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Religion > Mystical and Esoteric Traditions

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Phenomenology and Mysticism Cover

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Phenomenology and Mysticism

The Verticality of Religious Experience

Anthony J. Steinbock

Exploring the first-person narratives of three figures from the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic mystical traditions -- St. Teresa of Avila, Rabbi Dov Baer, and Rūzbihān Baqlī -- Anthony J. Steinbock provides a complete phenomenology of mysticism based in the Abrahamic religious traditions. He relates a broad range of religious experiences, or verticality, to philosophical problems of evidence, selfhood, and otherness. From this philosophical description of vertical experience, Steinbock develops a social and cultural critique in terms of idolatry -- as pride, secularism, and fundamentalism -- and suggests that contemporary understandings of human experience must come from a fuller, more open view of religious experience.

Real-Life X-Files Cover

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Real-Life X-Files

Investigating the Paranormal

Joe Nickell

As a former private investigator and forensic writer, Joe Nickell has spent much of his career identifying forged documents, working undercover to infiltrate theft rings, and investigating questioned deaths. Now he turns his considerable investigative skill toward the paranormal, researching the most well-known and mysterious phenomena all over the world—spontaneous human combustion, UFO visitations, auras, electronic poltergeists, and many, many more—with an eye toward solving these mysteries rather than promoting or dismissing them. Real-Life X-Files: Investigating the Paranormal examines the cases of over forty paranormal mysteries. Using a hands-on approach, Nickell visits the scene of the so-called unexplainable activity whenever possible and attempts to physically duplicate the miraculous. Whether he’s inflicting stigmata on himself or recreating the liquefying blood of Saint Januarius, Nickell does whatever necessary to eliminate the probable before considering the supernatural. What is left is that much more fascinating. Nickell reports on familiar legends from American history such as the supernatural events surrounding Abraham Lincoln’s death and the supposed crash landing of an alien spacecraft near Roswell, New Mexico. He closely examines claims of the miraculous, from rose petals bearing the likeness of Jesus to photographs of a “golden door” to heaven. Controversial mysteries such as clairvoyance and “spirit painting,” haunted places, and freaks of nature are just a few of the many topics covered. Suspenseful, engrossing, funny, and grounded in scientific methodology, Real-Life X-Files provides real explanations for the “paranormal” activities that have intrigued human beings for centuries.

Respectfully Yours: Signed and Sealed, Francis of Assisi Cover

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Respectfully Yours: Signed and Sealed, Francis of Assisi

Aspects of His Authorship and Focuses of His Spirituality

Through a meticulous reading of his writing, one can discover Francis the Mystic. The authors pay full attention to what Francis has to say and pay special attention to texts from the liturgy of Francis’s time. It is undeniable that at least some of his texts were subject to deliberate composition techniques. By bringing these to light, the "coordinates" or "power lines" of his spirituality become visible.

Restoring Paradise Cover

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Restoring Paradise

Western Esotericism, Literature, Art, and Consciousness

Focusing on how spiritual initiation takes place in Western esoteric religious, literary, and artistic traditions from antiquity to the present, Restoring Paradise provides an introduction to Western esotericism, including early modern esoteric movements like alchemy, Christian theosophy, and Rosicrucianism. The author argues that European and American literature and art often entail a written transmission of spiritual knowledge in which writing itself works to transmute consciousness, to generate, provoke, or convey spiritual awakening. He focuses on several important figures whose work has not received the attention it deserves, including American writer and Imagist poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) and British painter Cecil Collins, among others. While Arthur Versluis presents a new way of understanding Western esotericism in a contemporary light, above all he has crafted a book about knowing, and about how we come to know, and what “knowing” by way of literature and language actually means.

