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BIBLE HISTORY DAILY
Related Content. Editors: Siam Bhayro and Catherine Rider.
In many near eastern traditions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, demons have appeared as a cause of illness from ancient times until at least the early modern period. This volume explores the relationship between demons, illness and treatment comparatively. Its twenty chapters range from Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt to early modern Europe, and include studies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The chapters originated in an international conference held in Sanctifying Texts, Transforming Rituals: Encounters in Liturgical Studies explores the dynamics of Christian ritual practices in their relation to a broader cultural framework.
The nineteen essays, written in honour of the liturgist Gerard A. Moreover, as the detractors of necromancy are eager to denounce, it does not fail to be contradiction to invoke the power of God, directly or through the holiest figures and elements, for selfish or evil purposes, such as finding treasure or even harming someone by putting a spell on them. But it is clear that it did not seem that way at all to those who practised necromancy, given that the basis of it was the irresistible power of these words over demons and the terror they inspired in them.
They believed that thanks to ritual purity and mental concentration they achieved a holy state beyond good and evil. The written testimonies and the accusations point to the clergy fig. Included in it would be not only all the priests, friars and monks, with a high degree of inequality in their training or dedication to religious tasks, but also all those who had taken minor orders, both the lower-ranking religious officiants — readers, exorcists, choirboys — and the university students.
They all had in common access to different levels of learning, above all with regard to the knowledge of rituals and Latin, which gave them access to necromancy manuals and the operations described in them. The data on the possession of magic manuscripts allow us to learn about their users in greater detail: they were mainly compiled by clerics with a religious dedication, generally monks. Medical practitioners, alchemists and astrologers were the next most significant groups that collected magic books.
The predominance of clergymen and the model that the Christian religion implied, with Latin as the ritual language, explain the scant use of vernacular languages in superior magic. For this reason, although a considerable number of necromancy texts have survived in Latin, extant examples are much rarer in the vernacular languages. The oldest ones are the Castilian translations of the Picatrix and the Liber Razielis made in the court of King Alfonso X the Wise , a king very much attracted by the occult arts who encouraged the use of Castilian as the language of culture, with numerous translations done mostly from Arabic originals.
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Only a few fragments of these translations have been conserved, included in the compendium called Astromagia by its editor, which also contains other works about magic figs. From a much later date there is a compendium from Milan entitled Necromantia , translated from Latin into Tuscan apparently by order of a courtier close to the Viscontis other works in Italian in figs.
On the other hand, some treatises on spiritual magic originally written in Occitan are unevenly conserved in this language: the Libre de puritats fig. It has not been demonstrated that Picatrix was translated into Catalan, as has been upheld on the basis of a brief Latin treatise on therapeutic astral images conserved in Catalan in a manuscript from Andorra dating to about This treatise, although it was interpolated in the Latin version of Picatrix , also circulated separately and the Catalan text is most likely derived from this text.
The context in which all these texts emerged is unknown, but some appear to be clearly associated with court circles. This suggests that the vernacularization of magic must have been fundamentally encouraged by the consolidation of the court as the new centre of diffusion of knowledge from the thirteenth century onwards. This does not mean that the texts produced at court or in circles close to it did not circulate later in other social contexts.
The operations of ritual magic have been classified by Richard Kieckhefer into three main categories according to their purposes: 1 illusory experiments, which create hallucinations such as splendid banquets, castles defended by demoniacal troops, demons in the form of flying horses that transport the officiant to anywhere on Earth he wishes, the invisibility of the magician or the resurrection of the dead; 2 psychological experiments, which inflict physical pain on other people or exert influence on their spirit to cause love, hatred or madness in them, in order to win the favour of powerful people or to force someone to act in a certain way; and 3 , predictive experiments, which reveal the past, the future, distant or hidden events with the aim of finding treasure, discovering a thief or a murderer, and so on.
