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The Christian Attitude to Hippomancy in Twelfth-Century Szczecin and the Desacralization of the Sacred Horse

In: International Journal of Divination and Prognostication
Author:
Mihai Dragnea Department of Business, History and Social Sciences, University of South-Eastern Norway Borre Norway

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Abstract

Among the “idolatrous” Pomeranians, the horse was considered a sacred animal that was kept in a major temple and used by priests in the exercise of their spiritual power. In order to diminish the influence of the Pomeranian priesthood upon the upper and lower classes, the German clergy sometimes desacralized the sacred horse. This study will analyze the missionaries’ tactic to reduce the faith of the Pomeranians in ancient superstitions such as divination and thus convince them to accept baptism voluntarily and not to organize raids against Christians. The analysis will provide a much deeper insight into the beliefs of the Slavic communities on the Baltic Sea in the ecclesiastical circles of the twelfth century. It will show that the horse was a key tool in Pomeranian society used in divination to decide about the most relevant public matters, including military campaigns.

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