What is Magic

Does the Catholic Church have any specific teaching on Magic. Is it just illusion or are dark forces thought to be behind it.How can you differentiate between what comes from the Lord and what doesn’t in terms of miracles.I remember reading that Muhammad Ali loved magic but would always reveal how his tricks were done because his Muslim beliefs did not allow for one to deceive another. But what about the more well known illusionists like Dynamo or David Blaine. Are those things just clever man made tricks or something more sinister?

The Church discerns what are miracles or private revelation authentic callings from the Lord. Which is in the Catechism, so does it touch on magic. Course speaking with a Priest is advisable also with revelation or questions with the occult.


Sorry I’m not up on Mohammed Ali or the others.

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

MAGIC. The art of making use of the forces of nature by certain occult observances that have a religious appearance, or of courting the secret influences of the invisible world. Magic may be either natural or preternatural.

Natural magic is based on the theory that nature is full of many objects whose hidden, protective or curative, properties can satisfy practically every need or drive away a host of evils. The problem is to find these objects. With their uncritical mind and animistic prejudice, tribal worshipers easily turn from a valid exploitation of the physical forces of nature to a superstitious cult of the unknown, in the form of charms, philters, auguries, omens, the art of divination, and respect for scores of sacred prohibitions and taboos.

Preternatural magic is a kind of anti-religion that has its own orders of worship, incantations, evocations, rites, fetishes, sacrifices, priests, and meeting places. It is black magic when the purpose is malevolent, and white magic when the intention is to obtain some benefit for oneself or another. The basis of preternatural magic is some form of animism, which believes that material objects or nonhuman living creatures possess preternatural powers that can be invoked or appeased by hidden or occult means. (Etym. Greek magikos, magician, magical, from magos, Magus, magician.)

Gary and Thistle… although you both are on the right track as far as occultic-magic is concerned, OP isn’t talking about the occult here.

OP is talking about the art of illusion that is commonly referred to as “magic.”

AFIK, there is not prohibition, nor teaching, on the type of magic/illusion that Houdini, Copperfield, Dynamo, David Blaine, and other illusionists have performed over the ages as it is well understood that there is some sort of trick being performed and no actual occultic activity.

The Orthodox and Catholics agree that magic is the work of demons. The Catholics do not call,such demonic operations supernatural but reserve that word for angelic or Divine operations.

In magic, a sorcerer will attempt to coerce a spiritual being through bribery, entrapment, offerings, or verbal formulae into performing a specific act, good or bad. There are also other forms of magic involving nature worship and “lesser magic” or manipulating human beings, which is inherently evil. All of this is demonic. Avoid any attempts to contact deceased humans as they are unreachable. Avoid mediums, spiritualists, the occult,Wizards, wiccans, and divination. I was once profoundly spiritually harmed by reading the horoscope. Avoid these things as though they were spewing radioactive gas, or were contaminated by Ebola. Also I suggest caution with Eastern religions which include magical rites; look at what happened to poor Thomas Merton, who appears to have been destroyed by his fascination with Buddhism. Be friendly with the Buddhists but don’t attend their services or those of Hindus. Especially not of Hindus. No offense intended but Hinduism relies heavily on magic going back to the Vedas, which blur the line between liturgical service books and a grimoire.

Magic has destroyed many lives.

Prayer is not magic, nor are the sacraments. They are holy and work by divine grace. They do not involve mediumship but function according to blessed Augustine ex opere operanto, I.e. Of their own accord. I believe this is through the super abundant Grace of God which has provided for our salvation through Christ.

Making the sign of the cross or saying “Christ is risen”, the Jesus Prayer, the name of the Lord, Kyrie Eleison, or the Lords Prayer or a Hail Mary has long been viewed as a protection against demonic attacks. What is more I believe baptized Christians to be entirely immune from curses and witchcraft. But if you dabble in the occult, you risk inadvertantly apostasizing and losing the protection of your guardian angels. So don’t do it.

This to my understanding accurately reflects the historic teaching of our two churches.

Also, both Catholics and Orthodox believe in demonic posession, but the faithful usually don’t get possessed from what I understand unless they wittingly or unwittingly leave the Church, I.e. Through dabbling in the occult. I think Rome does well by stationing a trained exorcist in every diocese.

