Contrary to previous assumptions, magic remained an integral part of everyday life in Enlightenment Europe. This book demonstrates that the endurance of magical practices, both benevolent and malevolent, was grounded in early modern perceptions of an interconnected body, self and spiritual cosmos. Drawing on eighteenth-century Swedish witchcraft trials, which are exceptionally detailed, these notions of embodiment and selfhood are explored in depth. The nuanced analysis of healing magic, the role of emotions, the politics of evidence and proof and the very ambiguity of magical rituals reveals a surprising syncretism of Christian and pre-Christian elements. The book provides a unique insight to the history of magic and witchcraft, the study of eighteenth-century religion and culture, and to our understanding of body and self in the past.
Jacqueline Van Gent, PhD (1999) in History, University of Western Australia, is a lecturer in History and Women’s Studies at the University of Western Australia.
"A solid contribution to our understanding of witchcraft and magic in European folk culture [...] intriguing and very useful." – David Elton Gay,
Indiana University, in:
Journal of Folklore Research, January 19, 2010
Table of contents
1. Honour and Social Control in Witchcraft Trials
2. The Fluid Self
3. Magic and the Body
4. Healing as Counter-Magic
5. The Ambiguity of Magic
All those interested in early modern European cultural and social history, the history of the body, European magic and witchcraft, historical concepts of personhood, Enlightenment, early modern Scandinavia.