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European Folk Spell Styles

To: alt.lucky.w
From: Christopher Warnock 
Subject: Re: European Folk Spell Styles (
Date: Sun, 03 Sep 2000 14:45:52 GMT

As someone with definite tendencies toward an academic and "High" magic
approach, I still find myself drawn to folk and so-called "Low" magic.
This is typical of the 17th century approach.  Thomas says, " was
the intellectual magician who was stimulated by the activities of the
cunning man into a search for the occult influences which he believed
must have underlain them.  The period saw a serious attempt to study
long established folk procedures with a view to understanding the
principles on which they rested." Religion and the Decline of Magic, p.

Cat is certainly correct about the prevalence of verse magic in pre-1700
European practice.  I would say coincidentally (except I don't believe
in coincidences) 2-4 line  rhyming doggerel features prominently on the
main pages of my just launched website.

Here some verse from Scot's 1585 Discoverie of Witchcraft:

"Another charme that witches use at the gathering of their medicinable

Haile be thou holie hearbe
    growing on the ground.
All in mount Calvarie
    first wert thou found.
Thou are good for manie a sore,
    and healest manie a wound,
In the name of sweete Jesus
    I take thee from the ground."

This points out another catastrophic event for esoteric traditions: the
Reformation.  Thomas makes the point, which I accept, that the arrival
of Protestantism, even in its Anglican form, removed an enormous amount
of ecclesiastical magic.  Many of the magic verses used by cunning men
and women are Latin right out of the Roman ritual.  This is also the
most convincing explanation of why there are almost no witchcraft
persecutions in medieval England, perhaps little more than a dozen over
several hundred years, and such a surge after the Reformation.  The
magic of the Church was far stronger than witchcraft and sorcery.  When
removed, however, the only remedy was to kill the witch, or later simply
disbelieve in magic.

Christopher Warnock, Esq.
for Renaissance Horary & Electional Astrology
& Magical Timing
Renaissance Astrology Website-Launched Today!

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