Predicting usually requires the collaboration of a young male virgin, who can see the spirits in a reflective surface such as mirrors, glass in objects similar to the familiar crystal ball , a fingernail or toenail, a liquid in a receptacle or a bone. Other predictive experiments are based on the interpretation of dreams. The fundamental techniques are signs and inscriptions, spells and actions.
Signs and inscriptions are drawn on the ground with a sword or a knife, or in ink or blood on parchment or cloth. The basic shape is usually a circle, in which inscriptions or other signs are placed figs. The circle as a catalyst of power dates back to ancient Jewish and Greek magic and its main function was to focus the strength of the officiant over the spirits.
It therefore seems that the purpose of protecting the magician from the spirits is a derivation of it, less present in medieval magic manuals, although it is the one most widely spread by its detractors and by literature. The inscriptions point to the four cardinal directions, the position of the magician and of the boy acting as the medium, the names of the spirits, holy names, and so on. The signs are usually pentagrams five-pointed stars, fig. The illustrations in the manuals also add objects necessary for the rituals, such as swords, jugs or candles, but they are most likely mere indications for the purposes of placing the magic objects, just as the prayers written at the sides are probably to be recited rather than inscribed.
Necromancers used formulae to conjure and exorcize spirits with the same structure as ecclesiastical exorcisms fig. Even so, the goal was clearly the opposite of ecclesiastical exorcisms: instead of sending the demons away the aim was to make them come, and to subject them to his will so that they would make his wishes come true. The actions performed by necromancers in their operations consisted above all of sacrifices and sympathetic rituals. Magicians offered spirits the blood of hens, hoopoes or bats, milk or honey sprinkled in the air, or ashes, salt or flour placed in jugs, among other products fig.
Sympathetic rituals, used mainly in psychological magic, symbolized what it was wished to obtain through images and other objects to which the action represented was transferred. The actions ranged from knocking two simple stones together for the purpose of causing enmities, to working out the astrologically suitable day and time for a sought-after objective, images copied with the wax of candles used in a funeral, inscribed with names, seals or characters and fumigated with bones and other substances, into which needles were stuck where it was wished to do harm before being buried.
Relationships of the different types of magic with the sciences and religion in the Middle Ages. The vertical line represents the separation between the legitimate and illegitimate practices established by theology and natural philosophy. A famous scene of ancient necromancy: Ulysses consults the dead in hell Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, c. Zoroaster presented as the founder of the magic art, inside a circle, subjugating two demons London, British Library, MS Yates Thompson 28, f. Drawing in a necromancy manual: a pentagram inside a circle with the names of spirits inscribed inside each of the four cardinal points and magical objects Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS CLM , ff.
Inici Biblioteca digital Temes. Medieval necromancy, the art of controlling demons. Origins, practitioners, languages and techniques of magic via the spirits.
How to quote. Necromancy, its place in medieval knowledge Until the thirteenth century, medieval European intellectuals dismissed as rural superstitions not only the use of formulae and rituals rooted in Christianity but not accepted by the Church, but also the practices of inferior magic or sorcery maleficium. The spirits It is due to the influence of astrology that necromantic experiments can be placed with precise temporal indications — clearly determined hours, days and moons — in accordance with the spirits that are governing at that time or the astrological conditions.
The languages of necromancy The predominance of clergymen and the model that the Christian religion implied, with Latin as the ritual language, explain the scant use of vernacular languages in superior magic.
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Operations, techniques, rituals The operations of ritual magic have been classified by Richard Kieckhefer into three main categories according to their purposes: 1 illusory experiments, which create hallucinations such as splendid banquets, castles defended by demoniacal troops, demons in the form of flying horses that transport the officiant to anywhere on Earth he wishes, the invisibility of the magician or the resurrection of the dead; 2 psychological experiments, which inflict physical pain on other people or exert influence on their spirit to cause love, hatred or madness in them, in order to win the favour of powerful people or to force someone to act in a certain way; and 3 , predictive experiments, which reveal the past, the future, distant or hidden events with the aim of finding treasure, discovering a thief or a murderer, and so on.
Hermes Trismegistus, Astrologica et divinatoria , ed. Bos, Ch.