The Spell, by William Fettes Douglas, 1864. © National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, The Bridgeman Art Library.

Magic Shows

Volume V, Number 3 | summer 2012


The second of the 282 laws in the Code of Hammurabi, dating from the eighteenth century BC, states, “If a man charge a man with sorcery, and cannot prove it, he who is charged with sorcery shall go to the river; into the river he shall throw himself, and if the river overcome him, his accuser shall take to himself his house. If the river show that man to be innocent, and he come forth unharmed, he who charged him with sorcery shall be put to death.”

In the past, men created witches; now they create mental patients.

—Thomas Szasz, 1970