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The Anastasia Movement in Russia and Beyond: (Trans)formations, Adaptations and Manifestations

A296
Panel Chair: Rasa Pranskevičiūtė | Friday, August 28, 9-11 a.m. | Venue

The panel addresses alternative spiritualities of Russian origin, as well as their formation, spread and expressions in the context of social change. It also presents current socioreligious processes in a post-Soviet and Western regions, discussing diverse manifestations and changes of religious phenomena concerning institutional and individual religiosities in (trans)national and (trans)regional levels. The panel is dedicated for one of the New Age environmentalist phenomena – the Anastasia movement, which has been originated around 1997 in the central part of Russia and has spread to the West. Currently there are Anastasian groups emerging in a post-Soviet region and Western Europe, Scandinavia, North America, Australia, Africa, etc. The Anastasia movement, as internationally widespread manifestation of nature-based spiritualities, appears as a phenomenon of global (more precisely, influenced and formed by Western culture) alternative religiosity and contemporary individualistic culture, to which local (formed in post-Soviet/ Western environment and national cultures) sociocultural features are characteristic.

James R. Lewis, Rasa Pranskevičiūtė

The Anastasia Movement and its Transformations Internationally: Worldviews, Beliefs and Attitudes

This paper focuses on the Anastasia movement, which emerged in Russia, and subsequently spread to East-Central Europe and beyond. Our treatment focuses on expressions of alternative spirituality in the movement. Anastasians adhere to the ideas presented in an anthology of books referred to as The Ringing Cedars of Russia. Humanity’s relationship with nature, God and the Universe; the creation of world, the power of thought, the ability to mold future, the relationship between a man and a woman, the establishment of love spaces, etc. are discussed in the series. Based on data obtained from a questionnaire administered to Anastasians in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltics and Scandinavia, the paper’s findings provide a demographic profile of Anastasian membership, an overview of their social and political attitudes, as well as their beliefs about select spiritual and paranormal phenomena. Our findings are compared with findings from parallel research on other alternative spiritual movements.

Julia Andreeva

The Interpretations of Ecovillages in the Russian New Age Movement “Anastasia”

The Anastasia movement, based on the books of Vladimir Megre, which have been published since 1996, is concentrated on many different ideas including ecological lifestyle, spiritual transformation, revival of traditions, and alternative economic and healing practices. One of the key goals of the followers is moving out of the city to the ecovillage communities. But here there are many points of discussion among the readers of Megre’s books, for instance, how to distribute responsibilities among the participants, who can make decisions, and which rules they should have. Their ecovillages differ significantly from many other European ones and stress not so much on ecological questions as on kinship territory and ancient traditions. All details of co-existence need in negotiations even though they do not have a communal life. My paper is devoted to the different versions of books-based idea about living in harmony with nature and homeland.

Leonard van ‘t Hul

From Russia with Love: the Appropriation of Anastasia’s Teachings in Eco-based Communities in the Netherlands

Inspired by the ideals presented in the books on Anastasia by the Russian author Vladimir Megre, various Dutch individuals and groups have attempted to initiate local self-sustaining, eco-based communities in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, given the country’s modest size, dense population, strict construction prescription, and lack of a Taiga-like environment suitable locations are lacking, leaving only the eastern outskirts open as eligible options for the establishing of ‘Anastasia villages’. These limitations exemplify a broader question of how spiritual communities negotiate and legitimize their position to ‘non-believers’ and policy makers. Based on a series of in-depth interviews and written sources I assess how individuals adhering to the ideals of the Anastasia movement (discursively) shape and authenticate their ideas and beliefs: of special interest is the question how the ‘exotic’, allegedly age-old Russian spiritual beliefs are transplanted and adopted by individuals and communities residing in different local contexts.

Natalie Wahnsiedler

Ringing Cedars Movement in Germany: Adaption and Transformation

In this paper, I will discuss how ideas proposed within the Ringing Cedars Movement are adapted and transformed amongst German spiritual seekers. Different from the post-soviet space, where the works by Vladimir Megre have triggered a new movement of ecological settlements, there has been a long history of alternative ecological villages in Germany. The Ringing Cedars book series has not provided a new life philosophy, but offered instead a new direction in the existing spiritual milieu. Readers take up the ideas from the books, but blend them with more acquainted concepts such as anthroposophy. Couples or single persons who have already an experience in living in existing ecological communes, are looking for a more independent and individual variation and find it in the idea of family estates.

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Thematic Outline

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