Today in one of my history classes we talked about magic and witchcraft in Tudor-Stuart England. I find it interesting that there was a distinction between the two at the time. You ee, witchcraft was considered using supernatural powers to kill or injure someone. Now this was an evolved definition by the time of James I; however, that being said, about the most that the English government did was pass some laws on witchcraft. The punishment and such was taken out by the village.
As I sat in class, what truly struck me was the idea of magic. Magic was seen as using natural powers. The professor discussed
that aspirin could be considered as magic by this definition. The practice of magic was pretty common and had vast knowledge of the druids. Though they were not druids, they certainly understood the properties of the natural world, and how they could help us. The magic had a significant emphasis on herbal remedies (well I guess we know where the billion dollar industry of herbs started).
Where was the church in all of this? Great question! Magic was not seen as a practice that was a set of beliefs competing with Christianity. That being said, the clergy felt uncomfortable about people practicing magic, but nothing was really done about it.
I found this lecture absolutely fascinating. Unlike in Puritan New England, the idea of Spectral Evidence was not an issue in England. The English people were more concerned with the practical application, than they were about what people were dreaming, and things of that nature.
All this being said, this muggle is going to go make himself a cup of herbal tea, and watch some Sherlock to close down his night!
Image from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f1/An_Arch_Druid_in_His_Judicial_Habit.jpg/220px-An_Arch_Druid_in_His_Judicial_Habit.jpg