A History Of Magic

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Major Religions And Magic: Judaism

Chapter 17

Judaism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. A monotheistic religion means one in which a solitary deity, or god, is worshipped. Most religions up until this point were polytheistic, or worshipped a myriad of different gods who were generally each worshipped for specific things, such as harvest, sunlight, and rain. Polytheistic religions were more common and more popular in ancient times because ancient peoples used the gods and goddesses to explain all things – good and bad – that happened in their lives, so it made sense to assign different areas of strength to different gods and goddesses as they applied to a specific culture’s everyday life. Judaism challenged this belief, believing a solitary god (“Yahweh”) was solely responsible for all areas of life, that the same god who created man also caused storms and punished nonbelievers.

 Jewish religion forbade many Magical Arts in the religious texts, the Torah and the Talmud. Astrology, “black” (Dark) magic, “fortunetelling” (Divination), “magic medicine” (Healing), and superstition were all outlawed in Judaism. The schism between the magical and nonmagical communities had begun to form, as this was when the shift between revering and even borderline worshipping witches and wizards and fearing and despising them began to form. Punishment by death was common in this time for those accused of practising the Magical Arts.

 New spells, new potions, and new knowledge of the magical arts was stifled because suddenly, witches and wizards were condemned to practise behind closed doors and could no longer openly discuss experiments they were conducting. Fewer and fewer people felt safe to discuss their magic for fear that they would be overheard and they would be executed. More common than witch or wizard deaths were Muggle deaths of those Muggles who tried to copy their magical neighbours and were caught. Unfortunately, Muggles lacked the ability to protect themselves with the use of Illusory Charms and protective enchantments and sentences to death were carried out successfully. Despite all of this, witches and wizards continued to live immersed in Muggle culture for several more centuries and saw the beginnings of new religions come into play, religions that equally outlawed and feared their magical arts that was so crucial to the Wizarding culture.

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