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The art of making use of the forces of nature by certain occult observances that have a religious appearance, or of courting the secret influences of the invisible world. Magic may be either natural or preternatural.
Natural magic is based on the theory that nature is full of many objects whose hidden, protective or curative, properties can satisfy practically every need or drive away a host of evils. The problem is to find theses objects. With their uncritical mind and animistic prejudice, tribal worshipers easily turn from a valid exploitation of the physical forces of nature to a superstitious cult of the unknown, in the form of charms, philters, auguries, omens, the art of divination, and respect for scores of sacred prohibitions and taboos.
Preternatural magic is a kind of anti-religion that has its own orders of worship, incantations, evocations, rites, fetishes, sacrifices, priests, and meeting places. It is black magic when the purpose is malevolent, and white magic when the intention is to obtain some benefit for oneself or another. The basis of preternatural magic is some form of animism, which believes that material objects or non human living creatures possess preternatural powers that can be invoked or appeased by hidden or occult means. (Etym. Greek magikos, magician, magical, from magos, Magus, magician.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.