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By the end of the nineteenth century, Victorians were seeking rational explanations for the world in which they lived. The radical ideas of Charles Darwin had shaken traditional religious beliefs. Sigmund Freud was developing his innovative models of the conscious and unconscious mind. And anthropologist James George Frazer was subjecting magic, myth, and ritual to systematic inquiry. Why, then, in this quintessentially modern moment, did late-Victorian and Edwardian men and women become absorbed by metaphysical quests, heterodox spiritual encounters, and occult experimentation? In answering this question for the first time, The Place of Enchantment breaks new ground in its consideration of the role of occultism in British culture prior to World War I. Rescuing occultism from its status as an irrational indulgence and situating it at the center of British intellectual life, Owen argues that an involvement with the occult was a leitmotif of the intellectual avant-garde. Carefully placing a serious engagement with esotericism squarely alongside revolutionary understandings of rationality and consciousness, Owen demonstrates how a newly psychologized magic operated in conjunction with the developing patterns of modern life. She details such fascinating examples of occult practice as the sex magic of Aleister Crowley, the pharmacological experimentation of W. B. Yeats, and complex forms of astral clairvoyance as taught in secret and hierarchical magical societies like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Through a remarkable blend of theoretical discussion and intellectual history, Owen has produced a work that moves far beyond a consideration of occultists and their world. Bearing directly on our understanding of modernity, her conclusions will force us to rethink the place of the irrational in modern culture. "An intelligent, well-argued and richly detailed work of cultural history that offers a substantial contribution to our understanding of Britain."--Nick Freeman, Washington Times
Beginning in the fifth century A.D., various Indian mystics began to innovate a body of techniques with which to render themselves immortal. These people called themselves Siddhas, a term formerly reserved for a class of demigods, revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike, who were known to inhabit mountaintops or the atmospheric regions. Over the following five to eight hundred years, three types of Hindu Siddha orders emerged, each with its own specialized body of practice. These were the Siddha Kaula, whose adherents sought bodily immortality through erotico-mystical practices; the Rasa Siddhas, medieval India's alchemists, who sought to transmute their flesh-and-blood bodies into immortal bodies through the ingestion of the mineral equivalents of the sexual fluids of the god Siva and his consort, the Goddess; and the Nath Siddhas, whose practice of hatha yoga projected the sexual and laboratory practices of the Siddha Kaula and Rasa Siddhas upon the internal grid of the subtle body. For India's medieval Siddhas, these three conjoined types of practice led directly to bodily immortality, supernatural powers, and self-divinization; in a word, to the exalted status of the semidivine Siddhas of the older popular cults. In The Alchemical Body, David Gordon White excavates and centers within its broader Indian context this lost tradition of the medieval Siddhas. Working from a body of previously unexplored alchemical sources, he demonstrates for the first time that the medieval disciplines of Hindu alchemy and hatha yoga were practiced by one and the same people, and that they can only be understood when viewed together. Human sexual fluids and the structures of the subtle body aremicrocosmic equivalents of the substances and apparatus manipulated by the alchemist in his laboratory. With these insights, White opens the way to a new and more comprehensive understanding of the entire sweep of medieval Indian mysticism, within the broader context of south Asian Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam. This book is an essential reference for anyone interested in Indian yoga, alchemy, and the medieval beginnings of science.
