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Religion > Mystical and Esoteric Traditions

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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.

Tales of Kentucky Ghosts Cover

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Tales of Kentucky Ghosts

William Montell

A good ghost story can make your hair stand on end, your palms sweat, and your heart race. The bone-chilling collection Tales of Kentucky Ghosts presents more than 250 stories that do just that. In his new book, William Lynwood Montell has assembled an entertaining and diverse array of tales from across the commonwealth that will keep you checking under the bed every night. The first-person accounts in this collection showcase folklore that Montell has drawn from archives, family stories, and oral traditions throughout Kentucky. The stories include that of the ghost bride of Laurel County, who appears each year on the anniversary of her wedding day; the tale of the murdered worker who haunts the Simpson County home of his killer and former employer; and the account of the lost mandolin that plays itself in a house in Graves County. These and many other chilling stories haunt the pages of Tales of Kentucky Ghosts. In the tradition of Montell’s previous Kentucky ghost books (Ghosts across Kentucky and Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky), Tales of Kentucky Ghosts brings together a variety of terrifying narratives that not only entertain and frighten but also serve as a unique record of Kentucky’s rich heritage of storytelling.

The Teacher of His Heart Cover

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The Teacher of His Heart

There was a passion, an intense energy of love that drove Francis to center his entire life in Christ. Christ was, indeed, the teacher of his heart. This book concentrates on the Christological dimension of Francis’s thought seen through the prism of his writings and against the background of the world in which he lived.

The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales Cover

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The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales

Ruth Musick

" West Virginia boasts an unusually rich heritage of ghost tales. Originally West Virginians told these hundred stories not for idle amusement but to report supernatural experiences that defied ordinary human explanation. From jealous rivals and ghostly children to murdered kinsmen and omens of death, these tales reflect the inner lives—the hopes, beliefs, and fears—of a people. Like all folklore, these tales reveal much of the history of the region: its isolation and violence, the passions and bloodshed of the Civil War era, the hardships of miners and railroad laborers, and the lingering vitality of Old World traditions.

Western Esotericism Cover

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Western Esotericism

A Concise History

A survey of Western esoteric currents since late antiquity, with an emphasis on the last six centuries. Widely received in France, this brief, comprehensive introduction to Western esotericism by the founder of the field is at last available in English. A historical and pedagogical guide, the book is written primarily for students and novices. In clear, precise language, author Antoine Faivre provides an overview of Western esoteric currents since late antiquity. The bulk of the book is laid out chronologically, from ancient and medieval sources (Alexandrian hermetism, gnosticism, neoplatonism), through the Renaissance up to the present time. Its coverage includes spiritual alchemy, Jewish and Christian Kabbalah, Christian theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Illuminism, ‘mystical’ Free-Masonry, the Occultist current, Theosophical and Anthroposophical Societies, the Traditionalist School, and ‘esotericism’ in contemporary initiatic societies and in New Religious Movements. Faivre explores how these currents are connected, and refers to where they appear in art and literature. The book concludes with an annotated bibliography, which makes it an essential resource for beginners and scholars alike.

Wisdom of the Heart Cover

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Wisdom of the Heart

The Teachings of Rabbi Ya'akov of Izbica-Radzyn

Authored by Ora Wiskind-Elper Ph.D.

"In this fascinating book, Ora Wiskind-Elper introduces us to a figure who was ahead of his time: the Hasidic leader Rabbi Ya‘akov Leiner of Izbica-Radzyn. Her translations and interpretation of his writings present the Rabbi’s central ideas in a compelling form to modern readers. Though Rabbi Ya‘akov lived a full century and a half ago, his teaching weaves midrash, medieval commentary, Kabbalah, and Hasidic thought together to create an innovative perspective on long-established Jewish concepts. His works, known as the Beit Ya‘akov fill four large volumes of commentary on the weekly Torah portions and the cycle of Jewish festivals—the traditional genre known as derashot. In exploring the diversity of the sources Rabbi Ya‘akov used for his reflections on Jewish life and spirituality, the author suggests he devoted uncommon attention to emotion, human, relationships, and gender issues. Thus, in many ways, Rabbi Ya‘akov’s thought was extraordinary for its time and even for ours. Wiskind-Elper’s insights touch readers on many different levels—intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically. "

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Yearning for the New Age

Laura Holloway-Langford and Late Victorian Spirituality

Diane Sasson

This biography of an unconventional woman in late 19th-century America is a study of a search for individual autonomy and spiritual growth. Laura Holloway-Langford, a "rebel girl" from Tennessee, moved to New York City, where she supported her family as a journalist. She soon became famous as the author of Ladies of the White House, which secured her financial independence. Promoted to associate editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, she gave readings and lectures and became involved in progressive women's causes, the temperance movement, and theosophy—even traveling to Europe to meet Madame Blavatsky, the movement's leader, and writing for the theosophist newspaper The Word. In the early 1870s, she began a correspondence with Eldress Anna White of the Mount Lebanon, New York, Shaker community, with whom she shared belief in pacifism, feminism, vegetarianism, and cremation. Attracted by the simplicity of Shaker life, she eventually bought a farm from the Canaan Shakers, where she lived and continued to write until her death in 1930. In tracing the life of this spiritual seeker, Diane Sasson underscores the significant role played by cultural mediators like Holloway-Langford in bringing new religious ideas to the American public and contributing to a growing interest in eastern religions and alternative approaches to health and spirituality that would alter the cultural landscape of the nation.

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