Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History

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Bloomsbury Publishing, Jun 1, 2007 - History - 264 pages
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Cunning-folk were local practitioners of magic, providing small-scale but valued service to the community. They were far more representative of magical practice than the arcane delvings of astrologers and necromancers. Mostly unsensational in their approach, cunning-folk helped people with everyday problems: how to find lost objects; how to escape from bad luck or a suspected spell; and how to attract a lover or keep the love of a husband or wife.
While cunning-folk sometimes fell foul of the authorities, both church and state often turned a blind eye to their existence and practices, distinguishing what they did from the rare and sensational cases of malvolent witchcraft. In a world of uncertainty, before insurance and modern science, cunning-folk played an important role that has previously been ignored.

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User Review  - ritaer - LibraryThing

Another review of a book a read a few months ago. We are in the midst of a bloom of historical effort directed at early modern witchcraft and other magical traditions after a few decades in which the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Dead_Dreamer - LibraryThing

Over all this book was really good, but not at good at his newer book, GRIMOIRES. This one was a bit drier, but still well worth reading. Davies really gets into the legal history of cunning folk ... Read full review


1 CunningFolk and the Law
2 For Good or Evil?
3 Who and Why
4 Services
5 Books
6 Written Charms
7 European Comparisons
8 CunningFolk in the Twentieth Century

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About the author (2007)

Owen Davies is Reader in Social History at the University of Hertfordshire and the author of Murder, Magic, Madness: The Victorian Trials of Dove and the Wizard (2005).

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