Logic/Science: The juxtaposition of two events does not necessarily imply causality. Ex: Breaking a mirror or a black cat crossing one’s path does not necessarily equate with bad luck. If believe bad luck will occur, will be hypersensitive to even the most minute manifestation. “Bad luck” is then easily recognized and attributed to the offending initial event/object. Why does Magic work?
Magic appears to work, because the actions requested will often occur naturally Ex: Magic to bring rain after the dry season, to enable crops to grow. Aztec practice of feeding the sun so it won’t expire. Why does Magic work?
Magic works because of a human psychological disposition towards a positive result. Ex: Bone Pointing among the Australian Aborigines. (relatives also do not feed/care for the afflicted) Ex: The Secret, “mind over matter” Why does Magic work?
Ethnographic Example • Trobriand Islands (Malinowski) • Highest level of knowledge includes rain and garden magic • Only a few have this knowledge and are highly revered in the community • Magic is learned through family members, but is not “free”. • The inquirer must present gifts over time to gain this knowledge. The giver will generally not pass on all the info at once and may die before all magical knowledge is passed on. In this case, other religious specialists from nearby islands to the South may be monetarily persuaded to teach. • Garden magic and ritual • A Spell is used: an oral text that is transmitted without change from generation to generation • The spell must be recited exactly, with the correct phrasing, wording, pausing, etc. One slip-up could invalidate the magic. • The magic compels the supernatural to bend to the person’s wishes, and success is seen as inevitable