I love free online classes. Every time I look, something snags my interest. Magic in the Middle Ages begins December 19 at Coursera. Taught by the University of Barcelona, it runs over five weeks. Usually, the course material stays available for longer.
Popular magic, as well as learned magic (alchemy, geomancy and necromancy) will be addressed.
If I apply myself with diligence, I will know this stuff…
a) will have overcome the usual prejudices about the Middle Ages,
b) will be able to analyze historical documentation from the Middle Ages and recognize the most common patterns of juridical documents regarding witchcraft, and
c) will be capable of distinguishing between popular magic and the magic of the learned people; will have a notion of which spiritual practices were allowed in medieval Europe and which ones were related to the devil, and will be aware of the link between a cultural product and the society that produced it.
The above mural, condemning Witchcraft and traditional folk magic, is painted on the outer wall of Rila Monastery church, Bulgaria. Though done early in the 19th century, the sentiments would be the same as medieval times. (original photo by Nenko Lazarov; adjusted by Martha Forsyth)
Some extra magical knowledge should enrich my handling of magic in the Corrangorach fantasies.