Between High Theory and Low Praxis

29 09 2008

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Some notes towards a Christian theory of magic

In response to some of Christina’s concerns :

I think Christina is correct in asserting the first principle to consider: magic that manipulates and does harm is demonic and against the will of God. In Mexican folk practices, the women and curanderos who practice these feats of preternatural healing are usually devout Catholics. Magic is often considered a defensive mechanism against los brujos  and la brujeria  (witches and witchcraft). As E. Bryant Holman, an expert in Mexican folk religion, points out, it would be an insult to these people to associate them with Wicca or other New Age forms of the occult. Most curanderos  are merely trying to clean up the mess that witches cause, and they do so using common objects: a cross, an egg, a branch from a tree, water etc. Many sociologists would like to see in these practices survivals of a pagan past, but in reality these practices are tied into the Catholic nature of these societies. The priest is often seen as the curandero  par excellence, and many treatments in Mexican folk medicine involve taking the patient to the priest.
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