MAN, MYTH AND MAGIC by Mildred Boyd


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A loosely structured approach to superstitious behavior as ""an inseparable part of (man's) every religious concept,"" which lacks unifying threads. Unlike Jennings' fine Black Magic, White Magic which is organized according to different manifestations of belief (medicine, prophecy, etc.), this moves chronologically, pointing out various cultural elements: Roman bird divination, Inquisition tortures, English spells). But the text is not cumulative--it does not build on what has gone before except in terms of man's chronic uncertainties. Although religious belief is closely associated with much of this (in fact, black magic is defined as ""magic practiced outside the established faith""), there is little to connect related elements (e.g. baptism and the water test for witchcraft) when they deal with specific religions. It also ignores important distinctions (imitative vs. contagious magic), not excluding examples but failing to indicate them as such. The last few chapters deal with particular practitioners--Joan of Arc, Balsamo-Cagliostro, the Salem set--but not such relevant figures as Faust or Rasputin. A catalog of (speakable) practices rather than a cohesive discussion of phenomena.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1969
Publisher: Criterion