an exercise in miscellany

Sympathetic Magic

In Religion, wild card on May 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Mumford full bodySympathetic magic, also known as imitative magic, is a type of magic based on imitation or correspondence. The theory of sympathetic magic was first developed by Sir James George Frazer in The Golden Bough. He further subcategorized sympathetic magic into two varieties: that relying on similarity, and that relying on contact or ‘contagion’:

If we analyze the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two: first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the Law of Contact or Contagion. From the first of these principles, namely the Law of Similarity, the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it: from the second he infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not.

Sympathetic magic

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