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Spirits in Past and Present

Session Chair: Eileen Barker | Tuesday, August 25, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

José Carlos Vieira Leitão

Individual and collective narratives in an Amsterdam Espiritismo Cruzado community

Arising from late XIXth century developments of French Kardecism in Cuba and Puerto Rico, Espiritismo Cruzado stands as a hybrid practice between European, Kongo and Yoruba cults and cosmological views. Given its cosmological complexity, Cruzado practitioners constantly negotiate a transgressive path between spirit and mater and personal and collective notions on the spiritual, effective building their own pantheon of spirit correspondences. Resorting to personal interviews, this paper explores the personal narratives of solitary Cruzado practice and meditation at the bóveda espiritual (the spiritual dome/vault, a private spiritual altar), the perceptions of causality, sensation and consciousness in what is by definition an absolutely personal and private experience. These narratives are then also compared to communal and collective practices of Cruzado (Misas Espirituales), and how these same individual and personal narratives fit and arrange themselves in a collective and community environment of an active Amsterdam Cruzado center.

Teruyoshi Yonei

A Relationship Between Human And Deities

In the ancient era of Japan, various spirits including gods were considered to dwell all around the country. They believed the society consisted of both human and deities. Both were able to influence mutually. People could not keep peace without deities' protection, and deities in shrines were presented offering in return for those graces. The causes of disasters were explained by this relationship. The lack or ill-formed offering causes gods' anger and they were thought to give people many types of calamities.

Merili Metsvahi

Female werewolves in Estonian vernacular beliefs

In the Estonian Folklore Archives one can find more legends about female than about male werewolves. During the Estonian werewolf trials at the 16th –17th century more women than men were accused in transforming themselves into wolves. In the first part of my presentation I will give a very short overview of the history of Estonian werewolf beliefs. In the second part of my talk I am going to give an answer to the question of popularity of female werewolves in the Estonian vernacular beliefs. In my interdisciplinary approach I am going to point to the position of Estonian woman in the Middle Ages and early modern period that differed from the position of woman in most of the other European countries. For that purpose some facts from the history of Estonian family have to be introduced. I’ll draw the connection between the changes in woman’s position in the family and the beliefs about female werewolves.

Jessica Moberg

Casting out Spirits: The Impact of Occult Reality on Sweden’s Spiritualist Landscape

Modern media have become a powerful force that contributes to change the way we communicate, perceive the world, structure our relationships and practice religion – a process media scholar Knut Lundby refers to as “mediatization”. The paper uses mediatization as an analytical tool, addressing a global phenomenon that took root in the Swedish setting at the turn of the millennium: Occult Reality TV. Focus lies on the most popular show, The Unknown (Det okända), in which real spiritualist mediums are seen casting out disturbing spirits from people’s homes. The paper investigates how the show has contributed to transform the spiritualist landscape in Sweden, suggesting that the casting out spirits, which has been extremely rare, now is practiced at large scale and that famed TV-mediums are central for introducing it into the spiritualist tradition.


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Open Sessions

Thematic Outline

University Map (pdf, 192 KB)