When the first archaeologists visited Egypt in the late 1800s, they arrived in the eastern Nile Delta to verify the events described in the biblical Book of Exodus. Several locations believed to be the city of the Exodus were found but all were later rejected for lack of evidence. This led many scholars to dismiss the Exodus narrative merely as a myth that borrowed from accounts of the Hyksos expulsion from Egypt. But as Ahmed Osman shows, the events of Exodus have a historical basis and the ruins of the ancient city of Zarw, where the Road to Canaan began, have been found. Drawing on decades of research as well as recent archaeological findings in Egypt, Ahmed Osman reveals the exact location of the lost city of the Exodus as well as his 25-year effort to have this finding confirmed by the Egyptian government, including his heated debates with Zahi Hawass, former Egyptian Minister for Antiquities Affairs. He explains why modern scholars have been unable to find the city of the Exodus: they are looking in the wrong historical period and thus the wrong region of Egypt. He details his extensive research on the Pentateuch of the Hebrew scriptures, the historical scenes recorded in the great hall of Karnak and other ancient source texts, which allowed him to pinpoint the Exodus site after he discovered that the Exodus happened not during the pharaonic reign of Ramses II but during that of his grandfather Ramses I. Osman concluded that the biblical city of the Exodus was to be found at Tell Heboua at the ruins of the fortified city of Zarw, the royal city of Ramses I-far from the Exodus locations theorised by previous archaeologists and scholars. In 2012, after 20 years of archaeological work, the location of Zarw was confirmed by Egyptian officials exactly where Osman said it would be 25 years ago. Thus, Osman shows that, time and again, if we take the creators of the source texts at their word, they will prove to be right. * Explains why modern scholars have been unable to find the city of the Exodus: they are looking in the wrong historical period and thus the wrong region of Egypt * Details the author's extensive research on hebrew scriptures and ancient Egyptian texts and records, which allowed him to pinpoint the Exodus site * Reveals his effort to have his finding confirmed by the Egyptian government,including his debates with Zahi Hawass, Egyptian Minister for Antiquities Affairs
Discover the history of witches, experience the healing properties of crystals and learn simple daily incantation that will help you to shape your destiny. Witchcraft has existed since the days of Greek mythology and is now practiced as widely as other modern pagan religions. More than spells and incantations, witchcraft is a lifestyle that can help you relax, heal, and grow in confidence. With this guide, you'll learn the basics from assembling your own witch kit and getting to grips with tarot, to growing your own 'Witch Kitchen Garden'. Whether you want to learn more about rituals and magic, or if you just want to get in touch with your witchy side, The Little Book of Witchcraft will show you the way. In this book, magic writer Kitty Guilsborough shows you how to harness your inner power by unlocking the ancient art of witchcraft.
In the courtrooms of seventeenth-century Russia, the great majority of those accused of witchcraft were male, in sharp contrast to the profile of accused witches across Catholic and Protestant Europe in the same period. While European courts targeted and executed overwhelmingly female suspects, often on charges of compacting with the devil, the tsars' courts vigorously pursued men and some women accused of practicing more down-to-earth magic, using poetic spells and home-grown potions. Instead of Satanism or heresy, the primary concern in witchcraft testimony in Russia involved efforts to use magic to subvert, mitigate, or avenge the harsh conditions of patriarchy, serfdom, and social hierarchy.
Broadly comparative and richly illustrated with color plates, Desperate Magic places the trials of witches in the context of early modern Russian law, religion, and society. Piecing together evidence from trial records to illuminate some of the central puzzles of Muscovite history, Kivelson explores the interplay among the testimony of accusers, the leading questions of the interrogators, and the confessions of the accused. Assembled, they create a picture of a shared moral vision of the world that crossed social divides. Because of the routine use of torture in extracting and shaping confessions, Kivelson addresses methodological and ideological questions about the Muscovite courts' equation of pain and truth, questions with continuing resonance in the world today. Within a moral economy that paired unquestioned hierarchical inequities with expectations of reciprocity, magic and suspicions of magic emerged where those expectations were most egregiously violated.
Witchcraft in Russia surfaces as one of the ways that oppression was contested by ordinary people scrambling to survive in a fiercely inequitable world. Masters and slaves, husbands and wives, and officers and soldiers alike believed there should be limits to exploitation and saw magic deployed at the junctures where hierarchical order veered into violent excess.
