Chapter 24 Magic and the Forces of Materiality

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
David Frankfurter
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This essay explores the ways that material substances and objects can be invested with supernatural agency, whether by tradition, ritual procedure, or charismatic craftsmanship. Many ritual recipes specify bizarre ingredients or assemblages meant to signify something ambiguous, impure, or dangerous. In other cases the mere fact of anthropomorphic representation allows ritual focus and miniaturization but also signifies a potentially dangerous agency as well. Through these various dimensions of things we can speak of “magical objects.”

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