Jan-Maat's Reviews > Religion and the Decline of Magic

Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas
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Jan 02, 2014

bookshelves: 20th-century, british-isles, early-modern-history, religion, society
read count: 1

Remembering Nancy Reagan consulting Indian astrologers, Cheri Blair's friend's enthusiasm for crystal therapy or the British Royal Families continued support for Homoeopathy it's hard to feel convinced that the seventeenth century saw a decisive shift in attitudes away from a belief in magic and towards a scientific world view.

That minor point aside the book remains an amazing account of something of the intellectual life of seventeenth century England. The description of the role of astrology in the battle for moral and public support during the civil war period was in particular very interesting.
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-6 of 6) </span> <span class="smallText">(6 new)</span>

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message 1: by sologdin (new)

sologdin in reading psellus, i note a continued reference to astrology, augury, oneiromancy--with the disclaimer at each mention that of course I don't believe in any of that stuff, but yaknow the omens &c.


message 2: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat sologdin wrote: "in reading psellus, i note a continued reference to astrology, augury, oneiromancy--with the disclaimer at each mention that of course I don't believe in any of that stuff, but yaknow the omens &c."

Yes? On the one hand that kind of stuff is either not meant to work or be devilry in a Christian context, on the other astrology is tied into their scientific heritage and the rest ties into a mystical/magical world view. God made the world and therefore everything is meaningful and a reflection of God's will and purpose, from the comets in the sky to the shape of a sheep's shoulder bone or whatever it may be.


Caroline Just to say I have quoted you here in the comments section...

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 4: by Jan-Maat (new) - added it

Jan-Maat Caroline wrote: "Just to say I have quoted you here in the comments section...

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."


Thanks for remembering me! Really this is another one of those books on my mental reread list. I'm sure I lugged it over to Poland with me when I was going to an EU -TEMPUS scheme summer school when I was about 21 or 22 in the early 90s


message 5: by Caroline (last edited Aug 17, 2015 09:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caroline It's on my re-read list too.

One of my all time favourite books is his Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800, but I thought this one was also excellent.


·Karen· Brilliant book. I regularly re-read that first section again, the part about all the dreadful things that might happen to people: fire, pestilence, plague and so on, which went a long way to explaining why they desperately needed something that might calm their troubled minds.


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