Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages (Magic in by Don C. Skemer

By Don C. Skemer

In the center a while, textual amulets—short texts written on parchment or paper and worn at the body—were idea to guard the bearer opposed to enemies, to heal afflictions brought on by demonic invasions, and to deliver the wearer luck. In Binding Words, Don C. Skemer presents the 1st book-length learn of this once-common technique of harnessing the paranormal energy of phrases.

Textual amulets have been a distinct resource of empowerment, promising the believer secure passage via a precarious global via an ever-changing mixture of scriptural quotations, divine names, universal prayers, and liturgical formulation. even though theologians and canon legal professionals often derided textual amulets as ignorant superstition, many literate clergy performed a imperative function in generating and disseminating them. The texts have been, in flip, embraced by means of a extensive cross-section of Western Europe. Saints and parish clergymen, physicians and village healers, landowners and peasants alike believed of their efficacy.

Skemer deals cautious research of a number of dozen surviving textual amulets besides different modern medieval resource fabrics. within the technique, Binding Words enriches our figuring out of well known faith and magic in daily medieval life.

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Additional resources for Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages (Magic in History)

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16 An important speciWc form of amulet is the curse tablet (deWxio or tabella deWxionis), most commonly lead sheets on which magicians inscribed binding spells. This exercise in aggressive magic was intended to control the actions of other people, whose names were often incorporated into the spell. The goal of such spells was to force people to obey one’s will, with the intention of inXicting harm and placing the victims at a disadvantage in affairs of the heart, court litigation, or horse races and other competitions.

Sed hoc non Webat nisi causa iactantie et vanitatis. , Firmini Verris dictionarius: Dictionnaire Latin-Français de Firmin le Ver, Corpus Christianorum: Continuatio Mediaevalis, Series in 4o, vol. 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1994), pp. 173–74: “Filaterium . . 4) and John Trevisa’s Middle English translation follow St. Jerome in saying that the Pharisees wore rolled phylacteries (pittacia cartarum or phylacteria in Latin; scrowes or philateria in English) containing the Ten Commandments on their foreheads and left arms.

Extant textual amulets of the thirteenth to early sixteenth centuries were not unprecedented and cannot be properly studied proWtably without Wrst examining evidence of ancient and early medieval antecedents. We will see how theological opinions concerning textual amulets evolved over the long centuries in which Christianity had to respond to competition from pagan magic, the challenges of imperfect mass conversions of pagans, the rise of learned magic, the expansion of lay literacy, fears of heterodoxy, and the Printing Revolution.

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Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages (Magic in by Don C. Skemer
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