Even as the pieces fell into place the sorcerer remained a solitary figure in European lore, albeit one associated with demonic forces. One of the earliest stories historians trace the more modern ‘witch’ to is the Sorceress of Berkeley, relayed by William of Malmesbury in 1142. Malmesbury pegs the incident as occurring in England around […]Read more "The Sorceress of Berkeley"
Practical considerations aside, Christianity remained a zero sum belief structure. Either a person was Christian, and therefore good, or Pagan, and therefore damned. Magic was explained the same way. Carlos and even some of the more academic clergy who studied older practice would chalk up all magical powers to ‘bad angels’ or ‘demons’, using the […]Read more "Of Storm Magic and Sabbaths"
In 472 the local despotic general in northern Italy declared his son Emperor Romulus Augustulus. Four years later the “little[est] Augustus” was deposed and the Western Roman Empire officially puttered out. Traditionally, this would mark the period western historians referred to as the Dark Ages. For a long time this reflected the attitude Western Europe […]Read more "Christianity in the Dark(ish) Ages"
From the beginning the word “magic” has been used to convey a sense of the otherworldly or foreign. Magic likely stems in a more orientalist tradition from the Greek word Mageia for Persian practitioners of Zoroastrianism, the Magoi. In the context of the Greek and Roman worlds, “magic” was a term for practices beyond the […]Read more "Curses, Omens, and the Magic of Antiquity"
Like many successful viral stories, it was the scandal of it all that got people talking. What the practitioners were getting up to behind closed doors was the well known across Europe. Everyone from polite society to the layperson in the streets from Spain to Greece had an opinion on this “immoderate and perverse superstition.” […]Read more "What we (don’t) do in the Shadows"