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Craving EarthUnderstanding Pica--the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk$
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Sera Young

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231146098

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231146098.001.0001

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Religious Geophagy

Religious Geophagy

Sacredness You Can Swallow

(p.46) Chapter Four Religious Geophagy
Craving Earth

Sera L. Young

Columbia University Press

There are a number of places in which earth is ingested or topically applied because of its purported religious properties. This chapter presents stories of modern-day religious geophagy from around the world, in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and hoodoo folk magic. Although it may at first seem tangential to the main storyline, since religiously prescribed geophagy is not pica, the healing properties frequently ascribed to earth allude to the potential curative powers of geophagy. They also help shift geophagic earth away from its lingering “dirty” connotations; in many of the examples in this chapter, earth is considered pure and holy.

Keywords:   pica, religious geophagy, healing properties, earth, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, hoodoo folk magic

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