Talk:Magic (supernatural)

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An IP editor has twice changed the citation style of the article. The changes do not appear to be an improvement and, as @Midnightblueowl: pointed out, are an "idiosyncratic citation style generally avoided at Wikipedia." I regard this as quite a significant alteration without consensus to do so, but rather than edit war I'm raising the matter here. Keri (t · c) 12:05, 8 March 2017 (UTC)

Good call, Keri. If the problem persists then we can always ask an administrator to put a block on this article preventing any edits by anonymous IPs. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:15, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
This appears to have resumed. I'll revert for a second time then request page protection if it persists. —PaleoNeonate – 11:59, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
There appears to be a mix of {{sfn}} and {{rp}}. Perhaps that for the future a style could be chosen by consensus, then the article could be made more consistent. Which may also be what the IP address editor attempted, but without discussion... —PaleoNeonate – 00:29, 14 November 2017 (UTC)


The paranormal template was probably relevant (and was WP:BIDIRECTIONAL per style). —PaleoNeonate – 01:12, 14 November 2017 (UTC)

Resolved: Was restored by MrBill3. Thanks, —PaleoNeonate – 06:54, 14 November 2017 (UTC)

"Miracle" the word[edit]

The word miraculum is a Latin word. It appears in the Vulgate from the late 4th century. In the earliest Greek texts of the New Testament the word terata is used. This means "wonder", not miracle. A wonder brings about a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable. Admiring the stars at night can cause a feeling of wonder or surprise, not necessarily miracle. Watching an ant can bring about wonder. In Hebrew the word נֵס (nes) today means miracle, but its meaning in Biblical Hebrew is a symbol of victory held high for all to see. The term "supernatural" is not used till about 1520-1530. Miistermagico (talk) 15:53, 16 November 2017 (UTC)

History of Magic and Science[edit]

A History of Magic and Experimental Science is a classic study by Lynn Thorndike. This is the history of how the belief in magic became science. As hundreds of decades past magic became science: alchemy became chemistry, astrology became astronomy, and numerology became mathematics. Miistermagico (talk) 16:01, 16 November 2017 (UTC)

See:Prehistoric medicine Miistermagico (talk) 02:04, 29 November 2017 (UTC)

See:Bush medicine Miistermagico (talk) 02:12, 29 November 2017 (UTC)

Requested move 12 January 2018[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: No consensus to move after more than 2 weeks and a relisting. I don't imagine that leaving it open another week will bring us closer to consensus. Cúchullain t/c 22:20, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

Magic (paranormal)Magic (study of religion) – For some time now, this article has been titled "Magic (paranormal)". I can appreciate why someone not familiar with the study of religion might feel that this is an appropriate title, for in the popular imagination 'magic' is generally associated with ghosts, spells, occultism, and all of that sort of 'spooky' or 'weird' stuff. However, as anyone familiar with the academic literature on this subject (Styers, Hanegraaff, etc) will tell you, this is fundamentally inappropriate. "Magic" is a conceptual category used by scholars for well over a century, and specifically refers to beliefs and practices that have been regarded as being separate from both 'religion' and 'science'. This is most certainly not the same thing as the "paranormal", which is a fairly recent catchall term used to refer to Ufology, cryptozoology, and ghosts, i.e. things regarded as being beyond the "normal". "Magic" and the "paranormal" are very different concepts, and there are no Reliable Sources presenting them as being the same.

As part of my recent attempts to really pull this article into shape so that it accurately reflects what the best quality Reliable Sources actually say, I moved the article to "Magic (study of religion)". This is a far more appropriate title, although SnowFire undid my edit, suggesting that I bring the issue to Requested Moves. So that is precisely what I am doing. I hope that there are no objections to such a proposed move? Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:15, 12 January 2018 (UTC) --Relisting. ToThAc (talk) 19:02, 20 January 2018 (UTC)

