Nov 16, 2015

Posted by in Divination, Occult Studies, Spells | 0 Comments

Necromancy: Talking With The Dead

"Edw[ar]d Kelly, a Magician. in the Act o...

“Edw[ar]d Kelly, a Magician. in the Act of invoking the Spirit of a Deceased Person.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The word necromancy comes from two Ancient Greek words meaning “dead body” and “divination”. Necromancy is considered a form of magic involving summoning a dead person – as a spirit or by raising the body – for the implicit purpose of foretelling the future or discovering some hidden knowledge.

Necromancy was prevalent throughout ancient Egypt, Babylon, Rome, and Greece, with the oldest literary account being found in Homer’s Odyssey. In this early description Odysseus has to travel into the underworld to gain information from the spirits of the dead about his upcoming voyage. He is forced to participate in many descriptive necromantic rituals involving fire and the blood of sacrificed animals. Rites such as these are often associated with necromancy. Rituals can be quite complex and might incorporate magic circles, talismans, or incantations. Also, in some cases the necromancer is surrounded by representations of the death, such as wearing clothing of the deceased or consuming decaying foods that symbolize lifelessness.

Necromantic ceremonies might carry on from several hours to days or weeks. They were often performed in cemeteries or other melancholy venues that the necromancer deemed as appropriate. It is believed that necromancers preferred to summon the spirits of the recently deceased, as they were able to speak more clearly. The timeframe for summoning a body was around a year, after that the ghostly spirit would be evoked instead.

The death penalty was prescribed for necromancers according to Mosaic Law, but that didn’t stop some practitioners. One famous example from the Bible involved King Saul having the Witch of Endor invoke the Spirit of Samuel. Later some Christians rejected the belief that spirits of the dead could be resurrected by humans and interpreted such accounts as cases of demons in disguise instead. This idea linked necromancy with summoning of demons. In medieval times the Catholic Church condemned necromancy, which was considered “demon magic”.

In present times, necromancy is used more as a term used to refer to manipulating death or the dead and it is thought to be performed through ritual magic or occult ceremonies. Modern channeling, séances, or Spiritualism, who ask invoked spirits to reveal the future, also verge on necromancy. In popular culture, necromancy is mentioned in movies, television, books, and games.

The practice of necromancy has survived throughout the millennia in one form or another and I believe it will continue to exist long into the future. As long as there are human beings who believe that the dead possess knowledge that we do not yet know, there will be necromantic tendencies by those seeking that truth. There will always be those individuals who simply cannot wait to know what secrets death conceals and who are willing to go to whatever length is necessary to find out.


  1. Necromancy: Talking With The Dead | Amiee Boyd - […] Source: Necromancy: Talking With The Dead […]

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