Necromancy

Necromancy

Overview
Necromancy is a claimed form of magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 that involves communication with the deceased
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

, either by summoning
Evocation
Evocation is the act of calling or summoning a spirit, demon, god or other supernatural agent, in the Western mystery tradition. Comparable practices exist in many religions and magical traditions.-Evocation in the Western mystery tradition:...

 their spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

 in the form of an apparition
Ghost
In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to...

 or raising them bodily, for the purpose of divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

, imparting the ability to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge. The term may sometimes be used in a more general sense to refer to black magic
Black magic
Black magic is the type of magic that draws on assumed malevolent powers or is used with the intention to kill, steal, injure, cause misfortune or destruction, or for personal gain without regard to harmful consequences. As a term, "black magic" is normally used by those that do not approve of its...

 or witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

.

In Renaissance magic
Renaissance magic
Renaissance humanism saw a resurgence in hermeticism and Neo-Platonic varieties of ceremonial magic.The Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, on the other hand, saw the rise of scientism, in such forms as the substitution of chemistry for alchemy, the dethronement of the Ptolemaic theory of...

, necromancy (or nigromancy, negromancy, by popular association with negro "black") was classified as one of the seven "forbidden arts".

The word "necromancy" derives from the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 νεκρός (nekrós), "dead body", and μαντεία (manteía), "prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 or divination".
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Encyclopedia
Necromancy is a claimed form of magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 that involves communication with the deceased
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

, either by summoning
Evocation
Evocation is the act of calling or summoning a spirit, demon, god or other supernatural agent, in the Western mystery tradition. Comparable practices exist in many religions and magical traditions.-Evocation in the Western mystery tradition:...

 their spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

 in the form of an apparition
Ghost
In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to...

 or raising them bodily, for the purpose of divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

, imparting the ability to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge. The term may sometimes be used in a more general sense to refer to black magic
Black magic
Black magic is the type of magic that draws on assumed malevolent powers or is used with the intention to kill, steal, injure, cause misfortune or destruction, or for personal gain without regard to harmful consequences. As a term, "black magic" is normally used by those that do not approve of its...

 or witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

.

In Renaissance magic
Renaissance magic
Renaissance humanism saw a resurgence in hermeticism and Neo-Platonic varieties of ceremonial magic.The Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, on the other hand, saw the rise of scientism, in such forms as the substitution of chemistry for alchemy, the dethronement of the Ptolemaic theory of...

, necromancy (or nigromancy, negromancy, by popular association with negro "black") was classified as one of the seven "forbidden arts".

The word "necromancy" derives from the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 νεκρός (nekrós), "dead body", and μαντεία (manteía), "prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 or divination". The compound νεκρομαντεία itself is post-classical, first used by Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

 in the 3rd century CE. The classical Greek term is ἡ νέκυια (nekyia
Nekyia
In ancient Greek cult-practice and literature, a nekyia is a "rite by which ghosts were called up and questioned about the future," i.e., necromancy. A nekyia is not necessarily the same thing as a katabasis...

), νεκυιομαντεία in Hellenistic Greek, rendered as necyomantia in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, and as necyomancy in 17th century English.

Antiquity



Early necromancy was likely related to shamanism
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

, which calls upon spirits such as the ghosts of ancestors. Classical necromancers addressed the dead in "a mixture of high-pitch squeaking and low droning", comparable to the trance-state
Altered state of consciousness
An altered state of consciousness , also named altered state of mind, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking beta wave state. The expression was used as early as 1966 by Arnold M. Ludwig and brought into common usage from 1969 by Charles Tart: it describes induced...

 mutterings of shamans.

Necromancy was widespread throughout Western antiquity with records of its practice in Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. In his Geographica
Géographica
Géographica is the French-language magazine of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society , published under the Society's French name, the Société géographique royale du Canada . Introduced in 1997, Géographica is not a stand-alone publication, but is published as an irregular supplement to La...

, Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 refers to νεκρομαντία (necyomanteis), or "diviners by the dead", as the foremost practitioners of divination amongst the people of Persia, and it is believed to have also been widespread amongst the peoples of Chaldea
Chaldea
Chaldea or Chaldaea , from Greek , Chaldaia; Akkadian ; Hebrew כשדים, Kaśdim; Aramaic: ܟܐܠܕܘ, Kaldo) was a marshy land located in modern-day southern Iraq which came to briefly rule Babylon...

 (particularly the Sabians
Sabians
The Sabians of Middle Eastern tradition were a monotheistic Abrahamic religious group mentioned three times in the Quran: "the Jews, the Sabians, and the Christians." In the Hadith they are nothing but converts to Islam, while their identity in later Islamic literature became a matter of...

, or star-worshipers), Etruria
Etruria
Etruria—usually referred to in Greek and Latin source texts as Tyrrhenia—was a region of Central Italy, an area that covered part of what now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. A particularly noteworthy work dealing with Etruscan locations is D. H...

, and Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

. The Babylonian necromancers were called Manzazuu or Sha'etemmu, and the spirits they raised were called Etemmu.

The oldest literary account of necromancy is found in Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

’s Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

. Under the direction of Circe
Circe
In Greek mythology, Circe is a minor goddess of magic , described in Homer's Odyssey as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island of Aeaea, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus.By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid...

, a powerful sorceress, Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 travels to the underworld
Greek underworld
The Greek underworld was made up of various realms believed to lie beneath the earth or at its farthest reaches.This includes:* The great pit of Tartarus, originally the exclusive prison of the old Titan gods, it later came to be the dungeon home of damned souls.* The land of the dead ruled by the...

 in order to gain insight about his impending voyage home by raising the spirits of the dead through the use of spells which Circe has taught him. He wishes to invoke and question the shade of Tiresias
Tiresias
In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet of Thebes, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years. He was the son of the shepherd Everes and the nymph Chariclo; Tiresias participated fully in seven generations at Thebes, beginning as advisor to Cadmus...

 in particular; however, he is unable to summon the seer's spirit without the assistance of others. The Odysseys passages contain many descriptive references to necromantic rituals: rites must be performed around a pit with fire during nocturnal hours, and Odysseus has to follow a specific recipe, which includes the blood of sacrificial animals, to concoct a libation for the ghosts to drink while he recites prayers to both the ghosts and gods of the underworld.

Rituals such as these were common practices associated with necromancy and varied from the mundane to the grotesque. Rituals in necromancy involved magic circles, wands, talismans, bells, and incantations. Also, the necromancer would surround himself with morbid aspects of death, which often included wearing the deceased's clothing and the consumption of unsalted, unleavened black bread and unfermented grape juice, which symbolized decay and lifelessness. Some necromancers even went so far as taking part in the mutilation and consumption of corpses. These rituals could carry on for hours, days, or even weeks, leading up the eventual summoning of spirits. Often they took place in graveyard
Graveyard
A graveyard is any place set aside for long-term burial of the dead, with or without monuments such as headstones...

s or other melancholy venues that suited specific guidelines of the necromancer. Additionally, necromancers preferred summoning the recently departed, citing that their revelations were spoken more clearly; this timeframe usually consisted of twelve months following the death of the body. Once this time period lapsed, necromancers would summon the deceased’s ghostly spirit to appear instead.

Although some cultures may have considered the knowledge of the dead to be unlimited, ancient Greeks and Romans believed that individual shades knew only certain things. The apparent value of their counsel may have been a result of things they had known in life, or of knowledge they acquired after death. Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 writes in his Metamorphoses of a marketplace in the underworld where the dead can exchange news and gossip.

