Popular religion in late Saxon England: elf charms in context
In tenth- and eleventh-century England, Anglo-Saxon Christians retained an old folk belief in elves as extremely dangerous creatures capable of harming unwary humans. To ward off the afflictions caused by these invisible beings, Christian priests modified traditional elf charms by adding liturgical chants to herbal remedies. In Popular Religion in Late Saxon England, Karen Jolly traces this cultural intermingling of Christian liturgy and indigenous Germanic customs and argues that elf charms and similar practices represent the successful Christianization of native folklore. Jolly describes a dual process of conversion in which Anglo-Saxon culture became Christianized but at the same time left its own distinct imprint on Christianity. Illuminating the creative aspects of this dynamic relationship, she identifies liturgical folk medicine as a middle ground between popular and elite, pagan and Christian, magic and miracle. Her analysis, drawing on the model of popular religion to redefine folklore and magic, reveals the richness and diversity of late Saxon Christianity.
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affliction Ailfric ailments Anglo Anglo-Saxon Charms Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon Magic Anglo-Saxon Medicine Archaeology Augustinian Augustinian worldview belief bishop bishopwort blessing Blickling Homilies Byrhtferth Chapter Chris Christ Christian elements Christian ideas Christian liturgy Christian ritual clergy Cnut Cockayne context conversion cosmology cure Danelaw demons Devil discussion disease Domesday Book drink early medieval ecclesiastical eleventh centuries elf charms elf remedies elves English evidence evil example exorcism Field Remedy folklore formal religion galdra Germanic Grattan and Singer Gregory of Tours Grendon Guthrum healing herbal herbs holy water indicates Lacnunga laity late Anglo-Saxon late Saxon England Latin Leechbook Leechdoms Leofric Missal literate liturgy lord magic and miracle magic and religion masses medical manuscripts medical texts middle practices minster modern monastic nature pagan Pater noster poison popular and formal popular religion prayers priest reform religion populaire religious saints salve sermons sing sources spiritual Thorpe traditions translation versus Viking words Wulfstan y€lfric