This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
Whence came witchcraft? Writings, pictures, monuments, ruins, and traditions preserve the history of mankind; but man himself, in color, configuration, unconscious gesture, language, rites, customs, and unwritten laws, is a true encyclopedia of humanity more valuable than the contents of libraries.
As a general proposition, the uncivilized tribes of the world may be said to have been, from prehistoric times, what they are now. Mounds and other remains of uncertain date indeed often show a higher degree of development than at present exists among the in habitants of particular regions; but this is not conclusive proof of degeneration, because of the vastness and complexity of ancient migrations of which no adequate history remains. The state of primitive uncivilized mankind, when widely scattered and numerous in population, may therefore be inferred from the present condition of barbarous tribes. In all these witchcraft is believed in, producing a mortal dread, and its practice is punished by death in the most horrible forms. In China, India, and Japan it has always existed and still prevails.
In the ancient empires, the Magism of the Median court, with its incantations, divining-rods, omen-reading, and dream-expounding, became closely allied to witchcraft, as in Scythia in previous ages, and subsequently in Persia. Many of its practitioners openly avowed the aid of evil spirits. While both Magism and Zoroastrianism had an essentially religious basis, witchcraft hung upon their skirts continually endeavoring to rival them. In Babylon the Magi included the scientists and philosophers of the age; but as quacks are parasites upon modern scientists, deriving from general names, such as " physician " or " professor," held in common with those entitled to them a particular reputation with the common people while practising the most shameless impostures, so many of the Babylonian astronomers were astrologers, and others of the Magi dealt avowedly with spirits.
In Egypt, notwithstanding the sublimity of the religion which taught a system of morality founded upon a final judgment, a swarm of basest superstitions and most demoralizing influences counteracted its influence; and witchcraft prevailed among the people at the very time that Egypt was surpassing other nations in science. In Benjamin's sack was found •Joseph's cup, "whereby, indeed, he divineth"; and his own words, " Wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine ?" reveal the custom in Egypt.
The various forms of consulting evil spirits, of seeking illegitimately preternatural help and knowledge, were all practised by the Canaanites and their descendants the Phenicians. Isaiah traces the existence of such things back to the Chaldeans and the Babylonians.
The answer of the Chaldeans to Nebuchaduezzar showed that throughout the world such a class existed; for they said, "There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter; therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean".