“We even find traces of [theurgic magic] in branches of Protestantism which reject the sacramental system, because when they reject the Eucharist, they substitute the Altar Call. When they reject Baptismal regeneration, some groups substitute Speaking in Tongues while others substitute the Sinner’s Prayer. When they reject the rosary and holy water, some substitute other forms of regular devotion while others claim to chase away demons with oil.”
— From my Is Magic Wrong?
Many believe Christian theurgy is just a “Catholic thing” or an “Orthodox thing,” and forget that Protestantism has its own forms of magic, too.
For example, the “Enochian” system created by John Dee and Edward Kelley, in its original form, was heavily dominated by the name of Jesus and Dee’s manuscripts seemed to rely on the principle of Solus Christus.
The Arbatel, an anonymous 17th-century magical manuscript, likewise seems to depend on Solus Christus to evoke the “Olympic Planetary Spirits” and compel them to do what the operator wishes. While we don’t know whether it was written by a Catholic or a Protestant, it can safely be used by both.
Protestant magic abounds amongst folk practitioners: rootworkers in the American South and brauchers in the American Mid-Atlantic.
Likewise we have Christian Science – an odd theological mixture of Protestantism, Arianism, and Gnosticism – which emphasizes what’s essentially magical practice as a method of healing.
Finally, we have the modern-day Prosperity Gospel, which is nothing short of magical thinking.
In essence there’s no shortage of magic in Protestantism, no matter how hard Zwingli or Calvin tried to divorce the spirituality from the religion.
What we find is that instead of returning to the Sacramental system, Protestants simply found other paths for spiritual expression. We even find that modern lodge-based magical orders such as the Golden Dawn are the product of nineteenth-century Protestant ingenium.
I think there’s plenty of fertile ground here for research on both the theological and anthropological levels.
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IMAGE CREDIT: “The Legacy” by Ron DiCianni. For more information about this image click here.