Welcome to the Street Prophets Coffee Hour cleverly hidden at the intersection of religion and politics. This is an open thread where we can share our thoughts and comments about the day. Today we are going to start in ancient Scotland.
Ancient religions in Scotland—that is, those religions which existed before writing and before Christianity—were religions which stressed practice in the form of personal and community relationships rather than any profession of belief or faith. These religions have incorporated animism (the belief that plants, animals, rocks, rivers, and so on had souls and were therefore alive), shamanism (the practice of using trance states to communicate with the spirit world), and magic (a way of controlling the powers of the universe). The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh has displays showing some of the artifacts associated with these ancient religions.
Magic involves the manipulation of physical objects to achieve supernatural ends. In his textbook General Anthropology, H. H. Turney-High defines magic as:
“An attempt to produce desirable results by bringing the supernatural power under human control.”
According to one display in the National Museum of Scotland:
“It was important to have magic on your side in a world where luck, both good and bad, was a force affecting your life. People wore charms and amulets to bring good luck and ward off evil.”
The magical powers of amulets and charms had many sources. In some cases, it was felt that ancient items had special powers; sometimes it was the shape of the object that give it power; sometimes it was the material itself.
This is an open thread. Feel free to show pictures of the magical charms that you use, or simply talk about whatever’s on your mind.