Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Jeffrey B. PettisEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_397

Magic involves the practice of what is perceived to be the direct manipulation of material and spirit realms by human initiative. This action is meant to bring about definitive, tangible results. The Greco-Roman Egypt source entitled the Greek Magical Papyri (second century BCE–fifth century CE) provides an array of kinds and forms of magic used during this time. The spells, for instance, bring favor, produce a trance, drive out demons, question a corpse, induce insomnia, catch a thief, cause evil sleep, break enchantment, and induce childbearing. They occur as charms, oracles, dreams, saucer divination, magical handbooks, magical rings, astrological calendars, horoscopes, lamp inquiry, and magico-medical formulae. Many of the spells require complex procedures. To control one’s shadow, the subject must make an offering of wheaten meal, ripe mulberries, and un-softened sesame. After making the offering, she must go into the desert on the sixth hour of the day and lay prostrate toward...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Betz, H. D. (1986). The Greek magical papyri in translation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Flint, V. I. J. (1991). The rise of magic in early medieval Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Lindsay, W. M. (Ed.). (1911). Etymologiarum VIII, ix. Isidori Hispalenis Episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum Libri. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Mutzenbecher, A. (Ed.). (1970). De diversis quaestionibus ad Simplicianum (CCL, Vol. 44). Turnbout: Brepols.Google Scholar
  5. Rolfe, J. C. (Trans.) (1998). Seutonius. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of TheologyFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA