black magic

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black magic

(Or "FM") A technique that works, though nobody really understands why. More obscure than voodoo programming, which may be done by cookbook.

Compare black art, deep magic, and magic number.
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Black Magic

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

"Black" magic is negative magic, magic that will harm a person in some way. Curses and hexes are examples of black magic. It is magic that invokes malevolent forces and destructive elements. According to the Wiccan Rede, "An it harm none, do what thou wilt," Witches may not perform black magic. A "Black Witch" is a contradiction in terms. By definition, Witches can only be "White Witches," able to do only positive magic. Those who do black magic are Black Magicians, not Witches.

Yet the Christian propaganda of the Middle Ages painted a different picture. In its attempts to do away with the Old Religion, the Church depicted the witch as a servant of Satan and the principle perpetrator of black magic. Witches at the time were believed to cause famine, blight, barren cattle, eggless chickens, and infertile fields. They were accused of causing their neighbors to have lice, to stutter and stammer, to limp, sicken, and even to die.

The practice of sticking pins into wax or other images to bring about death or injury to a person, is a typical example of black magic. Often erroneously referred to as "Voodoo dolls," such poppets are not used in the rituals of Voodoo itself. As with all such imitative magic, the poppet is made to represent the person to be affected. It may be a simple, almost crude, figure, or it may be fully detailed with the person's every feature. Either way, it is consecrated and named for the person. Words to the effect that "All that I do to this figure, I do to (Name)" are said. Then the figure is abused. It may be stuck with pins—pins in the head to bring about a headache, or pins in the heart to bring about death—or it may be slowly melted, if of wax, over a candle flame or fire. At the Salem Witch trials, evidence was presented against Bridget Bishop by two men who testified that "being employed by Bridget Bishop, alias Oliver, of Salem to help take down the cellar wall of the old house she formerly lived in, we the said depondents, in holes in the old wall belonging to the said cellar, found several puppets made up of rags and hogs' bristles with headless pins in them with the points outward."

Such figures have been found years after they were made. In 1964 two such poppets were found at a castle in Norfolk, England. One was a clay figure of a woman, pierced with a sliver of hawthorn and nailed to a wooden board. The other was an actual sheep's heart pierced with pieces of hawthorn. In the ruins of a house in London that had been bombed during World War II, a doll dressed in a nurse's uniform, with pins stuck into its heart was discovered. Another poppet was found in a miniature coffin. The hearts of sheep and cattle were commonly used, often pierced with thorns, rather than pins. Lemons were also used, pierced with black-headed pins.

Black magic is referred to as the "left Hand Path," from when right-handedness was regarded as normal and left-handedness as unnatural. When working magic, it is necessary to build the "power"—to generate energy within the magician, that can then be sent out to the subject. In black magic, the magician will do this with wild gestures, perhaps slashing and stabbing the air with knife or sword to build up his anger and power. When sufficient power has been built, it is directed into the tool, which may be a poppet, as described, or other means of projection.

A.E. Waite makes a distinction between Black and White Magic and states, "In Egypt, in India, and in Greece, there was no dealing with devils in the Christian sense of the expression; Typhon, Juggernaut, and Hecate were not less divine than the gods of the over-world, and the offices of Canidia were probably in their way as sacred as the peaceful mysteries of Ceres. Each of the occult sciences was, however, liable to that species of abuse which is technically known as Black Magic. . . . White Ceremonial Magic is, by the terms of its definition, an attempt to communicate with Good Spirits for a good, or at least an innocent purpose. Black Magic is the attempt to communicate with Evil Spirits for an evil purpose." He goes on to discuss what he describes as "the four specific and undisguised handbooks of Black Magic," naming the Grimorium Verum, True Black Magic, The Grand Grimoire, and The Constitution of Pope Honorius the Great, noting that "They are all tiny volumes."

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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