Some people have a strong belief in magic and say that it is all around us. Others scoff at the idea of something being deemed magical and say that there is a rational explanation for anything and everything. Magic, and whether or not it does exists, is in the eye of the beholder. Every person is going to have a different view on magic, if asked, because it means something different to each being. Magic is something that cannot be described with one explanation; the word has too much meaning for a single definition to do it justice.
Magic is a word with many definitions. According to Merriam-Webster, magic is “a power that allows people (such as witches and wizards) to do impossible things by saying special words or performing special actions” (“Magic”). Magic is also defined as seemingly impossible tricks performed for the entertainment of others, or a “special power, influence, or skill” (“Magic”). Encyclopædia Britannica states that magic is “a concept used to describe a mode of rationality or way of thinking that looks to invisible forces to influence events, affect change in material conditions, or present the illusion of change” (“magic”, 2014).
Magic covers a few different practices, including, but not limited to, divination, alchemy, sorcery, astrology, and necromancy. The term is also used in reference to conjuring acts and sleight of hand tricks used for entertainment. Magic has many different elements. There are different spells, rites, and materials involved. Many people tend to associate or confuse magic with different phenomena, such as forms of medicine, paganism, witchcraft, voodoo, shamanism, and superstition (“magic, 2014).
Magic is not all sparkles, silly incantations, and whatever else Disney may portray. Of course, incantations or charms are used, alongside symbolic numbers and different objects, in rituals in order to get the caster’s desired result. Knowledge of spells and symbolic numbers is often considered sacred and kept guarded. Those that possess such information can be seen as someone to be greatly respected or feared. Some cultures believe that the spell is the most important part of a ceremony or magical rite (“magic”, 2014).
Materials used to perform magic are commonly referred to as “medicines” by most anthropologists. This lead to the popular use of the name “medicine men” in reference to magicians. Medicines used in spell-casting can be herbs, precious gems, animal remnants, or blessed objects. Some medicines are intended for the purpose of healing, others meant to cause harm. Additional materials may hold a symbolic relationship with the wanted outcome, such as divination and animal parts. Magicians that practise sorcery may use something that holds the essence of the targeted victim, such as hair or clothing, when performing rituals (“magic”, 2014).
Magic is based on performance, thus the ritual and knowledge held by the magician, along with his or her ability, play a huge role...