Voodoo and Magic

Hearing God by Dallas Willard seems to me to have a misunderstanding of magic. He says that magic doesn’t cause things to happen. The belief of the people that are involved in the thing, the receivers of the negativity, cause it to happen.

So a voodoo doll pin doesn’t give a person pain. A person gets pain because he knows of the voodoo doll.

I certainly think that can be true. The man who ate the meat of an albino deer, thinking such would kill him but not knowing it was an albino, certainly caused his own death when several years later his friend told him he had eaten an albino deer and he died within a day. (I wouldn’t have wanted to be the friend who told him.)

But how would someone cursed with causing fires cause a fire simply by going in a house? If I walk in a house and it catches on fire, yet I have not lit a match or carried a candle, am I causing the burning of the house? And I know that a women among the Kipsigis was so cursed and it happened to her multiple times.

And another friend of mine, who was in his forties when I knew him, his parents had within the last few years done a seance and after everyone had left, the table rose from its place and chased them around the house, eventually pinning them in a corner. Did they drag it there by telekinesis? Or was there some other force invading their home?

And another friend of my husband’s was in a land full of voodoo and the drawer of his desk opened and closed without anyone touching it.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet)

I think this may, in fact, be true of Dallas Willard’s understanding of magic. He begins the section by saying that Satanism and demonism is not the same, but he doesn’t discuss them. Based on what he does say, though, I think he may be mistaken.