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Sexuality and the occult arts have long been associated in the western imagination, but it was not until the nineteenth century that a large and sophisticated body of literature on sexual magic - the use of sex as a source of magical power - emerged. This book, the first history of western sexual magic as a modern spiritual tradition, places these practices in the context of the larger discourse surrounding sexuality in American and European society over the last 150 years to discover how sexual magic was transformed from a terrifying medieval nightmare of heresy and social subversion into a modern ideal of personal empowerment and social liberation. Focusing on a series of key figures including American spiritualist Paschal Beverly Randolph, Aleister Crowley, Julius Evola, Gerald Gardner, and Anton LaVey, Hugh Urban traces the emergence of sexual magic out of older western esoteric traditions including Gnosticism and Kabbalah, which were progressively fused with recently-discovered eastern traditions such as Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. His study gives remarkable new insight into sexuality in the modern era, specifically on issues such as the politics of birth control, the classification of sexual 'deviance', debates over homosexuality and feminism, and the role of sexuality in our own new world of post-modern spirituality, consumer capitalism, and the Internet.
The astrologer-physician Richard Napier (1559-1634) was not only a man of practical science and medicine but also a master of occult arts and a devout parish rector who purportedly held conversations with angels. This new interpretation of Napier reveals him to be a coherent and methodical man whose burning desire for certain, true knowledge contributed to the contemporary venture of putting existing knowledge to useful ends. Originally trained in theology and ordained as an Anglican priest, Napier later studied astrological medicine and combined astrology, religious thought, and image and ritual magic in his medical work. Ofer Hadass draws on a remarkable archive of Napier's medical cases and religious writings-including the interviews he claimed to have held with angels-to show how Napier's seemingly inconsistent approaches were rooted in an inclusive and coherent worldview, combining equal respect for ancient authority and for experientially derived knowledge. Napier's endeavors exemplify the fruitful relationship between religion and science that offered a well-founded alternative to the rising mechanistic explanation of nature at the time. Carefully researched and compellingly told, Medicine, Religion, and Magic in Early Stuart England is an insightful exploration of one of the most fascinating figures at the intersection of medicine, magic, and theology in early modern England and of the healing methods employed by physicians of the era.
As the author notes, `The early-modern European witch-hunts were neither orchestrated massacres nor spontaneous pogroms. Alleged witches were not rounded up at night and summarily killed extra-judicially or lynched as the victims of mob justice. They were executed after trial and conviction with full legal process'. In this concise but highly-informed account of the persecution of witches, Gregory Durston demonstrates what a largely ordered process was the singling-out or hunting-down of perceived offenders. How a mix of superstition, fear, belief and ready explanations for ailments, misfortune or disasters caused law, politics and religion to indulge in criminalisation and the appearance of justice. Bearing echoes of modern-day `othering' and marginalisation of outsiders he shows how witchcraft became akin to treason (with its special rules), how evidentially speaking storms, sickness or coincidence might be attributed to conjuring, magic, curses and spells. All this reinforced by examples and detailed references to the law and practice through which a desired outcome was achieved. In another resonance with modern-times the author shows how decisions were often diverted into the hands of witch-hunters, witch-finders (including self-appointed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins), witch-prickers and other experts as well as the quaintly titled `cunning-folk' consulted by prosecutors and `victims'. Crimen Exceptum (crimes apart). A straightforward and authoritative guide. Shows the rise and fall of prosecutions. Backed by a wealth of learning and research.
This book reflects on Western humanity's efforts to escape from history and its terrors--from the existential condition and natural disasters to the endless succession of wars and other man-made catastrophes. Drawing on historical episodes ranging from antiquity to the recent past, and combining them with literary examples and personal reflections, Teofilo Ruiz explores the embrace of religious experiences, the pursuit of worldly success and pleasures, and the quest for beauty and knowledge as three primary responses to the individual and collective nightmares of history. The result is a profound meditation on how men and women in Western society sought (and still seek) to make meaning of the world and its disturbing history.
In chapters that range widely across Western history and culture, "The Terror of History" takes up religion, the material world, and the world of art and knowledge. "Religion and the World to Come" examines orthodox and heterodox forms of spirituality, apocalyptic movements, mysticism, supernatural beliefs, and many forms of esotericism, including magic, alchemy, astrology, and witchcraft. "The World of Matter and the Senses" considers material riches, festivals and carnivals, sports, sex, and utopian communities. Finally, "The Lure of Beauty and Knowledge" looks at cultural productions of all sorts, from art to scholarship.
Combining astonishing historical breadth with a personal and accessible narrative style, "The Terror of History" is a moving testimony to the incredibly diverse ways humans have sought to cope with their frightening history.
