The Myth of the Magus

The Myth of the Magus

The Myth of the Magus

The Myth of the Magus

Excerpt

The great gift made to the humanities in this super-scientific age is the flood-lighting of the twin-citadel religion and art by archaeological research and anthropological discoveries. The structural features of this towering edifice are at least dimly discernible now beneath the profusion of tangled customs and beliefs which all but obliterated them before; and certain traditional religious and aesthetic forms have assumed a more vital significance. Bewilderment is slowly yielding to comprehension of the origins and development of man's spiritual life. The keynote is certainly not simplicity, and yet uniformity is present. To survey the religions of the world is to wander through a vast banyan forest, whose mythological parent stem, rooted in ritual, will not easily be discovered in the prehistoric jungle whence it sprang--the breeding ground of all our riotous religious and poetical imaginings. The result is overwhelming in its complexity; roots, stems and branches are inextricably intertwined and indistinguishable from each other in their upwards and downwards, sideways, earthwards and skywards thrusts. But the process behind all this profuse and fantastic fertility remains essentially the same. The superabundant vitality, the incredible luxuriance, the infinite number of variations and aberrations from the norm, all spring, as in the banyan forest, from an unchanging and unending impulse, a rythmical perpetuum mobile: rising and falling and rising again in nature through birth, life, death and resurrection; imitating this cycle in ritual and art.

The penetrating if flickering light shed upon this aspect of human behaviour by the pioneers of yesterday who have inspired the scholars of to-day now covers a field coterminous with the surface of the earth. And among other phenomena which such researches have rendered both more interesting and more comprehensible is that of magic, which a contemporary anthropologist has rightly declared to be the most powerful influence on human conduct the . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.