On September 20, 1587, Walpurga Hausmannin of Dillingen in southern
Germany was burned at the stake as a witch. Although she had
confessed to committing a long list of "maleficia" (deeds of
harmful magic), including killing forty--one infants and two
mothers in labor, her evil career allegedly began with just one
heinous act--sex with a demon. Fornication with demons was a major
theme of her trial record, which detailed an almost continuous orgy
of sexual excess with her diabolical paramour Federlin "in many
divers places, . . . even in the street by night."
In "The Specter of Salem", Gretchen A. Adams reveals the many ways that the Salem witch trials loomed over the American collective memory from the Revolution to the Civil War and beyond. Schoolbooks in the 1790s, for example, evoked the episode to demonstrate the new nation's progress from a disorderly and brutal past to a rational present, while critics of new religious movements in the 1830s cast them as a return to Salem-era fanaticism, and during the Civil War southerners evoked witch burning to criticize Union tactics. Shedding new light on the many, varied American invocations of Salem, Adams ultimately illuminates the function of collective memories in the life of a nation.
Devil worship, black magic, and witchcraft have long captivated anthropologists as well as the general public. In this volume, Jean La Fontaine explores the intersection of expert and lay understandings of evil and the cultural forms that evil assumes. The chapters touch on public scares about devil-worship, misconceptions about human sacrifice and the use of body parts in healing practices, and mistaken accusations of children practicing witchcraft. Together, these cases demonstrate that comparison is a powerful method of cultural understanding, but warns of the dangers and mistaken conclusions that untrained ideas about other ways of life can lead to.
While Africa and Madagascar seem like strange and faraway places, the world in which we now live has become much smaller than many of us could ever have imagined. Moreover, even our neighbors visit the local fortuneteller, read the horoscope page in the newspaper, and attend s ances that seek to reach departed friends, lovers, and family members. Consequently, as we begin a journey into faraway places, we may soon find they are not as far away as we may have expected.
from Chapter 3
I Am Not Afraid is Rev. Dr. Robert Bennett's fascinating first-hand account of the spiritual warfare found within the Lutheran Church of Madagascar. Is spiritual warfare something new to the Church? Bennett reviews what the Bible, Church Fathers, and contemporary Lutheran leaders have to say.
Part One includes recent conversations dealing with spiritual warfare, an introduction into the Malagasy Lutheran Church, and the traditional Malagasy worldview. These are the stories of those who have been rescued from the darkness of sin and brought into the light of the Gospel.
Part Two looks to the Bible and the Church for explanation and historical perspective on the spiritual warfare found in the Malagasy Lutheran Church. Is it something only found in the time of Jesus and the apostles? What has the Church said in the past about such activities? Bennett explores the views of Martin Luther and other Lutheran leaders, and finally provides some helpful contemporary material and resources for dealing with spiritual warfare in today's context.
Includes a glossary of key terms, transcripts of personal interviews, bibliography, Scripture index, and subject index.
What do the occult sciences, seances with the souls of the dead, and appeals to saintly powers have to do with rationality? Since the late nineteenth century, modernizing intellectuals, religious leaders, and statesmen in Iran have attempted to curtail many such practices as "superstitious," instead encouraging the development of rational religious sensibilities and dispositions. However, far from diminishing the diverse methods through which Iranians engage with the immaterial realm, these rationalizing processes have multiplied the possibilities for metaphysical experimentation. The Iranian Metaphysicals examines these experiments and their transformations over the past century. Drawing on years of ethnographic and archival research, Alireza Doostdar shows that metaphysical experimentation lies at the center of some of the most influential intellectual and religious movements in modern Iran. These forms of exploration have not only produced a plurality of rational orientations toward metaphysical phenomena but have also fundamentally shaped what is understood as orthodox Shi'i Islam, including the forms of Islamic rationality at the heart of projects for building and sustaining an Islamic Republic. Delving into frequently neglected aspects of Iranian spirituality, politics, and intellectual inquiry, The Iranian Metaphysicals challenges widely held assumptions about Islam, rationality, and the relationship between science and religion.
