AO Magazine - April 2020
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Think of the word ‘magic’, and it may conjure up images of wands, witches, or the wizarding world of Harry Potter. But in ancient times, magic wasn’t about an awesome display of fantastical feats. It was a way for people to make sense of and take control their lives. Magic, overlapping with notions of science, medicine, and religion, was a resource for navigating an uncertain world.
It was everywhere – magic was a source of protection, a means for healing, a way to enact justice, a method for predicting and controlling future events, and a practice to farewell the dead and ensure their safe onwards journey. From birth until death, magic permeated all aspects of life and was called upon to accomplish things beyond the scope of human abilities.
In this edition, we illuminate the ancient and medieval world of magic – mythological tales of the Tengu, mischievous tricksters of Japanese legend; Middle Eastern folktales of magical flying carpets, made famous by Walt Disney’s Aladdin; and magic rings of power that have made numerous appearances throughout history. Did an Ancient Egyptian ring protect archaeologist Howard Carter from the mummy’s curse, when many others were struck down?
But where does superstition end and reality begin? Did Merlin the Magician, the famous wizard of King Arthur’s court, really exist? And is there any truth to the bizarre accounts of Icelandic ‘necropants’ made from the skin of a dead man?
Whilst some tales may be closer to fiction than fact, expert contributor Brian Hoggard reveals solid archaeological evidence for the mysterious and eerie rituals for magical house protection, including witch-bottles, concealed shoes, horse skulls, and even dried cats!
An issue on magic wouldn’t be complete without a spotlight on John Dee, the Master of Magic himself, occult magician and astrologer of the English Royal Court, nor without delving into the dark and frightening world of grimoires and the dangers of dark magic.
But welcome to your ‘Defence Against the Dark Arts’ class; we’ve included some healing herbs and spells that the ancients relied upon to combat dark forces. Enjoy this magical issue!