The Elizabethan People

By Henry Thew Stephenson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
POPULAR SUPERSTITION

IT is difficult for us to imagine the sincere quality of the faith with which people then accepted the articles of folklore superstition that were in vogue. People not only believed in ghosts, witches, wise women, fortune tellers, palmists, astrologers, and fairies, with implicit faith; they also believed in omens by the score and score, connected with numberless plants and animals, with days of the week and hours of the day, with natural objects on the earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars. This was not a matter of faith with the common people alone; it was a part as well of the belief of the most educated, the most refined, the most intelligent of people. Elizabeth was a firm believer in astrology. She once sent in great excitement for a magician to counteract the direful effects of a waxen image that had been picked up in one of the fields near London. One of the customary ways of bewitching people was to fashion a small image out of wax to represent the person to be bewitched. Whatver was done to the image happened without delay to the original. If

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