Here’s some more of my prospectus that deals with the issues of pre-Reformation survivals. Some of this I’ve posted around here already but I contextualize it here a little differently.
The Smiths’ folk practices—particularly Joseph Smith Jr.’s treasure digging with the use of a seer stone, but also a variety of practices deemed “magical”—have long drawn attention from scholars. Scholars are now in the process of rethinking how to best understand the religiosity of the folk masses that had been termed magical, occult, or even pagan. For instance, Michael Snape argues that rather than being pagan, the religiosity of the Lancashire country-side, of which the clergy continually complained, “could easily be accommodated within a broadly Christian, albeit non-Anglican, framework, many being survivals and developments of pre-Reformation beliefs…. Hybrid, heterodox and mutable folk Christianity may have been, but evidence from the parish of Whalley should suggest that the primacy of its Christian component was both clear and emphatic.” 
Snape’s assertion that much of “folk Christianity” were pre-Reformation survivals is key here. Historians need to remember that the Reformation and Enlightenment were innovations that most people, particularly the common sort, were slow to accept. Hebert Leventhal’s In the Shadow of the Enlightenment highlights this problem.
The tendency to ignore the continuation of the old in the development of the new is as much a problem for the history of eighteenth-century America as it is for the history of the Renaissance. We tend to concentrate on the adoption of Enlightenment thought and the idea of modern science, emphasizing only Newtonian physics, Linnaean natural history, and Lockian psychology. There is an almost total neglect of the continuation of ideas and concepts first articulated centuries earlier. Such neglect is sometimes apparently not so much the result of ignorance as of the exigencies of writing history. 
Furthermore, innovators often denigrated the old in the promotion of the new. Anthropologist Ion Lewis refers to the “the well documented process by which today’s religion (or ideology) reduced yesterday’s religion to the status or magic, each successive religious vogue marginalizing its predecessor.”  Comparing the way Leventhal uses the term occult with Jon Butler’s use of the term in Awash in a Sea of Faith highlights this tendency. Butler refers to “the occult” in early America he means a collection of practices that were dubious from a religious standpoint. When Leventhal speaks of the occult, he refers to what the term meant in the medieval and early modern period—forces and causes that were unknown. This idea that nature worked by occult causes came under attack in the scientific revolution and those who maintained the old worldview came to be seen as backward. In time the term came to be used as Butler uses it: “magic, astrology, and divination—what detractors then (and moderns now also) called the occult.”  Such beliefs became denigrated as “magic” until “occult” became a catch-all term for all practices seen as backward, regardless of whether they drew on occult natural powers or not. Butler brings Joseph Smith’s treasuring digging activities and seer stone usage under this heading of occult and refers to Mormonism as a syncretism between “the occult” and Christianity. 
These problems highlight the reason why “magic” should be abandoned as a scholarly category, argues Wouter Hanegraaf. “The core irrationality in most academic theories of magic” is that “this distinction belongs to the domain of theological polemics internal to Christianity, and cannot claim any scholarly foundation. The lack of such a foundation has not sufficiently bothered scholars of religion. They uncritically adopted a purely theological notion, which eventually assumed the role of an unexamined guiding intuition in their discussions: an assumption too basic even to be perceived, and too self-evident to be in need of arguments.” The problem, argues Hanegraaf is that certain acts are uncritically designated magic because they “appear to us pre-categorized in the terms of our cultural conditioning. We do not need any theory to explain to us that what we perceive is a magical practice: we know that it is magic, because we recognize it as such….. No amount of deconstruction, no sophisticated theory, can possibly make us question what we observe with out own eyes.” Such conditioning, Hanegraaf argues, seriously calls into question scholars’ ability to analyze things deemed magical. The answer, Hanegraaf proposes to never speak of magic as an etic category, but only as an emic one. “Only if the usage of terms such as ‘magic’ or ‘the occult’ will be consistently restricted to their occurrences as emic terms used in the polemical interplay between believer/practitioner and their critics, while new academically-neutral terms and concepts are developed for etic discussion of the beliefs and practices concerned, will it become possible to envision an unbiased and sufficiently nuanced perspective on the historical dynamics of Western religion.” 
