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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El aire de basura

22 07 2008

 The Metaphysics of Sex in Mexican Folk Magic

Magica operari non est aliud quam maritare mundum

(To perform magic is nothing other than to marry the world)

-Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

As I said in a previous post, for all the talk of modern society’s liberation and new appreciation of the body, ours is perhaps the least corporeal existence in all of history. Ours is a very sanitized and safe way of life here in the First World, and any talk of being delivered from this “vale of tears” is often reduced to pious rhetoric, an afterthought that may occur to the very unlucky whose children will come down with a rare form of cancer. Tragedy and sickness are not supposed to touch us anymore, and if they do, we cover it up, put it away, and try to forget about it as soon as possible. (Anyone who has visited a convalescent home will be well aware of what I am talking about.) What has happened here in my contention is not a new appreciation of the body, but a Promethean attempt at disarmament of the dangers of corporeal nature. In the past, however, great respect was paid to this falleness, to the point that the body was not merely something unreliable that could break down due to illness, but outright dangerous in and of itself.
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Don Marsilio el Curandero

19 05 2008

Or… The Fifteenth Century Translator of Plato Confronts Modernity with Christianized Shamanism

From Leonard George:

Dawn light spills into a large room decorated lavishly in early Italian Renaissance style. Through a window we glimpse the silhouette of Brunelleschi’s famous dome. We are in Florence, in 1464. In the room, a sumptuous four-poster bed frames a dying old man – Cosimo de Medici, Prince of Florence. Huddled nearby, worried courtiers and relatives. When will the Doctor come? Is it already too late? A page enters, followed by a striking gentleman, early thirties, in a white gown. He carries a lyre. “Hail, Doctor Ficino. The Prince is waning fast.” “We haven’t much time. I will need some instruments of medical practice.” “Sir, what do you require? We will fetch it immediately!” Ficino peers intently at Cosimo’s grey face. “Bring me – a statue of Apollo. A gold mirror. Sunflowers in a vase. And a live cockerel. Quickly!” Off scurry the courtiers as the Doctor intones, “Hear me, great Prince! You suffer from a deficiency of solar spirits. A transfusion is needed to save your life. Visualize the sun. I have ordered symbols of solar power with which to surround you; imagine golden spirits flowing into your body with each breath.” Strumming his lyre, Ficino begins to sing the ancient Orphic Hymn to the Sun God. This was holistic healing, Renaissance style

Hear golden Titan, whose eternal eye
With broad survey, illumines all the sky.
Self-born, unwearied in diffusing light,
And to all eyes the mirrour of delight:
Lord of the seasons, with thy fiery car
And leaping coursers, beaming light from far…

-from the Orphic Hymn to the Sun as translated by Thomas Taylor
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El Mal de Ojo

14 05 2008

Useful tips on how to spot and get rid of the “Evil Eye”

(Okay, so you guys are going to think I’ve gone off the deep end on this one, but oh well, that’s what this page is for…)
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