An herb for speaking to the dead : The liturgical and magical life of Hyssop in the Latin Middle Ages

Journal article


Barbezat, Michael. (2022). An herb for speaking to the dead : The liturgical and magical life of Hyssop in the Latin Middle Ages. Church History. 91(3), pp. 492-512. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009640722002153
AuthorsBarbezat, Michael
Abstract

Magical practices have been described as a point of convergence for different pathways in medieval culture. This article examines one such convergence in the ritual use of hyssop in medieval Latin theology, liturgy, and a group of magical texts linked to the understudied Book of Raziel. In these magical texts, hyssop supposedly helped the living speak to the dead through its use as a tool for sprinkling liquid over a grave. The magical use of hyssop made sense because of its cultural and liturgical significance as a tool for aspersion and as a symbol of cleansing and exorcism. In the medieval Latin world, hyssop possessed a cultural power that individuals could use for a range of purposes. The different uses of hyssop illustrate the widespread entanglement of medieval liturgical and magical ritual, as well as high medieval processes of cross-cultural translation between the Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin worlds. Bygone and flamboyant methods of bringing voices from the past into the present also intersect in theme and function with the ongoing professional work of historians, who pursue their own affective necromancy in their desire for the past.

Year2022
JournalChurch History
Journal citation91 (3), pp. 492-512
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISSN0009-6407
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009640722002153
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85144464585
Page range492-512
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online16 Dec 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited17 May 2023
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