Throughout the medieval period and even until the 19th century, a juxtaposition of the existence of folk belief persisted alongside that of spirituality and Christianity. It wasn’t until the Inquisitions and religious persecutions of the 16th and 17th centuries that the combination of mythology, magic, religion, spirituality and folk belief began its association with Witchcraft and associations with the Devil. During the Medieval period apotropaic magic existed as a dominant force to deflect evil, sickness, plague and misfortune. One Medieval burial rite from the time of the Black Death involved lining the coffin with ash, possibly from the fire of the victim’s home before placing the corpse inside. This ash practice has been found in Black Death cemeteries in London, and may point to a ritualistic cleansing of the dead and the victims home. It is also possible that the inclusion of domestic ash from the home fire was included to protect the living from the fear of the dead rising from the grave and returning home.
Apotropaic Coffin Candle.