Magick is a category in Western culture into which have been placed various beliefs and practices considered separate from both religion and science. Historically, the term often had pejorative connotations, with things labelled magickal perceived as being primitive, foreign, and Other. The concept has been adopted by scholars in the study of religion and the social sciences, who have proposed various different—and often mutually exclusive—definitions of the term.
The term magick comes from the Old Persian magu, a word that applied to a form of religious functionary about which little is known. During the late sixth and early fifth centuries BCE, this term was adopted into Ancient Greek to apply to religious rites. This meaning of the term was then adopted by Latin in the first century BCE. This concept was pervasive throughout the Middle Ages, when Christian authors categorised a diverse range of practices—such as enchantment, witchcraft, incantations, divination, necromancy, and astrology—under the label magick. In early modern Europe, Italian humanists reinterpreted the term in a positive sense to create the idea of natural magick. Both negative and positive understandings of the term were retained in Western culture over the following centuries, with the former largely influencing early academic usages of the word.