Magic may be briefly defined as the attempt on man's part to have intercourse with spiritual and supernatural beings, and to influence them for his benefit. It rests upon the belief so prevalent in low civilizations, that the powers in the world on which human well-being depends are controlled by spiritual agents, and that these agents are to be conciliated and made friends of by words, acts, and so forth, which are thought to please them. There is in this something analogous to religious worship and prayer. Indeed, magic and religion have many and close affinities, as will be more fully shown. All magic for it is an appeal to spirits believe to be more powerful and wise than man, and the methods employed to secure what is desired are no other than supplications to the goodwill of the beings consulted. Magic may be described as a two kind of religion in which the ethical element is either subordinated or sacrificed to other and inferior elements. Incantations are prayers, only that the main stress is laid on the mode of utterance rather than on the moral condition of the agent. Plants, drugs, etc., when burnt to appease the good spirits, and protect against evil ones, are to be compared with sacrifices, and especially with incense, which last obtains at the present time in many branches of the Christian Church.
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