Rose Cross and the Age of Reason, The Cover

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Rose Cross and the Age of Reason, The

Eighteenth-Century Rosicrucianism in Central Europe and its Relationship to the Enlightenment

Examines the relationship between diverse iterations of Rosicrucianism and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. This new edition of Christopher McIntosh's classic book on the Golden and Rosy Cross order is eagerly awaited. The order stands out as one of the most fascinating and influential of the high-degree masonic and illuminist groups that mushroomed in Europe from the 18th century onward. Active mainly in the German-speaking lands, it recast the original Rosicrucian vision and gave it renewed vitality. At one point it became politically influential when the Prussian King, Frederick William II, was a member of the order. Historians have often perceived the Golden and Rosy Cross as having had a conservative, anti-Enlightenment agenda, but this study – drawing on rare German sources – shows that the matter was more complex. The members of the order practiced alchemy and operated a degree system that was later imitated by later orders such as the Golden Dawn. Like the latter, the Golden and Rosy Cross exerted a wide and enduring cultural influence. Both the alchemy of the order and its powerful ritual system are insightfully described in Christopher McIntosh's clear and compelling style.

Sacrifice and Delight in the Mystical Theologies of Anna Maria van Schurman and Madame Jeanne Guyon Cover

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Sacrifice and Delight in the Mystical Theologies of Anna Maria van Schurman and Madame Jeanne Guyon

Bo Karen Lee

In this compelling study of two seventeenth-century female mystics, Bo Karen Lee examines the writings of Anna Maria van Schurman and Madame Jeanne Guyon, who, despite different religious formations, came to similar conclusions about the experience of God in contemplative prayer. Van Schurman was born into a Dutch Calvinist family and become a superb scriptural commentator before undergoing a dramatic religious conversion and joining the Labadist community, a Pietistic movement. Guyon was a French layperson whose thought would be identified with Quietism—a spiritual path that was looked upon with suspicion both by the French Catholic Church and by Rome. Lee analyzes and compares the themes of self-denial and self-annihilation in the writings of these two mystics. In van Schurman's case, the focus is on the distinction between scholastic knowledge of God and the intima notitia Dei accessible only by radical self-denial. In Guyon's case, it is on the union with God that is accessible only through a painful self-annihilation. For both authors, Lee demonstrates that the desire for enjoyment of God plays an important role as the engine of the soul's progress away from self-centeredness. The appendices offer facing Latin and English translations of two letters by van Schurman and a selection from her Eukleria.

Society and the Supernatural in Song China Cover

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Society and the Supernatural in Song China

Edward L. Davis

Society and the Supernatural in Song China is at once a meticulous examination of spirit possession and exorcism in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and a social history of the full panoply of China's religious practices and practitioners at the moment when she was poised to dominate the world economy. Although the Song dynasty (960-1276) is often identified with the establishment of Confucian orthodoxy, Edward Davis demonstrates the renewed vitality of the dynasty's Taoist, Buddhist, and local religious traditions. He charts the rise of hundreds of new temple-cults and the lineages of clerical exorcists and vernacular priests; the increasingly competitive interaction among all practitioners of therapeutic ritual; and the wide social range of their patrons and clients.

Splendor of the True Cover

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Splendor of the True

A Frithjof Schuon Reader

James S. Cutsinger

A new anthology of the work of Frithjof Schuon that includes philosophical writings along with a selection of his poems, artworks, and unpublished writings from his personal papers.

