Magic (paranormal) - Varieties of Magical Practice

Varieties of Magical Practice

The best-known type of magical practice is the spell, a ritualistic formula intended to bring about a specific effect. Spells are often spoken or written or physically constructed using a particular set of ingredients. The failure of a spell to work may be attributed to many causes, such as a failure to follow the exact formula, to the general circumstances being unconducive, to a lack of magical ability, to a lack of willpower or to fraud.

Another well-known magical practice is divination, which seeks to reveal information about the past, present or future. Varieties of divination include: astrology, augury, cartomancy, chiromancy, dowsing, extispicy, fortune telling, geomancy, I Ching, omens, scrying, and tarot reading.

Necromancy is a practice which claims to involve the summoning of, and conversation with, spirits of the dead. This is sometimes done simply to commune with deceased loved ones; it can also be done to gain information from the spirits, as a type of divination; or to command the aid of those spirits in accomplishing some goal, as part of casting a spell.

Varieties of magic can also be categorized by the techniques involved in their operation. One common means of categorization distinguishes between contagious magic and sympathetic magic, one or both of which may be employed in any magical work. Contagious magic involves the use of physical ingredients which were once in contact with the person or a thing which the practitioner intends to influence. Sympathetic magic involves the use of images or physical objects which in some way resemble the person or thing that one hopes to influence; voodoo dolls are an example. This dichotomy was proposed by Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough.

Other common categories given to magic include High and Low Magic (the appeal to divine powers or spirits respectively, with goals lofty or personal, according to the type of magic). Another distinction is between "manifest" and "subtle" magic. Subtle magic typically refers to magic of legend, gradually and sometimes intangibly altering the world, whereas manifest magic is magic that immediately appears as a result.

Academic historian Richard Kieckhefer divides the category of spells into psychological magic, which seeks to influence other people's minds to do the magician's will, such as with a love spell, or illusionary magic, which seeks to conjure the manifestation of various wonders. A spell that conjures up a banquet, or that confers invisibility on the magician, would be examples of illusionary magic. Magic that causes objective physical change, in the manner of a miracle, is not accommodated in Kieckhefer's categories.

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