Real Spells That Really Work
Barclay is typically seen as a transitional figure between late medieval and early Renaissance verse. He lived during the earliest part of the Tudor Dynasty (1485-1547), and his verse picks up on some of the newer elements of the early modern period he believed he was writing something new. Scholarly appraisals of Barclay's works have been exceptionally critical about his poetic abilities. Some of his best known works are The Castell of Labour (1503), Ship of Fools (1509), and Certayne Eglogues (eclogues printed in various parts from 1514, but reprinted in 1570 in complete form). The Castell of Labour is a medieval allegory, filled with personification, about the nature of working for a living and its problems. Ship of Fools, accompanied by an elaborate woodcut, refutes medieval notions of scholasticism, medicine, and witchcraft, and presents itself as a translation of a Latin poem by Jacob Locher. This may be the earliest example of the loose translation that was to become normative...
A human, was said to scream when jerked from the ground, and in medieval times was said to be used in witchcraft. Old drawings often depicted the root as male or female, depending on the number of branches it bore. The mandrake produced flowers that developed into fruit, nicknamed Satan's apples.
He employs the harsh verb severed to describe a forced separation of such pain that he feels he has lost a part of himself, contrasting with the previous imagery of comfort provided by visions of his daughter in heaven. The Where refers to heaven, where the child's soul remains, while her earthly body lies under ground. However, Jonson concludes on a positive note, employing the terms lightly and gentle to personify the earth as a place that will respect her tiny form. That concept proved, according to Parfitt, commonplace, both in classical and Elizabethan contexts, the classical context here that of the Latin poet Martial, although Jonson manipulates Martial's paganism to give his adaptation a distinctively Christian connotation.
The charms themselves appear in leechbooks filled with hundreds of remedies, or else in the flyleaves and margins of other manuscripts. For the most part, the modern separation of the Anglo-Saxon metrical charms is more the result of early scholarship equating the charms with magic and witchcraft rather than with early medicine. The most recent scholarship has therefore tended to move away from earlier depictions of the charms as magic and has instead focused on the efficacy of the charms themselves. Furthermore, recent editions of the charms have tended to focus on charms in their manuscript contexts, rather than by recategorizing them according to modern conceptions. See also Anglo-Saxon poetry.
In Indian texts, though not in the older body of the Rigveda, the gods are pitted against the Asuras. The word asura- was an old divine title, probably meaning 'lord' it was applied especially to Varuna or Mitra-Varuna. But it came to have a bad sense, 'demon', in opposition to deva- 'god'.145 The Asuras are associated with sorcery and the night. They are nowhere identified with the Former Gods. But there are references to the gods having defeated them Norse myth told of a war between the sir and the Vanir, a separate group of gods who seem to have had associations with sorcery, fertility, and the earth.146 The Vanir were initially successful and broke into Asgar5. Peace was concluded with an exchange of hostages, after which the distinction between sir and Vanir appears to have lost definition and importance. The gods collectively are known as the sir the Vanir are as it were absorbed in them.
Indelba records that the Irish set images of the Sun on their altars, and St Patrick (Confessio 60) speaks of Irish heathen worship of sun and moon. This corresponds, to be sure, with a conventional Christian notion of paganism, but in some cases there is circumstantial detail that adds credibility to the reports. A fourteenth-century chronicler, Peter of Duisburg, writes that the Prussians, having no knowledge of God, 'omnem creaturam pro deo coluerunt, scilicet solem, lunam et stellas, tonitrua, volatilia, quad-rupedia eciam, usque ad bufonem'.8 In the following century Jerome of Prague encountered a Lithuanian community who worshipped the sun and venerated a huge mallet the priests explained that with this mallet the signs of the Zodiac had liberated and restored to mankind the Sun, who for several months had been held captive in a strong fortress by a most powerful king.9 There must once have been a springtime ritual of breaking up the earth with mallets,...
Lean on it safely not a period Shall be unsaid for me. Against the threats Of malice or of sorcery, or that power Which erring men call Chance, this I hold firm Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt, Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled Yea, even that which Mischief meant most harm Shall in the happy trial prove most glory. But evil on itself shall back recoil, And mix no more with goodness, when at last, Gathered like scum, and settled to itself, It shall be in eternal restless change Self-fed and self-consumed. If this fail, The pillared firmament is rottenness, And earth's base built on stubble. But come, let's on Against the opposing will and arm of heaven May never this just sword be lifted up But, for that damned magician, let him be girt With all the griesly legions that troop Under the sooty flag of Acheron, Harpies and Hydras, or all the monstrous forms 'Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out, And force him to return his purchase back, Or drag him by the curls to a...
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