Sufis and Saints' Bodies Cover

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Sufis and Saints' Bodies

Mysticism, Corporeality, and Sacred Power in Islam

Scott A. Kugle

Islam is often described as abstract, ascetic, and uniquely disengaged from the human body. Scott Kugle refutes this assertion in the first full study of Islamic mysticism as it relates to the human body. Examining Sufi conceptions of the body in religious writings from the late fifteenth through the nineteenth century, Kugle demonstrates that literature from this era often treated saints' physical bodies as sites of sacred power. ###Sufis and Saints' Bodies# focuses on six important saints from Sufi communities in North Africa and South Asia. Kugle singles out a specific part of the body to which each saint is frequently associated in religious literature. The saints' bodies, Kugle argues, are treated as symbolic resources for generating religious meaning, communal solidarity, and the experience of sacred power. In each chapter, Kugle also features a particular theoretical problem, drawing methodologically from religious studies, anthropology, studies of gender and sexuality, theology, feminism, and philosophy. Bringing a new perspective to Islamic studies, Kugle shows how an important Islamic tradition integrated myriad understandings of the body in its nurturing role in the material, social, and spiritual realms. Kugle examines Islamic--particularly Sufi--conceptions of the human body in religious writings from the late medieval to early modern period of Islamic history. He explores the network of Muslim mystics who played a significant role in shaping Islamic culture during this formative period, as these Sufi saint-teachers served as moral exemplars and, often, political leaders. Religious literature from this period often treated the saints' physical bodies as sites of sacred power, Kugle argues. He illustrates by pairing each of six prominent saints with a part of the body to which they are frequently associated in the literature (breath, lips, heart, etc.). With each chapter, he also addresses a theoretical problem. Islam is often described as particularly abstract, ascetic, and uniquely disengaged from the human body. Scott Kugle refutes this assertion in the first full study of Islamic mysticism as it relates to the human body. Examining Sufi conceptions of the body in religious writings from the late fifteenth through the nineteenth century, Kugle demonstrates that literature from this era often treated saints' physical bodies as sites of sacred power. Islam is often described as abstract, ascetic, and uniquely disengaged from the human body. Scott Kugle refutes this assertion in the first full study of Islamic mysticism as it relates to the human body. Examining Sufi conceptions of the body in religious writings from the late fifteenth through the nineteenth century, Kugle demonstrates that literature from this era often treated saints' physical bodies as sites of sacred power. ###Sufis and Saints' Bodies# focuses on six important saints from Sufi communities in North Africa and South Asia. Kugle singles out a specific part of the body to which each saint is frequently associated in religious literature. The saints' bodies, Kugle argues, are treated as symbolic resources for generating religious meaning, communal solidarity, and the experience of sacred power. In each chapter, Kugle also features a particular theoretical problem, drawing methodologically from religious studies, anthropology, studies of gender and sexuality, theology, feminism, and philosophy. Bringing a new perspective to Islamic studies, Kugle shows how an important Islamic tradition integrated myriad understandings of the body in its nurturing role in the material, social, and spiritual realms.

The Sympathetic Medium Cover

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The Sympathetic Medium

Feminine Channeling, the Occult, and Communication Technologies, 1859–1919

The nineteenth century saw not only the emergence of the telegraph, the telephone, and the typewriter but also a fascination with séances and occult practices like automatic writing as a means for contacting the dead. Like the new technologies, modern spiritualism promised to link people separated by space or circumstance; and like them as well, it depended on the presence of a human medium to convey these conversations. Whether electrical or otherworldly, these communications were remarkably often conducted-in offices, at telegraph stations and telephone switchboards, and in séance parlors-by women.

In The Sympathetic Medium, Jill Galvan offers a richly nuanced and culturally grounded analysis of the rise of the female medium in Great Britain and the United States during the Victorian era and through the turn of the century. Examining a wide variety of fictional explorations of feminine channeling (in both the technological and supernatural realms) by such authors as Henry James, George Eliot, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Marie Corelli, and George Du Maurier, Galvan argues that women were often chosen for that role, or assumed it themselves, because they made at-a-distance dialogues seem more intimate, less mediated. Two allegedly feminine traits, sympathy and a susceptibility to automatism, enabled women to disappear into their roles as message-carriers.

Anchoring her literary analysis in discussions of social, economic, and scientific culture, Galvan finds that nineteenth- and early twentieth-century feminization of mediated communication reveals the challenges that the new networked culture presented to prevailing ideas of gender, dialogue, privacy, and the relationship between body and self.

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