St John’s eve: ancient rituals to mark midsummer

Saint John’s Eve, starting at sunset on 23 June, is the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke states that John was born six months before Jesus, therefore, the feast of John the Baptist was fixed on 24 June, six months before Christmas according to the old Roman calculation. This feast day is one of the very few saints’ days which commemorates the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of the saint being honored. The Feast of Saint John…

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Holy Well of St. Madron – Cornwall

Cornish culture is legendary and mystery awaits around every corner in its land. Despite holy wells are water sources with specifically Christian associations, identified from as early as the 6th century AD, and the custom of venerating springs and wells as sacred sites have characterised pre-Christian religions in Britain, it is clear that some originated as earlier sacred sites. The cult of holy wells continued throughout the medieval period. Its condemnation at the time of the Reformation, around 1540, ended new foundations but local reverence and folklore customs at existing…

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Strandagaldur: the macabre museum of sorcery in Iceland. Another world…

Iceland, in the seventeenth century, was certainly not the place more appropriate to lead a pleasant existence: natural disasters and difficult climate, constant pirate raids, a notable economic disparity between the different social classes are only some examples of the life at the time. Only the wealthiest citizens could afford to live in stone buildings, while the peasants lived a very hard life. As is often the case in such situations where hope was scarce and education even more so, many of the people turned to witchcraft as a last…

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