  • Comment. First off, good on updating the article, but I think we're conflating two separate subjects here. Magic and religion (which I see you just edited a bunch of) is the better article for things like "I am a devout neopagan and am going to perform a ritual to bless this farmland", or what you mean by "study of religion" presumably. "Paranormal" certainly encompasses magic, though, if perhaps a more low-culture and less "academic" variety of it - psychics, carnival hucksters in the 1930s, and so on all claim to be doing "magic" (and not stage magic, real "I am going to curse you if you don't tip" stuff). Not sure if your claim that "no reliable sources" think Magic and the paranormal are related - google scholar certainly finds tons of stuff, and you'd find far more in Google Books. Basically, my suspicion is that there still needs to be an article on "Magic, the kind where casual credulous people of all religions think that Friday the 13th is unlucky but spinning around 7 times will undo this" vs. the more religious, "serious" magic. SnowFire (talk) 19:13, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
What we have seen a lot of over the past few years is editors filling up these articles with anecdotes that they find interesting: a reference to Papuan sorcery here, an ancient Mesopotamian charm or early modern witch trial there. They've been able to find RS to support their statements (although often quite old and outdated), but all that we've ended up with is a list of tangentially related cross-cultural trivia. No real attempt has been made to sit down, methodically examine the key readings, and use them to construct an article from top to toe. That is what I am hoping to achieve. Accordingly, Magic and religion will almost certainly end up getting merged into this Magic article at some point in the future. The reason for this is that the very concept of "magic" has always been juxtaposed against "religion"; the concept exists in opposition. Magic is magic because it is not religion or science. This is what the work of specialists like Styers and Hanegraaff make clear.
Regarding the relationship between "magic" and the "paranormal", I stand by my original comments. Sure, there are some things which could be regarded as being both "magic" and "paranormal" (the curses and charms of modern occultists perhaps being among them), but that does not mean that "magic" and the "paranormal" are the same thing or that "magic" is a subset of the "paranormal" (as the present title implies). What "magic" is is an analytical construct emerging in Western culture and used by scholars of religion and other social scientists to help divide human behaviours into distinct categories (namely "magic", "religion", and "science"). This isn't just some definition that I have made up, it's what the recent academics working on the subject state. We need to follow these RS, and as part of this we absolutely must change the name of the article. Midnightblueowl (talk) 19:42, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
I want to note that I agree with Midnightblueowl's definition of "magic," but I thought I would add that M. L. West gives what I think is a very good definition of "magic" on page 326 of his book Indo-European Poetry and Myth in which he essentially (and I am paraphrasing here) says that the difference between "magic" and "prayer" is that prayer is dependent on persuasion: a prayer is based on the premise that, if you ask a supernatural entity like a god or spirit to do something, and you do it really nicely and you offer them something in return, they may agree to do it of their own volition. Magic, on the other hand, is based on the premise that, by saying the right words or performing the right rituals in just the right way, you can compel a deity or spirit to do something against its will. Thus, "magic" is a sociological concept for a certain type of cultural thinking that is entirely irrational, but also inherently opposed to the traditional concept of religion. --Katolophyromai (talk) 20:25, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Yeah, looking at your other comments... you're talking about a different article, per User:Trovatore. Not sure I really agree with what you removed from "Magic and religion" as well, at least some of it. There's a number of articles on Wikipedia which are split between Foo (general public sense) and Foo (sociology), for the high-falutin' academic approach. It's one thing to use high quality sources, but it's also the type of source - the perspective of professors who are talking about Magic as a societal force isn't even close to the kind of Magic that random superstitious people talk about, which absolutely does include the "paranormal" and think that magic really works. I also disagree with merging magic and religion into this article - if anything, maybe we need THREE articles, Magic (paranormal), Magic and religion, and Magic (sociology). SnowFire (talk) 21:09, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
@SnowFire: I think you are confusing the concept of magic with the general notion of paranormal activity, which we already have an article about. The word "magic" refers to the idea of performing rituals with the intention to exert a change in the universe. I do not think we should have a "Magic (paranormal)" article of the kind you are thinking of because all of the information in that article would just be a repeat of the information in the article paranormal itself. Perhaps we should just add the article paranormal to the magic disambiguation page? --Katolophyromai (talk) 21:32, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Sure, but isn't it obvious that one branch of the paranormal is Magic, and that some Magic is clearly a crossover with the Paranormal? I'm a mergist but think that ("Paranormal") Magic is absolutely a huge enough sub-topic of the paranormal to merit its own article, that is, this article. At risk of pointing out the obvious, performing a ritual to cause a change in the universe seems pretty paranormal... I don't see how that fact really changes anything. SnowFire (talk) 21:42, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
  • But that is only one definition of "magic", related to modern occultism. Some people believe that divination is a type of magic. Others argue that "primitive" beliefs are magic. Some Protestants claim that Catholicism is magic. We could have an article on concepts of magic in modern Western occultism (although we already have a sub-section on that in this article). The use of "paranormal" in the title privileges one particular definition or understanding of magic over others. Midnightblueowl (talk) 21:53, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
So that's why I think "supernatural" is probably better than "paranormal". Really, I agree with you on one pretty significant point here. I think you really did point out a very good objection to "paranormal"; it's too associated with 20th-century "woo", which is way too specific.
But I don't think that justifies moving to a "meta" level, where the title is based on the study of a set of beliefs rather than on the content of those beliefs. It's possible that "supernatural" is also too specific; I'd be open to hearing other suggestions, as long as they don't do the "meta" thing. --Trovatore (talk) 22:05, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
In my view, "supernatural" is most certainly an improvement over "paranormal", although I do think that we can do better. I'm going to move the article to "supernatural" as it seems like a lot of people are okay with that, but I still think that this is a discussion that can continue. Midnightblueowl (talk) 22:29, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
Okay, it looks like I cannot move the article to "Magic (supernatural)" because there is already a page of that name. Midnightblueowl (talk) 22:31, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
I've tagged it with {{db-move}}. I think there has been some previous discussion, so "non-controversial" is a possibly contestible point, but in any case there is nothing interesting in the history (it previously pointed to a disambig page, I think), so no harm in deleting it. --Trovatore (talk) 23:18, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
  • (de-indent) @Midnightblueowl: It is, in general, bad form to move an article while the discussion is still ongoing anyway. I do think "supernatural" would be harmless as basically a synonym, though. If you want, just modify your original proposal - change it to ((requested move/dated|Magic (supernatural))) and edit your intro, with a note that you changed it and leaving the original comments somewhere. SnowFire (talk) 22:34, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Well I see the move to "supernatural" as a slight improvement, but I don't necessarily support it as a longstanding solution. So I don't really want to change the original Request at present. Midnightblueowl (talk) 22:36, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
  • FWIW I agree that "supernatural" is arguably a slight improvement. I think the best solution, however, would be to make this the primary topic, i.e. without disambiguation. zzz (talk) 23:04, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
Making it the primary topic is my preference as well. Again, for what it's worth. But there is a fairly strong contingent that thinks stage magic has a comparable claim on the name, so it might be a hard sell. --Trovatore (talk) 23:23, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
I would be willing to support making this article the primary topic, but I suspect that, when most people search for "magic," they are most likely to be searching for magic in fiction, since I think books and movies with magic them are what magic is probably best known for with the general public. --Katolophyromai (talk) 23:45, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
I don't think that's a problem. Magic in fiction is generally supernatural magic, that just happens to be treated in fiction. I haven't read magic in fiction, but I would expect an article with that title to be sort of from a comparative-literature point of view, and I don't think that's what someone searching for magic is really looking for. They may be looking for the supernatural concept as treated in fiction, but not so much for a literary analysis of the concept. --Trovatore (talk) 01:04, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
Also, I missed this before, but re MidnightBlueOwl's "But that is only one definition of "magic", related to modern occultism.": yes, and I would argue that this article should be the one about that definition, and other articles should cover the other meanings. SnowFire (talk) 05:49, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose move Current title is concise and accurate. The article is an overview on magic, disambiguated from "stage magic". zzz (talk) 19:50, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
But it is not in any way, shape, of form accurate, that's the problem. It is wildly inaccurate. Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:28, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
It is perfectly accurate. zzz (talk) 20:55, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
I disagree with the statement that the present title is "not in any way, shape, of form accurate" because that is an overly drastic statement. The thinking that lies behind the concept of "magic" is indeed reliant on a belief in a form of the supernatural, but I do agree that the present title is highly misleading. --Katolophyromai (talk) 21:37, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
Please, enlighten me then, User:Katolophyromai. I fail to see how it can be said to be misleading. zzz (talk) 21:44, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
It is misleading because it implies that the practice itself is paranormal, rather than a cultural practice rooted in a form of paranormal thinking. A ritual is not "paranormal" on its own; it only qualifies as "paranormal" if something against the laws of physics actually happens in the course of it - like, I do not know, a demon showing up in your living room. The problem is that that cannot actually happen; it only happens in fiction. --Katolophyromai (talk) 21:51, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
The article should be named for the concept, not for the study of the concept. The concept is indeed about violation of the laws of physics. Well, at least sometimes; I'm not saying it's strictly limited to things that violate physical law, but that's at least a major part of it.
Whether that can really happen is irrelevant to the conceptual analysis here. The name should be based on the concept, not about how the concept affects society or how social scientists believe it came about. --Trovatore (talk) 22:00, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
The title of the article is not the place to argue that there is no such thing as magic. The current title is concise, neutral and accurate. The idea that anyone is being misled by it seems far-fetched in the extreme. zzz (talk) 21:57, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Alternative suggestion I would be in favor of changing the name, but I do not think we should call the article "Magic (study of religion)" because that is an extremely ambiguous title and it would make it sound like "magic" itself is the study of religion, which, of course, is erroneous. "Magic" and "religion" are two separate concepts and the study of religion is called "religious studies," not "magic." A better name might be "Magic (sociological concept) or "Magic (cultural practice)" or something else which conveys the usual academic meaning of the word "magic" as referring to a set of cultural practices and ways of thinking that are neither rational nor religious. --Katolophyromai (talk) 20:11, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
I'm certainly open to alternative suggestions. I don't know if "cultural practice" works, and "sociological concept" might be a little misleading because the concept has been largely explored by archaeologists and scholars of religion rather than sociologists. Maybe "Magic (cultural category)"? Or "Magic (social sciences)"? Indeed, I think that the latter could really work. Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:31, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
Or "Magic (social theory)"? Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:33, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
I think the article should be given a name that would reflect what magic's status would be if the beliefs of the people who believe in magic were true. Magic as a concept is not about the social sciences or social theory. It's about a collection of supernatural abilities and practices. Whether there are any such abilities or practices, in reality, is quite irrelevant — the important thing for the naming is to name it as a concept, whether or not instantiated.
So how about magic (supernatural)? --Trovatore (talk) 20:39, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
Magic (supernatural) would carry a lot of the same problems as Magic (paranormal). While I can appreciate why one might think that magic is "about a collection of supernatural abilities and practices", that's not necessarily the case. The "supernatural" is a problematic Western concept that simply does not exist in many socio-cultural environments. "Magic" is as much about a concept of societal development as it is about preternatural or supernatural ides. Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:48, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
I think you're talking about a different article. Sure, anthropologists and sociologists may well have a category of "magic" that fits your description, and it may well be worth an article. But I don't think it's this article. Even if the supernatural concept is specifically Western, that's OK; it's plenty notable for an article.
It's too "meta" to write this article from the point of view of anthropologists and sociologists. Their POV should probably be mentioned. But it's not what magic as a concept is about. --Trovatore (talk) 20:52, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
How about 'Magic (spiritual)'. Randy Kryn (talk) 03:31, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more I really think it should just be the primary topic. Stage magic is "fake" magic, also called "illusionism", but illusions of what? Illusions of "real" magic, which is what this article is about.
"Magic in fiction" is just fictional depictions of what would be "real magic" if the world of the fictional account were the real world.
So the main article should just be about "real" magic, as opposed to stage magic. Then we don't have to limit it to things that are specifically paranormal or supernatural or spiritual, any of which arguably exclude some of the subject. "Supernatural", for example, maybe excludes "natural magic", whereas "spiritual" might exclude supernatural magic accomplished without the aid of spirits.
The fact that the article is about real magic does not, of course, imply that there is such a thing as real magic, any more than the fact that we have an article about unicorns implies that there are any real unicorns. --Trovatore (talk) 04:01, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
I think that Trovatore has put foreword a good argument and I agree that this article should be the primary topic. --Katolophyromai (talk) 04:17, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
As do I. Calling this article "Magic" would be just fine. Midnightblueowl (talk) 16:16, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
… it would make it sound like "magic" itself is the study of religion, which, of course, is erroneous. That would certainly be erroneous, but why would using "religious studies" or "study of religion" as a parenthetical for disambiguation mean that magic is itself the study of religion? By that logic, the article title Feminization (sociology) (or any of the numerous articles that use the word sociology for parenthetical disambiguation) could lead one to believe that feminization is sociology. (talk) 22:38, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Support alternate move - To Magic per the other suggestions. Stage magic is based on the concept of magic as a supernatural force, so one stems from the other. It also prevents any naming debate over whether magic is a pseudoscience or a cultural practice. (Speaking of which, I definitely prefer the title of "Stage magic" to "Magic (illusion)", but that's a whole new can of worms.)ZXCVBNM (TALK) 17:33, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Support alternate move to "Magic" per zxcvbnm and per others above. Randy Kryn (talk) 00:37, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Support alternate move to "Magic" per above. Rreagan007 (talk) 04:38, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Support alternate move to "Magic (religious studies)" – I support the crux of the original proposal per the nomination; however, as indicated by usage in the article religious studies, study of religion does not appear to be, at this point, the most common term for the discipline. Regarding the other proposal to deem the article the WP:PRIMARYTOPIC, I would have concerns given that it does not follow that one subject "stem[ing] from the other" means that the first subject is the primary topic. (talk) 22:38, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
    • The latest proposal is to move this article, about "real" magic, to magic. See above for what I mean by "real" (it doesn't imply that there actually is any real magic). I think "real" magic is indeed the primary topic. I don't think the "real" magic article needs to be primarily about the study of religion; that's just one aspect of the subject. --Trovatore (talk) 22:45, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose alternative move and keep article at either "paranormal" or "supernatural". Stage magic is less important than "real" magic, sure, but it and the many other terms at the Magic disambiguation page are important enough (and having enough page views) that a disambig page should be what users land on. Oppose original move suggestion too for reasons discussed above. SnowFire (talk) 16:29, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:CONCISE and WP:RECOGNIZABLE. The current name is fine. Magic (study of religion) if awful, because magic (in this or any other sense) is not a study of religion. This just isn't how we use parenthetical disambiguators. Magic by itself is too ambiguous.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:12, 19 January 2018 (UTC)
    • I notice you didn't specifically address the "paranormal" vs "supernatural" question. It hadn't occurred to me before Midnightblueowl brought it up, but I think he/she has a good point on "paranormal", which seems to be roughly defined as "stuff you might see on X-Files", including purely naturalistic phenomena like cryptids and UFOs. "Paranormal" is too specific to a cultural moment peaking in the mid-to-late 20th century, and not specific enough to "real magic". I still prefer making "real magic" the primary topic, but "supernatural" is a strong second, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on that point. --Trovatore (talk) 21:19, 19 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Comment per alternate move to the primary "Magic", some good Wikipedia precedent for making this page primary may have emerged because of the names of the pages Magic in fiction, Magic in the Graeco-Roman world, and Magic item, which all concern Magic (paranormal). I don't know how stage magic is listed in fiction, but it's not at "Magic in fiction". And as mentioned earlier, stage magic is defined by this term, as it imitates what many in the public would consider the effects of magic. Given that the pages I linked above, and possibly more, are directly about the term "magic" as applied to this page, I'd further argue that this information makes it more likely that this article should be made primary, with a hatnote to the stage magic page. Randy Kryn (talk) 19:29, 20 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose nominator's proposal. I'm neutral regarding a move to either Magic (supernatural) or replacing the disambiguation page at Magic. power~enwiki (π, ν) 21:39, 24 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Move to Magic and Magic to Magic (disambiguation). Clear primary topic. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:22, 26 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Move to Magic – the supernatural force is by far the primary topic and most historically enduring compared to other pages named "magic". CookieMonster755 01:45, 28 January 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Followup discussion (since this closed with no consensus)[edit]

