic that is applied. Instead of limiting your judgment of the situation to what seems obvious, there's added room for speculation. Maybe the branch was a wake-up call for me to stay off my phone once in a while and enjoy the view ahead of me, goddammit.  

This is where concepts of magic can be healing. Take, for example, the practice of Vodou (often translated as spirit), a practice widely misunderstood by much of the West and often deemed sinister in Hollywood movies. Practiced mainly in Haiti, South America, some countries in Africa, and scattered throughout the US, it's a view of the world that incorporates philosophy, medicine, and justice. Not to mention parts of it were created as opposition toward French colonialism.

Also, in the demonized pool is witchy witchcraft. Most famously in the belief of devil-like possession of young women thought up by early Christians most prominently in Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland.

Thomas Satterwhite Nobel

“She was looking at marbles for too long, your honor."

While some of these women were speculated pagans carrying out the devil's demands, "Many, however, were simply natural healers or so-called "wise women" whose choice of profession was misunderstood." So don't shit on the tween in your life who burns herbs, lights candles, and spends too much time with their Ouija board. These women accused of sorcery would face a fate that no toy store magic board could predict, from being burned at the stake to drowning. Oftentimes, difficulties in mental health played into the supposed odd behavior that would serve to legitimize who was a witch and who was not.

So what is magic if it has been deemed a healer and a foe? According to USC Dornsife, "Something happens and it causes something else to happen and we see the result, but we don't know exactly how it works," so magic exists in mystery, and as this definition tells us, this not-knowing-how-it-works sorta thing could be abused pretty easily, think women accused of dark magic- summoning the devil, though actually, they're just drying thyme in a cheesecloth.

Courtesy of Refinery 29, "...Like Halloween, magic lets you participate in behavior that's a little outside the norms of society." A means of gaining control when you normally could not, magic is part action but mainly belief. Way beyond the simple magic trick (sorry, Gob, illusions…), magic will thrive "as long as there's uncertainty in your life, as long as there's a limit to what you can do to directly improve your situation, and as long as people want to protect the ones they love."  

For more of Oona’s sarcasm and attempted wit, visit her website oonaoffthecuff.com.

Top Image: Ann_Milovidova/Pixabay 

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