A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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n               MAGIC HEALING IN THE PRE-CHRISTIAN ERA            61
The indebtedness of Greece both to Egyptian and Babylonian ideas has been increasingly recognized by recent scholars.56 Among them, as elsewhere, magic was practised by the common people ; while in literature the theoretical description of magic begins with Homer and continues with increasing volume and particularity until the very latest times. But the most characteristic feature of Greek magic was the prevalence of the indirect method and its influence on the development of the art. Belief in demons was universal, even Plato following the general current of opinion in this respect.180 Diseases were caused each by its special demon, while panic was the work of Pan. The purpose of magic was to act upon or use supernatural powers either as energizing spirits or as auxiliaries.
The magician had to observe certain rules which, to a large extent, were suggested by the nature of the powers with which he had to deal. He, or the person in whose interest the charm was being performed, or both, must be in such a condition that contact with the spirits evoked would be without danger. Regulations varied, but among them the most common, some of which persisted into the Christian era, were Hageia (purity), ablutions at stated intervals, anointing with oil, avoidance of certain foods (especially fish), fasting and temporary chastity. More rigorous and more numerous were the conditions attending the performance of the rite itself, and most important was the observance of nudity or its ceremonial equivalent. The costume must be flowing, i.e. without knots or fastenings of any kind, or it must be coarse, or of linen, and in the last case either white or white with purple streamers. (Colours had ceremonial significance.) Having gone through the preliminary purifications and donned the appropriate raiment, the operator must then consider what attitude