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Communicating with the Spirits

Edied by Gabor Gabor Klaniczay and Eva Pocs

Publication Year: 2005

Focuses on the problem of communication with the other world: the phenomenon of spirit possession and its changing historical interpretations, the imaginary schemes elaborated for giving accounts of the journeys to the other world, for communicating with the dead, and finally the historical archetypes of this kind of religious manifestation—trance prophecy, divination, and shamanism. Recognized historians and ethnologists analyze the relationship, coexistence and conflicts of popular belief systems, Judeo-Christian mythology and demonology in medieval and modern Europe. The essays address links between rites and beliefs, folklore and literature; the legacy of various pre-Christian mythologies; the syncretic forms of ancient, medieval and modern belief- and rite-systems; "pure" examples from religious-ethnological research outside Europe to elucidate European problems.

Published by: Central European University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-8

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pp. 1-17

The essays collected in this volume come from a broader pool of studies. This is the first volume in a series of three, containing eleven essays of altogether forty-three articles based on the topics of the interdisciplinary conference held on “Demons, spirits, and witches” in Budapest, in 1999. Historians, ethnologists, and folklorists from...

Part I: Discernment of Spirits and Possession

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pp. 19-151

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Breath, Heart, Guts: The Body and Spirits in the Middle Ages

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pp. 21-39

In the 1230s William of Auvergne, Bishop of Paris, was moved to comment upon the various non-canonical beliefs and practices of his less learned contemporaries. Among them he described the cult of Lady Abundance, whose retinue of flying female spirits were known as the “nighttime ladies.” This belief, William states, was deeply implanted...

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Non sunt nisi phantasiae et imaginationes: A Medieval Attempt at Explaining Demons

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pp. 40-52

For his master and brother, Louis from Lewenbergh, forever loyal Witelo plebanus. You ask me to write about things difficult to grasp, about the main reason of repentance in men and about the nature of demons, according to my understanding, that is following the principles of philosophy, I apprehend...

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Discerning Spirits in Early Modern Europe .

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pp. 53-70

Its religious essence notwithstanding, the discernment of spirits has never been merely a theological issue. Rather, it has always been a social practice, characterized by interwoven processes of examinations and self-examination, negotiations and ambiguity, chaos and incoherence. There has always been an unbridgeable gap between...

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Mystics or Visionaries? Discernment of Spirits in the First Part of the Seventeenth Century in France

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pp. 71-83

We are indebted to Henri Bremond for having rediscovered French spiritual texts of the first half of the seventeenth century and for having enlightened the activity, indeed even the activism of spiritualists within the movement of the Catholic Counter-reformation (Bremond, 1967). Indeed, this “century of saints” is marked by the rapid expansion of French...

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Possession Phenomena, Possession-systems. Some East-Central European Examples

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pp. 84-151

This paper will provide an overview of possession phenomena in Central and South Eastern Europe, followed by suggestions for their broad interpretation. Possession is one of the basic forms of communication with the supernatural. Theoretically it has close ties to the psycho-biological state of trance or—to use a term fashionable...

Part II: Contacts with the Other World

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pp. 153-212

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How Waldensians Became Witches: Heretics and Their Journey to the Other World

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pp. 155-192

The question how the Waldensians became witches has for long interested scholars. Although it did not play a prominent part in the historiography of Waldensian heresy (Döllinger, 1890; Grundmann, 1935; Leff, 1967; Molnar, 1993; Lambert, 1977; Merlo, 1984; Erbstösser, 1984; Audisio, 1989), historians of witchcraft have shown a long standing...

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Hosting the Dead: Thanotopic Aspects of the Irish Sidhe

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pp. 193-203

My paper is an exploration of the relatively complex and particular relationship between the dead and the fairy folk of Western Ireland. However, it should be noted that both of these elements—fairy folk and the dead—are often considered separately as key symbols of Irish identity. Concerning the dead, writers such as Witoszek and Sheeran...

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Visions of the Other World as Narrated in Contemporary Belief Legends from Resia

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pp. 204-212

I would like to focus on a recurrent feature of contemporary popular narratives collected in the Resia valley (an ethnic Slovene area in Italy)—representations and manifestations of the world of the hereafter as obtained exclusively from recent testimonies gathered in the field. Narrative means here a complex of legends to be considered...

Part III: Divination, Shamanism

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pp. 213-222

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Trance Prophets and Diviners in the Middle Ages

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pp. 215-233

In ancient Israel it was widely believed that revelatory trance was caused by the Spirit of God. Prophesying in this altered state of consciousness was as common in the ancient Near East as in other places of the world. Scholars have often emphasized the artificial nature of...

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Shamanism in Medieval Scandinavian Literature

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pp. 234-245

“On ne peut pas tout lire.” A quotation. It is not very penetrating or original. It need not be quoted at all. Yet it is true. It is a short formulation of a feeling that all scholars, at least in the twentieth century, have experienced. The inevitable consequences of this statement in terms of what we usually call the development of science need not concern...

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The King, the Cat, and the Chaplain. King Christian IV’s Encounter with the Sami Shamans of Northern Norway and Northern Russia in 1599

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pp. 246-263

The young Danish–Norwegian king, Christian IV (1577–1648), led a dramatic expedition to the north of his lengthy realm during three spring and summer months in 1599. Their voyage proceeded to Vardø and further eastward into northern Russia. Looking back, this expedition emerges as having been an extremely daring project, and it may have been...

List of Contributors

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pp. 264-268


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pp. 269-295

Back Cover

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p. 304-304

E-ISBN-13: 9786155053566
Print-ISBN-13: 9789637326134

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2005

Edition: 1st