There are also many references to necromancers, also called "bone-conjurers", in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. The Book of Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 (18:9–12) explicitly warns the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

ites against engaging in the Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite practice of divination from the dead: This warning was not always heeded: one of the foremost examples of this was when King Saul
Saul the King
According to the Bible, Saul was the first king of the united Kingdom of Israel. He was anointed by the prophet Samuel and reigned from Gibeah. He commited suicide to avoid arrest in the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa, during which three of his sons were also killed...

 had the Witch of Endor
Witch of Endor
The Witch of Endor, sometimes called the Medium of Endor, was a woman who called up the ghost of the recently deceased prophet Samuel, at the demand of King Saul of the Kingdom of Israel in the First Book of Samuel, chapter...

 invoke the shade of Samuel, from Sheol
Sheol
Sheol |Hebrew]] Šʾôl) is the "grave", "pit", or "abyss" in Hebrew. She'ol is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go, regardless of the moral choices made in life, and where they are "removed from the light of God"...

, using a ritual conjuring pit (1 Samuel 28:3–25). Some Christian writers later rejected the idea that humans could bring back the spirits of the dead, and interpreted such shades as disguised demons, thus conflating necromancy with demon-summoning.

Caesarius of Arles entreats his audience to put no stock in any demons or gods other than the Christian God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

, even if the working of spells appears to provide benefit. He states that demons only act with divine permission and are permitted by God to test Christian people. Caesarius does not condemn man here; he only states that the art of necromancy exists, although it is prohibited by the Bible.

Early and High Middle Ages


Norse mythology
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

 also contains examples of necromancy, such as the scene in the Prophecy of the Völva (Völuspá
Völuspá
Völuspá is the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda. It tells the story of the creation of the world and its coming end related by a völva addressing Odin...

) in which Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

 summons a Völva
Völva
A vǫlva or völva is a shamanic seeress in Norse paganism, and a recurring motif in Norse mythology....

, or seeress, from the dead to tell him of the future. In The Spell of Gróa (Grógaldr
Grógaldr
Grógaldr or The Spell of Gróa is the first of two poems, now commonly published under the title Svipdagsmál found in several 17th century paper manuscripts with Fjölsvinnsmál. In at least three of these manuscripts, the poems are in reverse order and separated by a third eddic poem titled, Hyndluljóð...

), the first part of The Lay of Svipdagr (Svipdagsmál
Svipdagsmál
Svipdagsmál or The Lay of Svipdagr is an Old Norse poem, a part of the Poetic Edda, comprising two poems, The Spell of Gróa and The Lay of Fjölsviðr. The two works are grouped since they have a common narrator, Svipdagr. Moreover they would appear to have a common origin since they are closely...

), the hero Svipdag
Svipdag
Svipdagr is the hero of the two Old Norse Eddaic poems Grógaldr and Fjölsvinnsmál, which are contained within the body of one work; Svipdagsmál...

 summons his dead mother, Gróa
Gróa
In Norse mythology, Gróa is a völva and practitioner of seiðr, the wife of Aurvandil the Bold.-Prose Edda:Gróa appears in the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, in the context of Thor's battle with the jötunn Hrungnir...

, to cast spells for him. In the Saga of King Hrolf kraki (Hrólfs saga kraka
Hrólfs saga kraka
Hrólfs saga kraka, the Saga of King Hrolf kraki, is a late legendary saga on the adventures of Hrólfr Kraki and his clan, the Skjöldungs. The events can be dated to the late 5th century and the 6th century. It is believed to have been written in the period c. 1230 - c. 1450...

), the half-elven
Half-elf
In Norse mythology, a half-elf is the offspring of an elf and a human.Notable examples include the Danish princess Skuld of Hrólf Kraki's saga, and the hero Högni of the Thidrekssaga , and the royal line of Alfheim, which was related to the elves and more beautiful than other people, according to...

 princess Skuld
Skuld (princess)
Skuld was a princess of Scandinavian legend who married Heoroweard and encouraged him to kill Hroðulf . The accounts of her vary greatly from source to source.-Hrólfr Kraki's saga:...

 was very skilled in witchcraft (seiðr
Seiðr
Seid or seiðr is an Old Norse term for a type of sorcery or witchcraft which was practiced by the pre-Christian Norse. Sometimes anglicized as "seidhr," "seidh," "seidr," "seithr," or "seith," the term is also used to refer to modern Neopagan reconstructions or emulations of the...

