Friday, February 9, 2018

Healing Charms and Medicine


The Folklore of Healing Rituals


If you are interested in learning about the ways healing charms and medicine are being study, then you’ll want to know about this upcoming folklore event:


Interdisciplinary Approaches to the 
Study of Healing Charms and Medicine
Harvard University, April 6-8, 2018

 According to the conference sponsors, charms are understood as a ritual means of addressing situations of sickness, stress, and anxiety by way of a combination of special language and special actions.  They are also universal across human societies. For example, early Latin manuscripts and various other vernacular languages contain several examples of healing charms that blur the lines between magic and science. The link between them has not been severed. It has been noted that today, people routinely consult specialists in naturopathy, Ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine alongside, or in preference to, modern, scientific medicine.

Not only does the study of healing charms and other medical beliefs and practices have the potential to yield insight into traditional and historical systems of knowledge, but such study often has major implications for modern medicine. 

Charms can lead to the development of new medication and procedures, as when researchers from the University of Nottingham discovered that a charm from the 9th century Anglo Saxon manuscript “Bald’s Leechbook” proved effective in eradicating strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

Pharmaceutical companies spend significant amount of money on researching the pharmocopiae of indigenous cultures across the planet in order to develop new drugs.

Because of the broad nature of this topic, this conference aims to bring together researchers whose work spans a broad range of areas, time periods, and disciplinary approaches. 

This event brings together the study of medicine, science, and religion, thereby bridging gaps between disciplines and uncovering connections between the traditions of various cultures.

Presentation themes will range from verbal magic in the Middle Ages, quarantines as magic, and women and childbirth.

Featured Speakers

Dr. Jacqueline Borsje, University of Amsterdam. She is a specialist in the study of Religion and in Celtic Studies and is currently leading a project called "The power of words in medieval Ireland."

Professor Richard Kieckheffer of Northwestern University, is one of the most prominent scholars of magic and religion in the late Middle Ages. He has a special interest in church architecture, and the history of witchcraft and magic. 

To learn more about the conference schedule click here. 


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