China’s Magical History

Article Contributor: O.D. Watson

Based on archeological findings and cave drawings, our early ancestors painted scenes of ritual hunting magic and therefore belief in magic existed as far back as cave dwellers. We can speculate that early magic was about controlling the natural world, understanding which foods were beneficial or poisonous and curing the sick. Early Soothsayer ideas of the universe were formed to describe the world and human’s relationship with it.

The word magic historically comes from the Greek word mageia. In ancient times, Greece was at war with the Persians. The Persians called their priests magosh, which then became magoi in Greek. The ritual acts of these Persian priests came to be known as magika. And magika soon became the term used for any foreign unusual ritual practice. Eventually the performance of illusion and other tricks became known as magic.

China has a 3,000+ year written history and is one of the four ancient civilizations of the world. China’s history before the Shang Dynasty which began in 1600 B.C. is mostly just legends. Ancient Chinese writings show that magical belief dates all the way back to this time. Wizards, alchemists, and divination were all documented. Records show that illusionists and magicians were invited to the royal palace to give shows even back then.

Divination and rituals have been a part of the ancient Chinese ethos going back at least as far as human recorded history. Divination was utilized to determine the will of the gods whose rule was believed to govern human fate. Fate was a major driver in ancient Chinese beliefs and the knowledge of one’s fate to conform with or manipulate was a constant goal. Ancient Chinese people believed in three kinds of fate; time: over which there is no control, place: which has some control and human actions: which one has the most control over. Ancient Chinese culture practiced ancestor worship and divination gave the ability to commune with  them and figure out if they were content or displeased in one’s decisions related to fate.

China has an ancient divinity text known as ‘The Book of Changes’ and it is called ‘I Ching’. I Ching is believed to have been created between 2800 to 3600 years ago. Amazingly, this text is still used today. People read and use the I Ching in order to more closely align themselves with the divine powers and their pre-imprinted path of fate. People study the I Ching to take the best possible actions and timing to improve one’s chances of happiness and success. In ancient times, kings, generals, and commoners all consulted The I Ching for all matters, both important and routine. It’s sustained use is testament to the life benefit of this ancient magical practice.

The Chinese Zodiac is based on the lunar calendar and consists of 12 animals; Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, & Pig. 2020 is year of the Rat. Each Chinese zodiac animal has personality traits assigned to it by the ancient Chinese astrologers thousands of years ago. The Chinese people believe these traits will be embodied in people, according to their zodiac sign. The astrology is from scientific observation of the motions of planets, stars, and meteors.

Ancient Chinese astrology is possibly the most popular and widely practiced divinity technique. Observation of the complex interweaving of the natural rhythm and alignment of planets, tides, seasons, stars and the phases of the moon are used for astrology. Uncovering and understanding more deeply who you are is the main purpose of Chinese astrology. To reveal what the days, weeks, and years ahead might bear and understand your relationships with people using astrology brings the opportunity to control your destiny. This appealing knowledge may help one to adjust their fate.

One of the earliest books in the west to explain magic secrets was published in the late 16th century. By the 17th century, many books about magic tricks were being published. Leading into the 18th century, magic shows were a common form of entertainment and nearly all fairs had magic shows on the venue. By the late 19th and 20th and the time of Harry Houdini, great magic shows in large theatres were commonplace. In the late 20th and early 21st century, we have seen magic become a big part of the entertainment business.