) to the point that she was almost invincible in battle: when her warriors fell, she made them rise again to continue fighting.

Many medieval writers believed resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

 was impossible without the assistance of the Christian God. They translated the practice of divination as conjuring demons who took the appearance of spirits. The practice became known explicitly as demonic magic and was condemned by the Catholic Church. Though the practitioners of necromancy were linked by many common threads, there is no evidence that these necromancers were ever organized as a group.

Medieval necromancy is believed to be a synthesis of astral
Astral plane
The astral plane, also called the astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical , medieval, oriental and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions...

 magic derived from Arabic influences and exorcism
Exorcism
Exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed...

 derived from Christian and Jewish teachings. Arabic influences are evident in rituals that involve moon phases, sun placement, day and time. Fumigation and the act of burying images are also found in both astral magic and necromancy. Christian and Jewish influences are found in the symbols and conjuration formulas used in summoning rituals.

Practitioners were often members of the Christian clergy, though some nonclerical practitioners are recorded. In some instances, mere apprentices or those ordained to lower orders dabbled in the practice. They were connected by a belief in the manipulation of spiritual beings – especially demons – and magical practices. These practitioners were almost always literate and well educated. Most possessed basic knowledge of exorcism and had access to texts of astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 and demonology
Demonology
Demonology is the systematic study of demons or beliefs about demons. It is the branch of theology relating to superhuman beings who are not gods. It deals both with benevolent beings that have no circle of worshippers or so limited a circle as to be below the rank of gods, and with malevolent...

. Clerical training was informal and admission to universities was rare. Most were trained under apprenticeships and were expected to have a basic knowledge of Latin, ritual and doctrine. This education was not always linked to spiritual guidance and seminaries were almost nonexistent. This absence allowed some aspiring clerics to combine Christian rites with occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 practices despite its condemnation in Christian doctrine.

Medieval practitioners believed they could accomplish three things with necromancy: will manipulation, illusions, and knowledge. Will manipulation affects the mind and will of another person, animal, or spirit. Demons are summoned to cause various afflictions on others, “to drive them mad, to inflame them to love or hatred, to gain their favor, or to constrain them to do or not do some deed.” Illusions involve reanimation of the dead or conjuring food, entertainment, or a mode of transportation. Knowledge is discovered through demons, who provide information about various things which include identifying criminals, finding items, or revealing future events.

The act of performing medieval necromancy usually involved magic circles, conjurations, and sacrifices such as those shown in the Munich Manual of Demonic Magic. Circles were usually traced on the ground, though cloth and parchment were sometimes implemented. Various objects, shapes, symbols, and letters may be drawn or placed within that represent a mixture of Christian and occult ideas. Circles were believed to empower and protect what was contained within, including protecting the necromancer from the conjured demons. Conjuration is the method of communicating with the demons to enter the physical world. It usually employs the power of special words and stances to call out the demons and often incorporated the use of Christian prayers or biblical verses. These conjurations may be repeated in succession or repeated to different directions until the summoning is complete. Sacrifice
Human sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual . Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practised in various cultures throughout history...

 was the payment for summoning; though it may involve the flesh of a human being or animal, it could sometimes be as simple as offering a certain object. Instructions for obtaining these items were usually specific. The time, location, and method of gathering items for sacrifice could also play an important role in the ritual.

