Christian Demonology and Popular

Christian Demonology and Popular

Gábor Klaniczay
Éva Pócs
in collaboration with Eszter Csonka-Takács
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 294
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt2jbmrh
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  • Book Info
    Christian Demonology and Popular
    Book Description:

    The authors—recognized historians, ethnologists, folklorists coming from four continents—present the latest research findings on the relationship, coexistence and conflicts of popular belief systems, Judeo-Christian mythology and demonology in medieval and modern Europe. The present volume focuses on the divergence between Western and Eastern evolution, on the different relationship of learned demonology to popular belief systems in the two parts of Europe. It discusses the conflict of saints, healers, seers, shamans with the representatives of evil; the special function of escorting, protecting, possessing, harming and healing spirits; the role of the dead, the ghosts, of pre-Christian, Jewish and Christian spirit-world, the antagonism of the devil and the saint.

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-01-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)
    GÁBOR KLANICZAY and ÉVA PÓCS

    The most important ordering principle of our first volume¹ was that of the communication with the supernatural: the relations of the human world with the domains of the spirits, a set of relationships which constituted an important part of the mental universe of medieval and early modern Europe. As shown by several articles in the volume, in some traditional village communities on the margins of Eastern, Southern and Western Europe, such archaic religious manifestations could play a considerable role—classified as Christian visions, shamanism or belief in diabolic possession—even in the twentieth century. These studies could indicate a renewed...

  4. Part I Learned Demonology, Images of the Devil
    • DEMONS IN KRAKOW, AND IMAGE MAGIC IN A MAGICAL HANDBOOK
      (pp. 13-44)
      BENEDEK LÁNG

      The curious genre of medieval magical handbooks has been researched for many decades. Already Lynn Thorndike, in his famous History of Magic and Experimental Science, gave a typology and an exhaustive description of magical practices, including the relatively innocent methods connected with the secrets of the natural world, and the explicitly demonic or angelic procedures. Although Thorndike gave a thorough characterization of the sources, read and listed the most important Western manuscripts, it is still possible to go deeper into the topic, the field is left open for further investigations.

      Today magical handbooks are again the focus of scholarly interest....

    • “A WALL OF BRONZE” OR DEMONS VERSUS SAINTS: WHOSE VICTORY?
      (pp. 45-53)
      ANNA KUZNETSOVA

      Barbara Newman, in her study of devout women, demoniacs, and the apostolic life in thirteenth-century Europe proposed that in her material (thirteenth-century exempla) the demoniacs “played a necessary part on the stage of the evangelical drama—so necessary, indeed, that if they had not existed, clerics would have had to invent them” (Newman 1998). I believe this is also true of the importance of demonic presence in Christian literature in times earlier and later than the thirteenth century and in places other than Western Europe.

      Demons as the counterparts of saints appear in many contexts in Byzantine and ancient Russian...

    • AN ICONOGRAPHICAL APPROACH TO REPRESENTATIONS OF THE DEVIL IN MEDIEVAL HUNGARY
      (pp. 54-71)
      ERZSÉBET TATAI

      Discussing representations of the devil is at least as complicated as discussing the devil itself. The appearances of specific forms of the devil are closely related to the evolution and changes of the notion of the devil. The more “good” and “evil” begin to polarize, the more their representations begin to differentiate; evil gradually evolves from the notion of chaos (Ricoeur 1998, pp. 175. ff.; Cohn 1994, pp. 78–89).

      The creature incarnating chaos is an adversary of creation in ancient eastern myths and in the Old Testament (McGinn 1995, pp. 36–40; Léon-Dufour 1987, cols. 1149–1150; Vanyó 1988,...

    • TALKING WITH DEMONS. EARLY MODERN THEORIES AND PRACTICE
      (pp. 72-88)
      GYÖRGY E. SZŐNYI

      Although half a century ago it may have seemed surprising, by today we are quite used to the idea that early modern Humanism was by no means the enlightened and rational period as some interpreters of the Renaissance wanted to see and to have it seen. Decades of research in science-and cultural history as well as in historical anthropology has made it manifest that many brilliant minds of the great generation of fifteenth and sixteenth-century humanists not only believed in astrology, alchemy, and in a host of demons and spirits surrounding them, but quite often they even engaged in sometimes...

