the domain of pure production

“While religion is directed towards more metaphysical ends and is involved in the creation of idealistic images, magic has found a thousand fissures in the mystical world from whence it draws its forces, and is continually leaving it in order to take part in everyday life and play a practical role there. It has a taste for the concrete. Religion, on the other hand, tends to be abstract. Magic works in the same way as do our techniques, crafts, medicine, chemistry, industry, etc. Magic is essentially the art of doing things, and magicians have always taken advantage of their know-how, their dexterity, their manual skill. Magic is the domain of pure production, ex nihilo […] It has dealt with material things, carried out real experiments and even made its own discoveries” (Mauss 1950 [1905], 174-5).

apotropaic pattern


‘the practice of inscribing complex and visually puzzling designs upon surfaces in order to protect those sheltered behind them from attack by evil spirits or demons. The idea is that the demons are lured to the surface by their fascination with the pattern, but are so tantalised by it that they cannot bear to pass without first having unravelled it, or solved the puzzle it presents. In this they are bound to get stuck, failing ever to arrive at a solution that would allow them through to the other side’ Tim Ingold (pace Gell), 2007. Lines: a brief history.