The rare confessions of those accused of necromancy suggest that there was a range of spell casting and the related magical experimentation. It is difficult to determine if these details were due to their practices, as opposed to the whims of their interrogators. John of Salisbury
John of Salisbury
John of Salisbury , who described himself as Johannes Parvus , was an English author, educationalist, diplomat and bishop of Chartres, and was born at Salisbury.-Early life and education:...

 is one of the first examples related by Richard Kieckhefer, but as a Parisian ecclesiastical court record of 1323 shows, a "group who were plotting to invoke the demon Berich from inside a circle made from strips of cat skin," were obviously participating in the church’s definition of "necromancy".

Herbert Stanley Redgrove claims that necromancy was one of three chief branches of medieval ceremonial magic
Ceremonial magic
Ceremonial magic, also referred to as high magic and as learned magic, is a broad term used in the context of Hermeticism or Western esotericism to encompass a wide variety of long, elaborate, and complex rituals of magic. It is named as such because the works included are characterized by...

, the others being black magic
Black magic
Black magic is the type of magic that draws on assumed malevolent powers or is used with the intention to kill, steal, injure, cause misfortune or destruction, or for personal gain without regard to harmful consequences. As a term, "black magic" is normally used by those that do not approve of its...

 and white magic
White Magic
White Magic may refer to:* White magic, healing or "good," as opposed to Black magic; see also magic * White Magic , an American rock band* White Magic , album by Swedish musician ceo...

. This does not correspond to contemporary classifications, which use nigromancy and black arts synonymously.

Late Middle Ages to Renaissance


In the wake of inconsistencies of judgment, necromancers, sorcerers and witches were able to utilize spells with holy names with impunity, as biblical references in such rituals could be construed as prayers as opposed to spells. As a result, the necromancy discussed in the Munich Manual is an evolution of these understandings. It has even been suggested that the authors of the Munich Manual knowingly designed this book to be in discord with understood ecclesiastical law. The main recipe employed throughout the necromancy manual used the same religious language and names of power alongside demonic names. The understanding of the names of God from apocryphal texts and the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 demand that the author of such rites have at least a casual familiarity of these texts. Within the tales related in occult manuals, we also find connections with other stories in similar cultural literature. The ceremony for conjuring a horse closely relates to the Arabic One Thousand and One Nights and French romances
Romance (genre)
As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures, often of a knight errant portrayed as...

. Chaucer’s The Squire's Tale also has marked similarities. This becomes a parallel evolution of spells to foreign gods or demons that were once acceptable, and frames them into a new Christian context, albeit demonic and forbidden. As the source material for these manuals is apparently derived from scholarly magical and religious texts from a variety of sources in many languages, it is easy to conclude that the scholars who studied these texts manufactured their own aggregate sourcebook and manual with which to work spells or magic. In the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

, it is stated that "Of all human opinions that is to be reputed the most foolish which deals with the belief in Necromancy, the sister of Alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

, which gives birth to simple and natural things."

Modern necromancy


In the present day, necromancy is more generally used as a term to describe the pretense of manipulation of death and the dead, often facilitated through the use of ritual magic or some other kind of occult ceremony. Contemporary séance
Séance
A séance is an attempt to communicate with spirits. The word "séance" comes from the French word for "seat," "session" or "sitting," from the Old French "seoir," "to sit." In French, the word's meaning is quite general: one may, for example, speak of "une séance de cinéma"...

s, channeling
Channeling
Channeling, or channelling, can refer toscience*Channelling , the process that constrains the path of a charged particle in a crystalline solid.*metabolite or substrate channeling in biochemistry and cell physiology.law...

, Spiritism
Spiritism
Spiritism is a loose corpus of religious faiths having in common the general belief in the survival of a spirit after death. In a stricter sense, it is the religion, beliefs and practices of the people affiliated to the International Spiritist Union, based on the works of Allan Kardec and others...

 and Spiritualism
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

 verge on necromancy when supposedly invoked spirits are asked to reveal future events or secret information. Necromancy may also be presented as sciomancy, a branch of theurgic magic
Theurgy
Theurgy describes the practice of rituals, sometimes seen as magical in nature, performed with the intention of invoking the action or evoking the presence of one or more gods, especially with the goal of uniting with the divine, achieving henosis, and perfecting oneself.- Definitions :*Proclus...

