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Defense of syncretism

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick
From: "John B" 
Subject: Re: Defense of syncretism
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 08:26:41 -0800

>****This is a great thread and the sort of thing we've really needed
>on alt.magick.  In line with this theme I'd like to point out that
>magicians all over the world are the most "syncretic" of all
>practitioners (priests seem to be the least).

I wonder if you could expand a little bit on the distinction you're making
here. I'm not sure exactly what meaning you're attaching to the titles
'priest' and 'magician'.

Generally these two roles are played by the same people in most cultures.
Magical acts blend with religious ones in the repetoires of most spiritual
authority figures; Shamans, Christian priests & monks, Jewish rabbis,
Brahmin priests, Buddhist monks, the occasional Sufi, mystics of many
creeds, etc... All these religious titles have both 'religious' and
'magical' powers attached to them ( although internally the tradition may
not identify any of its mainstream supernatural powers with the concept of
'magic') Essentially, I'm asking you what you think the difference is
between Moses' act of turning rod to snake, and the Egyptian priests'
similar feat.

 From a Jewish perspective, the difference was that Moses' act was
accomplished through an act of God (a miracle) and the priests' act was
accomplished by their own supradivine abilities (sorcery). From an Egyptian
perspective, I don't know that they wouldn't have sourced their own
abilities in the divine...

A more modern example, Here in Canada we have several neo-pagan churchs,
they are legitimate religious bodies, accepted to one degree or another by
the communities they live in ( they perform a wide variety of social
services, ministries, and are extremely productive in society) They have
not, to my knowledge, abandoned any of the magical work which pagans find
useful and meaningful.

Another example, Oral Roberts Ministries , a Christian organization,
performs various forms of spiritual healing (distinguished from magical
healing by ...?) they channel the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues
(barbarous words) to achieve the greatest results from their
operations/prayers. The Bible itself acts as a talisman in many of their
healing narratives, warding off demonic influence.

Anyway, my point here is that I find the distinction between a magical act
and a religious one, at times, to be quite arbitrary.


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