The Ancient Library

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ii MAGIC 21

But one qualification can be added in an account necessarily curtailed to the smallest possible limits. While it may be claimed that the ideas we have suggested are the ultimate presuppositions behind all magical and religious action, it is impossible to deny that from these fundamental notions have been differentiated a number of very various developments, and that it is often in entire unconsciousness of the real essence of the rite that the performer acts. The instruments of union at healing-well or tree come to be thought of as thank-offerings or ex-votos. In witchcraft charms the blood-bond becomes mere blood-letting. The customs of the Alcheringa and the lore of sacred tradi­tion are perpetually undergoing a reinterpreta-tion at the hands of those who revere the practices of antiquity, and whose restless intellects supply new forms to the original meanings which age and unthinking reverence have effaced.

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