In its simplest form, a type of magic where any action inflicted upon a representation of a person, animal or thing, it is simultaneously experienced by the real person, animal or thing. This is best exemplified by the myth of the voodoo doll.
Sir James George Frazer, in his work The Golden Bough, theorizes that magic is based in two principles:
1. Like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; in this case the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it.
2. Things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed; in this case the magician infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not.
The first principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the second the Law of Contact or Contagion.
The Law of Similarity, or Imitation, involves using effigies, fetishes or poppets to affect the environment of people, or occasionally people themselves. As mentioned before, voodoo dolls are an example of fetishes used in this way.
The Law of Contact or Contagion, or Correspondence, is based on the idea that one can influence something based on its relationship or resemblance to another thing. This include beliefs that certain herbs with yellow sap can cure jaundice, that walnuts could strengthen the brain because of the nuts' resemblance to brain, that red beet-juice is good for the blood, that phallic-shaped roots will cure male impotence, etc.
See Sheila Butler Sympathetic Magic, Sympathetic Magic (by Lanford Wilson), Sympathetic Magic (by Michael Blumenthal), Teenage Witch's Book of Shadows: An Introduction to Sympathetic Magic, Abaris, Agrippa, Alchemy, Cagliostro, Crowley, Magic, Merlin, Paracelsus, Pythagoras, Diviner, Divination, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard, Witchcraft, Witch, Sabbat, Devil, Kabbalism, Numerology, Astrology, Satan, Mystic Gifts and Charms - New Age Gift Shop & Wicca and Pagan Supplies, Love Spells -- Use these powerful love spells to help you find and keep your true love, The Tarot Store, The Chakra Store, Divination & Scrying Tools and Supplies, Unique Amulets, Talismans, Good Luck Charms, and Love Tokens, Powerful Witch Doctor Spell Kits, Powerful Spells - Cast by Andreika the Witch, Webmasters Make $$$, AzureGreen - Celebrating All Paths to the Divine, ISIS - Tools for Your Soul's Journey, and The Pyramid Collection - Myth, Magick, Fantasy and Romance.
Sources: (1) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Randi, James, An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural, St. Martin's Griffin; (3) The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition Handy Volume Edition, Oxford University Press; (4) Bailey, Nancy, (Editor), The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Spells and Magic, Sterling Publishing; (5) Frazer, Sir James George, The Golden Bough, General Books LLC Publishers.
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