Current Issue Abstracts

Volume 16, Number 3, FALL 2021



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Looking Back, Looking Forward: Fifteen Years of Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
Michael Ostling

Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft marked its fifteenth anniversary in 2020. The editors take this opportunity to examine the conditions under which the journal came into being, its initial vision and initial struggles, and our ongoing attempt to make the journal a truly global and inclusive forum for scholarly discussions of magic, ritual, and witchcraft across wide swaths of time and space

Wearing God, Consecrating Body Parts: Berengar Ganell's Summa Sacre Magice and Shi'ur Qomah
Gal Sofer

In his Summa Sacre Magice, Berengarius Ganellus had a special place for Hebrew, which he described as superior to Latin, Arabic, and Greek. Although Ganellus was not fluent in Hebrew, and there is no evidence that he read Hebrew sources, he surely draws upon Jewish sources. This article examines how Ganellus used some Jewish texts in his summa, especially the text Shi'ur Qomah. Shi'ur Qomah is a text known from at least the tenth century, in which a lengthy description of the body of God, its organs, and their divine names. As will be shown, Ganellus's unique use of Sh'iur Qomah underlines his eclectic approach and creativity.

Distorted, Dismembered, Diffused: Rethinking the Body in Old Norse Material Culture
Andrea C. Snow

From the late-eighth through the early-twelfth centuries, medieval Norse objects represented the human body in varying states of ambiguity. While the Latin West would establish conventions for representing figures that visibly asserted the emotive expressivity of the face and body to circumscribe the beholder's expected emotional (and spiritual) comportment, the figures represented in medieval Norse art are lacking in physiognomic distinctions such as defined facial features or somatic expressions of emotion. If their anatomical configurations do not appear to convey behavioral codes, then what could they refer to? What cultural factors contributed to their distortion, and how were they read by their intended beholders? This article argues that such enigmatic bodies did not represent human anatomy as it appeared before the eye, but gestured to a broad, flexible, and supernatural corporeality that transgressed the divisions between divine, human, and animal of Latin Western art and thought.


Vexed Issues Introduction: After Disenchantment
Jan Machielsen, William Pooley

Who Believes in Belief?
William Pooley

Supernaturals: Qualifying the Supernatural
Kristof Smeyers

Fashioning Magic, Fashioning History: The Past and Present of Modern Witchcraft
Helen Cornish

The Contribution of the Early Modern Humanities to "Disenchantment"
Michelle Pfeffer

Bad Reasons: Elites and the Decline of Magic
Jan Machielsen

Afterword: The Persistence of the Problem of Magic
Claire Fanger


The Princess and the Prophet: The Secret History of Magic, Race, and Moorish Muslims in America by Jacob S. Dorman (review)
Justine M. Bakker

Origins of the Witches' Sabbath by Michael D. Bailey (review)
Jenny Davis Barnett

Demonic Possession & Lived Religion in Later Medieval Europe by Sari Katajala-Peltomaa (review)
Claire Trenery Carrothers

Inhaling Spirit: Harmonialism, Orientalism, and the Western Roots of Modern Yoga by Anya P. Foxen (review)
Nicholas E. Collins

Free Will and the Rebel Angels in Medieval Philosophy by Tobias Hoffmann (review)
Julie Fox-Horton

Pantheologies: Gods, Worlds, Monsters by Mary-Jane Rubenstein (review)
Sandra Huber

Speaking with the Dead in Early America by Erik R. Seeman (review)
Adam Jortner

Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon by William L. Davis (review)
Manuel Padro

Meravigliosi ragni danzanti. Interpretazioni del tarantismo nel Seicento ed. by Manuel de Carli (review)
Claudio Petrillo

Islamicate Occult Sciences in Theory and Practice ed. by Liana Saif et al. (review)
Rebecca R. Williams