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Black magic

For other uses, see Black magic (disambiguation).

Dark magic redirects here. For other uses, see Dark
magic (disambiguation).
Black magic or dark magic has traditionally referred

closeness with spiritual beings, the rituals that developed

into modern black magic were designed to invoke those
same spirits to produce benecial outcomes for the practitioner. Place also provides a broad modern denition
of both black and white magic, preferring instead to refer
to them as high magic (white) and low magic (black)
based primarily on intentions of the practitioner employing them. He acknowledges, though, that this broader
denition (of high and low) suers from prejudices
as good-intentioned folk magic may be considered low
while ceremonial magic involving expensive or exclusive
components may be considered by some as high magic,
regardless of intent.[3][4]
See also: Renaissance magic
During the Renaissance, many magical practices and rituals were considered evil or irreligious and by extension,
black magic in the broad sense. Witchcraft and nonmainstream esoteric study were prohibited and targeted
by the Inquisition.[5] As a result, natural magic developed
as a way for thinkers and intellectuals, like Marsilio Ficino, abbot Johannes Trithemius and Heinrich Cornelius
Agrippa, to advance esoteric and ritualistic study (though
still often in secret) without signicant persecution.[5]
While natural magic became popular among the educated and upper classes of the 16th and 17th century,
ritualistic magic and folk magic remained subject to persecution. 20th century author Montague Summers generally rejects the denitions of white and black magic
as contradictory, though he highlights the extent to
which magic in general, regardless of intent, was considered dark or black and cites William Perkins posthumous 1608 instructions in that regard:[6]

John Dee and Edward Kelley using a magic circle ritual to invoke
a spirit in a church graveyard.

to the use of supernatural powers or magic for evil and

selsh purposes.[1] With respect to the left-hand path and
right-hand path dichotomy, black magic is the malicious,
left-hand counterpart of benevolent white magic. In modern times, some nd that the denition of black magic
has been convoluted by people who dene magic or ritualistic practices that they disapprove of as black magic.[2]

All witches convicted by the Magistrate

should be executed. He allows no exception
and under this condemnation fall all Diviners,
Charmers, Jugglers, all Wizards, commonly
called wise men or wise women. All those
purported good Witches which do not hurt but
good, which do not spoil and destroy, but save
and deliver should come under the extreme


Like its counterpart white magic, the origins of black

magic can be traced to the primitive, ritualistic worship of
spirits as outlined in Robert M. Place's 2009 book, Magic
and Alchemy.[3] Unlike white magic, in which Place sees
parallels with primitive shamanistic eorts to achieve

In particular, though, the term was most commonly reserved for those accused of invoking demons and other
evil spirits, those hexing or cursing their neighbours,
those using magic to destroy crops and those capable of
leaving their earthly bodies and travelling great distances


in spirit (to which the Malleus Malecarum devotes one

long and important chapter). Summers also highlights
the etymological development of the term nigromancer,
in common use from 1200 to approximately 1500, (Latin:
Niger, black; Greek: Manteia, divination), broadly one
skilled in the black arts.[6]
In a modern context, the line between white magic
and black magic is somewhat clearer and most modern denitions focus on intent rather than practice.[3]
There is also an extent to which many modern Wicca
and witchcraft practitioners have sought to distance themselves from those intent on practising black magic. Those
who seek to do harm or evil are less likely to be accepted
into mainstream Wiccan circles or covens in an era where
benevolent magic is increasingly associated with new-age
gnosticism and self-help spiritualism.[7]

Satanism and devil-worship

vocation of demons or spirits is an accepted part of black

magic, this practice is distinct from the worship or deication of such spiritual beings.[7]
Those lines, though, continue to be blurred by the inclusion of spirit rituals from otherwise white magicians in
compilations of work related to Satanism. John Dee's
16th century rituals, for example, were included in Anton
LaVey's The Satanic Bible (1969) and so some of his practises, otherwise considered white magic, have since been
associated with black magic. Dees rituals themselves
were designed to contact spirits in general and angels in
particular, which he claimed to have been able to do with
the assistance of colleague Edward Kelley. LaVeys Bible,
however, is a complete contradiction of Dees intentions but oers the same rituals as a means of contact with
evil spirits and demons.[8] LaVeys Church of Satan (with
LaVeys Bible at its centre), ocially denies the ecacy
of occult ritual but arms the subjective, psychological value of ritual practice, drawing a clear distinction
between.[8] LaVey himself was more specic:
White magic is supposedly utilized only for
good or unselsh purposes, and black magic,
we are told, is used only for selsh or evil
reasons. Satanism draws no such dividing line.
Magic is magic, be it used to help or hinder.
The Satanist, being the magician, should have
the ability to decide what is just, and then apply
the powers of magic to attain his goals.
Satanism is not a white light religion; it is
a religion of the esh, the mundane, the carnal
- all of which are ruled by Satan, the personication of the Left Hand Path.
The latter quote, though, seems to have been directed toward the growing trends of Wiccanism and neo-paganism
at the time.[8]

