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Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld: An Anthropology by Susan Greenwood

By Susan Greenwood

Anthropology's lengthy and complicated courting to magic has been strongly stimulated by way of western technology and notions of rationality. This e-book takes a fresh new examine glossy magic as practised through modern Pagans in Britain. It makes a speciality of what Pagans see because the essence of magic - a conversation with an otherworldly truth. interpreting problems with id, gender and morality, the writer argues that the otherworld kinds a vital defining attribute of magical practice.Integrating an experiential ethnographic technique with an research of magic, this publication asks penetrating questions about the character of otherworldly wisdom and argues that our clinical frameworks want re-envisioning. it truly is exact in supplying an insider's view of the way magic is practised in modern western tradition.

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Extra info for Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld: An Anthropology

Sample text

He spoke about the Western Mysteries in terms of Egyptian mythology and the goddess Isis. We were all Osiris because we had all been ‘dismembered, scattered, lost, hurt and abused’. Isis was our saviouress; as she had gathered up the fragments of Osiris after his murder by Set, so she would make us whole. Goddard described Isis as a ‘manifestation of the eternal force of pure spirit’, ‘the womb in which all things live’, ‘the field in which we have elected to come to express our god natures’. The gods were described as a way to approach the ‘supreme source which pervades all things’.

This raises a paradox highlighted by Paul Rabinow: As graduate students we are told that ‘anthropology equals experience’; you are not an anthropologist until you have the experience of doing it. But when one returns from the field the opposite immediately applies: anthropology is not the experiences which made you an initiate, but only the objective data you have brought back (quoted in Tedlock 1991:72). However, this position has shifted since the 1980s, and ethnographers have explored the process of producing ethnographies that represent the anthropologist as self interacting with other selves.

The crucial requirement is that questions about this reality should be asked by a scientific discipline of anthropology that is prepared to extend its area of analysis to include quasi-universal human experiences that fall outside a rationalist framework. Studies of magic that do not engage with the otherworld dimension of contemporary practice cannot hope to explain magic, and it is inappropriate to use methods developed for the study of everyday reality to analyse the magical otherworld. Just as the current scientific method is largely based on a rationality grounded in a logic associated with linear causality, so the otherworld is governed by its own logic and must be studied in its proper context.

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