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Why we Oppose the Occult

Nature volume 130, page 457 (24 September 1932) | Download Citation



To the modern mind the very word ‘magic’ stands for an idea which is little short of degrading. Yet we have to remember that, according to high authorities, magic was the real foundation of religion, the most divine creeds having belief in magic as their basis. Furthermore, the ancient Oriental magicians passed on their accumulated observations to the Greeks, enabling the latter to lay the foundations of mathematics, so that magic may be said to be the origin of science—of science through the intermediary of religion, as Frazer shows. But societies which thus owe so much to magic not only free themselves from it, but also vigorously reject it, turning from the occult with disgust. In our own day the occult is the object, not merely of disbelief, but also of active opposition and ridicule. Why ? That is the problem to which Prof. Cailliet addresses himself in this book, with many examples drawn from his intimate knowledge of beliefs and practices in Madagascar.

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