Such historical dynamics were highlighted in the Reformation. Reformers accused the Catholics or practicing magic—miracles, exorcism, the mass—and too often scholars have accepted these definitions. Eamon Duffy critiques Keith Thomas for implying that expecting physical effects from the sacraments was magic. Duffy asserts the rites of the medieval church were preformed for explicit material ends. “The texts of the blessing ceremonies clearly presuppose that their effects would by no means be confined to the merely spiritual—holy water, salt, bread, candles, as well as the herbs blessed at Assumptiontide or the meat, cheese, and eggs at Easter, were for the healing of bodies as well as souls. The application of the sacramentals to this-worldly concerns, which some historians have seen as a mark of the superficiality of late medieval Christianity, was amply legitimated by the liturgy itself.” “This is not to suggest,” says Duffy, “that all such actions remained within the bounds of orthodoxy…. Instead, they represent the appropriation and adaptation to lay needs and anxieties of a range of sacred gestures and prayers, along lines essentially faithful to the pattern established within the liturgy itself. This is not paganism, but lay Christianity.” Duffy declares in the preface to his second edition, “Even the most apparently heterodox or bizarre magical practices might employ ritual and symbolic strategies derived directly and, all things considered, remarkably faithfully, from the liturgical paradigms of blessing and exorcism: they thus represented not magic or superstition, but lay Christianity.” 
Yet in one instance, Duffy lists practices “disapproved of by the clergy.” In Robert Reynes’s commonplace book, Duffy finds a number of charms “most of which would probably past muster with the parish clergy.” Zodiacal material in the book “were certainly widely disapproved of by the clergy” but the item that gets the most comment from Duffy is an “elaborate formula for conjuring angels, for purposes of divination, into a child’s thumbnail.” Says Duffy, “Reynes knew the Ten Commandments, but had evidently not internalized the standard comments on the First Commandment, which prohibited quasi-magical practices of this sort.”  Looking up the actual practice reveals the following. The diviner is to take a child between the ages of seven and fourteen, then tie a red silk thread around his thumb and “scrape hys nayle wele and clene.” The child then says the Paternoster and then the following “prayer” in Latin (I’m translating this, my Latin could use some touch ups). “Lord Jesus Christ, king of glory, send to us three angels from you, that will speak the truth and not speak falsehoods of all that we ask them.” “And sey this prayer iii with good hert and devoute.” Three angels will then appear, “And then let the child aske what that he lyst, and thei schal schewe to hym.” 
Duffy doesn’t say what made this practice “quasi-magical” but what is often called angel conjuring or ritual magic was condemned by the church because the leaders worried that demons might be conjured instead of angels. Demon conjuring, called necromancy in the Middle Ages, was a real practice, but too often scholars have conflated angelic and demonic rituals. Demonic rituals, Clair Fanger notes, are often shorter, involve animal sacrifice or suffumigation, and are “of a rather spiteful and petty minded sort—causing disease, harm or deformity in another person.” Angel rituals, however, are much longer, involve fasting, prayer, and purification, and seek heavenly knowledge and abilities.  Though both types were condemned by church leaders, those involved in such angelic rituals were generally monks who asserted the holiness of the rituals.  As Clair Fanger notes, “It is a question, in the end, of whether the scholar chooses to side with the theologian who condemns the work or the operator who upholds it.”  Again, as Hanegraaf asserts, this is a theological distinction that scholars should avoid in their etic categorizations.
Since Hanegraaf calls for more neutral terms for describing such rituals, I propose the use of “theurgy” (a term that scholars do use for these rituals) rather than “ritual magic.” Theurgy, meaning the work of god, was popularized by third century Neoplatoist Iamblichus.  As “the ‘assimilation of man to god as far a possible’” was the Neoplatonists goal, Iamblichus asserted that various rituals, theurgy, aided in the “process for making man god.”  Here I define theurgy as rituals to come into the presence of divine beings for the purpose of becoming endowed with divine attributes.
I then talk about how theurgy relates to early Mormonism, but I submitted a paper to MHA on that topic so I hope to go over all that in St. George. Then I include the following paragraphs.
Smith in the early nineteenth century was a long way away from pre-Reformation England both in term of time and in terms of the fact that Smith’s New England puritan heritage sought to reject Catholicism as stridently as possible. Yet as Cedric Cowing asserts, New Englanders with a Northwestern [British] heritage (from among whom the early Mormons disproportionately came) maintained a distinct religiosity from the Southeastern majority for several generation, a religiosity that emphasized religious experience, visions, miracles, and folk religious survivals.  Ronald Hutton argues that Catholic liturgical elements survived in families, particularly among those in the North and West.  Again, much that survived was called magic, and those who continued such rites magicians. Says Keith Thomas, “The rural magicians of Tudor England did not invent their own charms: they inherited them from the medieval Church, and their formulae and rituals were largely derivative products of centuries of Catholic teaching.”  After analyzing how Protestant writers lumped the cunning-folk with Catholic survivalism that they hoped to eradicate, Owen Davies notes,
Leaving aside such partisan criticisms and expressions of intolerance, there was an element of truth in the claimed association between cunning-folk and Catholicism. In their use of certain elements of prayer, exorcism and holy objects, cunning-folk borrowed from Catholic practices, not only at the time but also in subsequent centuries. Protestant suspicions were confirmed by the activities of people like Henry Clegate of Headcorn, brought before a Kent church court for curing bewitched people and cattle by repeating prayers and the creed. He confessed he had been taught to do so many years before by his mother and a neighbouring priest.” 
