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Healing As Counter-Magic

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Chapter Summary

This chapter redresses the research tradition which distinguishes between magical rituals and religious beliefs, proposing instead a more inclusive conceptualization of magic, popular religion, and healing as expressing a fundamental syncretism rooted in the same theory of causality. In order to elucidate the cultural meanings of early modern magical healing in Sweden, the chapter discusses the nature and structure of charms and associated rituals as they were described in witchcraft trials, using Jonathan Roper?s definition of charms as ?the verbal element of vernacular magic practice?. It argues that healing magic was part of a wider complex of beliefs regarding magic and witchcraft. The persistence of magical practices for protection of course raises the question of why this should have been so. The author's suggestion in the chapter was to consider the underlying early modern assumptions concerning illness and embodiment in order to understand the continuity of magical healing practices.

Keywords: early modern magical healing; illness; Jonathan Roper; magical rituals; religious beliefs; Sweden; vernacular magic practice; witchcraft trials



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