Difference Between Religion and Magic:
Religion and magic are the two basic techniques of dealing with the supernatural. The first is a means of seeking spiritual rapport on the basis of subordination to animistic beings. The second is a technique of gaining external control over supernatural powers, animistic and manaistic.
Magic differs from religion in the kinds of ends pursued. The magical ritual is performed for a definite end and this end is immediate, practical, and usually private. It is an attempt by individuals to attain particular private ends- the success of the crop, a favourable decision in a law case, good hunting by invoking supernatural means. By contrast, religion is a public matter; it is devoted to the public, common ends- not just fertility of one soil, for example, but for the fertility of all the lands. It is something shared by the community and participated in by a group of people, if not by the entire community then by a section of it. Usually, religion has no definite end.
The aim of magic is to manipulate or control supernatural forces in one’s own favour and a person who wishes to do this may either do it himself or call a professional magician who will do it for a fee or reward. On the other hand, Frazer says that religious acts aim at “the propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and human life”.
There is yet another difference; an air of secrecy surrounds the magician and his disciples do not all know each other. Religion is public and communal, it has a congregational aspect. Bot the magician and priest mediate between this world and the other. The former is feared, and the latter commands respect; the former is malevolent and the latter benevolent. Religion is always sanctioned by the groups, whereas magic may be harmful and so opposed by the group.
Magic has a utilitarian purpose. It usually lacks intellectual content to a great extent. Whereas the intellectual content of the religion is broader which explains the origin of man and its social institutions, the relevance of the relationship between men and God, elaborate rituals and ceremonies. Religion establishes a double bond one between man and God, and the other between man and man as children of God; in magic both the bonds are absent. Magic as Malinowski says is essentially a human power, exerted by means of a spell.
Most modern anthropologists agree that a sharp difference between magic and religion cannot be sustained by ethnographic facts. In fact, the effort to make an absolute distinction between religion and magic probably abscures more than it clarifies.