It saddens me how many demonaics are surely withering away in mental hospitals, diagnosed with whatever disease, “unresponsive to treatment”, some physically restrained, and our priests who could fix that problem almost instantly have no access to them. I think the Church should focus on building mental hospitals and try to take control of mental health in countries with a Catholic or Orthodox majority population.

At it’s essence, Magic is about getting something for nothing. A rabbit from a hat, an egg from an ear, a girl from a box. On the surface this is unrealistic, but it appeals to our concupiscence.

At its heart it is the ultimate expression of selfishness. Magic says “I want what I want and I want it now and without having to put any effort into it on my end.”

This is the great danger of magic then, as it can turn us in on ourselves in a vicious loop of selfishness and away from that life-giving bond of love with and for God.

You’re describing stage magic more than real demonic magic, which does have the same appeal but always has a cost. It’s more like something at a discount. But buyer be ware, as you can wind up losing your soul very easily if you deal with the devil, which is ultimately what all magic, including so called white magic, is.

As for stage magic, it’s parlour tricks and is spiritually harmless IMO. Stage magicians are useful in debunking frauds and false prophets that try to deceive the faithful,for example, Houdini, who did a lot of this at seances and wrote a book entitled A Magician Amomg the Spirits documenting the frauds he found.

Hi wgw,

You misunderstand my use of those examples. They are all examples of wanting to get something for nothing, which is at the heart of the appeal and danger of magic in any form (satanism, tarot, psychics, etc).

The idea that you are getting something for nothing is indeed illusory and I agree there is always a cost.


Indeed so. We must not make the Protestant mistake of an excess of,rationalism surrounding these matters; I’ve seen many Protestants get damaged by thinking it’s just a game. I used to be a Methodist. Now, before the Enlightenment, and even during it Protestants understood the danger. But by the 20th century progressive modernism and rationalism, caused them to largely believe it was all silly superstition, which produced a toxic reaction when mixed with the late 19th and early 20th century’s fascination with spiritism and the occult. I think much of the horror of the 20th century can be attributed to philosophies like Naziism and even Communism, which, despite the latter’s claim to atheism, is really a religion on its own with aggressive use of the red star in a manner evocative of occult imagery.

Magic of the Las Vegas or cruise-ship type is not wrong, it is just sleight of hand.

True magic is a sin because it relies on spiritual forcEs other than God, that are opposed to Him.


Ive always wondered why we dont see any REAL magicians doing things in front of crowds…I mean, people try just about anything and everything today for a buck, seems only logical those that have this ability would want to show it off or somehow profit from it…plus, they have to know they could draw a HUGE crowd if people knew they were going to see TRUE magic and not just smoke and mirror type tricks…I know Id pay a big price to see someone do real magic, but would not want to be in the presence of black magic, that would probably not be safe for the audience, but other types, like ‘natural’ magic should be ok to just watch someone else do…right?

magicians are showmen tricksters and entertainers

they admit (see many youtube videos) that what they do is essentially fraudulent

it has nothing to do with the catholic faith

From the advantage of my “pagan-days”

  1. Most occultic do not publicly perform for money. The wealth and power promised, for those that seek it, are not the paltry scraps one would receive from the street nor the stage. The promise is far greater. However, the rewards are merely material in nature and sometimes at a great price (even the old Nordic God Odin paid a very heavy price losing an eye for the wisdom of the ages and why would a god need to do that? ). Keep in mind, the Lord points out that those who seek their rewards now will not receive them in the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew6:1-5).

  2. One doesn’t want to draw huge crowds and attention to oneself when practicing the occult… it too easily exposed the lie, the imperfection of the practice. Many practitioners become very paranoid that someone will steal their spells/incantations and attempt to use them either to make themselves powerful or to bind the original owner.

  3. I don’t know what you mean by the term “Natural Magic” versus “Black Magic.”
    Paying to see and/or participating in an occultic activity with will and knowledge borders on a potentially sinful action. Many pay now to access the future thru mystics and diviners using means ranging from bones to astrology, or worse. All of this is strongly discouraged or outright forbidden and condemned by the Church:

CCC Vatican: Divination and magic

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.

2116 **All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future.**48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

Hi Rweidn, welcome to Catholics Answers Froums.

You would greatly benefit by getting a Catechism of The Catholic Church. All of these questions that Protestants ask over and over again (I hardly ever see a new question) are answered in The Catechism along with Scriptural references.

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