Vast like the subcontinent itself and teeming with outrageous and
exotic characters, "Net of Magic" is an enthralling voyage through
the netherworld of Indian magic. Lee Siegel, scholar and magician,
uncovers the age-old practices of magic in sacred rites and rituals
and unveils the contemporary world of Indian magic of street and
In contradistinction to the many monographs and edited volumes devoted to historical, cultural, or theological treatments of demonology, this collection features newly written papers by philosophers and other scholars engaged specifically in philosophical argument, debate, and dialogue involving ideas and topics in demonology. The contributors to the volume approach the subject from the perspective of the broadest areas of Western philosophy, namely metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and moral philosophy. The collection also features a plurality of religious, cultural, and theological views on the nature of demons from both Eastern and Western thought, in addition to views that may diverge from these traditional roots. Philosophical Approaches to Demonology will be of interest to philosophers of religion, theologians, and scholars working in philosophical theology and demonology, as well as historians, cultural anthropologists, and sociologists interested more broadly in the concept of demons.
Witchcraft violence is a feature of many contemporary African societies. In Ghana, belief in witchcraft and the malignant activities of putative witches is prevalent; purported witches are blamed for all manner of adversities including inexplicable illnesses and untimely deaths. As in other historical periods and other societies, in contemporary Ghana, alleged witches are typically female, elderly, poor and marginalized. Childhood socialization in homes and schools, exposure to mass media, and other institutional mechanisms ensure that witchcraft beliefs are transmitted across generations and entrenched over time. This book provides a detailed account of Ghanaian witchcraft beliefs and practices and their role in fueling violent attacks by aggrieved individuals and vigilante groups on these alleged witches.
Broadside ballads-folio-sized publications containing verse, a tune indication, and woodcut imagery-related cautionary tales, current events, and simplified myth and history to a wide range of social classes across seventeenth century England. Ballads straddled, and destabilized, the categories of public and private performance spaces, the material and the ephemeral, music and text, and oral and written traditions. Sung by balladmongers in the streets and referenced in theatrical works, they were also pasted to the walls of local taverns and domestic spaces. They titillated and entertained, but also educated audiences on morality and gender hierarchies. Although contemporaneous writers published volumes on the early modern controversy over women and the English witch craze, broadside ballads were perhaps more instrumental in disseminating information about dangerous women and their acoustic qualities. Recent scholarship has explored the representations of witchcraft and malfeasance in English street literature; until now, however, the role of music and embodied performance in communicating female transgression has yet to be investigated. Sarah Williams carefully considers the broadside ballad as a dynamic performative work situated in a unique cultural context. Employing techniques drawn from musical analysis, gender studies, performance studies, and the histories of print and theater, she contends that broadside ballads and their music made connections between various degrees of female crime, the supernatural, and cautionary tales for and about women.
Imagining the Witch explores emotions, gender, and selfhood through the lens of witch-trials in early modern Germany. Witch-trials were clearly a gendered phenomenon, but witchcraft was not a uniquely female crime. While women constituted approximately three quarters of those tried for witchcraft in the Holy Roman Empire, a significant minority were men. Witchcraft was also a crime of unbridled passion: it centred on the notion that one person's emotions could have tangible and deadly physical consequences. Yet it is also true that not all suspicions of witchcraft led to a formal accusation, and not all witch-trials led to the stake. Indeed, just over half the total number put on trial for witchcraft in early modern Europe were executed. In order to understand how early modern people imagined the witch, we must first begin to understand how people understood themselves and each other; this can help us to understand how the witch could be a member of the community, living alongside their accusers, yet inspire such visceral fear. Through an examination of case studies of witch-trials that took place in the early modern Lutheran duchy of Wurttemberg in southwestern Germany, Laura Kounine examines how the community, church, and the agents of the law sought to identify the witch, and the ways in which ordinary men and women fought for their lives in an attempt to avoid the stake. The study further explores the visual and intellectual imagination of witchcraft in this period in order to piece together why witchcraft could be aligned with such strong female stereotypes on the one hand, but also be imagined as a crime that could be committed by any human, whether young or old, male or female. By moving beyond stereotypes of the witch, Imagining the Witch argues that understandings of what constituted witchcraft and the 'witch' appear far more contested and unstable than has previously been suggested. It also suggests new ways of thinking about early modern selfhood which moves beyond teleological arguments about the development of the 'modern' self. Indeed, it is the trial process itself that created the conditions for a diverse range of people to reflect on, and give meaning, to emotions, gender, and the self in early modern Lutheran Germany.
