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In: Demons and Illness from Antiquity to the Early-Modern Period


After a brief methodological introduction, the article reconstructs invisibility magic, its uses and rationale in medieval and early modern Jewish culture, based on a rich selection of manuscript texts, many of which remain unpublished. In contrast to other treatments of invisibility magic, it argues that in this specific cultural context the desire of going unseen was often motivated by contingent purposes such as protection on the road and self-defense. Some techniques of Jewish invisibility magic exhibit a marked Jewish character, some were inspired by the observation of nature, others were modulated on popular motifs shared cross-culturally. This study demonstrates that, regardless to their nature, most of these techniques were reworked according to a Jewish taste, proving that invisibility magic was not an extravagant import from foreign traditions, but an integral part of a magical culture shared by many Jews during the Middle Ages and early modern period.

In: Numen