  • @Trovatore: This was thick enough that I missed a few bits. I agree that "(supernatural)" is probably better than "(paranormal)" for the reasons you give, though I treat them more synonymously than you do (even as a big fan of The X-Files >;-). However, I also agree with SnowFire that Magic and religion already covers the "real magic" topic from the religious viewpoint, so the RM to move this to "Magic (study of religion)" was doubly off-base: a) we already have the article on the faith/religon angle, and b) this article is about the topic more broadly, not the super-narrow and obscure topic of an academic discipline concerned with the broad topic, as it were. (Sorry if that seems overly critical, ToThAc.) The later variant proposal "Magic (religious studies)" suffers at least the first of these problems, too.

    In short, I'd be fine with a follow-up RM to Magic (supernatural).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  00:16, 23 February 2018 (UTC)

  • I support Midnightblueowl's proposal for a move to Magic (study of religion) or Magic (religious studies). Reading the comments above, it seems that there was indeed a consensus to move.--Eckhardt Etheling (talk) 00:08, 31 March 2018 (UTC)
    • There was certainly no consensus to move it to either of those titles. If you look at the discussion, the direction it seemed to be going was either magic (supernatural) or just plain magic. --Trovatore (talk) 01:46, 31 March 2018 (UTC)
      • Well, I support plain "Magic". Moreover, I think that the article needs a brief section about the interesting etymology of the word, which is from the IE root *mag, from which also "might" and "machine" stem.--Eckhardt Etheling (talk) 12:56, 31 March 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Magic as primary topic. 'Magic' is not religion, nor is it supernatural (as all things are eventually explained by natural causes), and the other term, magic trickery or as performance, refers back to this topic as its imitation. Randy Kryn (talk) 16:42, 31 March 2018 (UTC)
  • I also support Magic as the primary topic. I think that this article is clearly about the main subject here. --Katolophyromai (talk) 16:47, 31 March 2018 (UTC)

@Katolophyromai: @Eckhardt Etheling: @Randy Kryn: @SMcCandlish: Just to give an update, I have re-launched the requested move, hoping that this time I have ironed out the technicalities which prevented a move last time. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:58, 21 May 2018 (UTC)

Oh, and I forgot to ping @Trovatore:! My apologies. Midnightblueowl (talk) 13:10, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
I'll also ping those who took part in the previous requested move discussion, as they may wish to give their opinion again: @SnowFire:, @Zzz:, @Rreagan007:, @Necrothesp:, @CookieMonster755:, @Power~enwiki:. Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:17, 21 May 2018 (UTC)