    • PROTESTANT DEVIL FIGURES IN HUNGARY
      (pp. 89-108)
      ÉVA SZACSVAY

      Protestant church art is decorative art and, as in Europe in general, it has had a big influence in Hungary on shaping festive and everyday objects. This “revolution in the decoration of objects” occurred in Hungary in the seventeenth century, unimpeded even by the confusion and sufferings of the period (Turkish wars, occupation by the Turks, the state divided into three). The Protestant denomination became dominant with a share estimated by some at 60–70%. The decorative objects with inscriptions were used by the upper strata of society, but their appearance in urban public offices in the churches (furniture, chests,...

    • THE DEVIL AND BIRTHGIVING
      (pp. 109-118)
      ULRIKA WOLF-KNUTS

      In Swedish folklore in Finland the devil was regarded as a helper when a woman was in pain giving birth to her child. Alternatively, he helped a mother to make her unwanted baby disappear. In this paper I shall consider the folklore texts as complements to the creation myth in Genesis. My inspiration comes from theories on intertextuality. I combine these thoughts with studies of tricksters and culture heroes. Although the Finland-Swedish folklore records do not refer to the Bible expressis verbis, I find it possible to understand them as inverted extensions of the Judeo-Christian creation myth.

      The regions from...

  5. Part II Exchanges between Elite and Popular Concepts
    • SERPENT-DAMSELS AND DRAGON-SLAYERS: OVERLAPPING DIVINITIES IN A MEDIEVAL TRADITION
      (pp. 121-138)
      KAREN P. SMITH

      St. Margaret of Antioch, best known for defeating the dragon who tries to swallow her, is associated with later medieval fertility and childbirth beliefs in a set of cultic practices that emphasized her divine powers of protection. Contemporaneous narratives of maidens who change into serpents may have influenced the way this virgin saint’s legend was received by its audiences. The hagiographic accounts, the local legends and the fertility and healing traditions served as intertexts to each other in a way that contributed to the creation of a saintly virgin-hero who could intervene in women’s everyday lives.

      This saint’s life, with...

    • JEWISH, NOBLE, GERMAN, OR PEASANT? THE DEVIL IN EARLY MODERN POLAND
      (pp. 139-151)
      WANDA WYPORSKA

      This study will discuss a selection of the ideas and images of the devil prevalent in the Polish lands during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through the prism of Polish witchcraft trials in opposition to early modern Polish literature. The literature includes belles-lettres, encyclopedias, legal treatises and other works, dominated by eighteenth century Polish clergy, of which a brief selection will be examined. In the first part, the ideas evinced by examples of printed sources representative of elite culture will be presented, whilst the second half of the study will be concerned with details extracted from witchcraft trial records...

    • SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS WITH SPIRITS AND DEMONS IN EARLY MODERN SWEDEN: POPULAR AND LEARNED CONCEPTS IN CONFLICT AND INTERACTION
      (pp. 152-169)
      JONAS LILIEQUIST

      The subject of this essay is the confrontation and interaction between popular traditions and learned doctrines in early modern sweden regarding the sexual activities of spirits and demons and how it evolved over time. Traditional notions were appropriated and redefined by representatives of elite culture, while learned doctrines were appropriated and used in various ways by members of the population at large. Differences in cultural uses and strategies are in focus here rather than different sets of beliefs (Chartier 1984).

      In 1640, Peder Jönsson confessed before the town court of söderköping that he had had sexual intercourse with a female...

    • CHURCH DEMONOLOGY AND POPULAR BELIEFS IN EARLY MODERN SWEDEN
      (pp. 170-180)
      SOILI-MARIA OLLI

      The witch-trials in Sweden reached their climax around the years 1660–1670. At this time the Devil was considered to be very active, which is reflected in legal sources and in measurements taken by the authorities. The aim of this paper is to discuss in what way different groups of society—the authorities, the elite and the popular classes in early modern Sweden—could have both similar and different images of the Devil and how the idea of the Devil could be used in different ways for different purposes. The intention is also to point out in what way the...

  6. Part III Evil Magic and Demons in East European and Asian Folklore
    • SAINTLY AND SYMPATHETIC MAGIC IN THE LORE OF THE JEWS OF CARPATHO-RUSSIA BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD WARS
      (pp. 183-193)
      ILANA ROSEN

      Jews have lived in Carpatho-Russia (or Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia, at present the western part of the Ukraine Republic) since the late medieval era (Jelinek 2003; Gutman 1990, 4, pp. 1472–73). They were as a rule Hasidic in a Galician fashion (Stransky 1971, p. 349), rural, and traditional. However, under the inter-war Czechoslovakian regime and its relatively liberal attitude towards the different national minorities of the region (Sole 1968, p. 134), this Jewry went through an ideological revolution regarding traditionality, due to the rise of the Zionist movement in the region (Sole 1971, pp. 401–439). As a result of the...

