Historians, literature experts, and anthropologists from the University of Exeter are teaming up to study and catalog the mysterious methods used by ancient cultures to summon fairies, demons, and other supernatural entities. Is the university having difficulties filling their lecture halls, or is something more sinister afoot?
In all likelihood, neither. The research project is likely merely an attempt to preserve and understand the cultures and traditions of the past; given the subject matter, though, who knows might be possible? Whatever their intentions are, University of Exeter researchers have just launched the project to examine and analyze a one-of-a-kind collection of rare spell books and grimoires written between the 15th and 17th centuries. The manuscripts contain instructions for spells and rituals which were believed to summon and conjure all manners of entities from the spirit world: demons, fairies, and who knows what else.
University of Exeter PhD candidate Samuel Gillis Hogan is moving to Exeter from Canada to join the research team. Hogan told DevonLive that as opposed to creating a dark army of twisted beings from the ethereal plane, the project is intended to reach a better understanding of the belief and value systems of the past as opposed to actually summoning any magical beings:
The study of the history of magic is a rich vein for analysis and insight into the history of thought, religion, medicine, science, and philosophy. It shows much about beliefs at the time. By fully understanding these practices, we can often reconstruct how it was perfectly rational given contemporary beliefs. It’s easy to look down our noses at past or present cultures and dismiss them as ‘backwards’ or ‘primitive’, but intimately understanding these very different worldviews emphasizes that our own is simply one among many.
Cultural anthropology is all well and good, but what happens if one absent-minded post-grad hopped up on too much coffee and too little sleep accidentally reads one of these incantations aloud and summons a creature of pure evil magic from some unspeakable dark dimension at the farthest reaches of the metaphysical plane? Will this research project unleash unspeakable horrors, or merely unreadable journal articles?