Magic and Mystery - Thompson 1884
Superstition in a nation depends very much upon climate, temperament, religion, and occupation. Notions entertained of supernatural beings or things, though generally based upon one broad feature common to all countries, differ so essentially respecting the form, character, habits, and powers of these beings that they appear to have been drawn from sources widely removed. The advance of knowledge and the truths of evolution have almost convinced us that belief in the supernatural (unrevealed) is nothing but the creation of the human brain, impressed upon the imagination of our ancestors at periods when such impressions were likely to be strong and permanent, and transmitted within the iron- bound certainty of the laws of heredity. Legends have forever been beheld through different prejudices and impressions. They have constantly changed with the media and vistas through which they have been viewed. Hence their different shape, character, and attributes in different countries, and the frequent absence of rational analogy with respect to them even in the same. Where now are the multitudinous creations of the old Greek and Roman mythologies? Where are their Lares, Demons, Penates, their Fauns, Satyrs, Nymphs, Dryads, Hamadryads, Gods, and Goddesses? And yet the peasantry of the two most enlightened nations of antiquity were so firmly fixed in a belief of their distinct and individual existence that the worship of them formed an essential part of their religions. Who now believes in a Faun or a Dryad ? They melted into what they were—nothing—before the lustre of Christian knowledge; but only, alas to be substituted by newer notions and imagery, purer it may be, but superstitious undoubtedly. Fear and hope are the feelings which make man superstitious. He doubts as to his immortality, his intellect is limited, and his superstition varies in proportion to his preparedness for death.
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The majority of people who are new to spell working will acknowledge that for them common sense backed up by practical action is normally more productive than theoretical or mystical thinking. In magical working, as in everyday life, when we have to handle a wide range of circumstances, common sense in dealing with them will normally produce the best results. However, when we are confronted with the unusual or difficult, or are faced by extreme anxiety, even the most practical minded among us will theorize in order to make sense of what is happening. We have not moved such a long way since those times, in the distant past, when our ancestors and people around the world routinely believed that if the crops failed then the gods must be angry. Practices carried out then are still with us in the form of many of the festivals and feasts, which still have relevance in the societies where they began. Some of you may choose not to use the spells in this section, but they do offer a return to basics and give fascinating insights into how our ancestors dealt with everyday challenges.
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