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broadening its application beyond the study of religion to include magic. By ‘vernacular religion’, therefore, I mean the entire range of lived religion, with its complement of material, verbal and behavioural manifestations. By coining the term ‘vernacular magic’ after Primiano’s ‘vernacular religion’, I am rejecting the dualistic system of ‘high magic’ versus ‘low magic’, on the grounds that these, too, constitute an artificial

in Witchcraft Continued

5 Beyond the witch trials Witchcraft and magic in Scotland Witchcraft and magic in eighteenth-century Scotland Peter Maxwell-Stuart On 20 October 1711 Defoe published in the periodical Review his well-known and unambiguous opinion on the subject of witches: There are, and ever have been such People in the World, who converse Familiarly with the Devil, enter into Compact with him, and receive Power from him, both to hurt and deceive, and these have been in all Ages call’d Witches, and it is these, that our Law and God’s Law Condemn’s as such; and I think there

in Beyond the witch trials

9 Beyond the witch trials Counter-witchcraft and popular magic The archaeology of counter-witchcraft and popular magic Brian Hoggard One aspect of the study of witchcraft and magic, which has not yet been absorbed into the main stream of literature on the subject, is the archaeological record of the subject. Objects such as witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, shoes, written charms and numerous other items have been discovered concealed inside houses in significant quantities from the early modern period until well into the twentieth century. The locations

in Beyond the witch trials
Open Access (free)
Popular magic in modern Europe

The study of witchcraft accusations in Europe during the period after the end of the witch trials is still in its infancy. Witches were scratched in England, swum in Germany, beaten in the Netherlands and shot in France. The continued widespread belief in witchcraft and magic in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France has received considerable academic attention. The book discusses the extent and nature of witchcraft accusations in the period and provides a general survey of the published work on the subject for an English audience. It explores the presence of magical elements in everyday life during the modern period in Spain. The book provides a general overview of vernacular magical beliefs and practices in Italy from the time of unification to the present, with particular attention to how these traditions have been studied. By functioning as mechanisms of social ethos and control, narratives of magical harm were assured a place at the very heart of rural Finnish social dynamics into the twentieth century. The book draws upon over 300 narratives recorded in rural Finland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that provide information concerning the social relations, tensions and strategies that framed sorcery and the counter-magic employed against it. It is concerned with a special form of witchcraft that is practised only amongst Hungarians living in Transylvania.

Open Access (free)
Witchcraft and magic in Enlightenment Europe

This book looks at aspects of the continuation of witchcraft and magic in Europe from the last of the secular and ecclesiastical trials during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, through to the nineteenth century. It provides a brief outline of witch trials in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Finland. By the second half of the seventeenth century, as the witch trials reached their climax in Sweden, belief in the interventionist powers of the Devil had become a major preoccupation of the educated classes. Having acknowledged the slight possibility of real possession by the Devil, Benito Feijoo threw himself wholeheartedly into his real objective: to expose the falseness of the majority of the possessed. The book is concerned with accusations of magic, which were formalised as denunciations heard by the Inquisition of the Archdiocese of Capua, a city twelve miles north of Naples, during the first half of the eighteenth century. One aspect of the study of witchcraft and magic, which has not yet been absorbed into the main stream of literature on the subject, is the archaeological record of the subject. As a part of the increasing interest in 'popular' culture, historians have become more conscious of the presence of witchcraft after the witch trials. The aftermath of the major witch trials in Dalarna, Sweden, demonstrates how the authorities began the awkward process of divorcing themselves from popular concerns and beliefs regarding witchcraft.

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black magic and bogeymen in Northern Ireland, 1973–74

On 5 August 1973, the Sunday News , published in Belfast, printed an article about the Copeland Islands, a popular spot for day trips and picnics just off the North Down coast. Adorned with drawings of a Baphomet-like goat’s head, the headline screamed ‘Black Magic Ritual Killings on Copeland Island Beach’. Quoting an anonymous expert on the occult and the local Ulster Society for the Prevention of

in Witchcraft Continued
witchcraft on the borderline of religion and magic

perform it themselves, or they have employed someone else to do it: (1) Manipulation with objects based on the principles of contagious magic, such as carrying out maleficium using the belongings of the intended victim (handkerchief and matches, for example) or other objects (such as bone, wool, hen’s heads, thread and chain), or creeping into his or her property (courtyard, house) and placing the

in Witchcraft Continued
Rothenburg, 1561–1652

Given the widespread belief in witchcraft and the existence of laws against such practices, why did witch-trials fail to gain momentum and escalate into ‘witch-crazes’ in certain parts of early modern Europe? This book answers this question by examining the rich legal records of the German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a city that experienced a very restrained pattern of witch-trials and just one execution for witchcraft between 1561 and 1652. The book explores the factors that explain the absence of a ‘witch-craze’ in Rothenburg, placing particular emphasis on the interaction of elite and popular priorities in the pursuit (and non-pursuit) of alleged witches at law. By making the witchcraft narratives told by the peasants and townspeople of Rothenburg central to its analysis, the book also explores the social and psychological conflicts that lay behind the making of accusations and confessions of witchcraft. Furthermore, it challenges the existing explanations for the gender-bias of witch-trials, and also offers insights into other areas of early modern life, such as experiences of and beliefs about communal conflict, magic, motherhood, childhood and illness. Written in a narrative style, the study invites a wide readership to share in the drama of early modern witch trials.

new category (“witch,” variously defined), with which to carry out subsequent analysis. Second, they increasingly insisted upon the objective reality of their conceptions of witchcraft. In this chapter we take up a rather different set of ideas, all of which, from the clerical perspective, revolved around the idea of direct or indirect commerce with the devil: heresy, black magic, and superstition. Nonetheless, here again the processes of assimilation and reification strongly influenced how these concepts impinged upon categories of witchcraft. Heresy and the

in The Malleus Maleficarum and the construction of witchcraft

Suspicions of witchcraft in Finland did not die out with the witch trials. 1 Traditional forms of magic and sorcery 2 continued to be not only suspected, but also practised in the Finnish countryside some two hundred years after the last witchcraft prosecutions in Finland, if we are to believe dozens of eyewitness accounts from farmers and labourers in the early twentieth century. 3 Although

in Witchcraft Continued