Just Free Them With Your Magic

The above cartoon appeared in a 3quarksdaily post that is part 1 of a series called “Becoming Moses.” I thought it was interesting because it raises important questions about the concept of God. Ideas about gods seem to clearly emerge out of observation of forces of nature, which were presumed to themselves be, or to be [Read More…]

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Call for Papers on Aramaic Magical Bowls

The American Academy of Religion’s Traditions of Eastern Late Antiquity program unit, and the Society of Biblical Literature Aramaic program unit and Religious World in Late Antiquity Section, are co-sponsoring a session on the Aramaic and Mandaic magical bowls. A session is being planned on the Aramaic magic bowls. Given the interdisciplinary sponsorship, we propose [Read More…]

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Bordering Others: Traditions of Eastern Late Antiquity #aarsbl15 Sunday Afternoon Session

The first paper in the TELA session on the theme “Bordering Others: Examining Religious Community in Eastern Late Antiquity” was by Jennifer Hart and focused in using orthopraxy to define “true” Mandaeism. She began with a quote from the work The Thousand and Twelve Questions, which is focused on ritual error and what to do [Read More…]

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Magic Bowls at #AARSBL15 in Atlanta

For those interested in Judaism, Mandaeism, Late Antiquity, ancient magic, Aramaic, and any number of other topics, there are two sessions at AAR this year that you ought not to miss. One is the Traditions of Eastern Late Antiquity session, about which I’ll include details further below. But the other is a session which will [Read More…]

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Virtual Magic Bowl Archive

AWOL shared a link to the Virtual Magic Bowl Archive, which features photos taken by Matthew Morgenstern, I believe. The practice of making and using magic bowls is something that Jews and Mandaeans in Mesopotamia shared in common. [Read more…]

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Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon

The episode “The Monster of Peladon“sees the Doctor return to Peladon. The daughter of king Peladon (whom the Doctor met in the earlier episode “The Curse of Peladon“) is now reigning. Superstition is a major focus in the episode, the plot of which revolves around a rebellion by miners and political machinations that are instigating [Read More…]

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Science, Magic, and Religion: An Online Course

Via StumbleUpon, an old IO9 post came to my attention, highlighting a number of free online courses. One of them is a history class offered by UCLA on “Science, Magic, and Religion,” and the lectures are available on YouTube. Here is the first one: [Read more…]

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Dangerous Superstition

I saw a news article today about the murder of Narendra Dabholkar in Pune, India. Dabholkar was an activist opposing superstition and blind faith. He was killed, not by a spell or a lightning bolt, but by human beings whose love of superstition of whatever sort did not give them supernatural power. They used technology, [Read More…]

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Debatable

Fred Clark has a great post on magic tricks and the art of debate, which he starts off by saying ““Debate” is a parlor trick.” Here is a sample: When Ray Comfort challenges someone to a debate over the truth of Christianity, I wince because I am a Christian and I know that Comfort is [Read More…]

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Comparison and Collation of Mandaean Texts

The second paper this morning was by Tania Notarius, and is on the relationship between a variety of overlapping and partially-overlapping manuscripts we have, each of which is a compilation of smaller collections of individual magical incantations, together with explanations for how to use them. Often these sorts of things were copied by scribes who [Read More…]

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Wizard, Time Lord – Same Difference?

I saw this image on Facebook, and it reminded me of a point I have made several times before. Some people are adamant about the difference between science fiction and fantasy. But the truth is that the dividing line is at best blurry, and perhaps non-existent. If Doctor Who featured a wizard with a magical [Read More…]

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