Sympathetic Graphophagy in Late Medieval Scandinavian Leechbooks and Collections of Charms Cover Image
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Sympathetic Graphophagy in Late Medieval Scandinavian Leechbooks and Collections of Charms
Sympathetic Graphophagy in Late Medieval Scandinavian Leechbooks and Collections of Charms

Author(s): Andrea Maraschi
Subject(s): History, Middle Ages, Theology and Religion
Published by: Trivent Publishing
Keywords: Sympathetic magic; graphophagy; late medieval Scandinavia; magic-religion-science triad; late medieval North; medieval leechbooks; medieval magic; medieval medicine
Summary/Abstract: This article examines four late medieval Scandinavian manuscripts (ca. 1400-1500 AD), namely three leechbooks and a collection of charms, with the aim of investigating the still remarkable importance of sympathetic magic in Christian times for practitioners of both magic and medicine. Particular attention is paid to the role of graphophagy, that is, the practice of eating or drinking written formulas so as to absorb their powers. The sources show that modern distinctions between magic, religion, and science are unsuitable to describe the mindset of their authors. On the contrary, these sources shared the ancient belief that written formulas (whether Christian or not) could be literally taken via ingestion.

  • Page Range: 247-264
  • Page Count: 18
  • Publication Year: 2020
  • Language: English