Requested move 21 May 2018[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: No consensus – The discussion is polarized between editors claiming there is no primary topic among several popular meanings of the word "Magic", and editors asserting that the supernatural definition of magic pre-dates and engenders all other meanings, therefore should be considered WP:PTOPIC under the long-term significance criterion. Both arguments are equally valid under our current guidelines, so that the status quo prevails. Editors may want to participate in a discussion underway at WT:Disambiguation#Long-term significance vs usage, which suggests to assign more weight to long-term significance when deciding on a primary topic. — JFG talk 21:16, 2 June 2018 (UTC)

– At present, the article is called "Magic (paranormal)". This is a totally inappropriate title, as was widely recognised by a previous requested move in January 2018, which came to a clear consensus that the "(paranormal)" part should be removed; there was also majority support for the article to be renamed "Magic" and for it to be made a primary topic. However, this was not done because of a technicality; the original move request had not laid out an argument as to why this—rather than Magic (illusion), Magic in fiction, or Magic (rapper)—should be the primary topic. This current requested move, therefore, seeks to tread over old ground while avoiding the previous technicality which prevented what was otherwise a widely supported move.

First, let's be clear why "paranormal" has to go. This twentieth-century term used to refer to all manner of 'odd' things that go beyond the 'normal': ghosts, aliens, spontaneous human combustion, the Loch Ness Monster. Essentially, the sort of stuff one would see on an episode of The X-Files. Conversely, "magic" is a concept in Western culture stretching all the way back to ancient Greece that has been used to define certain cultural practices; in most cases, it is used to define things which are not considered to be either "religion" or "science". As should be apparent, "magic" and the "paranormal" are very different categories that only in rare cases (i.e. forms of modern occultism) actually overlap. It seems that the term "paranormal" was slapped on to the name of the "Magic" article in the early days of Wikipedia by someone with little or no knowledge about the study of religion and magic within academia. The only possible objection to the removal of "(paranormal)" might come from those who insist that magical practices are meant to rely upon forces which are, in modern Western countries, considered "paranormal". This is perhaps correct, however in many cultural contexts these forces are not deemed "paranormal" but rather are believed to be utterly "normal". Moreover, there are plenty of other cultural activities in Western societies which purportedly rely on "paranormal" (or, perhaps more appropriately, "supernatural" forces) and yet we do not have the tag "(paranormal)" or "(supernatural)" appended to our articles on prayer, worship, divination, theism, blessing, and the like. So, "(paranormal)" really has to go, and just replacing it with "(supernatural)" also brings with it many of the same problems.

But why make "Magic" the primary topic? The vast majority of other articles with "Magic" in their titles cover such trivia as a 2012 self-help book, an Indonesian soap opera, and a 1985 single by New Zealand band DD Smash. Clearly, none of these are going to be the primary topic. The only article which might be considered to have a similar level of weight to this is Magic (illusion), which should perhaps be renamed, more appropriately, as "illusionism", although that is for another discussion. This present article, which is about a major conceptual category that has been highly influential in Western culture for over two thousand years, is far more worthy of being the primary article than an article about stage magic. As the article traffic statistics show, this article on magic attracts about double as many readers as the article on stage magic/illusionism. Even leaving this aside, the main issue is one of comparative weight. "Magic"—as a category used by Ancient Greco-Roman thinkers, then Christian thinkers, and then social scientists—is up there with "religion" and "science" as one of the core conceptual building blocks of Western thought. "Magic" as stage illusionism doesn't even come close to that level of importance. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:55, 21 May 2018 (UTC)--Relisting. Cúchullain t/c 13:51, 29 May 2018 (UTC)

