So you write about shape-shifting cultures... How do the shifters manage their transmutation? Even better, how did the Church deal with the potential paradox in history that completely clashed with Christianity? The byproduct is what's so much fun in writing historical fantasy! I'm a big fan of delving into Church's questionable activities because I write about Freemasons (originally Knights Templar in my setup) from the future. The more I search, the more interesting the dirt I uncover. Here's a quote to leave you pondering what the upper echelon of the clergy was up to with their non-traditional hobbies...
In the Middle Ages, Ceremonial Magic was openly practiced by many high dignitaries of the Christian Church. (See also the chapter on Ceremonial Magic.) This was a time when the Church was mercilessly persecuting people for being Witches. However, since Ceremonial Magic was regarded as a practice rather than a religion, it was not viewed as being counter to the Church teachings and a blind eye was turned to those who performed it.
There was great rivalry between the magicians, who usually worked alone and jealously guarded the methods of operation they perfected. To safeguard the results of countless years of work, many magicians would write the most important parts of their grimoires, or books of magic, in secret "magical" alphabets. This way, if the book was ever stolen, the thief would not necessarily be able to perform the work it had taken so many years for the magician to perfect.
Various magical alphabets were used to perserve this secrecy. They had such titles as Angelic, Enochian, Malachim (or Language of Magi), Ogham, Passing the River, and Theban. Various runic alphabets were also employed, as were Egyptian Hieroglyphics.
But perhaps the more important reason for using the magical alphabets was power: power that the magician could put into his book and into the talismans and other instruments he used. ~Raymond Buckland, SIGNS, SYMBOLS, & OMENS: An Illustrated Guide to Magical & Spiritual Symbolism, p. 147-8
Everyone's invited to read more about Knights Templar history from an anthropological perspective at my blog. ~Skhye
Dare to walk in their footsteps...
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