Essay on Magic and Superstition in the Middle Ages

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Superstitions have influenced the lives of human beings perhaps since the beginning of mankind. For millennia, people have clung to beliefs and practices surrounding preternatural activities. Even after science has produced evidence to explain what was once considered supernatural, the superstitious traditions have continued. During the Middle Ages, many new superstitious rituals were developed and some can still be seen in use today. However, the trivial superstitious rituals of today, such as hanging a horse shoe on a door or knocking on wood to bring good fortune, did not begin so simply.

Superstition, as defined by the Oxford dictionary is, “excessively credulous belief in and reverence for the supernatural.” In no other time was
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Here, the belief shifted from searching for a higher spirituality to having found that elevation in the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. This alteration in the philosophical outlook of the people brought about a whole new aspect of the supernatural. Now that there was a great power to believe in, there were sets of rules introduced to ensure pure worship of the new-found Incarnate Word. A few centuries later, the renowned Roman Statesman Cassiodorus (485-585AD) would quote the meaning of philosophy in a way that would help characterize the culture of Christendom, which would therefore determine the way for superstitions to transpire throughout the Middle Ages. Cassiodorus said, “Philosophy is to be assimilated to God insofar as this is possible for a human being” (McGinn 33). Following this impactful clarification, many changes occurred in Christian spirituality. Ancient Christianity was evolving into a new ‘Medieval Christianity’. With those changes came the birth of many interesting, sometimes bizarre, superstitions which would affect the lives of many and even contribute to the modification of other religions. Around 1141AD, Hugh of Saint Victor would claim that “Magic was not accepted as a part of philosophy, but stands with a false claim outside it” ("Chronology of Modern Christianity: Timeline of Witches and Witchcraft"). Magic, evidently, had its own metaphysical classification with its own set
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