The Role of Magic in the Past. Learned and Popular Magic, Popular Beliefs and Diversity of Attitudes

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This book is an outcome of an international interdisciplinary conference held on 25th – 27th October 2004 in the Congress centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in the picturesque Smolenice castle. The conference focused on the broader context of popular and learned magic in general, aimed to examine the full range of magical conceptions, beliefs and practices of the past and its relation to medieval and early modern science, medicine and religion. Still, the objective was broad and inclusive, rather than narrow and exclusive and it did not aim to offer one essential definition of magic. Geographically, it intended to cover the area of Central and Eastern Europe, including the territories of the present day Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and countries of former Yugoslavia. As a matter of fact, these countries are represented rather unevenly, the main bulk of contributions coming from Hungarian and Slovak scholars. To some degree it was caused by the fact that coincidentally, shortly after the Smolenice conference there was another one organised in Passau with the same, though more focused theme. (úvod)