Magicians as Intellectuals
Right up to and through the Renaissance, magicians were classed among what we today would call intellectuals. They were learned men, familiar with ancient lore and languages, with the obscure symbolism of signs and numbers. They read the stars and dabbled in the mysticism that surrounded alchemy. They were respected. In the early centuries of Christianity, magic was not considered an evil thing. In a world thought to be inhabited by men and angels and devils, men also believed in spirits neither good or bad; spirits of the air, of fire, of the sea, of the mountains, of the woods, of the winds. It was believed that if a person was sufficiently learned in the art of magic, he could summon and control these powers; make them do his bidding. It was only at the very end of the Middle Ages, and particularly in the Renaissance enlightenment, that animism lost its hold on men’s minds.
— Leonard Ashley, The Wonderful World of Magic and Witchcraft, p. 2