  • Support as nominator. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:55, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support The very point of Magic (illusion) is to mimic what is commonly known as Magic (paranormal), a.k.a. "real" magic. It is the most historically precedent topic, and predated the art of illusionism all the way back into ancient times.ZXCVBNM (TALK) 17:12, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per the nom and Zxcvbnm's succinct and historically correct comment. Randy Kryn (talk) 18:32, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Two reasons:
    • The pageview statistics link above is misleading. It leaves out the topic that actually beats out this article on pageviews, and is also usually referred to as shorthand by just "Magic": Magic: The Gathering, which is more than "trivia." See this pageview burndown for a more accurate analysis, and note that MTG wins on pageviews vs. the other competitors. Look at how long the disambiguation page is; there are tons of entries on it. "Magic (paranormal)" has to beat out all of them, combined, to really have a strong case for primary topic. Many of these uses are only loosely related to "magic as in spellcasting", e.g. Disney Magic the cruise ship, so it's not like they're "child" articles. If the multi-million dollar business / cardgame doesn't seem "important" enough, I will add that Magic (cryptography), although not having a ton of pageviews, is an Important And Serious topic. And lastly, I don't particularly agree that illusionist magic is a subtopic of paranormal Magic, and it is indisputably true that some of the most famous illusionist magicians would vociferously deny that their field is a subtopic of "real magic" (Houdini, Penn & Teller, etc.).
      • Even if a greater number of individuals might read the article on Magic: The Gathering, I think that it would be difficult to argue that that article supersedes this one in terms of importance. That it gets a higher readership is simply a reflection that articles on contemporary popular culture generally get higher readership than articles on 'more important' topics (a subjective concept, granted, but we demarcate such importance through our Wikipedia:Vital articles list) — one just has to look at Wikipedia's Top 25 Report to see that! An instructive comparison with the Magic/Magic: The Gathering situation is the example of Supernatural and Supernatural (U.S. TV series). As the comparison shows, the article on the TV show gets substantially more views, and yet Supernatural remains the primary topic article and is listed as a Vital Article. The same should be the case for Magic. Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:29, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
    • I find the complaints about "paranormal" not particularly compelling, and more generally disagree that Midnightblueowl's heavily sociology-focused view of "magic" actually lines up with how people use the term "magic" elsewhere. But that's been gone over before in the previous RM. Note that if the term "paranormal" is truly considered such a problem, I still have no particular objection to moving to "supernatural" if that makes people happier; they're basically synonyms as far as I'm concerned, so pick the more universal one if paranormal generates complaints. So if people hate "paranormal" but agree with my stance that this article shouldn't be at "Magic", then support a move to (supernatural), please. SnowFire (talk) 19:55, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
      • My approach is not so much sociology-focused, as social science focused more broadly (thus including at least as much anthropology as sociology, and a dose of psychology too). However, the perspective I have argued for is one rooted in the use of the Reliable Sources. Specifically, this article should be modelled on the example of peer-reviewed scholarly texts written by professional academics; people like Wouter Hanegraaff, Randall Styers, and Jonathan Z. Smith. It would be misguided to just pick and choose what we randomly want to include in the article or to imagine that our thoughts on the subject are more important than those of individuals who have spent their careers studying these subjects. Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:37, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
        • This is getting off-topic, but while to be clear I am happy and supportive of you brushing up the sociology-side of the magic, it is hopefully beyond dispute that there are plenty of topics where the "academic" approach to the topic is radically different from the "popular" one, and both should be included. You are going to get very different impressions of a movie from a film professor's paper on A Post-Colonial Proto-Feminist Analysis of Indiana Jones than you will from a popular television/newspaper film critic who writes reviews, who will have a different impression than fans who attend a Spielberg movie convention. The first source does not necessarily "win" here. SnowFire (talk) 21:27, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
          • It depends. I absolutely agree that the article should give coverage to popular conceptions of "magic" alongside academic usages of the term; and to an extent, the article does that already. However, where I am not sure that we agree (and that is because I am not quite sure what you mean) is regarding how such information is cited. This article should only cite Reliable Sources, namely those produced by academics. Thus, while I would be more than happy to cite academic works that discuss popular conceptions of "magic" (and how these have shifted over time), we must not resort to citing writings about "magic" by (for example) New Age authors, or articles from popular magazines, or random websites. Our use of sourcing should always be top quality. Midnightblueowl (talk) 21:42, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support. I've stated my rationale several times above — basically per Zxcvbnm.
    As a side note, I would like to see this article written more "in-universe". The topic of the article is magic, not comparative analysis of societies that have magical beliefs. The comparative analysis is an important subtopic for this article but should not overshadow the beliefs themselves. --Trovatore (talk) 20:09, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support. In every way, this is the clear primary topic. I don't think there's any contest. If we mean stage magic then we specify that or it's understood by context. But in general usage, this is what magic means. -- Necrothesp (talk) 07:43, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose Per WP:PRIMARYTOPIC usage standard, this topic is not "more likely to be sought than all other topics combined" - per pageviews, its not even the top of the chart when comparing just the illusion, the paranormal, and the card game. We should keep all 3 of these disambiguated for the sake of future editors, because if any one of them gets primary, it will start causing a huge wikilink mess. -- Netoholic @ 10:38, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Any such Wikinking problem that would arise from making this article the primary topic could quite easily be fixed in a few hours of editing. It wouldn't be a big deal. Moreover, there are other examples—such as Supernatural—where the primary topic article is not the most read article, but its importance ensures that we still regard it as the primary topic. The same is true of Magic; the sheer importance of the article means that it should be the primary topic even if more people happen to read the Magic: The Gathering article. Midnightblueowl (talk) 11:18, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose (yet again). Only neo-paganism and fringe PoV pushers could possibly think that real, literal belief in supernatural powers is the primary topic (i.e., is what people think of when someone they meet at a coctail party says one of their interests is performing magic).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:36, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
    • Sure, if you're "performing magic", that's a performance, hence illusion. The main sense of the word "magic" in the English language is nevertheless the supernatural one (the performance is the illusion of the supernatural). As I've pointed out several times, this has nothing to do with whether there actually is any "real magic". A concept doesn't have to be instantiated to be the referent of its name. --Trovatore (talk) 02:39, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
      To put it another way, if I meet you at a party and you ask what I do for a living, and I say I raise unicorns, you might not be sure what I mean exactly, but you probably don't think I raise the mythical animal, because, well, there aren't any. That doesn't take away from the fact that the main sense of the word unicorn in the English language is in fact the mythical animal. --Trovatore (talk) 02:47, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
    • How on Earth does one conclude that only "neo-paganism and fringe PoV pushers" would think that this should be the primary topic? As the previous requested move demonstrated, this is the view shared by most editors who commented; I hardly think that they're all a bunch of Wiccans and Ufologists. This seems like a fairly cheap shot to ridicule those who disagree with you. Midnightblueowl (talk) 09:05, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
    • Well, that's pretty insulting! I'm not aware of being either a neo-pagan or a fringe POV pusher! Seems like you're the one with the POV here. -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:55, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
    • When my wiccanpedian neo-pagan fringe POV pushing friends hold their nightly meetings they all sing unearthly songs and eat strange stuff before putting the unicorns and toads to bed. This comment is as silly as the comment I'm responding to. The topic is primary because it is the genesis of everything else similarly named. Randy Kryn (talk) 13:10, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Not a primary topic by pageviews (per other comments above), and my look at searches to determine a primary topic was inconclusive. Shhhnotsoloud (talk) 08:51, 24 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support This is clearly the primary topic and we pretty much already established consensus for this in the last move discussion. All other subjects we call "magic" are derivative of this one; magic (illusion) is the illusion of "real magic" and magic in fiction is people imagining what "real magic" would be like if it were real. The idea that the card game or the Disney cruise ship are even serious contenders for the primary topic is just ridiculous; in a hundred years, both of them will doubtlessly be forgotten or obscure, but "magic" as discussed in this article will still be highly significant. The primary topic is determined by long-term significance and, while page views do help gauge an article's significance in some instances, they are not always reliable because they tend to skew towards modern popular culture subjects rather than older, more serious ones. Only in a case in which the popular culture artifact has clearly completely and utterly eclipsed its namesake in importance can making it the primary topic even be considered. In this case, neither the card game nor the cruise ship nor any of the other items on the disambiguation page even come close to surpassing the concept of magic as outlined here in this article in importance. --Katolophyromai (talk) 12:16, 24 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose – not primary over the other uses. Dicklyon (talk) 02:41, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
Partly because Magic (illusion) is so commonly what is meant by magic. Dicklyon (talk) 19:16, 26 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support It is the primary topic, since all the alternative topics are derivative of this one, as has been stated above. Page counts is not the only factor, as shown by the example of Supernatural (U.S. TV series). And undeniably, for any serious encyclopedia, this is by far the most important article. Some of the oppose votes seem to be purely WP:IDLI. zzz (talk) 02:58, 25 May 2018 (UTC) + 17:59, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Zzz makes a fair point about there being what looks like WP:IDLI here. Although some of the 'opposers' have tried to formulate cogent arguments (mostly focusing on the fact that Magic: The Gathering gets more page views than this one or that every article with "Magic" in its title, when added together, gets more page views than this one), there has been virtually no valid defence of the present "(paranormal)" label in the lede, nor any strong critique of the fact that the subject of this article is of actual primary, long-term importance, which is one of the main criteria for determining a primary topic. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:58, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
  • oppose, clearly not the primary topic if you asked most people what "magic" meant to them. Disambiguation by default is best. Outriggr (talk) 03:03, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Do you have any evidence for that statement? It doesn't seem at all self-evident to me. I'd have thought a lot of people, quite possibly a majority, would think of spells and incantations before stage illusionism. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:47, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support. As Randy Kryn said, "the topic is primary because it is the genesis of everything else similarly named". The concept of magic has undergone a very complex development in the centuries since the Christianization of the Roman Empire, as I outlined in a comment a few years back. In the course of that development, illusionism and the forms of magic found in fiction all emerged out of the original concept. This article describes how that happened (and does so much better, thanks to Midnightblueowl's efforts, than it did the last time I looked at this page). This is the central topic. A. Parrot (talk) 19:05, 26 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Comment: I note that this reverses a previous move 02:54, 11 July 2005‎ Gtrmp (talk | contribs | block)‎ . . (19 bytes) (+19)‎ . . (Magic (disambiguation) moved to Magic: ambiguous name, moved without discussion) which was itself presumably reversing a previous bold move. Andrewa (talk) 16:32, 28 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support It's obviously the primary topic. Rreagan007 (talk) 20:00, 29 May 2018 (UTC)
    Certainly not obvious to me. Why do you think so? Dicklyon (talk) 20:06, 29 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Comment: In support of my original argument, I would also point out that WP:Reliable sources produced by academic authors appear to give primacy to this topic. Oxford University Press' Magic: A Very Short Introduction by Owen Davies deals with this topic rather than illusionism, while Routledge's Magic: The Basics by Michael D. Bailey does the same. The Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic series put out by Palgrave Macmillan deals with this topic, as does the (now defunct) Journal for the Academic Study of Magic as well as the (ongoing) academic journal Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft. Clearly, within academic contexts (which Wikipedia should of course emulate) the term "magic" is used commonly to define this topic, as opposed to illusionism. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:45, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:PTOPIC#2 – substantially greater enduring notability and educational value than any other topic associated with that term. I thought we knew that pageviews are not be-all, end-all. This meaning is universally the first mentioned in dictionaries, and as others have noted, magic (illusion) and magic in fiction are derived from magic as a purported ability to manipulate supernatural forces.
    P.S. God I hate how this article is written, without ever defining its subject, instead going about it in all sorts of roundabout ways and whining how hard it is to define, something all major dictionaries don't seem to have a slightest problem with; word "supernatural" is first used somewhere halfway the article. No such user (talk) 11:04, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per reasons given at the start of the discussion. The concept of "magic" is much older and more complex than the simplistic modern concept of "paranormal".--Eckhardt Etheling (talk) 17:51, 30 May 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Requested move 3 June 2018[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: consensus to move the page to Magic (supernatural), per the discussion below. Dekimasuよ! 20:42, 13 June 2018 (UTC)

