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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in medieval magic

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The History of Magic

I was delighted to take part in a discussion on the BBC  of the history of magic from a variety of perspectives. While our remit was broad (all of time!) we did try to bring up some specific examples from our respective areas of expertise. Of course that meant that I had a chance to talk about both medieval magic and Leonora Carrington.

Give it a listen here.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Language of Birds

These quarantine times give us medievalists plenty of parallels to draw: times of plague and difficulties of travel -- but the effects are the same on us. Normally I would be with my family in Scotland by this time. There I would be hearing the screams of the gulls, the occasional melodic outburst of a blackbird and the friendly croaks of my beloved magpies.

Now I lie awake in the (earlier every day) dawn light listening to a very different set of birds: sparrows galore, North American robins -- enormous athletic birds so different from the jolly European kind -- finches, wrens, catbirds, four kinds of woodpeckers including the giant pileated woodpecker whose laugh echoes often. The crows come by to eat the corn. The bluejays tend to come in a pack and chatter loudly to one another. In the morning and at dusk you can hear the turkeys gobble.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
CAOS, Caliban, Chaos -- and Sycorax

There are bound to be a lot of commentaries on the latest series of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the latest in the comics adaptations aimed at getting young adult audiences (and the not so young) to binge on the tales of teen sex and magic. The creators have fun with the links to Riverdale of course, and horror movies (showrunner and comics writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa grew up on comic books) as well as magic and the occult. You can already find a couple of thoughtful responses from Cunning Folk Magazine and the Media Witch.

No doubt there is a lot to untangle and most of it is probably not as deep as our analyses will go nor as seriosu (as we know) but I am struck by the use of Sycorax without using the most well-established aspect of her as Caliban's mother. In this series of CAOS Caliban is 'made of clay' like a golem (!) I guess for reasons to do with plotting. This move erases lineage but it also erases race. Sycorax as created by Shakespeare in The Tempest is Algerian and banished to this island presumably in the Mediterranean between Italy and Tunisia where Claribel, Alonso's daughter, was to be married to the prince.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Virgin Scrying?

Did you know that it was once thought advantageous to use virgins for scrying? While crystal balls are probably the most common form of scrying known now, and maybe second to that mirrors (you probably know John Dee's famous mirror). But other reflective surfaces have been used, including onychomancy (divination by a polished fingernail).

Claire Fanger makes a good argument for the late medieval link between scrying and summoning spirits. While summoning angels and binding demons might appear on the surface to be completely different skill sets or activities, clearly the two are easily linked because of the cosmological outlook both share:

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Picatrix

I'm delighted that a long-anticipated book is out at last! The Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral Magic has been long in production for the Penn State Magic in History line. As a member of Societas Magica I have seen bits of the work in progress which tantalised. From the blurb:

A manual for constructing talismans, mixing magical compounds, summoning planetary spirits, and determining astrological conditions, Picatrix is a cornerstone of Western esotericism. It offers important insights not only into occult practices and beliefs but also into the transmission of magical ideas from antiquity to the present. Dan Attrell and David Porreca’s English translation opens the world of this vital medieval treatise to modern-day scholars and lay readers.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    What other titles are in tis series?
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Click the link to the publisher to see them all.

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