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Andreea-Maria Vrabie

University of Bucharest

Magic and Witchcraft

There are many things to be said about magic and witchcraft, unfortunately the subject is not
very well known or studied, and therefore it remains a mostly mysterious act and practice,
even among the researchers of the phenomenon. Magic has been defined and thought to be the
manipulation of natural and supernatural forces and it has been influenced through time by
religious beliefs. Although in the archaic culture magic was highly used and valued, it has lost
many adepts throughout the years and is now believed to only have psychological effects,
rather than physical or should we say real ones.
Once the monotheist approach of religion has entered our culture, religion and magic have
been separated up to the point where magic and witchcraft are believed to belong to a pagan
tradition, although in the beginning they were highly related to faith. Magical practices in
Romanian culture are very similar to those of other traditions because of the close meaning of
its functions and execution. Over the years, witchcraft has become close to Taboo, not only in
our country, due to the fact that it is believed to be unreligious in highly religious countries
such as those in the Balkan space.
The initiates in the practice of magic used to believe that the world consists in several
energetic levels and that it therefore belongs to a primordial Universe. The magical act was
mainly an evolutionary and adventurous leap of the human being practicing it, and it provided
said human with the access in one or more of the energetic levels. Magic is based on strong
symbolism of metaphysical essence and helps in the development of a deep relationship
between beings and entities on all plains of existence.
Usually, when it comes to talking about magic in the Romanian culture, a demarcation
between white and black magic is invoked. These terms are common even in the
contemporary culture, but the practices are not really known or understood by the ordinary
people. The most significant difference between white and black magic is the functionality,
the two of them being exact opposites, meaning that white magic is positive and beneficial,
whereas the black magic is evidently evil and aggressive. Another main difference between
them is the percussive, but this aspect isnt quite grasped or talked about. White magic can be
accomplished by most of the initiates, such as midwifes and old women, while black magic
could only be accomplished by professionals. In terms of who the adepts of magic were,
most of them were women, but it is believed in many cultures along with ours that men who
became wizards were more powerful than any witch.

Due to the richness of the language and, most probably, religious beliefs, Romanian culture
has chosen mild terms in order to describe the magical practices. Therefore, the archaic
exorcism was called disenchantment and the imprecation (through which the apparition of the
evil occurred) was called curse.
Romanian beliefs about sickness are not very different than those of other cultures, where
diseases were believed to have appeared due to malefic activities of evil spirits. These spirits
are thought to be enemies of God, which is why protective magic is addressed mostly to the
main deity or its helpers or allies, such as angels or other beneficial spirits.
Magic as an ancient technique was disqualified over the years as a superstition in Romanian
culture, especially in the atheist, scientifically-based Communism, and was gradually replaced
by the Occidental spiritualism. This might also be the reason why magic was never truly
studied or looked thoroughly upon in the autochthonous tradition, although it is a deep
subject, with many implications and functions, as well as an interesting practice to be studied.

Bibliography (with the mention that I have not cited any of the books, but merely used them
as an inspiration):
Pop-Cureu, I. (2013) Magie i vrjitorie n cultura romn. Istorie, literatur, mentaliti
Bucharest: Polirom
Oiteanu, A. (2013) Ordine i haos. Mit i magie n cultura tradiional romneasc, 2nd Ed.
Bucharest: Polirom