Monday, 12 March 2012

Poetics, Aesthetics, and Ritual Magic

"For the inventors and practioners of the rites, however deeply versed in the lore of their subject and however obedient to its rules, often gave proof of the artistic temperament, to the advantage of the literature which has survived. The aim, like that of astrology, alchemy and applied science as a whole, was strictly practical; the means show evidence of creative instincts, poetical imagination and feeling for beauty and drama… Some of the rites are radiant and serene; others are lurid and even sinister; others again vibrate with spiritual power; and the boons demanded are not so disproportionate to the pressure brought to bear upon the gods as is too often the case. Although they include immunity from such commonplace ills as headaches and fevers and requests for beauty, victory and misfortunes on one’s foes, the most important processes were undertaken for loftier reasons: for divine visions or communion with gods, for immortality or regeneration, for dreams, for prophecies and oracles. And when the aim was a lower one: the procuring of a familiar spirit, or the constraint of another’s love, the language in its intensity and fecundity rises above the normal ritual level."[1]

[1] Elizabeth M Butler, Ritual Magic, 1949, pages 4, 8-9.

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