Lesson 5

MAGIC AND RELIGION

"Magic was the cradle of the twin giants -- History and Science," as someone has so aptly put it. I would make it more explicit, however, and say that Magic was the cradle of History, Religion, Medicine, Pharmacy and Chemistry, and other Sciences. It was the beginning of all that we have now in the way of Science.

It seems almost incredible to us that Magic, now that we regard it only as an entertaining art, should have led the way to an understanding of nature and thus to the development of sciences. But just such was its effect. Magic, of course, you know came down hand in hand with History. In our earliest records, in Biblical times, during the Golden Age of Art in Greece, in the Dark Ages, during the Renaissance, down to the present day, we see the influence of Magic. I have already given you a glimpse of the history of its widespread influence in every age and in every land.

Now we come to the development of religion and of the sciences in relation to Magic.

Earliest Religion

Today we will take up the importance of Magic in Religion.

The earliest religion, of course, was the worship of the elements. Primitive man gazed in wonder at the sun, marveled at the rain, and was awed by day and night. In his bewilderment he conceived the idea that invisible powers were embodied in these mysterious things—the sun, the rain, the winds, etc. Because he could not understand them and because they were beyond his control, he reasoned that they were supernatural beings who ruled the world. He feared the unknown and so he feared these gods of the elements, who, he believed, caused the sun to shine when they were pleased and brought the storm when they were angered.

Origin of Magic in Religion

To these people, only self-preservation was paramount to their worship—their religion. They bent every energy to appease their gods and to keep them mollified, since even in prehistoric times there was a leader of some kind in every group or tribe of people. This leader, naturally, guided the thought and actions of the people in their religion. His suggestions, his actions—his mutterings and the waving of his arms began to signify to the people that he had some communion with the powers above. The ability to sway the will of the gods then began to be definitely associated with the leader. The people began to believe that he was an agent of the gods and thus had supernatural powers.

This marks the beginning of the relationship of Magic with Religion.

Even the cultured nations of antiquity—the ancient Greeks and Romans—believed in many gods who must be appeased with magical practices—such as sacrificing animals and giving offerings of various kinds. The practices were performed under the leadership of the sorcerers. The Jews also, who recognized only one Creator and Ruler of the Universe, believed in powers intermediate between God and man. These powers were angels and demons who could be influenced by magical practices of humans.

The ancient priests, then, were really Magicians, and the first Magic was that which was closely related with religion.

"White" and "Black" Magic

The functions of the priest and the sorcerer were blended at first. Then as established religions were formed among nations of a higher grade, sorcerers began to practice magic and a separation became distinct between the official rites of the priests and those practiced by the sorcerers.

Here began the distinction between "White Magic" and "Black Magic." The miracles worked by the divinities under official sanction were classed as "White Magic" and were always for good. The bewitchings and administering of potions for evil by the sorcerers were classed as "Black Magic."

As religion rose to a higher level it released itself somewhat from the belief in "White Magic," and "Black Magic" grew independently of religion. Strangely enough, however, in spite of enlightenment and a philosophy of religion which developed, magic beliefs in connection with religion maintained an unbelievably strong hold—so strong, in fact, that their influence was not diminished much all through the centuries to modern times. And "Black Magic" has gained such a tremendously strong hold on peoples' imaginations that, as I have pointed out, it still exerts its influence in the form of superstitions.

Origin of Necromancy

Among the ancients, ancestor worship was a major part of religion. You can readily understand, then, how this worship of the dead and the belief that their spirits manifested themselves to the living would bring Necromancy into being. Someone had to be able to conjure up these spirits and to understand them—and, of course, this person would be the one who had supernatural powers and had communion with the deities. Thus arose the class of magicians called necromancers, which I discussed with you in Lesson 3. These necromancers aided the people in pursuing their religion through their supposed magical powers of communication with the spirit world.

Greek Oracles

The religion of the ancient Greeks was founded largely on Necromancy. Their many shrines where the oracle-gods and the departed souls were consulted for prophecies, indicating how closely magic was bound up with their religion. The Oracle of Delphi, which was the shrine of the god Apollo, is the one especially famed in history.

And so we find that in every land, in every corner of the globe, Magic was inseparably bound up with the early religions. Today, too, in civilized countries as well as in primitive lands, these magical beliefs, though somewhat modified, are still a part of religion.

Thus we see how tremendously strong was the hold that Magic had—so strong a hold that thousands of years have failed to destroy it, and though its influence has diminished and it has been modified, Magic is still with us.

In your next lesson I will take up the subject of Magic and the Science of Medicine.

MAGIC DEVELOPS YOUR PERSONALITY

Personality plays an important part in Magic. It has a reciprocal relation to the Art—that is, to use a common phrase, it works both ways: Personality is developed by learning Magic and becoming a Magician, and success as a Magician depends a great deal on personality.

How Magic Develops Your Personality

Magic gives you confidence. That is a big factor in developing a strong personality -- confidence. First you must study and practice faithfully so that the presentation of your tricks may be excellent. Then you will gain confidence in your ability to present your tricks with skill and effectiveness. This confidence will be apparent to the audience and it will convey to them the impression that you have a strong, positive personality. And, indeed, this confidence will develop your personality and will enable you to make a strong impression in performing.

You know how confidence works in a social way. At a party or at a club gathering, it is always the fellow with confidence in himself who is the popular one. He is the man with "personality plus." Very often this man has developed his personality through some talent -- he may sing or play the piano, or he may be a good storyteller. Now, just think what an advantage you have over even this established favorite.

You are learning an Art which is more entertaining than any other and one which is different. If you were until now just an unnoticed member of the crowd, you can become the popular one who is invited to every party and is well known. And all because you will have a wonderful art with which to come before any crowd.

And this art gives you a distinctive personality that is always remembered.

The patter, which I give you with each trick, also helps to develop your personality. If you have been a little shy of speaking before a group, here is your opportunity to overcome any such weakness. You have something to say and you have something to do when you come before a group as a Magician. You have an opportunity to be funny, and when you see that you can make people laugh and that you can arouse their wonder and their admiration, your personality will respond and will become strong and positive.

Thus Magic brings you one of the essentials of success -- a forceful personality. You will find Magic an invaluable aid to you in developing personality in your social life, in your business or your profession, and if you plan to go on the stage the value to you of your personality in Magic will actually be measured in dollars and cents.

How Your Success as a Magician Depends on Your Personality

First impressions can make or break you. The first few moments that you are before your audience are the crucial moments. In a flash your audience decides whether they like you or not, and whether you are a Magician or not. It is vitally important that in those first few moments you sell yourself to your audience. You must get their good will right at the start.

This first impression depends on your personality and you must study the essentials which will gain for you the good will of your audience.

A person may have ability but if his personality is weak, he can never be really successful. The impression he makes on his audience is negative and he is either forgotten as soon as his performance is over or else he is remembered as a poor performer. So remember these things:

1 - Know your tricks perfectly.

2 - Be confident in your ability to present them.

3 - Give your patter in a strong, forceful manner.

4 - Try to maintain always a natural manner.

To sum it all up -You must have a strong personality to be a success at Magic. Magic helps you to develop the personality which success at Magic requires.

LESSON 5

In the last lesson you were initiated into paper tearing effects. Effects of this kind are very useful on any program. I hope that you have mastered the moves for I want you to feel perfectly familiar with them.

In this lesson we will continue with tissue paper effects.

HINDOO PAPER TEARING

This is another variation of the torn and restored paper effect with a different way of handling the thumb tip and of getting rid of the extra piece of paper.

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