Dojo Darelir, the School of Xenograg the Sorcerer

Aims of Magic: Malign Magic

November 2, 2022

Interestingly, this is a smaller category in terms of the varieties of activity found, but it has nonetheless been given a great deal of attention: the literature on modern witchcraft alone is vast. It is an interesting question as to why malign magic is not more common, and it is possible that creating and maintaining good relationships have always been more central to life than efforts at harm, though this might be seen as a romantic and unrealistically positive view of human groups.

Witches, witchcraft, and sorcery. These are people or activities that cast spells, effect unwanted transformations—such as turning someone into a frog (and counter-activity, often unwitting—kissing the frog to turn it back into a prince)—or cause harm. Such practices are very widespread: European witches are well-known, but witchcraft is also very prevalent and feared in Africa. Specific cultural differences are important: sorcery is found throughout coastal Papua New Guinea but is absent from New Guinea Highland cultures, a division that is widely recognized but poorly understood, deriving in some way from the separate historical trajectory the Highlands have followed.

Curses. Most common in competitive cultures, such as those from the Middle East to Greece and Rome, as were counter-curses. Curses can cause personal harm or illnesses, but they can also be used to help a sports team win or to make an opponent lose. Cursing is very well developed in the Mediterranean world but is probably global in its scope.

Magic as counter-culture. Ceremonial magic can be developed to deliberately attack or invert general cultural norms. This takes the form of so-called Black Magic, most famous in the recent West through Aleister Crowley and Thelema. Such attempts may involve a deliberate inversion of religious practices (the Black Mass) and use symbols in a manner similar to protective magic (mentioned above).

Magic: A History, p. 24