Sociology Index


Magic is the performance of routines, usually in a fixed or rigid manner, designed to influence the future, persuade the ‘gods’ or shape fate. The ball player who believes that wearing the same sweater or eating the same meal before a game will determine whether the teams wins or not is performing magic. Greek magos is first attested in Heraclitus. The Greek mystery religions were strongly magic oriented. Magic is a system that asserts human ability to control or predict the natural world through mystical, paranormal or supernatural means. Magic also refers to the practices employed by a person asserting this ability.

A. ENGLER ANDERSON, comments: Most treatments of Jewish mysticism lean toward the ideologically critical (Graetz), the romantic (Buber), the touchy-feely (Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Breslov) or movement propaganda (Lubavitch). The academic attempts at categorizing and describing Jewish mystical movements (chiefly Scholem) also fall short of comprehensiveness because they tend to focus largely on doctrine and theology, and ignore handmaiden disciplines of history, sociology and economics.

Messianism, Mysticism, and Magic: A Sociological Analysis of Jewish Religious Movements (Studies in Religion) - by Stephen Sharot (Author).