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Discerning spirits : divine and demonic possession in the Middle Ages

Author: Nancy Caciola
Publisher: Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 2003.
Series: Conjunctions of religion & power in the medieval past.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Publisher's description: Trance states, prophesying, convulsions, fasting, and other physical manifestations were often regarded as signs that a person was seized by spirits. In a book that sets out the prehistory of the early modern European witch craze, Nancy Caciola shows how medieval people decided whom to venerate as a saint infused with the spirit of God and whom to avoid as a demoniac possessed of an unclean  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Electronic books
History
Additional Physical Format: Print version:
Caciola, Nancy, 1963-
Discerning spirits.
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 2003
(DLC) 2003005454
(OCoLC)51867848
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Nancy Caciola
ISBN: 9781501702181 1501702181
OCLC Number: 1005664022
Description: 1 online resource (xvi, 327 pages) : illustrations.
Contents: Possessed behaviors --
Ciphers --
Fallen women and fallen angels --
Breath, heart, bowels --
Exorcizing demonic disorder --
Testing spirits in the effeminate age.
Series Title: Conjunctions of religion & power in the medieval past.
Responsibility: Nancy Caciola.
More information:

Abstract:

Analyzes a broad array of sources-from saints' lives to medical treatises, exorcists' manuals to miracle accounts-to find that observers came to rely on the discernment of bodies rather than seeking  Read more...

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"The groundbreaking work on exorcism manuals and the impressive range of sources handled throughout the book are particularly noteworthy. Moreover, the striking visual evidence is clearly presented, Read more...

 
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In a book that sets out the prehistory of the early modern European witch craze, Nancy Caciola shows how medieval people decided whom to venerate as a saint infused with the spirit of God and whom to avoid as a demoniac possessed of an unclean spirit. This process of discrimination, known as the discernment of spirits, was central to the religious culture of Western Europe between 1200 and 1500. Since the outward manifestations of benign and malign possession were indistinguishable, a highly ambiguous set of bodily features and behaviors were carefully scrutinized by observers. Attempts to make decisions about individuals who exhibited supernatural powers were complicated by the fact that the most intense exemplars of lay spirituality were women, and the \u2083fragile sex\u2084 was deemed especially vulnerable to the snares of the devil. Assessments of women\u2082s spirit possessions often oscillated between divine and demonic interpretations. 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