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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.
Based on twenty-seven years of original archival research, including the discovery of previously unknown documents, this day-by-day narrative of the hysteria that swept through Salem Village in 1692 and 1693 reveals new connections behind the events, and shows how rapidly a community can descend into bloodthirsty madness. Roach opens her work with chapters on the history of the Puritan colonies of New England, and explains how these people regarded the metaphysical and the supernatural. The account of the days from January 1692 to March 1693 keeps in order the large cast of characters, places events in their correct contexts, and occasionally contradicts earlier assumptions about the gruesome events. The last chapter discusses the remarkable impact of the events, pointing out how the 300th anniversary of the trials made headlines in Japan and Australia.
This book is a psychological exploration of unusual minds, a religious exploration of demonological myth, and a philosophical exploration of the reaches of pragmatism. It uses topics such as hypnotism, mediumship, and mass possession to argue for a comprehensive understanding of the demonic that acknowledges not only the creativity which it encourages, but also the danger it can bring. Professor Ruetenik uses James' religious pragmatism to evaluate the relevance of psychical research, and to explain common beliefs regarding demons, spirits, and other controlling personalities. The conclusion of this interdisciplinary research is as alarming as it is fascinating: When exploring the demons of William James, we discover that ordinary personality cannot be clearly separated from what we consider the demonic.
In this important book, Elaine Breslaw claims to have rediscovered Tituba, the elusive, mysterious, and often mythologized Indian woman accused of witchcraft in Salem in 1692 and immortalized in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible."
Reconstructing the life of the slave woman at the center of the notorious Salem witch trials, the book follows Tituba from her likely origins in South America to Barbados, forcefully dispelling the commonly-held belief that Tituba was African. The uniquely multicultural nature of life on a seventeenth-century Barbadan sugar plantation--defined by a mixture of English, American Indian, and African ways and folklore--indelibly shaped the young Tituba's world and the mental images she brought with her to Massachusetts.
Breslaw divides Tituba's story into two parts. The first focuses on Tituba's roots in Barbados, the second on her life in the New World. The author emphasizes the inextricably linked worlds of the Caribbean and the North American colonies, illustrating how the Puritan worldview was influenced by its perception of possessed Indians. Breslaw argues that Tituba's confession to practicing witchcraft clearly reveals her savvy and determined efforts to protect herself by actively manipulating Puritan fears. This confession, perceived as evidence of a diabolical conspiracy, was the central agent in the cataclysmic series of events that saw 19 people executed and over 150 imprisoned, including a young girl of 5.
A landmark contribution to women's history and early American history, Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem sheds new light on one of the most painful episodes in American history, through the eyes of its most crucial participant.
Parting company with the trend in recent scholarship to treat the subject in abstract, highly theoretical terms, Magic in Ancient Greece and Rome proposes that the magic-working of antiquity was in reality a highly pragmatic business, with very clearly formulated aims - often of an exceedingly maligant kind. In seven chapters, each addressed to an important arm of Greco-Roman magic, the volume discusses the history of the rediscovery and publication of the so-called Greek Magical Papyri, a key source for our understanding of ancient magic; the startling violence of ancient erotic spells and the use of these by women as well as men; the alteration in the landscape of defixio (curse tablet) studies by major new finds and the confirmation these provide that the frequently lethal intent of such tablets must not be downplayed; the use of herbs in magic, considered from numerous perspectives but with an especial focus on the bizarre-seeming rituals and protocols attendant upon their collection; the employment of animals in magic, the factors determining the choice of animal, the uses to which they were put, and the procuring and storage of animal parts, conceivably in a sorcerer's workshop; the witch as a literary construct, the clear homologies between the magical procedures of fictional witches and those documented for real spells, the gendering of the witch-figure and the reductive presentation of sorceresses as old, risible and ineffectual; the issue of whether ancient magicians practised human sacrifice and the illuminating parallels between such accusations and late 20th century accounts of child-murder in the context of perverted Satanic rituals. By challenging a number of orthodoxies and opening up some underexamined aspects of the subject, this wide-ranging study stakes out important new territory in the field of magical studies.
