Repurposing this paper to intellectually describe my own practice of demon summoning, and my participation in a story about black cats, unicorns and healthcare, a quick answer to the question of magic is as follows:
Broadly there are two responses to the question of magical powers, magical healing powers, magical animals, demons, spirits, charms, gods, curses, the supernatural of some kind.
- Yes, but most are actually social phenomenon created by imposters, consciously or not.
- No, magic is purely social or poetic in nature. But if you and enough people believe in something enough then obviously it can affect you, kind of like placebos or belief in a spirit.
Both are contradictory positions; however both are dependent on each other, two sides of the same coin. If we take for example the claim of a magic that makes people sick, then the first group – the yes magic group – will say that it will only end up harming you if you do not believe in it and take the right precautions. Or alternatively deny that particular magic as false and so join the second group on this occasion – the no magic group. The second group then says you will only be harmed if you believe in it enough, like a placebo, or enough of you believe in it due to the harmful nature of all going along with an idea.
Hence magic in this way is a co-constitutive relationship rather than there being two bounded and separate groups here. In other words “the tension of the two contradictory perspectives pulling at one another is precisely what is constitutive of the world”. In this particular the world of what makes you sick.
So also when you encounter a powerful person, like the leviathan king, or powerful deity like a demon, they are entangled with magical stories, being extra special for some reason or other. And these magical beings are also paradoxical. They are “created by rituals which posited that they were products of collective agreement, [but also] autonomous powers in their own right.” They are “created (and continually recreated) by the people through conscious acts of agreement, and as something prior to the very existence of the people, alien and incomprehensible—both at the same time…. [but the paradox is] not incidental, [its] constitutive of the object… conveying important truths about the human condition”.
So the question then is what kind of human condition do different magic-paradoxes give rise to? Are many people sick or healthy? It the form of the relations structuring these paradoxes between position 1 and 2 that matter, more than holding position 1 or 2.