The Witchcraft Reader offers a wide range of historical perspectives on the subject of witchcraft in a single, accessible volume, exploring the enduring hold that it has on human imagination. The witch trials of the late Middle Ages and the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have inspired a huge and expanding scholarly literature, as well as an outpouring of popular representations. This fully revised and enlarged third edition brings together many of the best and most important works in the field. It explores the origins of witchcraft prosecutions in learned and popular culture, fears of an imaginary witch cult, the role of religious division and ideas about the Devil, the gendering of suspects, the making of confessions and the decline of witch beliefs. An expanded final section explores the various "revivals" and images of witchcraft that continue to flourish in contemporary Western culture. Equipped with an extensive introduction that foregrounds significant debates and themes in the study of witchcraft, providing the extracts with a critical context, The Witchcraft Reader is essential reading for anyone with an interest in this fascinating subject.
The confessions of Isobel Gowdie are widely recognised as the most extraordinary on record in Britain. Their descriptive power and vivid imagery have attracted considerable interest on both academic and popular levels. Among historians, the confessions are celebrated for providing a unique insight into the way fairy beliefs and witch beliefs interacted in the early modern mind; more controversially, they are also cited as evidence for the existence of Shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin, in Scotland in this period. On a popular level the confessions of Isobel Gowdie have, above any other British witch-trial records, influenced the formation of the ritual traditions of Wicca. The authors discovery of the original trial records (currently being authenticated by the National Archives of Scotland), deemed lost for nearly 200 years, provides a starting point for an interdisciplinary look at the confessions and the woman behind them. Using historical, psychological, comparative religious and anthropological perspectives this book sets out to separate the voice of Isobel Gowdie from that of her interrogators, and to determine the experiences and beliefs which may have generated her confessions. The book explores: How far did those accused of witchcraft self-consciously practice harmful magic? Did they really believe themselves to have made a Pact with an envisioned Devil? Did they ever participate in ecstatic cult rituals? The author argues that close analysis of Isobels testimony supports the view that in seventeenth-century Britain popular spirituality was shaped by a deep interaction between Christian teachings and shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin. These findings confirm the value of witchcraft confessions as unique windows into the complexities of the early modern religious imagination.
This book provides a practical introduction to Chaos Magic, one of the fastest growing areas of Western Occultism. Through it you can change your circumstances, live according to a developing sense of personal responsibility, effect change around you, and stop living as a helpless cog in some clockwork universe. All acts of personal/collective liberation are magical acts. Magic leads us into exhilaration and ecstasy; into insight and understanding; into changing ourselves and the world in which we participate. Through magic we may come to explore the possibilities of freedom.
Ancient chroniclers, including Julius Caesar himself, made the Druids and their sacred rituals infamous throughout the Western world. But in fact, as Miranda Aldhouse-Green shows in this fascinating book, the Druids' day-to-day lives were far less lurid and much more significant. Exploring the various roles that Druids played in British and Gallic society during the first centuries B.C. and A.D.--not just as priests but as judges, healers, scientists, and power brokers--Aldhouse-Green argues that they were a highly complex, intellectual, and sophisticated group whose influence transcended religion and reached into the realms of secular power and politics. With deep analysis, fresh interpretations, and critical discussions, she gives the Druids a voice that resonates in our own time.
It is August 18, 1634. Father Urbain Grandier, convicted of sorcery
that led to the demonic possession of the Ursuline nuns of
provincial Loudun in France, confesses his sins on the porch of the
church of Saint-Pierre, then perishes in flames lit by his own
exorcists. A dramatic tale that has inspired many artistic
retellings, including a novel by Aldous Huxley and an incendiary
film by Ken Russell, the story of the possession at Loudun here
receives a compelling analysis from the renowned Jesuit historian
Michel de Certeau.
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