Magic (paranormal)Magic (supernatural) – Although the previous Requested Move failed to gain consensus to make this article the primary topic, it remains clear that the current wording is inappropriate. The term "paranormal" refers to those things which are beyond the normal, and that includes things which are supposed to be "supernatural" (i.e. beyond the natural) like ghosts or fairies, as well as things which are presented as being part of the natural universe but just a bit weird; UFOs, Bigfoot, spontaneous human combustion. The sort of thing that one would find on an episode of The X-Files. The term also has rather 20th/21st century connotations; one doesn't find talk of the "paranormal" in scholarly discussions of the middle ages or prehistory, for example. The term "supernatural" would be far more appropriate given its specificity and it's chronologically long-term application. The term "paranormal" does not repeatedly crop up alongside "magic" in the Reliable Sources but "supernatural" is more common (as for instance the Encyclopedia Britannica article on the topic [1]) and thus would be better used here. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:23, 3 June 2018 (UTC)--Relisting. Dekimasuよ! 10:46, 10 June 2018 (UTC)

  • Support for historical accuracy, and per nominator's rationale. — JFG talk 12:02, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Is there something better than 'Supernatural'? That word, to me, brings up more images of ghosts and X-Files connotations than 'Paranormal' does, and kind of marginalizes the term 'magic' to the unusual and other-worldly. And as JFG suggests in their close of the primary topic discussion above, maybe editors would like to comment on the long-term significance criteria discussion they listed in their close. Randy Kryn (talk) 12:45, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
I guess it would feel more natural to just call it "Magic". Face-smile.svgJFG talk 14:22, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per Midnightblueowl, following RS.--Farang Rak Tham (Talk) 18:20, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose – paranormal: denoting events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding. Many sources associate "paranormal" with "magic". Supernatural seems to put it more into the religion camp, which some also do, but is less conventional, it seems to me. In fact, many sources treat them as different things as "Magic and the Supernatural". Dicklyon (talk) 18:28, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
  • But look at the quality of those sources linking "magic" with the "paranormal". Most of them appear to be cheap novels: October Girls: A Magical Paranormal Fantasy, Christmas Before the Magic: Paranormal YA Romance Novella etc. Not Reliable Sources. A very few are academic texts, like Hill's Paranormal Media, and do use the two words in conjunction, but such an approach is absent from academic studies of magic itself. There's no mention of "paranormal", for instance, in the text of Owen Davies' Magic: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press), whereas "supernatural" recurs nine times. Similarly, Michael D. Bailey's Magic: The Basics (Routledge) uses "supernatural" ten times and paranormal only three (and often in quote marks). "Supernatural" makes at least ten appearances in Randall Styers' Making Magic (Oxford University Press) while "paranormal" makes none at all. Consistently, the more recent academic texts on the subject of magic give precedence to "supernatural" over "paranormal", even to the extent of eschewing the latter term altogether. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:19, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
  • I also think that your link to the Google Books referring to "Magic and the Supernatural" actually demonstrates the point that "(supernatural)" is a better designation here than ("paranormal"). Which the supernatural is something distinct from magic—they are not synonyms—what we can see from the link is a long list of academic texts that explicitly use the two terms in conjunction, indicating a conceptual link between the two. Conversely we do not see such a recurring link between "magic" and the "paranormal" when it comes to academic texts. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:32, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per Dicklyon. I know it's a good faith RM, but if the choice is between the two words then "paranormal" seems to fit better than "supernatural". As JFG says above, it feels more natural to just call it magic. Perhaps when the question about historical long-term significance is finished, and it becomes the first listed criteria for primary (and that discussion seems to be going that way), another RM could be started which would have that further information to take into consideration. Randy Kryn (talk) 20:50, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
    Sure, you can just call it magic. But to make a primarytopic grab over Magic (illusion), the other very common meaning, seems like a bad idea. Dicklyon (talk) 04:14, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support a move to a dfferent title. Both "paranormal" and "supernatural" are limited, in my opinion. Note that the concept of "magic" is rooted in the ancient Iranian/Zoroastrian priesthood of the magi.--Eckhardt Etheling (talk) 21:16, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support -- "paranormal" refers to things like telekinesis or clairvoyance, whereas "magic" refers to the use of ritual or symbols to try and affect reality. They are two different things. Rune370 (talk) 18:33, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per Midnightblueowl. "Supernatural" is possibly broader in scope, IMO. I do not understand why the move to no disambiguation did not happen, by the way. It looks pretty close to a consensus to me. zzz (talk) 18:43, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support. It is a more accurate disambiguator. Rreagan007 (talk) 20:00, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per the rational of the proposing editor. Rap Chart Mike (talk) 14:41, 13 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Support I would rather just make this article the primary topic, but, since that proposal seems to have unfortunately been defeated, I guess maybe this is a little bit better than "paranormal." --Katolophyromai (talk) 15:30, 13 June 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

What to do with the History section[edit]

I'm a bit concerned by the "History" section in this article, along with its sub-sections of "Ancient Mesopotamia", "Ancient Egypt", "Classical antiquity", "Middle Ages", and "Islam". The reasons for that are threefold. The first is that parts of it, namely in the "Classical antiquity" and "Middle Ages" sub-sections, already overlap the content found in the more appropriately sourced "Etymology and conceptual development" section of the article. In that sense, these particular sub-sections are simply superfluous. We don't need them. The second issue is that three of the cited societies—Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Islam—do not actually have any concept of magic per se. They had/have their own conceptual categories, which are quite different from the magic/religion/science system employed in Western society. Sure, later Westerners have pointed at something like heka and called it magic, but others have just as easily referred to it as religion. Following the example of the Reliable Sources, this article goes to some lengths to explain how the concept of "magic" emerged and how it was not present in Egypt or Mesopotamia, and it seems a little bit silly to then follow that with a section discussing "Magic in Mesopotamia" etc. It's just going to confuse readers. The third issue is that—if we are providing an overview of different cultural practices across time and space that happen to have been labelled magic by one or more Western scholars at one time or another—why are we restricting ourselves to just five examples? Why not a sub-section on the ancient Maya, contemporary Malaya, or pre-colonial Massachusetts? Of course, were we try to provide such universal coverage in this article things would pretty soon become terribly unwieldy and farcical. That fact, of course, seriously undermines the purpose of having such a section with its arbitrary selection of examples in the first place.