.

Because of their themes of spirit contact, the long-running show Supernatural Chicago
Supernatural Chicago
Supernatural Chicago, currently in its seventh year of performances, has become a mainstay of the Chicago theater scene. The show opened on the appropriately superstition-tinged date of Friday the 13th in February 2004, and continues in an open-ended run....

 and the annual Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-born American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer noted for his sensational escape acts...

 séance, both of which are held at the Excalibur
Excalibur (nightclub)
The Excalibur nightclub in Chicago was first opened in 1989. It is located in the former Chicago Historical Society building which is a Chicago historical landmark...

 nightclub in Chicago, Illinois
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, dub their lead performer "Neil Tobin
Neil Tobin
Neil Tobin is a performer of magical and psychic entertainment.Since his performance material often involves themes of spirit contact—in addition to demonstrations of telepathy, precognition, magic, and even divination—he often performs as "Neil Tobin, Necromancer."-Live Performance:Since Friday...

, Necromancer".

As to the practice of necromancy having endured in one form or another throughout the millennia, An Encyclopædia of Occultism states:

Necromancy in media



Fiction
  • The final chapter of The Hobbit
    The Hobbit
    The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

     by J. R. R. Tolkien
    J. R. R. Tolkien
    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

     mentions the White Council
    White Council
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the White Council is a group of Eldar Lords and Wizards of Middle-earth, formed to contest the growing power of Dol Guldur, at the request of Galadriel...

     driving the Necromancer
    Sauron
    Sauron is the primary antagonist and titular character of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.In the same work, he is revealed to be the same character as "the Necromancer" from Tolkien's earlier novel The Hobbit...

     from Mirkwood
    Mirkwood
    Mirkwood is a name used for two distinct fictional forests in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. In the First Age, the highlands of Dorthonion north of Beleriand were known as Mirkwood after falling under Morgoth's control. During the Third Age, the large forest in Rhovanion, east of the Anduin in ...

    .
  • Anita Blake
    Anita Blake
    Anita Blake is a fictional character in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of novels by Laurell K. Hamilton. Subsequently, she has also appeared in the Dabel Brothers/Marvel Comics adaptation of her first novel, Guilty Pleasures....

    , main character of the Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton
    Laurell K. Hamilton
    Laurell Kaye Hamilton is an American fantasy and romance writer. She is the author of two series of stories. Hamilton is known for her New York Times-bestselling Anita Blake series, featuring a professional zombie raiser/supernatural consultant for the police as the protagonist in a world where...

    , is a necromancer, and there are numerous other mentions of necromancy.
  • The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix
    Garth Nix
    Garth Nix is an Australian author of young adult fantasy novels, most notably the Old Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, and The Keys to the Kingdom series. He has frequently been asked if his name is a pseudonym, to which he has responded, "I guess people ask me because it sounds like the...

     is a cycle of novels centered around the practice of necromancy and its influence on the world of the living.
  • A necromancer is featured amongst the core characters of the 1/2 Prince
    1/2 Prince
    1/2 Prince is a Taiwanese novel by Yu Wo adapted into a manhua illustrated by Choi Hong Chong. The story takes place in the year 2100 AD where humans have developed highly realistic virtual reality games...

     comic series
    Manhua
    Manhua are Chinese comics originally produced in China. Possibly due to their greater degree of artistic freedom of expression and closer international ties with Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been the places of publication of most manhua thus far, often including Chinese translations of...

