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Superstitions of the Renaissance: Stars, Animals, and Spirits, Oh My!

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Have you ever wondered where our basic superstitions came from? This is a very interesting question. Well some of them came from the Renaissance era. It brought about many new superstitions, such as reading the stars to find horoscopes, the belief in omens, and the belief in spirits. These are the superstitions I’ll be exploring throughout this article.

Talk About Waiting a Lifetime…

Horoscopes were a huge part of life in the Renaissance. The stars were almost always consulted before anyone made a decision. Sometimes men would wait half a lifetime for events in their horoscopes. Every time a great man would have to make a decision, someone would consult the stars. Even the laying of foundations of public buildings depended on the stars. Decisions in war were the most important thing that depended on the stars. As you can see, people of the Renaissance depended on the stars to tell them most everything.

Black Cats? Not Exactly.

Since the Middle Ages had many pagan religions, some of their beliefs in omens continued into the Renaissance era. If a goose or chicken was caught in a pipe, a women was grieving. Nobility was anxious if a hunting falcon did not come home, or if a horse sprained it’s foot. The magical formulae of the Apulian peasants would be recited if mad dogs where at large. These are just a few omens. There were many more. Some animals, kept by the city, were highly regarded to have great meaning because the city’s fate was at there hands, or, should I say, paws. Some other animals that were regarded highly are lions, leopards, and eagles. As is more clearly shown, animals were a huge part in the belief of omens. As you can see from the omens listed above, the people of the Renaissance depended greatly on what animals did.


Oh My Ghost!

Lots of people in the Renaissance era shared a common belief in ghosts, or spirits. This shaped life greatly, because with knowledge of them came the fear of them. When a bad man came back as a ghost, he would appeared in a dreadful shape. In a novel by Bandello, a priest says, “The dead kill the little children,” which lets you know how feared the spirits were among the people of the Renaissance. People thought that God sometimes allowed bad spirits to be destructive on parts of the world and life. As this belief went on and the belief in Black Magic became more popular, people now thought that by using the magic, you could enter relationships with evil spirits to fulfill your wants. So, the common ghosts of the Renaissance shaped the life in many ways. Were they real? I don’t think so, but you go ahead and take your guess.

Let’s Wrap It Up!

Have you learned anything? I sure hope so! The Renaissance was a very intriguing time and it’s superstitions are also pretty attention-grabbing. Who would’ve thought that back then, they were reading their horoscopes! Plus, waiting around forever for them to come true! Along with the omens and the ghosts, I think it makes quite a story. The omens are quite different than ours today, even though we both are impacted by animals, whether it be black cats or goose. Their ghosts are similar, but not quite the same. It really depends on how you think of the subject. So, even though while reading the article, their superstitions seem so odd and different from ours, they are only a few footsteps apart, in reality.

http://www.boisestate.edu/courses/hy309/docs/burckhardt/6-6.html. The Civilization of the Renaissance. Jacob Burckhardt. 5-26-08.



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NiaraStorm said...
Apr. 23, 2010 at 12:44 pm:
Ha! this is cool and interesting. I love the renaissance, but I've never really looked into superstitions. I'll have to do that :)
 
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