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Demonic Possession and Lived Religion in Later Medieval Europe$
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Sari Katajala-Peltomaa

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198850465

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198850465.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 January 2022

Reasons for Possession

Reasons for Possession

Perilous People, Hazardous Places

Chapter:
(p.28) 2 Reasons for Possession
Source:
Demonic Possession and Lived Religion in Later Medieval Europe
Author(s):

Sari Katajala-Peltomaa

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198850465.003.0002

This chapter focuses on the reasons given for falling prey to demons; how certain behaviour, acts, and places were dangerous in this respect. The rather down-to-earth and concrete explanations given by the laity are contrasted and compared with the examples given in didactic material. In the lay depositions questions of guilt did not stand out and often no causes for possession were offered; an accidentally swallowed demon may have been a method to exculpate oneself and alleviate the deviance caused by the disturbing symptoms. A generally accepted pattern of causality did not exist since local traditions and cultural and environmental differences played a role in explaining the reasons for demonic presence. Comparative analysis shows, for example, that the spiritual dangers of the wilderness and urban spaces were more emphasized as background reasons in the densely populated urban areas of Northern and Central Italy than in the rural North.

Keywords:   demonic, lived religion, canonization process, sin, malediction, punishment miracle, spirit in forest, spirit in water, Italy, Scandinavia

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