Also available in an open-access, full-text edition at http:
The black sun, an ages-old image of the darkness in individual
lives and in life itself, has not been treated hospitably in the
modern world. Modern psychology has seen darkness primarily as a
negative force, something to move through and beyond, but it
actually has an intrinsic importance to the human psyche. In this
book, Jungian analyst Stanton Marlan reexamines the paradoxical
image of the black sun and the meaning of darkness in Western
In early modern Europe, ideas about nature, God, demons, and occult forces were inextricably connected and much ink and blood was spilled in arguments over the characteristics and boundaries of nature and the supernatural. Seitz uses records of Inquisition witchcraft trials in Venice to uncover how individuals across society, from servants to aristocrats, understood these two fundamental categories. Others have examined this issue from the points of view of religious history, the history of science and medicine, or the history of witchcraft alone, but this work brings these sub-fields together to illuminate comprehensively the complex forces shaping early modern beliefs.
The Empty Seashell explores what it is like to live in a world where cannibal witches are undeniably real, yet too ephemeral and contradictory to be an object of belief. In a book based on more than three years of fieldwork between 1991 and 2011, Nils Bubandt argues that cannibal witches for people in the coastal, and predominantly Christian, community of Buli in the Indonesian province of North Maluku are both corporeally real and fundamentally unknowable.
Witches (known as gua in the Buli language or as suanggi in regional Malay) appear to be ordinary humans but sometimes, especially at night, they take other forms and attack people in order to kill them and eat their livers. They are seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The reality of gua, therefore, can never be pinned down. The title of the book comes from the empty nautilus shells that regularly drift ashore around Buli village. Convention has it that if you find a live nautilus, you are a gua. Like the empty shells, witchcraft always seems to recede from experience.
Bubandt begins the book by recounting his own confusion and frustration in coming to terms with the contradictory and inaccessible nature of witchcraft realities in Buli. A detailed ethnography of the encompassing inaccessibility of Buli witchcraft leads him to the conclusion that much of the anthropological literature, which views witchcraft as a system of beliefs with genuine explanatory power, is off the mark. Witchcraft for the Buli people doesn't explain anything. In fact, it does the opposite: it confuses, obfuscates, and frustrates. Drawing upon Jacques Derrida s concept of aporia an interminable experience that remains continuously in doubt Bubandt suggests the need to take seriously people s experiential and epistemological doubts about witchcraft, and outlines, by extension, a novel way of thinking about witchcraft and its relation to modernity."
Mephistopheles is the fourth and final volume of a critically acclaimed history of the concept of the Devil. The series constitutes the most complete historical study ever made of the figure that has been called the second most famous personage in Christianity.In his first three volumes Jeffrey Burton Russell brought the history of Christian diabology to the end of the Middle Ages, showing the development of a degree of consensus, even in detail, on the concept of the Devil. Mephistopheles continues the story from the Reformation to the present, tracing the fragmentation of the tradition. Using examples from theology, philosophy, art, literature, and popular culture, he describes the great changes effected in our idea of the Devil by the intellectual and cultural developments of modem times.Emphasizing key figures and movements, Russell covers the apogee of the witch craze in the Renaissance and Reformation, the effects of the Enlightenment's rationalist philosophy, the Romantic image of Satan, and the cynical or satirical literary treatments of the Devil in the late nineteenth century. He concludes that although today the Devil may seem an outworn metaphor, the very real horrors of the twentieth century suggest the continuing need for some vital symbol of radical evil.A work of great insight and learning, Mephistopheles deepens our understanding of the ways in which people in Western societies have dealt with the problem of evil.
This book contains a dramatic and revealing translation of this ancient classic into English. The Chinese original is set side-by-side with the translation. Two things set this work apart from other translated versions. First, archeological findings are used to uncover the meaning of passages obscured for thousands of years. Second, it preserves the flavor of the original in a poetic rendition. An introductory part of this book provides the historical and philosophical background to the I Ching. The story is told of the ancient Chinese civilization, pointing out events and figures mentioned in the I Ching. The undisguised face of the I Ching will appeal to the modern reader, who will read it in his or her own individual way, as poetry, as discoverer of self, or as soothsayer. It is in the grand tradition of the I Ching for different people to see different things. To Confucius, who was born in 550 B.C., it was a source of ethics. To Leibnitz, the eighteenth-century inventor of calculus, it was the essence of binary mathematics. To Jung Freud's rival in psychology, it was an explorer of the unconscious. To some Wall Streeters, it predicts the stock market. This second edition includes a new chapter on a historical perspective, and other additions, changes and minor reformatting.
What is the most widely-used paranormal human ability? Why was this extraordinary subtle magical art brought to England by sixteenth century German miners? Does it really work? If so, how? In this charming book, legendary Cornish master-dowser Hamish Miller shares the secrets of his trade, tells the story of dowsing, and gives key hints and exercises to assist wizards and witches, young and old, in their search for keys, kids, cats, cables and cosmic connections. WOODEN BOOKS are small but packed with information. "Fascinating" FINANCIAL TIMES. "Beautiful" LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS. "Rich and Artful" THE LANCET. "Genuinely mind-expanding" FORTEAN TIMES. "Excellent" NEW SCIENTIST. "Stunning" NEW YORK TIMES. Small books, big ideas.
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