Our forebears believed that the honourable dead could be reborn, by entering the burial mound and collecting the life force of the dead inside. In the Stone Age they collected the thigh bone (the life force) and the skull (the mind) of the dead, to become them. When they left the burial mound with these totem items, as the Sun rose, they were seen as reborn. The dead had returned from the realm of death!
If you believe that a life force can be collected like that, then the idea of taking the life force of another creature, and put it outside your own as protection, to become invulnerable or at least much stronger, is not too far fetched. The same can be said about the idea of hiding your own life force away somewhere, and then use another creature’s life force instead, meaning that if you are harmed, it is not you, but the creature whose life force you use that is harmed.
So one thing we often hear about in fairy tales and myths, is the invulnerable hero. Nothing can harm him, because he has been dipped into the river Styx (Achilles), because he wears the skin of the Nemean lion (Herakles) or because he wears the skin of a bear, a wolf or a boar (“berserks”). Others are invulnerable because their life force has been protected (BalðuR) or hidden away somewhere else (the trolls of fairy tales).
To make the hero (or troll) vulnerable you have to first find his life force, or find the spot where he is vulnerable. E. g. Achilles is vulnerable only where he mother held him, when she dipped him into the river Styx; BalðuR can only be harmed by the mistletoe (which is actually his life force) and the trolls can only be harmed by destroying their life force.
Today we might laugh when we see such ‘superstitions’, but at the same time we are still completely dominated by the same ‘superstitions’. The same totemic ideas penetrate all layers of society. We live by the idea that we gain some sort of life force, protective force, or other force, from using or surrounding ourselves with certain brands, symbols or even bits and pieces of others whom we think highly of.
By driving a car of a certain brand you gain some sort of force: by wearing the clothes of a certain brand you gain some sort of force: by wearing a certain symbol you gain some sort of force: by putting on a t-shirt with a certain band name on it, you gain some sort of force, etc. You somehow feel that you become what the brand is associated with, you gain the force symbolized by the symbol, you become a part of the band whose shirt you wear, etc.
The Sorcerer, as we often see him:
You can always ridicule others who do this, who buy expensive cars of certain brands because they feel better in them, who need to wear clothes of this or that brand, who wears a Thor’s hammer or a crucifix around the neck, who want the signature from artists they appreciate, etc., but the truth is: on some level we all do this. This is how we are built. This is what we are. This is deeply rooted in our human nature. And there is nothing wrong with our nature!
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all believe in sorcery. We don’t always understand that we do, but we do. Rather than fight, ignore or ridicule this ‘sorcery’, we should embrace and celebrate it, and try to learn more about it, for the betterment of our species.