Magic for Love or Subjugation

  • María Tausiet
Part of the Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic book series (PHSWM)


If magic could bring you untold material wealth, it could also bring you love — or so many believed. And if not love, at least obedience and compliance. Finding treasure by magical means was a formidable task, but did just about lie within the realm of the achievable. Attempting to subjugate another person’s will to one’s own, however, was nigh on impossible. Nevertheless, there is far more surviving evidence relating to what is known as erotic or love magic than to any other type of money-making magic. So widespread were practices designed to obtain love through enchantment that, as reflected in many literary works of the age,3 people began to think in terms of the duality of love. On the one hand, there was pure or idealized love, based on generosity and respect, in which spiritual communion between lovers was understood as a joining together, and not as possession; this was a love that would bring happiness, sometimes even a contemplative and ineffable state of constant renewal. On the other, there was the tormented, discordant, impatient love that held one in thrall to needs and impulses not met or reciprocated by the object of one’s affections. The anxiety and despair caused by this form of love led many to seek help by magical means.


White Wine Menstrual Blood Widespread Belief Christian Morality Holy Water 
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  1. 1.
    Miguel de Cervantes, El licenciado Vidriera, in Novelas Ejemplares (1613), Madrid, Castalia, 1982, pp. 115–116Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See René Nelli, L’Erotique des Troubadours, Toulouse, Edouard Privat, 1963.Google Scholar
  3. 59.
    See ‘That Old Black Magic Called Love’ in Guido Ruggiero, Binding Passions. Tales of Marriage, and Power at the End of the Renaissance, New York & Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 108.Google Scholar
  4. 77.
    Véase François Delpech, ‘“Camino del infiemo tanto anda el cojo como el viento.” Monosandalisme et magie d’amour’, in A. Molinie and J.R. Duviols (eds.), Enfers et Damnations dans le monde hispanique et hispano-américain, Paris, La Découverte, 1987, pp. 294–315.Google Scholar

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© María Tausiet 2013

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  • María Tausiet

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