Frazer calls what primitives and Scientologists do "magic" but that word is ambiguous and has too many positive connotations. I use the phrase me-the-magician, to clarify that it's not the "magic" of a Las Vegas magic show, or a marvelously written book or movie, or a dazzling new high-tech product. It's the idea of a Scientologist calling up his or her OT abilities to make traffic lights change, or hurricanes change course, or sending thought beams to cause a pedestrian to back off from a near-collision. There is no appeal to God, or Hubbard; the Scientologist claims these so-called powers come from himself.
This magicmagic is a spurious system...as well as a fallacious guide of conduct. It is a false science as well as an abortive art. (p. 11)
assumes that things act on each other at a distance through a secret sympathy (p. 12)
(Compare to Scientologists trying to heal themselves by touching the object that hurt them)the doctrine of contagious magic...between a wounded man and the agent of the wound (p. 41)
- exactly like Scientology's OT abilities!amongst the aborigines of Australia...magic is universally practiced, whereas religion in the sense of a propitiation or conciliation of the higher powers seems to be nearly unknown. Roughly speaking, all men in Australian are magicians, but not one is a priest; everybody fancies he can influence his fellows or the course of nature by sympathetic magic, but nobody dreams of propitiating gods by prayer or sacrifice. (p. 55)
Among the ignorant and superstitious classes of modern Europe, it is very much...what it is now among the lowest savages... The dispassionate observer...can hardly regard it otherwise than as a standing menace to civilization....the uniformity, the universality, and the permanence of a belief in magic, compared with the endless variety and the shifting character of religious creeds, raises a presumption that the former represents a ruder and earlier phase of the human mind, through which all the races of manking have passed or are passing on their way to religion and science (p 56)
...recognition of the inherent falsehood and barrenness of magic set the more thoughtful part of mankind to cast about for a truer theory of nature and a more fruitful method...He had been pulling a strings to which nothing was attached; he had only been treading in a narrow circle.(p 57)
Frazer has a chapter on the magical control of the weather - an ability mentioned often in "wins" by Scientologists (p 60)How was it that intelligent men did not sooner detect the fallacy of magic?...in many cases the desired event did actually follow, at a longer or shorter interval, the performance of the rite which was designed to bring it about. (p. 59)
Scientology claims that belief in reincarnation (transmigration) makes it a religion right up there with Buddhism. Frazer disagrees:
Frazer actually gives Scientology a little boost up the philosophical ladder for its theory of body-thetans-wandering-about-and-settling-into-people:Animism is not a Buddhist philosophy. It is simply a common savage dogma incorporated in the system of an historical religion. To suppose...that the theories of animism and transmigration...are derived from Buddhism, is to reverse the facts (p 112).
When a tree comes to be viewed, no longer as the body of the tree-spirit, but simply as its abode which it can quit at pleasure, an important advance has been made in religious thought. Animism is passing into polytheism. (p 117)
Frazer describes many colorful rituals that "rude" people use to harm enemies, prevent misfortune and bring good fortune. Hubbard was from a Protestant culture, which is proud of leaving behind the superstitions and foolish rituals of the past. His influences, like Freud, Einstein, and sci-fi, scorned "superstition." No voodoo dolls, no wavings antlers to ensure a good hunt, no abracadabra, no bubbling cauldron with eye of newt.
Still, Hubbard wanted to harm his enemies and get away with it. Old-fashioned fumbling with hair, nail clippings, feathers, dolls, rabbits' feet, charms and candles would look ridiculous. He stripped the magic down to "kill with a thought" involving staring. The technique is an ancient one, "The Evil Eye." Hubbard might have picked up this idea from a bookstore:
No matter what the source, "kill-with-a-thought" is a me-the-magician technique. Critics claimed with amusement that CoS lawyer Helena Kobrin gave the "Scientology Death Stare" at a 1995 hearing.**In 1946, the American magician Henri Gamache published a text called Terrors of the Evil Eye Exposed!*
While Scientologists have no reverence for hair clippings and feathers, they do have reverence for the e-meter, which they believe allows the auditor to read their mind. The e-meter ritual puts the student in a passive, fantasy-and-memory-seeking reverie, a me-me-me state where the person is guided to believe they can influence nature and other people if they can just get rid of their overts, withholds, misunderstood words, and people (non-Scientologists, usually) who are "potential trouble sources." This is the training to be me-the-magician, and starts early in the training, long before the OT levels. The students are not guided to pray to God or Hubbard to turn their wishful thinking into reality - they are taught to "demonstrate the abilities" themselves, as me-the-magician.
By clinging to an us-versus-them attitude, CoS acts like a primitive tribe. While they speak of tolerating other religions, as the students are more deeply entrenched, they must give up the other religions, and avoid television and newspapers. This embraces ignorance in the name of "keeping Scientology working."
Scientologists imitate Hubbard, in what Frazer would call "sympathetic magic." They avoid perfumed soaps, homosexuality, and psychiatrists, "degraded beings," and "suppressive people"; they like or pretend to like swing music. In Sea Org leadership, they swear, bluster and grasp for money like Hubbard. Everywhere in Scientology, they use his magic phrases like "wins," "beingness," "cause over life," or "increased ability."
Scientology does have a hierarchy where the more courses you have taken, the more people "under" you look up to you as brimming with OT abilities (supposed magic powers). Yet, if students complain after an expensive course that they still can't read minds or levitate ashtrays, CoS informs them that it is the students' fault, and that the students need more courses to remove barriers to true OT abilities. The best CoS can offer is euphoria during auditing, and screwing with the student's sense of reality to simulate inside the head the sensation of an out-of-body experience. Neither of these permanently improve the student's life or abilities; it just strengthens the me-me-me focus. Since CoS can take away the levels if the student rebels, the student is perpetually powerless to even "keep" the so-called gains. The student has also confessed to sins during auditing, so is a sheepish pawn worried about CoS blabbing their sins, rather than a near-omnipotent being. Frazer doesn't talk about euphoria and out of body experiences, but much is written about native American and other tribal experiences that also produce these two results. So, CoS has no pipeline to anything paranormal, here.
My Scientology relative claimed to heal by touch. However, ill people often get a placebo effect or a mood lift from a caring person's touch; this is not a paranormal power. Pain and many ailments like arthritis come and go mysteriously and are greatly affected by emotions. Scientists study the placebo effect with interest, hoping to better reduce pain and symptoms.
Body thetans, as troublesome spirits that need to be removed from the body, are an old "evil-spirits" superstition.
Scientology has different incantations/spells (oops OT levels) for regular body thetans, drugged body thetans, and sleeping body thetans.When a Cingalese is dangerously ill..a devil-dancer is called in, who by making offerings to the devils, and dancing in the masks appropriate to them, conjures these demons of disease, one after the other, out of the sick man's body...(page 542)
Above page numbers are from the paperback published 1993 by Wordsworth.