History of Magic
Welcome to the History of Magic. You will learn about the ancient beliefs of magic up to the near future.
Abracadabra was believed to be a magic word that protected magicians from disease and trouble. The letters of the word were arranged in a pyramid form, starting at the base with the entire word; Abracadabra. Each line of the pyramid had the entire word, minus one letter each time. Each letter represented a disease or trouble. Magicians wore this pyramid on a small pendant around their neck. These days, magicians use the word in their performances. It has acquired another sense over time: "foolish and unintelligible talk."
In the year of 50,000 BC, magic was developed. Ancient people created magic to explain unexplainable phenomena, like earthquakes, tornados, and other elements of nature. Scientists believe that they buried cave bears as a magical ritual. Cave people believed that cave paintings of the animal used in the ritual helped them with their hunting of the animal in the painting.
Religion and magic go together very well. The Egyptians believed that magic was very important. They used magical amulets, figures and rites (ancient rituals). The ancient Greeks and Romans predicted the future from peoples dreams and also attended oracles (priests). The oracles interpreted advice from the gods.
In the middle ages, basically every European believed in magic. The clergy thought that magic was sinful, but they still believed in magical powers. Alchemy was a believed science of transformation. This is when alchemists turn lead, iron, and other metals into gold. To do this they had to get the philosopher's stone, this was believed to be the magical substance that changed the metals into gold. To do this, they had to find the Alchemist's Stone. This was a diamond that had three parts to it. To get it to work, the three parts had to be fit together in just a way so that it would make a symmetrical star-like prism. When light shone through the prism, the lead would melt, and change into gold. They also attempted to find the elixir of life. This was a miraculous substance that was believed to lengthen life and cure disease.
A secret brotherhood called Rosicrucians was gaining members quick, quick, quick. They devoted their time to help people in as many ways as possible and to cure the sick. The Masons, another secret brotherhood, had the same magic rituals as the Rosicrucian.
From the 1500's to the 1700's, magical beliefs continued to be widespread. Even people who were well educated believed in magical powers. Philippus Paracelsus, a Swiss physician, experimented with alchemy and believed in the power of a talisman. A talisman is any object that has magical powers. Some examples of a talisman is a ring or a figurine. Another person who studied alchemy was Sir Isaac Newton. Thousands of people were executed for being a witch during this time period.
Many different types of magic tried to predict the future. Examples of this form of prediction include the study of people's palms, facial features and even moles located on the body. People who practiced these methods were referred to as soothsayers. Another way to tell the future were tarot cards.
After the year 1600, scientific knowledge advanced which weakened the belief in magic. In the early 1700's the Italian magician, Count Allesandro di Cagiliostro, revived the lost belief in magic. He traveled through Europe making and then selling elixirs and potions. This brought fame and fortune throughout Europe.
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