3 Voodoo
Main article: Louisiana Voodoo

Illustration by Martin van Male, of a Witches Sabbath, in the

1911 edition of La Sorciere, by Jules Michelet.

Voodoo, too, has been associated with modern black

magic"; drawn together in popular culture and ction.
However, while hexing or cursing may be accepted black
magic practices, Voodoo has its own distinct history and
traditions that have little to do with the traditions of modern witchcraft that developed with European practitioners
like Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley.[7][9][10]

In fact, Voodoo tradition makes its own distinction between black and white magic, with sorcerers like the
Bokor known for using magic and rituals of both. But
The inuence of popular culture has allowed other prac- their penchant for magic associated with curses, poisons
tices to be drawn in under the broad banner of black and zombies means they, and Voodoo in general, are regmagic including the concept of Satanism. While the in- ularly associated with black magic in particular.[11]
Main article: Satanism

True name spells - the theory that knowing a persons true name allows control over that person,
making this wrong for the same reason. This can
also be used as a connection to the other person, or
to free them from anothers compulsion, so it is in
the grey area.

A Voodoo doll.

Black magic and religion

The links and interaction between black magic and religion are many and varied. Beyond black magics links
to organised Satanism or its historical persecution by
Christianity and its inquisitions, there are links between
religious and black magic rituals. The Black Mass, for
example, is a sacrilegious parody of the Catholic Mass.
Likewise, a saining, though primarily a practice of white
magic, is a Wiccan ritual analogous to a christening or
baptism for an infant.[12][13]

Immortality rituals - from a Taoist perspective, life is

nite, and wishing to live beyond ones natural span
is not with the ow of nature. Beyond this, there is a
major issue with immortality. Because of the need
to test the results, the subjects must be killed. Even
a spell to extend life may not be entirely good, especially if it draws life energy from another to sustain
the spell.[16]
Necromancy - for purposes of usage, this is dened
not as general black magic, but as any magic having to do with death itself, either through divination
of entrails, or the act of raising the dead body, as
opposed to resurrection or CPR.[17]
Curses and hexes - a curse can be as simple as wishing something bad would happen to another, through
a complex ritual.[18]

6 In popular culture and ction

17th century priest, tienne Guibourg, is said to have performed a series of Black Mass rituals with alleged witch Concepts related to black magic or described, even inaccurately, as black magic are a regular feature of books,
Catherine Monvoisin for Madame de Montespan.[14]
lms and other popular culture. Examples include:
In Islam, al-Fatiha al-Falaq, al-Nas and other Surahs are
recited to protect against sorcery. They may be recited
Black Magic (Little Mix song) - Lead single by British
and blown on Olive Oil or water. In addition, using a
girl-group Little Mix released in May 2015, for their
Taweez (talisman) containing some of the 99 Names of
third studio album Get Weird.
Allah, Quranic verses and/or names of Saints have been
used for centuries and have origins in the Hadith.
The Devil Rides Out - a 1934 novel by Dennis Wheatley - made into a famous lm by Hammer Studios in

Practices and rituals

The lowest depths of black mysticism are well-nigh

as dicult to plumb as it is arduous to scale
the heights of sanctity. The Grand Masters of
the witch covens are men of genius - a foul genius,
crooked, distorted, disturbed, and diseased.
Montague Summers
Witchcraft and Black Magic
During his period of scholarship, A. E. Waite provided
a comprehensive account of black magic practices, rituals and traditions in The Book of Black Magic and Ceremonial Magic.[15] Other practitioners have expanded on
these ideas and oered their own comprehensive lists of
rituals and concepts. Black magic practices and rituals

Rosemarys Baby - a 1968 horror novel in which

black magic is a central theme.
The Craft - a 1996 lm featuring four friends who
become involved in white witchcraft but turn to
black magic rituals for personal gain.
The Harry Potter series - black magic, including
various spells and curses, is referred to as "the dark
arts" against which students are taught to defend
Final Fantasy - a video game in which white and
black magic are simply used to distinguish between
healing/defensive spells (such as a cure) and offensive/elemental spells (such as re) and do not
carry an inherent good or evil connotation.

