Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is theurgy religion or magic? Or both?

Majercik quotes Smith on theurgy
"Men are involved in the operation of ritual or divine action, but it is the Divine which achieves results"
Theurgy as praxis, then, can be distinguished from theology as speculation, but how are we to distinguish theurgy fro magic, which it more closely resembles? Is theurgy simply a form of "white" or "good" magic, in contrast to the "black" or "evil" magic associated with the name goeteia, as some scholars have suggested? Yes and no. Theurgy certainly appropriates many of the techniques familiar to the magician, but its purpose is quite different... theurgy has a specific religious or salvific end, namely, the purification and salvation of the soul. In addition, and most importantly, theurgy emphasizes a passive attitude towards the gods (with the gods taking the initiative), whereas magic involves coercing or forcing the gods against their will... If magic is to be defined essentially as coercion, then theurgy can no longer by confused with magic, as both its intent (the salvation of the soul) and effect (a passive relation with the gods) are counter to magical practice as it is commonly understood. Theurgy, therefore, should be regarded basically as a religious phenomenon, albeit one that is comfortable with the outward forms of magic.
22-23 The Chaldean Oracles: Text, Translation and Commentary

Gersh thought theurgy not different from magic
From Iamblichus to Eriugena p.293

Copenhaver on Iamblichus and Hermetic Theurgy
Hermetica: the Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new ...‎ - Page 201
Brian P. Copenhaver - Fiction - 1995 Iamblichus writes about the "way" (hodon) revealed by Hermes, discovered by the "prophet" Bitys and interpreted for Kind Ammon, and he mentions this just after having asserted of Egyptian theology that "they certainly do not just speculate about these things; they recommend rising up toward the higher and more universal levels through priestly theurgy." What precedes Iamblichus' remark about the transmission of theurgy is a mixture of metaphysics, magic and theology; following it is a discussion of psychology and determinism. Given this remarkable transition, Fowden interprets the material from Iamblichus as "the crucial allusion to theurgical Hermetica" and concludes that "these texts were not dissimilar to the philosophical Hermetica known to us."

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