Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Issue of Magic In Modern Hellenism

One of the most controversial issues in the modern Hellenic community is the use of magic, especially among Reconstructionists. Generally, the practice is not accepted as part of the religion. The general belief is that magic is hubris because it's an attempt to manipulate nature and/or usurp the will and power of the Gods. The problem with this statement is that it's extremely rigid, and anyone who practices magic knows that the Art is anything but dogmatic. 

If you read Greek Religion by Walter Burkert, who every Hellenist I know would classify as a scholar on ancient Greek religion, he references numerous practices of magic in ancient Greece. Now it's also true that not all forms of magic would have been accepted by the ancient Greeks, but it is nevertheless dishonest to say, There was no magic in ancient Greece, because there was very distinctly. It's just that many of us in the Hellenic community may not consider it to be magic. Definitions are critical. To some people, you have to cast spells in order to practice magic, while to others, a simple prayer is a spell. So when we pray to the Greek Gods, they would consider that to be spellcraft. To others, they might consider an oracle to be magical or even a witch, whereas Hellenists would probably see them as mystics, but also without realizing that the magical community would also consider mysticism to be magic. Some might even consider us to live in a magical world where everything is magic period. But anytime you choose to equate something with negative things, you're always going to think it's bad. If you recognize the great diversity in magical practices, and understand there are countless ways to do them, it's not rigid to you anymore.

The way I see it, we all have our own energies, given to us by the natural state of being human, that we can use for the betterment of our lives. We are able to use our bodily and mental energies in many ways to improve ourselves, both magical and mundane. And if something can be used for good, it must come from the Gods in that purpose. If we are to condemn the use of our own energies; we are to say that our very existence is an affront to the Gods, and that we are therefore naturally damned, and such is not a Hellenic belief. Obviously, there would be right and wrong ways to practice magic in a Hellenic format. Anytime you try to usurp the will of the Gods, overrule or control them, that would be wrong. But as I have said, magic does not have to entail that, as there are many forms of magic.

I myself would define magic, at least in part, as the following:

Working your energy with help from the Gods, and the humble power of yourself, in a consensual relationship, to achieve a positive goal.

Now, probably a lot of Hellenists would say, That's not magic, that's mysticism, which is perfectly fine in Hellenism. But again, definitions are what make the difference. Different people would classify my definition in numerous ways. There is no one and only meaning of magic. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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