Smith himself played this role: using supernatural gifts to find lost objects and search for buried treasure prior to the founding of Mormonism and using priesthood to exorcise demons and heal the sick after.
Christian Platonism could be rather diffuse by the nineteenth century. The Neoplatonic mysticism of late medieval devotionalism was prominent in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Pietist movements.  Platonic and Neoplatonic writings themselves continued to inspire and were popular among the Transcendentalists of Joseph Smith’s era. Grimoires continued to publish theurgetic rituals—theurgy seems to be a point where the popular and intellectual converged. “Theurgy,” argued Gregory Shaw, “represented Iamblichus’s attempt to bring traditional pagan divinational practices in line with Platonic and Pythagorean teachings.”  Keith Thomas argues, “Instead of the village sorcerer putting into practice the doctrines of Agrippa or Paracelsus, it was the intellectual magician who was stimulated by the activities of the cunning man… The period saw a serious attempt to study long-established folk procedures with a view to discovering the principles on which they rested.”  Influences could go both ways: Owen Davies points to the mid-seventeenth century when high magic became “democratized,” when magical books became more widely available. This was also the time when Neoplatonism fell out of favor with the intellectual elites, increasing the likelihood that such would be labeled as “magic.”  In Smith’s religiosity we see evidence of both folk and intellectual pre-Reformation survivals: the village seer with a pre-Reformation religious bent who also took interest in Christian Platonism.
Though restoring late medieval religiosity was not Smith’s intent, he nevertheless made a remarkable statement at the end of his life. As a New Englander, Smith’s knowledge of Catholicism would have been cursory and polemic, but after devoting time to study he came to the following conclusion. In his very last sermon, Smith declared, “The old Catholic Church is worth more than all,” in comparison to Protestant churches. Smith drew upon crypto-Catholic practices in his environment in similar ways to how Neoplatonist Iamblichus drew on Egyptian rituals: all used to divinize the soul in the hopes of creating the heavenly city on earth or in heaven.
 Michael F. Snape, The Church of England in Industrialising Society: The Lancashire Parish of Whalley in the Eighteenth Century (Woodbridge, Eng.: Boydell, 2003), 71.
 Hebert Leventhal, In the Shadow of the Enlightenment: Occultism and Renaissance Science in Eighteenth-Century America (New York: New York University Press, 1976), 1.
 Ion Lewis, Religion in Context: Cults and Charisma, 2d ed. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996), 141.
 Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1990), 9.
 Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith, 242-47.
 Hanegraaff “The Study of Western Esotericism,” 513-16.
 Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c. 1400-c. 1580, 2d ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 277, 282-83, xx.
 Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, 72.
 Robert Reynes, The Commonplace Book of Robert Reynes: An Edition of Tanner MS 407, ed. Cameron Louis (New York: Garland, 1980), 169-70.
 Clair Fanger, “Medieval Ritual Magic: What It Is and Why We Need to Know More about It,” in Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Magic, ed. Clair Fanger (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998), viii.
 Robert Mathiesen, “A Thirteenth-Century Ritual to Attain the Beatific Vision from the Sworn Book of Honorius of Thebes” in Conjuring Spirits, 143-62.
 Fanger, “Medieval Ritual Magic”, ix.
 Gregory Shaw, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplationism of Iamblichus (University Park: Pennsylvania State University, 1995).
 Dominic J. O’Meara, Platonopolis: Platonic Political Philosophy in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003), 3, 129.
 Cedric Cowing, The Saving Remnant: Religion and the Settling of New England (Urbana: Illinois University Press, 1995); Stephen J. Fleming, “The Religious Heritage of the British Northwest and the Rise of Mormonism,” Church History 77, no. 1 (2008): 73-104.
 Ronald Hutton, “The English Reformation and the Evidence of Folklore,” Past and Present 148 (1995): 89-116.
 Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England (1971; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 42.
 Owen Davies, Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History (London: Hambledon and London, 2003), 36.
 W. R. Ward, The Protestant Evangelical Awakening (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 48, 310.
 Shaw, Theurgy and the Soul, 17.
 Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, 229.
 Davies, Cunning-Folk, 119, 127.