For that reason, I would like to propose removing the section from the article. That would be the best course of action. At the same time, I appreciate that some hard work has gone into putting together these sections, and would not want to see that go to waste. For that reason I would propose moving the prose in these sections into new (or pre-existing) articles specifically devoted to Mesopotamia, Egypt, etc. Do I have any support for such a course of action? Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:01, 24 June 2018 (UTC)

@Midnightblueowl: I am the one who wrote the sections on "Ancient Mesopotamia" and "Ancient Egypt" sections as well as most of the "Classical antiquity" section. These are actually abbreviated excerpts from a much longer "History of magic" article I wrote a while ago for my own personal use, which covered magical practices in various ancient civilizations. I added them because I thought more information about magical practices in the ancient world would be helpful, although there was a lot of material I omitted. For instance, I wrote equally sizeable sections about magical practices in ancient Persia and the ancient Levant, but I did not think those would be regarded as quite as important for an encyclopedia article. Even the sections I included, especially those on ancient Greece and Rome, have been greatly abridged from their original length. The originals spanned several pages each and went into much greater detail describing, for instance, ritual practices of Pythagoreanism, Orphism, and the Eleusinian Mysteries, as well as beliefs about magic in ancient Greek folklore. I suppose I am fine if you wish to remove the "History" section altogether. I only added it because I thought the information would help improve the article. I still have the original essay saved on my computer. --Katolophyromai (talk) 02:28, 26 June 2018 (UTC)
@Midnightblueowl: I have gone ahead and removed the "History" section myself. Just so you know, I did not write any of the "Middle Ages" or "Islam" sections, which were generally poorly cited and considerably less extensive than the parts I wrote. Also, a few parts of the "Classical antiquity" section were here before me, since I only posted a few paragraphs worth of material from the Greek and Roman sections of the essay I wrote. The parts that were uncited were definitely here before me, since everything I added was meticulously cited to scholarly sources.
By the way, I think you have done excellent work on the rest of the article and, if it were not for the fact that I know you can bring this article up to "Featured Article" quality, I might have been more hesitant about removing the parts I added. --Katolophyromai (talk) 02:39, 26 June 2018 (UTC)
Thanks, Katolophyromai. I think some of the material you removed could certainly be used in fleshing out other articles, such as Ancient Mesopotamian religion, so it needn't go to waste. Obviously, in these there will need to be grappling with terms like magic and religion, which are Western conceptual categories that don't really map on to how those societies actually divided up their world. It'll be a difficult task, but the end result would be worth it. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:25, 26 June 2018 (UTC)

Bonewits as a reliable source[edit]

I find it hard to see how anyone can argue that Bonewits is not a reliable source for a page on magic. Yes he was "a modern Pagan Druid who wrote works of occultism for a New Age and esoteric audience", which is exactly why he is qualified. One does not have to be a, as you put it Midnightblueowl, "a professional academic publishing in academic locations" to be a reliable source. However Bonewits is better qualified than some in the field of magic in this respect as he held a degree in magic. Bonewits published many books that were published by reputable publishers ergo he is a reliable source. It seems like you are trying to disqualify magicians from bring reliable sources on magic...Morgan Leigh | Talk 02:06, 26 June 2018 (UTC)

I would agree that he's reliable for magic, but not for quantum physics. Ian.thomson (talk) 03:09, 26 June 2018 (UTC)
@Morgan Leigh: I would say that, since Bonewits writes about magic from the perspective of a practitioner of it, rather than as a scholar studying it from an outsider's perspective, he is a primary source, so we can cite him, but only if we cite secondary sources written by scholars interpreting what he has written, putting it in the proper context, and, if necessary, correcting it. In other words, we should treat his writings on magic (and those of others like him) the same way we would treat a person's autobiography in an article about the person. Citing him as a source on his own without proper scholarly interpretation would likely be in violation of WP:NPOV and WP:OR. --Katolophyromai (talk) 04:55, 26 June 2018 (UTC)
I agree with Katolophyromai. Isaac Bonewits is a primary source. When it comes to this page, he could potentially be used to cite something about modern occultist views of magic (but then again, when we have Reliable Sources written by scholars and published with academic publishers, why would we need to cite his work?), but I wouldn't use him to cite anything else. This is not about disqualifying him because he was an occultist; had he also been a scholar and had works published in academic outlets then I would be more than happy to cite those. The issue at hand is that Wikipedia should be based on the very finest quality sources; and those are academic publications. Bonewits did not publish academic publications. He was not a scholar, his undergraduate degree in "Magic" notwithstanding. He believed in an etheric force that he, like many other occultists, called "magic" and wrote books for a New Age/esotericist audience promoting that belief. The book that you wish to cite, Real Energy: Systems, Spirits, And Substances to Heal, Change, And Grow, was published by a company called New Page and is clearly not a Reliable Source for anything but Bonewits' own beliefs. To draw a comparison, I wouldn't want a non-academic book by the Archbishop of Canterbury used as a source on the theology page; it might be published by a reputable press, but it's essentially a text engaged in proselytization, and when there are academic texts available we should always go for those first and foremost, only turning to other sources if we need to plug the gaps. Here, I don't see any gaps that need plugging. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:17, 26 June 2018 (UTC)
I'd like to thank you all for taking the time to reply in a civil and thoughtful manner. To @Ian.thomson: I say, one doesn't need to be an expert in quantum physics to draw a parallel to such a generally known phenomena as quantum entanglement. If we go down that path we will end up being unable to draw all sorts of parallels. To @Katolophyromai: there is not a sharp delineation between a practitioner and a scholar. One doesn't have to be writing from an outside perspective to be a scholar. Many contemporary academics in the study of magic are practitioners, myself among them. In fact, I'd argue, that one of them problems in the academic study of magic is that the voices of practitioner scholars are questioned and deprioritized because they are practitioners. It's the whole insider/outsider problem, e.g. the Tanya Luhrmann problem. To @Midnightblueowl: I understand that Bonewits is a primary source and Wikipedia's policy on that, although I would absolutely argue that the very finest quality sources on magic are not necessarily academic publications at all. The reason is that magic is not science, but the academy is based on science. It's like fitting a square peg in a round hole and then calling it a good fit. I know from my own experience that it frequently happens that magic and/or religion is/are misrepresented in the academy because anything that can't be put into the box that is science's current understanding of the world is rejected. I don't know how Wikipedia can address this but I think it's a really important thing to consider. Further to this I posit that magic is not what those following a purely scientific agenda say it is. Magic is what magicians say it is. If you question this, think of it for any other endeavour, neuroscience is what neuroscientists say it is, economics is what economists say it is. Bonewits might not be a scholar in the eyes of those who only accept the presently dominant purely rational, materialist view of things, but he lived and breathed a magical life for many decades. His opinions should not be discarded. To quote Lynne Hume, "Doing is knowing". Morgan Leigh | Talk 09:11, 27 June 2018 (UTC)
"one doesn't need to be an expert in quantum physics to draw a parallel to such a generally known phenomena as quantum entanglement". Well that depends; I think one would need to be an accredited physicist making this claim before we could take such a comparison seriously for the purposes of Wikipedia. Occultists often try and compare their practices with science as a means of legitimising their practices (Olav Hammer devoted half a doorstep-of-a-book to this very phenomenon of "scientification"), and other religious practitioners often do the same, claiming that their particular beliefs are vindicated by the latest scientific discoveries and theories, despite the fact that the scientific community hardly ever agrees (just think of Christian creationism, intelligent design etc). For that reason, we really cannot take such claims at face value unless they are actually supported by professional physicists themselves. Bonewits may well have very seriously believed that the etheric force he called "magic" bore similarities with the ideas behind quantum physics, but that does not in any way mean that physicists would agree, and from a non-occultist perspective it can certainly look as if he was (on some level) just trying to make his belief in this etheric force look more 'rational' through its purported similarity to a scientific theory, much as fundamentalist Christians sometimes claim that geology supports the existence of the Great Flood. Midnightblueowl (talk) 11:40, 27 June 2018 (UTC)
You also say that "magic is not science, but the academy is based on science", but I think that a misunderstanding of my argument has crept in here. That which is lumped under "magic" is usually regarded as being distinct from that which is lumped under "science", but the "science" in question is hard science; conversely, the Reliable Sources used in this article (and which should be used) are not the work of hard scientists, they are the work of social scientists and historians. This article should rely on what social sciences and historians say. These individuals may also be occultists or esotericists (or whatever else) in their private lives, and that's fine, but we cite them on the basis of their expertise in history, anthropology, or whatever it may be, rather than because they are occultists. Bonewits is only an occultist, not a scholar, and that is where the difference lies and is the reason why he must not be cited here. Midnightblueowl (talk) 11:40, 27 June 2018 (UTC)
You then add that "Magic is what magicians say it is", but there are very serious problems with this. On the one hand, self-described "magicians" do not agree on what "magic" is, and the term "magic" has meant many very, very different things over the course of the past two millennia. If I understand you correctly, you adhere to a form of modern occultism which involves a belief in some sort of etheric energy source and seeks to manipulate this through ceremonies, with this belief and its associated practices being referred to as "magic"; this is not, however, how many people would have used the term "magic" in the past. So are they the ones who are correct or are you? Whose view would Wikipedia take as being authoritative? The other problem with this statement is that it would set a deeply problematic precedent. If occultist magicians get to define what magic is, then Christians must surely be allowed to define what Christianity (or even theology) is, and the Wikipedia article on Christianity would therefore begin: "Christianity is the one true religion based on the worship of the one true God and His son Jesus Christ who died for the sins of humanity". Pretty soon, Wikipedia would be in a right state if we let each and every religious/spiritual/esoteric group define their own practices on their own terms. That is why we have to go to the accredited academic experts on a subject, and in this case it is the social scientists and historians. Midnightblueowl (talk) 11:40, 27 June 2018 (UTC)
It is a common claim that religion and magic are trying to justify themselves by using science. But this is really the kind of claim that only makes sense for those who see science as the only way of knowing truth. Most magic or religious people I know are not trying to reconcile either magic or religion with science. They recognise that they are quite different things. "I think one would need to be an accredited physicist making this claim", interesting that you seem to be suggesting that its ok for a physicist (or a social scientist or historian) to make a claim about magic but not the other way around... I posit that you think Bonewits is trying to make his claim look more rational because you think rational thinking is to be preferred to magical thinking. Magicians do not think this way. The problem of trying to describe everything through the lens of science is that all one can ever see is science. And one does a disservice to magic or religion, or any one of another whole list of things that can't be explained by science, when one does this.
I have not made any such claim as you ascribe to me. I don't even know what you mean by etheric energy. Sounds very nineteenth century... "Whose view would Wikipedia take as being authoritative?", no one's view is authoritative. Science thinks it's view is, and derides anything that doesn't fit. Science is a system for knowing, but it's not the only one. Science believes in the existence of objectivity, magic doesn't. Science believes that only things that can be measured exist, neither magic nor religion do. These positions are tenets of the belief system that is science, only, just like monotheisms, science thinks it is the only belief system, but then caps it off by denying it is a belief system.
"Wikipedia would be in a right state if we let each and every religious/spiritual/esoteric group define their own practices on their own terms." And this would be worse than letting one thing, science, be the only thing that gets to describe every other system, and to do so in its own terms? It seems downright rude to me to presume that science is better placed to explain other belief systems than they themselves are. I am fine with having a scientific description of things, but not with it being the only one allowed. Morgan Leigh | Talk 12:01, 28 June 2018 (UTC)