    .
  • In the Vampire Academy
    Vampire academy
    *Vampire Academy , a paranormal romance novel from Richelle Mead.*Vampire Academy , the novel series of Richelle Mead's novel.*Vampire Academy , a Romance Fantasy drama film based on the novel....

     series by Richelle Mead, protagonist Rosemarie Hathaway has a way to summon and talk to ghosts, and her friend Vasillisa Dragomir can use her power to bring back the dead and hold them in the land of the living.
  • Necromancy is prominent in the Skulduggery Pleasant
    Skulduggery Pleasant (series)
    Skulduggery Pleasant is a series of fantasy novels written by Irish author Derek Landy. The books chronicle the adventures of the skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant and a teenage girl, Stephanie Edgley along with other friends...

     series by Derek Landy
    Derek Landy
    Derek Landy is an Irish author and screenwriter, famous for the Skulduggery Pleasant series of children's books.thumb|Derek Landy in Edinburgh, August 2011...

    .
  • Chloe Saunders, main character of the Darkest Powers
    Darkest Powers
    The Darkest Powers Series is a series of paranormal novels by Kelley Armstrong. The series revolves around The Edison Group, a team of supernatural scientists, and the subjects they experimented on. Armstrong divided the series into trilogies. The Summoning, The Awakening, and The Reckoning make...

     trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
    Kelley Armstrong
    Kelley Armstrong is a Canadian author, primarily of fantasy works.She has published sixteen fantasy novels , set in the world of the Women of the Otherworld and the Darkest Powers series, also two crime novels in 2007 and 2009...

    , is a necromancer.

Film and television
  • In the fourth season
    True Blood (season 4)
    - Episodes :- Production :Filming for season four commenced in Los Angeles, California, on December 1, 2010.As a special promotional broadcast, the season's second episode "You Smell Like Dinner" was made available on HBO Go a week earlier than usual...

     of the HBO series True Blood
    True Blood
    True Blood is an American television series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional, small town in the state of Louisiana...

    , antagonist Marnie Stonebrook employs necromancy to cause herself to become possessed by the spirit of Antonia Gavilán de Logroño, a witch who was burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition
    Spanish Inquisition
    The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

    . As she was dying, Antonia used her power to gain control over all nearby vampires and caused them to walk into the sunlight, killing themselves. Marnie desires the same ability to manipulate vampires like puppets.

Games
  • In Dungeons & Dragons
    Dungeons & Dragons
    Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. . The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997...

    , wizards
    Wizard (Dungeons & Dragons)
    The wizard is one of the standard character class in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. A wizard uses arcane magic, and is considered less effective in melee combat than other classes.-Creative origins:...

     can specialize in the school of necromancy and clerics
    Cleric (Dungeons & Dragons)
    The cleric is one of the standard playable character class in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. In the game, clerics are versatile figures, both capable in combat and skilled in the use of divine magic. Clerics are powerful healers due to the large number of healing and curative...

     can select death as their sphere or domain. Both accordingly gain access to spells that not only focus on death, decay, and the undead
    Undead
    Undead is a collective name for fictional, mythological, or legendary beings that are deceased and yet behave as if alive. Undead may be incorporeal, such as ghosts, or corporeal, such as vampires and zombies...

    , but also various forms of life force manipulation, enabling them to heal or cause injury, cure or inflict disease, and perform resurrection.
  • Necromancers are a specific type of magic user
    Magician (fantasy)
    A magician, mage, sorcerer, sorceress, wizard, enchanter, enchantress, thaumaturge or a person known under one of many other possible terms is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural or occult sources...

     in the Palladium Fantasy
    Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game
    The Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game is a game produced by Palladium Books. It is set in a unique world, called the Palladium World , with the primary setting being some 10,000 years after a great war between the elves and their dwarven allies...

     and Rifts
    Rifts (role-playing game)
    Rifts is a multi-genre role-playing game created by Kevin Siembieda in 1990 and published continuously by Palladium Books since then. Rifts takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, deriving elements from cyberpunk, science fiction, fantasy, horror, western, mythology and many other genres.Rifts...

     role-playing game
    Role-playing game
    A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development...

    s from Palladium Books
    Palladium Books
    Palladium Books is a publisher of role-playing games perhaps best known for its popular, expansive Rifts series . Palladium was founded April 1981 in Detroit, Michigan by current president and lead game designer Kevin Siembieda, and is presently based in Westland, Michigan...

