Voodoo has been associated with modern “black magic”; drawn together in popular culture and fiction. 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 and African practitioners like Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley. 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 their penchant for magic associated with curses, poisons and zombies means they, and Voodoo in general, are regularly associated with black magic in particular
BLACK/WHITE MAGIC HISTORY
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 authors generally reject the definitions 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 some posthumous 1608 instructions in that regard: The origins of black magic can be traced to the primitive, ritualistic worship of spirits as outlined in some findings. Unlike white magic, in which Place sees parallels with primitive shamanistic efforts to achieve closeness with spiritual beings, the rituals that developed into modern “black magic” were designed to invoke those same spirits to produce beneficial outcomes for the practitioner.
Place also provides a broad modern definition 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 definition (of “high” and “low”) suffers 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.
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