Charmed - a television series in which black magic
is also known as the black arts, dark arts, dark
magic or even evil magic, and is used by demons
and other evil beings.
The Secret Circle - A short-lived television series
featuring witches, in which there are two kinds of
magic. While traditional magic helps you to connect
to the energy around you, more lethal and dangerous
dark magic is rooted in the anger, fear and negativity
inside you. Only a few born with it can access dark
magic and some are inherently stronger than others.
The Power of Five is an entire series by Anthony
Horowitz about black magic and evil sorcerers. The
antagonists are all black sorcerers and are all practitioners of black magic, black magic is a means of
summoning the Old Ones from their prison, Hell.
Black magic often takes the form of mass murder
and animation of inanimate objects.
Night Watch - In the Night Watch book (and movie)
series the magicians are grouped into two sides
Light Others and Dark Others. The dark magicians are more motivated by selsh desires.
Supernatural (U.S. TV series) - The television series Supernatural features many events and characters that feature and participate in black magic.
The Hobbit (lm series) - The lms based on J. R.
R. Tolkien's book The Hobbit feature elements of
black magic centered on a character known as the
Necromancer, however this is very seldom mentioned in the book. It later is discovered that the
Necromancer is Sauron who is the principle dark
character of the whole Lord of the Rings series.
The Lord of the Rings - The Lord of the Rings essential antagonist is Sauron. Sauron and his followers
use black magic on many events such as the creation
of many of his followers and the forging of the One
Sherlock Holmes (2009 lm) - The rst of the two
Sherlock Holmes lms directed by Guy Ritchie includes elements of black magic although they are
later discovered to be false.
Versailles (band) released a short lm in 2009 which
depicted zombies that were resurrected by Jasmine
You through black magic.


7 See also
Gray magic
Left-hand path and right-hand path
Magical texts
Malecium (sorcery)
Ya sang

8 References
[1] J. Gordon Melton, ed. (2001). Black Magic. Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. Vol 1: AL (Fifth
ed.). Gale Research Inc. ISBN 0-8103-9488-X.
[2] Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2009). Contemporary religious
Satanism: A Critical Anthology. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
p. 220. ISBN 0-7546-5286-6.
[3] Magic and Alchemy by Robert M. Place (Infobase Publishing, 2009)
[4] Evans-Pritchard. Sorcery and Native Opinion. Africa:
Journal of the International African Institute Vol. 4, No.
1 (Jan., 1931) , pp. 22-55.
[5] White Magic, Black Magic in the European Renaissance by
Paola Zambelli (BRILL, 2007)
[6] Witchcraft and Black Magic by Montague Summers
(1946; reprint Courier Dover Publications, 2000)
[7] Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft by James R.
Lewis (SUNY Press, 1996)
[8] Modern Satanism: Anatomy of a Radical Subculture by
Chris Mathews (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2009)
[9] Voodoo 2.0. Newsweek Global 163.9 (2014): 92-98.
Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.
[10] Long, Carolyn Morrow. Perceptions of New Orleans
Voodoo: Sin, Fraud, Entertainment, and Religion. Nova
Religion: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Vol. 6, No. 1 (October 2002), pp. 86-101
[11] Voodoo Rituals: A Users Guide by Heike Owusu (Sterling
Publishing Company, 2002)

Pizza II: Villa - An Indian Tamil suspense supernat[12] Black Mass. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopeural thriller lm, written and directed by debutant
dia (2014): 1p. 1. Funk & Wagnalls New World EncyDeepan Chakravarthy.
clopedia. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
The Necromancers: The Best of Black Magic And [13] Macmullen, Ramsay, and Eugene Lane. From Black
Witchcraft - A collection of folklores and stories
Magic To Mystical Awe. Christian History 17.1 (1998):
about black magic edited by Peter Haining.
37. History Reference Center. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

[14] Geography of Witchcraft by Montague Summers (1927;

reprint Kessinger Publishing, 2003)
[15] The Book of Black Magic and Ceremonial Magic by Arthur
Edward Waite (1911; reprint 2006)
[16] Immortality. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014): 1p. 1. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
[17] necromancy. Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary
(11th ed.). Springeld, MA: Merriam-Webster. April
[18] Hex. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition
(2013): 1. Literary Reference Center. Web. 11 Feb.


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