Reviewed by: Enchanted Europe: Superstition, Reason, & Religion, 1250-1750 Tessa Morrison Cameron, Euan , Enchanted Europe: Superstition, Reason, & Religion, 1250-1750, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010; hardback; pp.473; R.R.P US$55.00; ISBN 978019925782. The distinction between superstitious and religious practice is often blurry. What is perceived to be a deep religious ritual by one religion can be seen as nothing but a superstitious custom by another. What is regarded in one religion as engaging with God and the Angels can be perceived in another as communicating with Satan and the demons. The distinction seemed particularly clear at the time of the Reformation, but for the theological establishment it was true for the entire period between the medieval era and the Enlightenment, although not always clear in the minds of the common people. Enchanted Europe is a study of these differing perceptions.
From the beginning, Euan Cameron makes it clear what this book aims to address within the bounds of this study. It is an analysis of literature, concentrating on superstitions and the learned response to them. The arguments that are presented in the book are rooted in history, and not in anthropology, philosophy, or religious studies. Within this framework the study presents a fascinating overview of the ever-moving distinguishing line between superstitious and religious practice.
Part III, 'Superstitions in Controversy: Renaissance and Reformations', reveals a time of dramatic change where attempts were made to persuade the people from their superstitious belief systems. During the Reformation, both the Protestant and Catholic hierarchy sought to encourage a uniform belief system and ritual practices that distinguished their religion from others. The result was that Protestant and Catholic parishioners accused each other of practising superstitious rites and beliefs that were possibly demonically motivated. Superstition was becoming something to fear. This fear often resulted in accusations and persecution of those suspected of witchcraft that instilled further fear.
According to a study on public attitudes to science and technology published on Monday (21 June) of over 30,000 people from EU member states and Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Turkey and Switzerland, two out of five Europeans are superstitious, with a full 40 percent of respondents saying they believe in lucky numbers.
The only comprehensive, single-volume survey of magic available, this compelling book traces the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstitious practices such as popular spells or charms from antiquity to the present day. Focusing especially on Europe in the medieval and early modern eras, Michael Bailey also explores the ancient Near East, classical Greece and Rome, and the spread of magical systems_particularly modern witchcraft or Wicca_from Europe to the United States. He examines how magic and superstition have been defined in various historical eras and how these constructions have changed over time. He considers the ways in which specific categories of magic have been condemned, and how those identified as magicians or witches have been persecuted and prosecuted in various societies. Although conceptions of magic have changed over time, the author shows how magic has almost always served as a boundary marker separating socially acceptable actions from illicit ones, and more generally the known and understood from the unknown and occult.
The social and religious upheavals of the Reformation brought about vigorous debate concerning the beliefs and practices of every class, but the folk beliefs of the peasantry became one of the most hotly contested topics. Euan Cameron, a scholar of Martin Luther and the Reformation/ counter-Reformation period, mines theological texts from the thirteenth century to the time of Luther in an attempt to understand the specific problem posed by folk religion to a volatile and changing church in Enchanted Europe. The result is a book that exposes a range of mental attitudes toward popular superstition, primarily from the points of view of churchmen attempting to sway one another in their arguments. Cameron's great success comes from the dialogue he entreats the reader to hear between groups like the Thomists and Lutherans, the early Protestants and Catholic counter-Reformers, and other contending factions as they attempted to piece together a common understanding of the efficacy of charms, potions, and superstitious acts in a universe ordered by Divine decree and plan. The author's narrow focus on an elite class of theologians gives the text a detachment from the lower classes and their understanding of their own superstitious acts. The selection of clerical writers and his tight focus on a relatively small number of topics allow Cameron to bypass some of his problems, however, as he presents a secular world divided...
The goals of this collection (part of Ashgate's series'Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama') are ambitious. Intheir introduction the editors discuss their desire for 'a history thatinforms literary inquiries and vice versa' (10), a modification ofcultural theory's methodology and 'a conscious move from thick tothin description' (11). The topic to be addressed in this way is'how systems of belief shape normalcy [sic] and ... why we call certainperceptions superstitious when they appear perfectly normal, acceptable, andeven logical to others' (4). Although these goals are not fully realizedin many of the essays which follow, the collection in general pays attentionto the religious and political contexts within which literary texts arewritten and drama is staged or, in the editors' words, the'interplay among history, literature and theater' (18). Thisinterdisciplinary focus is reflected by the mixture of historians andliterary scholars who contribute to the volume. As a whole this collection issomewhat less cohesive than many others published about early modern magic,witchcraft, and religion, but thematic and methodological cohesiveness israrely a primary purpose for essay collections and this volume contains someexcellent work.
This church ( pictured above ), near Megalopoli in Greece, used to be part of a village. By the time British photographer Stuart Franklin visited and took the picture in 2007, work crews had leveled the other buildings and scraped out the earth to extract lignite (brown coal), used to fuel a nearby power station. The crews were too superstitious to destroy a holy place, a guide told Franklin. Far above the new ground level, the edifice is now inaccessible. 59ce067264