Anglo-Saxon Charms and the Language of Magic Aevum 2, Anno LXXXIV, Maggio-Agosto 2010, pp. 439-464.

Paola Tornaghi

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The present paper is part of a literary and linguistic research in progress on nine Anglo-Saxon poetic (metrical) charms, which alternate prose and poetry. Each charm is analysed in its own content and linguistic components in order to offer a precise and exhaustive view of its meaning. The content analysis often refers to the interpretation of images implied in the magic process. The distinctive traits of the Anglo-Saxon culture do really emerge not only with reference to religion, witchcraft and medical science but also to the various aspects of rural life in those times. Among the structural elements and the characteristics which all contribute to the definition of a magical text, the most important are textual communication, style, ritual issues and language. So a pathway of images and meanings can be traced in order to be enabled to define the cultural world and the average Anglo-Saxon’s “Weltanschauung”. The analysis of what can be defined “magical language” allows to focus on the formal aspects and to connect them to the Anglo-Saxon poetical language. If from one side it can be claimed that there does not exist a properly called magical language, or at least it barely exists, from the other it comes out that the magic power of these texts is embedded in the rite, in the singing rhythm and in the repetition of words and sounds.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)439-464
Numero di pagine26
VolumeAnno LXXXIV, Maggio-Agosto 2010, pp. 439-464.
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2010
Pubblicato esternamente


  • Anglo-Saxon language
  • Charms and language of magic


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