Pop Magic

Text and image by Kenia Cris

A man is going on trial in The United Arab Emirates  next month for tricking people by promising to solve their marital problems with black magic (Khaleej Times). Magic was an ancient kind of religion practiced by primitive people. It now coexists with other religions in several countries, culture influences the way we see and deal with it today.

According to Frazer, magic is divided into two fields: Imitative and Contagious. Imitative magic is based on a principle which says that ‘like produces like‘. The most familiar application of Imitative magic is the attempt which has been made by many people all through history to injure or destroy enemies by injuring or destroying images of them. Voodoo is a popular and still feared practice. The habit of kissing photos or placing your name together with your significant one’s in little hearts on notebook pages might as well have roots in the Imitative magic belief.

Contagious magic understands 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. Take the magical sympathy which is supposed to exist between a man and any severed portion of his person, as his hair or nails; so that whoever gets possession of such things may work his will, at any distance, upon the person from whom they were taken. Contagious magic has been taken so seriously that still today, many mothers are used to keeping their children’s umbilical cord stumps safely hidden from everyone, sometimes they bury them in specific places, afraid that if they are eaten by ants or rats for example, horrible things can happen to their children.

Another curious application of the contagious doctrine is the relation commonly believed to exist between a wounded man and the agent of the wound, so that whatever is subsequently done by or to the agent must correspondingly affect the patient either for good or evil. Isn’t the relationship between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter explained by this?

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