What constitutes sorcery and witchcraft?

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SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
What exactly does Scripture mean when it talks about things like sorcery and witchcraft? Enchanters and magicians are often mentioned alongside astrologers, and we know they have no real power. Is magic equally fake? Does witchcraft also include the misuse of pharmaceuticals to make poisons, abortifacients, or love potions (what we would call date-rape drugs today)?
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Scott it's while it's common knowledge that the Greek work for sorcery has to do with drugs, it was really brought home to me in New Guinea where the word for Sorcerer was Poison Man. There isn't a culture in the world where plants haven't been misused for evil. Sometimes it's to put one in contact with Spirits, and sometimes for murder, but I see it as a broad word meaning the misuse of plants especially. At least I suppose that's the nuanced difference between a Sorcerer and, say, a Witch, although a Witch could practice sorcery as well as, say necromancy.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Sorcery and witchcraft appeal to natural or demonic influence in order to seek knowledge or to accomplish a desired end. Both are nothing more than rebellion against God (1 Samuel 15:23) and worthy of death. The word for witchcraft (Deut. 18:10, 14; 2 Ki. 21:6) means "soothsaying." A soothsayer would be a person who turns to spirits in order to divine something that is unknown. It is condemned because it is turning to demonic forces rather than God.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I add that in one sense astrology has real power. It grips people's minds and drags them into pursuing occult things, offering the promise of gnostic insight and control over providence.
 

JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
I don't think the witch of Endor used drugs. But from the account her familiar spirit (devil), not Samuel, was supposed to do the talking.

Ceremonial Magick is about controlling the elements and even people through the power of Satan. There are no drugs used in its practice. A lot of rituals, using names of various 'angels' (devils), visualization, magic squares, etc. The underlying message is that you can become god.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
The note about the Greek sorcery sounds right in view of the Oracle at Delphi (but only in retrospect was it known that it was an ethylene outlet in the ground, so I don't know if that nixes it or not.)
 

JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
The note about the Greek sorcery sounds right in view of the Oracle at Delphi (but only in retrospect was it known that it was an ethylene outlet in the ground, so I don't know if that nixes it or not.)

Don't forget the effects of rotten rye grain.
 

markkoller

Puritan Board Freshman
Not to get off topic, but I often wonder about how this subject relates to Christianity's fascination with J.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The note about the Greek sorcery sounds right in view of the Oracle at Delphi (but only in retrospect was it known that it was an ethylene outlet in the ground, so I don't know if that nixes it or not.)

Can you elaborate?
 

Jen

Puritan Board Freshman
The note about the Greek sorcery sounds right in view of the Oracle at Delphi (but only in retrospect was it known that it was an ethylene outlet in the ground, so I don't know if that nixes it or not.)

Can you elaborate?

Some years back, they discovered at Delphi that there were gases leaking from the earth where the oracles spoke. They believe it is an explanation for the things the oracles described feeling.

I wrote a paper on the Greek Sibyl, and it fascinated me to learn that with the Christian emperors, the prophecies stopped... The last time the Oracle prophesied was during the reign of Julian the Apostate.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Great trivia, Jen, thanks. After Julian, was there a decree against it, or did it just die out?
 

JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
The note about the Greek sorcery sounds right in view of the Oracle at Delphi (but only in retrospect was it known that it was an ethylene outlet in the ground, so I don't know if that nixes it or not.)

Can you elaborate?

Some years back, they discovered at Delphi that there were gases leaking from the earth where the oracles spoke. They believe it is an explanation for the things the oracles described feeling.

I wrote a paper on the Greek Sibyl, and it fascinated me to learn that with the Christian emperors, the prophecies stopped... The last time the Oracle prophesied was during the reign of Julian the Apostate.

Completely off topic, but nice pic of the Doctor. Good to see another fan.
 

Jen

Puritan Board Freshman
Great trivia, Jen, thanks. After Julian, was there a decree against it, or did it just die out?

There wasn't. In the years prior to Julian's reign, she had slowly ceased to prophesy. During his reign, Julian sent a messenger to the Oracle, but she replied that she was finished, and she never prophesied again. It's a most curious bit of history that I wish I knew more about, as it's probably the sort of incident that would yield some more insight into the relationship between ancient paganism and Christianity.

Completely off topic, but nice pic of the Doctor. Good to see another fan.

Thanks. :)
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Elaboration: as I understand it, whoever it was that was doing oracle duty would go into the basement of the temple, stand in a particular spot, and go into a 'trance'. Turns out there was an open seam with ethylene (I believe that was the particular gas) streaming out.

Result: one very trancelike state and trancelike predictions.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The note about the Greek sorcery sounds right in view of the Oracle at Delphi (but only in retrospect was it known that it was an ethylene outlet in the ground, so I don't know if that nixes it or not.)

Can you elaborate?

Some years back, they discovered at Delphi that there were gases leaking from the earth where the oracles spoke. They believe it is an explanation for the things the oracles described feeling.



The Simpsons are based on a true story! I have a vision of Ned Flanders' Maudland!
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Elaboration: as I understand it, whoever it was that was doing oracle duty would go into the basement of the temple, stand in a particular spot, and go into a 'trance'. Turns out there was an open seam with ethylene (I believe that was the particular gas) streaming out.

Result: one very trancelike state and trancelike predictions.

It looks like you are correct. Here is National Geographic's take:

Delphic Oracle's Lips May Have Been Loosened by Gas Vapors
 

Jen

Puritan Board Freshman
That info is too cool for words, thanks.

No worries. I wanted to add that I found the reference today (I would've gotten it earlier, but I dual-boot and have been in XP since yesterday, so I couldn't access my papers). It's from page 142 of Delphi by Peter Hoyle.

Elaboration: as I understand it, whoever it was that was doing oracle duty would go into the basement of the temple, stand in a particular spot, and go into a 'trance'. Turns out there was an open seam with ethylene (I believe that was the particular gas) streaming out.

Result: one very trancelike state and trancelike predictions.

Sounds right. I was pulling off of a memory from a side-note one of my Latin professors made in class a while back. Interestingly, this sort of thing provided a plot line for a Dr. Who episode last season... :bouncy: (That will have to do for an amused smiley.)
 
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