@Morgan Leigh: I respect the argument that you are putting forward but we are getting very off-topic. As I see it, no other editors here support your inclusion of a Bonewits reference in the article and there have been no Wikipedia policies cited in support of said inclusion. This being the case, I'm going to remove the citation from the article. If you still disagree, we will have o take the issue to RfC. Midnightblueowl (talk) 09:29, 29 June 2018 (UTC)

@Midnightblueowl: You are absolutely right, I am veering wildly off into discussions best had elsewhere. But how dare you be so reasonable and polite (IRONY).
Only one, more on topic, thought occurs to me. Bonewits is not being cited here as a source to say that the law of contagion being as it is means that it is referring to the same thing that quantum physics means by quantum entanglement. He is being cited as a magician who drew a parallel. This is important because I don't think it would be a good idea to start requiring citations every time someone draws a parallel between things. That way lies madness. Morgan Leigh | Talk 03:34, 30 June 2018 (UTC)

Chaos magic bit in history section[edit]

Just a heads up that I've put the bit about chaos magic back in the history section, under "Modern Western occultism". @Midnightblueowl: -- I saw you reverted it last time, with the comment "This addition was well intentioned, but the references provided were primary". That's a very fair point, and I've taken that on board and found some better references, and also removed the quote from Peter Carroll. Let me know if you think that's OK or if it still needs work. I do think it should be mentioned though, as chaos magic has been quite influential on other branches of occultism over the past 40 years or so. Rune370 (talk) 22:56, 4 July 2018 (UTC)

I have changed the wording, although the second source does quote "success magic" and "results based magic", so maybe it'd be appropriate to quote it with attribution... —PaleoNeonate – 03:03, 5 July 2018 (UTC)
PaleoNeonate, sorry, I'm not quite sure what you mean about the source quoting "success magic" and "results based magic"? The full quote is: "Chaos magic has been described as 'success magic' or 'results-based magic' and grew out of a concern among some within the magical fraternity who believed that magic had drifted too closely towards meditation and celebration and away from specific results." We could attribute it though if you think it needs it, I just don't quite understand what you're getting at. For what it's worth, my understanding is that "results magic" was the original name of chaos magic, given to it by Ray Sherwin, but after Sherwin distanced himself from it in the late 70s, leaving the IOT, Peter Carroll started referring to it as "chaos magic". Hence why the older name is still sometimes floating around in connection with it, and is used in some older texts. But I don't think any of that is relevant here? Rune370 (talk) 11:08, 5 July 2018 (UTC)
Here was the original wording: a set of tried-and-tested techniques for causing effects to occur in reality. These are grandiose claims which read like an advert and have no basis in reality. While this is not the place to discuss the topic (but the article), to support what I mean: If those techniques unambiguously worked, I would likely still be a practitioner. If I want actual results, it's much better to work in the real world or to rely on science and technology, rather than on mind games with faith and wait. So basically, these should not be stated in Wikipedia's voice. Attributing them, or quoting them, while mentioning what they are (a quote, a name, etc) would be fine, I think. Otherwise we'd need to insert weasel words such as "claimed"... Thanks, —PaleoNeonate – 12:14, 5 July 2018 (UTC)
Also adding a similar claim: "the true religion". I hope this helps, —PaleoNeonate – 12:17, 5 July 2018 (UTC)
Oh, I do see what you mean, sorry I didn't realise that comment was in relation to the bit you'd removed/changed. Yeah, I agree with you, that is much more NPOV. Rune370 (talk) 12:22, 5 July 2018 (UTC)

Many magicians didn't and don't differentiate magic from religion[edit]

What is the difference between magic and religion? Both are lies against the reality of the physical world. Religion is supported by authoritative people. That's the difference!

Some magic systems are indeed also part of traditional religions. But please be more specific: this talk page is not a forum to discuss the topic, but is to discuss improvements to the article (WP:NOTFORUM). If you have a reliable source to suggest, please include it. Thanks, —PaleoNeonate – 04:58, 31 July 2018 (UTC)

Move discussion in progress[edit]

There is a move discussion in progress on Talk:Magician (fantasy) which affects this page. Please participate on that page and not in this talk page section. Thank you. —RMCD bot 22:17, 28 August 2018 (UTC)