    . They wield a number of powers over death and the dead such as acquiring supernatural abilities by ingesting certain organs harvested from corpses and being able to merge severed limbs with their own bodies.
  • The necromancer is a character class
    Character class
    In role-playing games, a common method of arbitrating the capabilities of different game characters is to assign each one to a character class. A character class aggregates several abilities and aptitudes, and may also sometimes detail aspects of background and social standing or impose behaviour...

     in the video game Diablo II
    Diablo II
    Diablo II is a dark fantasy/horror-themed hack and slash, with elements of the role playing game and dungeon crawl genres. It was released for Windows and Mac OS in 2000 by Blizzard Entertainment, and was developed by Blizzard North. It is a direct sequel to the 1996 hit PC game, Diablo.Diablo II...

    , released by Blizzard Entertainment
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher founded on February 8, 1991 under the name Silicon & Synapse by three graduates of UCLA, Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce and currently owned by French company Activision Blizzard...

    . They can animate the dead, inflict curse
    Curse
    A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity—one or more persons, a place, or an object...

    s, and use life-draining attacks. It is also an Undead unit in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
    Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
    Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos is a real time strategy computer game released by Blizzard Entertainment on July 3, 2002 . It is the second sequel to Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, and it is the third game set in the Warcraft Universe...

    , and there are named necromancers in World of Warcraft
    World of Warcraft
    World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994...

    .
  • Necromancy can be learned by wizards of the School of Death in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game
    Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
    Massively multiplayer online role-playing game is a genre of role-playing video games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world....

     Wizard101
    Wizard101
    Wizard101 is a 3D massively multiplayer online role-playing game created by KingsIsle Entertainment. Players take on the role of students of Wizardry to save the Spiral , and battle a variety of creatures by casting spells using a turn-based combat system similar to collectible card games...

     from KingsIsle Entertainment
    KingsIsle Entertainment
    KingsIsle Entertainment is a video game developer based in Austin and Dallas, Texas. The company was launched in February 2005, with perhaps the best known of its recruits being Tom Hall, co-founder of id Software and Ion Storm and J...

    .

See also



  • Alchemy
    Alchemy
    Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

  • Ethereal being
    Ethereal being
    Ethereal beings, according to some belief systems and occult theories, are mystic entities that usually are not made of ordinary matter. Despite the fact that they are believed to be essentially incorporeal, they do interact in physical shapes with the material universe and travel between the...

  • Gastromancy
  • Haitian Vodou
  • List of magical terms and traditions 
  • Macumba
    Macumba
    Macumba is a word of African origins. Various explanations of its meaning include "a musical instrument", the name of a Central African deity, and simply "magic". It was the name used for all Bantu religious practices mainly in Bahia Afro-Brazilian in the 19th Century...

  • Magick
    Magick
    Magick is an Early Modern English spelling for magic, used in works such as the 1651 translation of De Occulta Philosophia, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, or Of Magick...

  • Spirit possession
  • Undead
    Undead
    Undead is a collective name for fictional, mythological, or legendary beings that are deceased and yet behave as if alive. Undead may be incorporeal, such as ghosts, or corporeal, such as vampires and zombies...

  • Witchcraft and divination in the Hebrew Bible
  • Yūrei
    Yurei
    are figures in Japanese folklore, analogous to Western legends of ghosts. The name consists of two kanji, 幽 , meaning "faint" or "dim" and 霊 , meaning "soul" or "spirit." Alternative names include 亡霊 meaning ruined or departed spirit, 死霊 meaning dead spirit, or the more encompassing 妖怪 or お化け...



External links