Essay The Sorcerer And His Magic By Claude Levi Strauss

1563 Words Sep 29th, 2016 7 Pages
In his essay “The Sorcerer and His Magic”, Claude Lévi-Strauss discusses his concept of what he calls the “shamanistic complex” (Lévi-Strauss 179) which based on research by Cannon that suggests people who believe in magic can be physically affected if they are cursed, bewitched or otherwise subject to magic (Lévi-Strauss 167-168). Lévi-Strauss then offers a qualification to Cannon’s assertion by saying that there are three elements which must be present in order for a magical ritual to have the desired physical effect. “[…] first, the sorcerer’s belief in the effectiveness of his techniques; second, the patient’s or victim’s belief in the sorcerer’s power; and, finally the faith and expectations of the group, which constantly act as a sort of gravitational field between which the relation between sorcerer and bewitched is located and defined” (Lévi-Strauss 168). These three parts make up what Lévi-Strauss later identifies as the “shamanistic complex”. In order to prove the existence of this phenomena, Lévi-Strauss offers several examples regarding magic in Native American tribes. However, the work of another anthropologist T. M. Luhrmann seems to stand in conflict with this notion. Luhrmann studied the practice of witchcraft in a much more modern context. Luhrmann joined a coven in England and studied witchcraft for a year in order to write a book on modern witchcraft. While Luhrmann fully integrated herself into the society surrounding witchcraft in the United Kingdom,…

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