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This volume contains a series of provocative essays, written by leading scholars who study the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds, on magic and ritual power. The essays address how ancient magic might be defined and how it came into expression in a wide variety of cultural contexts. This publication has also been published in paperback, please click here for details.
For a thousand generations, desert shamans of the far West sought order in the stars and in the mysteries and wonder of their grand, if unforgiving landscape. When summoned, they doctored the stricken, be they stoic elders or frightened little children. They conjured rains. Taking leave of reality, they rode whirlwinds and soared in magical flight. They epitomized a native American ability "to relate to the land in ways beyond a Western way of thinking." They're gone now. But there remain telling accounts of how, day-to-day, they lived: how omens foretold a shaman's destiny, how he learned his craft, how he could exercise his power for both good and evil. How a shaman could travel to the land of the dead and (hopefully) return. Drawing on the lore of a dozen tribes, Old Magic conjures the year-to-year life of a shaman - a life of service to his people, a life fraught with torment and danger, a life often taking a man or woman to the edge of madness.
This volume seeks to advance the study of ancient magic through separate discussions of ancient terms for ambiguous or illicit ritual, the ancient texts commonly designated magical, and contexts in which the term magic may be used descriptively.