Ritualistic Crime, Criminals, and the Organizations behind the Sheath: A Book of Readings features carefully selected articles that help students better understand the causes, functions, and similarities of sacred forms of violence across the spectrum. Students learn about crimes committed by individuals or groups against another based on an errant belief that their acts will bring about a greater good. This information equips readers with the knowledge they need to identify and understand the classic signs of group affiliation. The anthology is divided into eight parts. The first part presents readers with an introduction to the volume and a discussion of the sacred power of violence in popular cultural. Parts II through IV focus on cults, sects, and religious crimes; millennial religions; domestic and international terrorist religions. Students read articles about Satanism, vampirism and the Goth movement, and syncretistic religions, Wicca, and neo-paganism. The final part speaks to new religious movements, including fiction-based religions and Scientology. Throughout, students are encouraged to consider how groups grow, flourish, and prosper, as well as the elements that either render them benign or violent. Providing students with a unique view into group behavior, Ritualistic Crime, Criminals, and the Organizations behind the Sheath is an ideal resource for courses in criminal justice, criminology, or law enforcement.
In Obeah, Race and Racism, Eugenia O'Neal vividly discusses the tradition of African magic and witchcraft, traces its voyage across the Atlantic and its subsequent evolution on the plantations of the New World, and provides a detailed map of how English writers, poets and dramatists interpreted it for English audiences. The triangular trade in guns and baubles, enslaved Africans and gold, sugar and cotton was mirrored by a similar intellectual trade borne in the reports, accounts and stories that fed the perceptions and prejudices of everyone involved in the slave trade and no subject was more fascinating and disconcerting to Europeans than the religious beliefs of the people they had enslaved. Indeed, African magic made its own triangular voyage; starting from Africa, Obeah crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean, then journeyed back across the ocean, in the form of traveller's narratives and plantation reports, to Great Britain where it was incorporated into the plots of scores of books and stories which went on to shape and form the world view of explorers and colonial officials in Britain's far-flung empire. O'Neal examines what British writers knew or thought they knew about Obeah and discusses how their perceptions of black people were shaped by their perceptions of Obeah. Translated or interpreted by racist writers as a devil-worshipping religion, Obeah came to symbolize the brutality, savagery and superstition in which blacks were thought to be immured by their very race. For many writers, black belief in Obeah proved black inferiority and justified both slavery and white colonial domination. The English reading public became generally convinced that Obeah was evil and that blacks were, at worst, devil worshippers or, at best, extremely stupid and credulous. And because books and stories on Obeah continued to promulgate either of the two prevailing perspectives, and sometimes both together until at least the 1950s, theories of black inferiority continue to hold sway in Great Britain today.
'. . . as when iron is drawn to a magnet, camphor is sucked into hot air, crystal lights up in the Sun, sulfur and a volatile liquid are kindled by flame, an empty eggshell filled with dew is raised towards the Sun . . .' This rich, fascinating anthology of the western magical tradition stretches from its roots in the wizardry of the Old Testament and the rituals of the ancient world, through writers such as Thomas Aquinas, John Milton, John Dee and Matthew Hopkins, and up to the tangled, arcane beginnings of the scientific revolution. Arranged historically, with commentary, this book includes incantations, charms, curses, Golems, demons and witches, as well as astrology, divination and alchemy, with some ancient and medieval works which were once viewed as too dangerous even to open. Selected and translated with an introduction and notes by Brian Copenhaver
The first English-language survey of ancient Greek divinatory
methods, "Ancient Greek Divination" offers a broad yet detailed
treatment of the earliest attempts by ancient Greeks to seek the
counsel of the gods.
This collection of essays considers the place of magic in the modern world, first by exploring the ways in which modernity has been defined in explicit opposition to magic and superstition, and then by illuminating how modern proponents of magic have worked to legitimize their practices through an overt embrace of evolving forms such as esotericism and supernaturalism. Taking a two-track approach, this book explores the complex dynamics of the construction of the modern self and its relation to the modern preoccupation with magic. Essays examine how modern "rational" consciousness is generated and maintained and how proponents of both magical and scientific traditions rationalize evidence to fit accepted orthodoxy. This book also describes how people unsatisfied with the norms of modern subjectivity embrace various forms of magic-and the methods these modern practitioners use to legitimate magic in the modern world. A compelling assessment of magic from the early modern period to today, Magic in the Modern World shows how, despite the dominant culture's emphatic denial of their validity, older forms of magic persist and develop while new forms of magic continue to emerge. In addition to the editors, contributors include Egil Asprem, Erik Davis, Megan Goodwin, Dan Harms, Adam Jortner, and Benedek Lang.
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