    • MAGIC AS REFLECTED IN SLOVENIAN FOLK TRADITION AND POPULAR HEALING TODAY
      (pp. 194-201)
      MONIKA KROPEJ

      In Slovenia, folk traditions related to witchcraft are considerably rich and diverse. According to older sources, wizards and witches were mythological and demonic creatures just like the kresnik, the vedomec/benandanti, the lamija, the fairies, etc.; other sources, on the other hand, stress that ordinary people could attain witchcraft as a profession. On the basis of our data on Slovenian folk tradition, we may draw the general conclusion that magic was practiced mainly sympathetically, based on analogy, by the rule “pars pro toto,” through apotropaic rites with water, medicinal herbs and potions. Sorcerers mastered spells and knew how to conjure and...

    • CATEGORIES OF THE “EVIL DEAD” IN MACEDONIAN FOLK RELIGION
      (pp. 202-212)
      L’UPCHO S. RISTESKI

      In the traditional attitude of the community towards its deceased members of great importance, we can find the notion that they are divided depending on their personal characteristics into categories of pure, suspicious and impure (Vaseva 1994, 3. pp. 154–55). The whole ritual and magic behavior of the community is structured and subordinated on the basis of this concept. The folk terminology distinguishes a fourth category for the period right after the death of members of the community, who are called “fresh” dead. This category of fresh deceased usually lasts one year, which is the necessary time period for...

    • BALKAN DEMONS’ PROTECTING PLACES
      (pp. 213-220)
      ANNA PLOTNIKOVA

      My paper is about folk beliefs reflecting images of the so-called “lower mythology.” Among various types of demons belonging to this “lower mythology,” I will focus on demons protecting places because of their specific character in the ethnocultural traditions of the Balkans. The demons to be discussed have various names, features and functions, but their main characteristic is linked with their protecting role. I will apply typological methods, so the topic demons protecting places will be examined from linguistic (lexical), structural and functional aspects. The investigation is based on already published ethnographic sources as well as the field notes from...

    • DEMONS OF FATE IN MACEDONIAN FOLK BELIEFS
      (pp. 221-236)
      VESNA PETRESKA

      The belief in fate is widely present in Macedonian folk beliefs and folk narrative. It is believed that people’s fate is determined on the third night after their birth. Existence in this world begins with birth, while the period until birth is a time of non-existence or an existence of some other kind, which is the opposite of this world and is expressed in the model of opposition this world–that world. The presence of the chthonic, the connections with the previous world and his still non-confirmed status in this world all condition the place of the newborn between two...

    • GOG AND MAGOG IN THE SLOVENIAN FOLK TRADITION
      (pp. 237-249)
      ZMAGO ŠMITEK

      In 1882 an article on national folk traditions was published in Kres, a Klagenfurt monthly, which contained a legend entitled “The Great Wall of China,” recorded in the Tolmin area (NW Slovenia) by Fonovski. The story is as follows:

      The Chinese were at war with the neighboring king. At that time, the Son of God was travelling around the world, and when they heard that he could perform miracles, they asked him to make peace between them and their neighbors. God ordered the apostles and disciples to scatter sand around the country and behold, as soon as the sand was...

    • SYSTEMATIZATION OF THE CONCEPT OF DEMONIC AND EVIL IN MONGOLIAN FOLK RELIGION
      (pp. 250-264)
      ÁGNES BIRTALAN

      Being a part of an ongoing project dealing with the new interpretation of the Mongolian mythology, this paper is an attempt to offer a kind of systematization of the phenomenon of evil and the demonic in Mongolian folk religion. Ritual and folklore texts of different Mongolian peoples, travelers’ notes, and field work materials collected since the nineteenth century are used as main sources for the systematization.

      Although no systematic written Mongolian mythology exists, and the Mongolian-speaking population is spread among a vast territory of Asia (Mongolia, Russian Siberia, Northern China [Turkestan, Manchuria, Inner Mongolia] Afghanistan) and a small group, the...

  7. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 265-270)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 271-284)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-285)