Magic & the Path

The etymology of the term magic points us to Greek mágos, which in turn is a loan word from old Persian magush / maguš.

The term mágos is a designation specifically understood by the Greeks as well as by scholars as referring to a member of the learned Median priest-class of Archaemenid Persia. In early days of western civilization terms such as mágos and mageía came to possess a dual meaning, referring on one hand to Persian priests (similar to brahmins), and on the other to religious practices diverging from civic religiosity (errants). Such errant magicians were itinerant ritual specialists who offered religious services for a fee.

A proposed but not definitive proto indo-european root of the term is *mag(h)-, which usually carries the meaning of ability and power.

Some cognates such as the Indic maghá-, maghávan- and maghávat- carry the meaning of power/strength, strong/powerful. The modern term machine, machinery can be traced to this root.

Some suggest a link to the sanskrit term māyā, which in turn is usually traced back to the broader indo-european root *med-. Interestingly, the modern terms medicine, modesty and measure can all be traced to the broader indo-european root *med-

All that said, I would like to explore whether the Pali term for Path, magga, could as well be traced to the same root.

Moreover, I would like to explore as much as possible the way the term magga is used as well its likely roots and parallel uses in ancient Indian literature, religion and philosophy.


Source: Magic through the Linguistic Lenses of Greek mágos, Indo- European *mag(h)-, Sanskrit mâyâ and Pharaonic Egyptian heka.

CHEAK_Magic_JSM2.pdf (179.7 KB)

Maga is a common Sri Lankan word for Path.

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Yes, thanks for that @SarathW1.
Just mind that the question here is whether we can trace the origins of the concepts and terminology of magic as found in European languages such as English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, etc to the same ancient roots of the Pali / Sanskrit term magga / mārga.

It seems unlikely, I don’t think it would go from mag(h) to marga. Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be any PIE cognates for marga/magga.

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