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Old 05-12-2011, 01:09 PM   #1
Facial Tentacles
 
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Default Greek Magic

Does anyone have Occultism (Ancient Greek Magic)? I'm trying to figure out what magic rules would be most thematic. My limited research has found that tools were important, as well as language, formulas, and recipes. The same could be said of most magic systems, so that's not too helpful. I'm thankful for any suggestions!
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Old 05-12-2011, 01:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Greek Magic

Do you want Folk Magic as it's practiced in Greece? If so, from when? Or do you want the Magic of Greek Myth?
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Old 05-12-2011, 01:22 PM   #3
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Do you want Folk Magic as it's practiced in Greece? If so, from when? Or do you want the Magic of Greek Myth?
Myth would be more appropriate. Though folk magic sounds like what was called "Low Magic."
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Old 05-12-2011, 01:27 PM   #4
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Myth would be more appropriate. Though folk magic sounds like what was called "Low Magic."
Personally, I'd use Path magic for sorcerers and folk magicians, and Divine Favor for priests.

Alternately Roma Arcana has an approach using the spell magic system (as well as some other systems) that might be adaptable for ancient Greece.
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: Greek Magic

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Originally Posted by Facial Tentacles View Post
Does anyone have Occultism (Ancient Greek Magic)? I'm trying to figure out what magic rules would be most thematic. My limited research has found that tools were important, as well as language, formulas, and recipes. The same could be said of most magic systems, so that's not too helpful. I'm thankful for any suggestions!
A certain portion of the problem is that nobody knows the exact details of the practice any more. The Greeks were literate, but not literate enough to foster an anthropological tradition, and lacking in a strict descriptive journalistic tradition :)

Add to that the Greek love of secret societies and you have certain problems :)

Religious "magic" definitely seemed to include iconography - if you had a bad leg, you'd scribe a picture of a leg on a potshard or slate (or skulpt a model) and leave it in the temple of Apollo or Asclepius. We don't know how much ritual was around this - was this basically a "Dear Apollo, when you get around to it, here's the bit that needs fixing, thanks, Alkides" note, or was it part of a ritual trying to bless the image as a proxy for your bung leg?

Greek prayer of any kind involves standing up straight, raising your arms to the heavens proudly, and speaking loudly. The Greeks were VERY proud that they weren't servile to their gods (contrasting themselves with "eastern" religions where kneeling, bowing, or prostrating was the norm - as is still the case in Judeo-christian faiths). They were polite, but they didn't beg, they bargained. "Zeus, I offer you this flawless white calf, now you owe me a favor" might be impiously worded but captures the spirit.

Pythagorean mysticism is the most distinct thing I can think of from "normal" religious practices, but I can't wrap my head around it enough. A pythagorean trying to work a magical effect would definitely work in significant musical tones or series of musical tones - sung or played or inscribed I have no idea. Music, to the pythagoreans, was heavily about the mystical ratios they were into - so if the numbers have power, ascribing power to this etherial manifestation of the numbers is an easy step.
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:42 PM   #6
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I remember they've found someone's name written on a potsherd, along with a list of horrible things the writer wanted to have happen to them, burned and burried under the floor of a house (IIRC in Pompeii but I'm probably wrong).

If that's not a Path/Book magic ritual to put a doozy of a curse on someone, I don't know what is :)
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:59 PM   #7
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If that's not a Path/Book magic ritual to put a doozy of a curse on someone, I don't know what is :)
Path and not Book, most likely, as you say they didn't leave us any grimoires.
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Greek Magic

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
I remember they've found someone's name written on a potsherd, along with a list of horrible things the writer wanted to have happen to them, burned and burried under the floor of a house (IIRC in Pompeii but I'm probably wrong).

If that's not a Path/Book magic ritual to put a doozy of a curse on someone, I don't know what is :)
Kind of sounds like a Curse Tablet.
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:05 PM   #9
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Default Re: Greek Magic

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
I remember they've found someone's name written on a potsherd, along with a list of horrible things the writer wanted to have happen to them, burned and burried under the floor of a house (IIRC in Pompeii but I'm probably wrong).

If that's not a Path/Book magic ritual to put a doozy of a curse on someone, I don't know what is :)
The Romans seem to have sold 'curse kits' with the curse written on a sheet of lead and [Insert name here] spaces left for the name of the target. That's more or less what's behind that scene in Rome.

Do we know if the Greco-Roman world had any 'non theurgic' magical tradition? The Hebrew tradition certainly seems to, given that the various forbidden arts (including necromancy and divination) are treated as seperately offences to serving foreign gods.
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:08 PM   #10
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Do we know if the Greco-Roman world had any 'non theurgic' magical tradition? The Hebrew tradition certainly seems to, given that the various forbidden arts (including necromancy and divination) are treated as seperately offences to serving foreign gods.
According to Gene Wolfe, at least, they had professional Necromancers (although there is still a link there to Hecate). At any rate the Latro books (collected in the Omnibus Soldier of the Mists) might be useful to the OP.
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