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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: sympathetic magic


Sympathetic Magic: This may be the most practiced form of magic on earth; it is certainly the best known. The basic idea for this style of magic is the occult concept that “like attracts like.” Thus, jumping in freshly-planted fields is an attempt to bring, by magic, the same result in the crops. Since red is considered an energetic color, according to sympathetic magic burning a red candle can bring you energy.

One of the best-known forms of sympathetic magic is that of using a doll. This practice is found in most cultures around the world. The doll represents a person (yourself or someone else), and doing magic with the doll as a focus results in the magic having an effect on the person whom the doll represents.

In James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, the author suggests that there are invisible connections between all things and that sympathetic magic works through these bonds. To add to the connection, people add personal items from the person being represented to the doll. This could be anything from a lock of hair or fingernail paring to a ring or snip of clothing. Sometimes a picture of the person is used. Often, the doll is very primitive in appearance as in “Voodoo” dolls or the “poppets” of Witchcraft.Donald Michael Kraig


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