Arcane: The History of Magic (premiering October 7th) releases new episodes on the first and third Wednesday of each month, weekly in October. Arcane is aimed at anyone who is interested in magic, history, or fantasy. Each episode delves into the theory and practice of historical magic. While this subject is often dark and unusual, it is equally intriguing and wondrous. Whether sharing stories about magic in history, debunking modern misconceptions about it, or tracing the historical roots of magic's modern representations in fantasy and popular culture, Arcane will show that (far from a niche subject) magic was thoroughly interwoven into the lives of people throughout history. From Greco-Egyptian magician-priests to medieval Christian necromancers, from Arabic alchemists to early modern cunning men & wise women, our history is filled with people who practiced magic - and even non-practitioners understood it to be as real and universal as the internet is today.
Episode 3 - A Coveted Pebble: Medieval Alchemy
24:26Some may simply think of alchemy as the attempt to change base metals into gold. A few may know that, with this art, people attempted to produce the elixir of life which could heal any illness and extend the drinker's longevity. However, it is often romanticised as the mystical (if confused) early roots of modern science, or conflated with other branches of knowledge like chemistry, ritual magic, and herbalism. The art of alchemy, however, was distinct. A discipline composed of theories and practices which shared the goal of producing the philosopher's stone. With roots in antiquity, the art flourished in the early medieval Arabic world before being brought to Europe in the high middle ages. In this episode we begin to discuss this complex art, and how it made sense to medieval scholars, given how they understood the world to work. References and further readings: Bartlett, Robert. The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Collins, David J. “Albertus, Magnus or Magus? Magic, Natural Philosophy, and Religious Reform in the Late Middle Ages” Renaissance Quarterly 63 (2010):1-44. Decaen, Christopher A. "Aristotle’s Aether and Contemporary Science." The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review 68 (2004): 375-429. Hadass, Ofer. Medicine, Religion, and Magic in Early Stewart England. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018. Holmyard, E. J. Alchemy. New York: Dover Publications, 1990. Janacek, Bruce. Alchemical Belief: Occultism in the Religious Culture of Early Modern England. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011. Linden, Stanton J. The Alchemy Reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Marrone, Steven P. A History of Science, Magic & Belief: From Medieval to Early Modern Europe. Lonndon: Palgrave, 2015. Patai, Raphael. The Jewish Alchemist: A History and Source Book. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
Episode 2 - Tangled Rays: The Complexity of Medieval Astrology
26:22Astrology has incredibly ancient roots and wide-reaching branches that stretch across the globe and the course of human history. Although many people today believe it to be a simple or silly "superstition," in the middle ages it was understood to be a complex science. Despite current attitudes toward the subject, it has fundamentally shaped our history, and the structure of our lives today. References and further reading: Barton, Tamsyn. Ancient Astrology. London: Routledge, 1994. Bell, David. "A Cistercian at Oxford, Richard Dove of Buckfast and london BL Sloane 513." Studia Monastica 31 (1989): 69-87. Campion, Nicholas. A History of Western Astrology Volume II: The Medieval and Modern Worlds. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2009. Kieckhefer, Richard. Magic in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Monroe, Willis. "Mesopotamian Astrology." Religion Compass 13, Issue 6 (2019). Page, Sophie. Astrology in Medieval Manuscripts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002. Thorndike, Lynn. The Sphere of Sacrobosco and its Commentators. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949. Zerubavel, Eviatar. The Seven Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.
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Episode 1 - Circles and Incense: Medieval Ritual Magic
28:11For hundreds of years people practiced ritual magic, an elaborate art designed to summon spirits. But who were these magicians during the medieval period? And how was this magic supposed to work? ———————— References and further reading: Bulman, Jan. "Notice of the Liber juratus in Early Fourteenth-century France." Societas Magica Newsletter 14 (Fall 2005): 4, 6. https://societasmagica.org/userfiles/files/Newsletters/docs/SMN_Fall_2005_Issue_14.pdf Falgairolle, Edmond. Un envoûtement en Gévaudan en l'année 1347. Nîmes: Catélan, 1892. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5783848d/f45.image.texteImage Fanger, Claire. Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. Kieckhefer, Richard. Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997. Klaassen, Frank. The Transformations of Magic: Illicit Learned Magic in the Later Middle Ages and Renaissance. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013. Láng, Benedek. Unlocked Books: Manuscripts of Learned Magic in the Medieval Libraries of Central Europe. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008. Page, Sophie. Magic in the Cloister: Pious Motives, Illicit Interests, and Occult Approaches to the Medieval Universe. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013. The Sworn Book of Honorius: Liber Iuratus Honorii. Translated with Commentary by Joseph H. Peterson. Lake Worth, Florida: Ibis Press, 2016.
Episode 0: Welcome to Arcane
6:01Magic has been practiced throughout our history, yet many people do not know that it was an ever-present part of our past. While the significance of magic in history has been established by scholars, Arcane attempts to bring this fascinating knowledge beyond academic circles to be enjoyed by everyone. This brief episode introduces: the podcast, its aims, and me - Samuel Gillis Hogan, a PhD researcher specializing in the history of magic.