Ep 189: Cunning Folk with Owen Davies

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By Cassidy Cash. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

You may have heard of common superstitions like throwing salt over your shoulder when you spill some to ward off bad luck, or crossing your fingers when you tell a lie to prevent consequences of your transgression. These kinds of small acts to try and control or influence the spiritual realm around you were more than just common superstitions for the life of William Shakespeare. Even in Protestant England, where the monarchs like Elizabeth I and James I after her, were actively harsh against anything even suspected of being witchcraft, simultaneously operating in the households of families and property owners around England were those known as Cunning Folk. These people were witches, wizards, and magicians whose practices included mixing up specialty brews to cure someone of bewitchment, as well as practicing various kinds of miraculous healing. What’s surprising about these cunning folk is not only that they were tolerated in a very anti-witchcraft society like Protestant England, but that they were rampant across England, to the point of being quite common and ordinary for Shakespeare’s lifetime. Here today to explain what the cunning folk were, their place in society, and what kinds of magic they practiced is our guest and author of Cunning-Folk and the Production of Magical Artefacts Owen Davies.

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