9.2.16

Naturally Super

Whitley Strieber, Jeffrey J. Kripal. The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained. Tarcher (February 2016)

From the Publisher: Two of today's maverick authors on anomalous experience present a perception-altering and intellectually thrilling analysis of why the paranormal is real. Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey J. Kripal team up on this unprecedented and intellectually vibrant new framing of inexplicable events and experiences. Rather than merely document the anomalous, these authors one the man who popularized alien abduction and the other a renowned scholar and renegade advocate for including the paranormal in religious studies deliver a fast-paced and exhilarating study of why the supernatural is neither fantasy nor fiction but a vital and authentic aspect of life. 

Their suggestion? That all kinds of impossible things, from extra-dimensional beings to bilocation to bumps in the night, are not impossible at all: rather, they are a part of our natural world. But this natural world is immeasurably more weird, more wonderful, and probably more populated than we have so far imagined with our current categories and cultures, which are what really make these things seem impossible. 

The Super Natural considers that the natural world is actually a super natural world and all we have to do to see this is to change the lenses through which we are looking at it and the languages through which we are presently limiting it. In short: The extraordinary exists if we know how to look at and think about it.


6.2.16

Walking the Earth?

Continuing the comprehensive McFarland series of encyclopedias on paranormal entities

Theresa Bane. Encyclopedia of Spirits and Ghosts in World Mythology. McFarland (28 February 2016)

Do you believe in ghosts? You don't have to believe in ghosts to appreciate the collection acclimated here-from ancestral spirits and nature spirit to y?kai, if you are looking for information on spiritual beings, this is the one book you need. Of all the anomalous phenomenon which is reported, ghosts and ghostly sightings are by far the most common, appearing to anyone at any time for any reason. People from all walks of life and from all along the time line have claimed to have seen or even interacted with one; sometimes this a beautiful event and other times so horrific it changes the person's life forever. Both serious academics and those with a casual interest in the subject will find something new to discover.

Theresa Bane. Encyclopedia of Giants and Humanoids in Myth, Legend and Folklore. McFarland (28 February 2016)

Every culture has in its folklore and mythology beings of immense size and strength, as well as other preternatural and monstrous humanoids who walk among us, serving the divine or fulfilling their own agendas. This book catalogs the lore and legends of more than 1,000 different humanoid species and individual beings, including the Titans, valkyries, jotuns, yokai, biblical giants, ogres, trolls and many more.

3.2.16

Looking Behind Bigfoot.

A rather Magonian-seeming approach to bigfoot, looking at the people behind the searches.

Joe Gisondi. Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot. University of Nebraska Press (2015)

From the publisher's website: Bigfoot sightings have been reported in every state except Hawaii. Interest in this creature, which many believe to be as mythical as a leprechaun, is as strong today as ever, with the wildly popular show Finding Bigfoot persisting on the Animal Planet network and references to bigfoot appearing throughout popular culture. What is it about bigfoot that causes some people to devote a chunk of their lives to finding one? 

In Monster Trek, Joe Gisondi brings to life the celebrities in bigfoot culture: people such as Matt Moneymaker, Jeff Meldrum, and Cliff Barackman, who explore remote wooded areas of the country for weeks at a time and spend thousands of dollars on infrared imagers, cameras, and high-end camping equipment. Pursuing the answer to why these seekers of bigfoot do what they do, Gisondi brings to the reader their most interesting—and in many cases, harrowing—expeditions. 

Gisondi travels to eight locations across the country, trekking into swamps, mountains, state parks, and remote woods with people in search of bigfoot as well as fame, fortune, adventure, and shared camaraderie. Many of the people who look for bigfoot, however, go counter to stereotypes and include teachers, engineers, and bankers. Some are private and guarded about their explorations, seeking solitude during a deeply personal quest. While there are those who might arguably be labeled “crazy,” Gisondi discovers that the bigfoot research network is far bigger and more diverse than he ever imagined.

29.1.16

Come Fly With Me

Michael Grosso. The Man Who Could Fly: St. Joseph of Copertino and the Mystery of Levitation Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (14 December 2015)

St. Joseph of Copertino began having mystical visions at the age of seven, but it was not until he began practicing his faith as a Franciscan priest that he realized the full potential of his mind's power over his body-he was able to levitate. Throughout his priesthood St. Joseph became famous for frequent levitations that were observed on hundreds of occasions and by thousands of witnesses, including many skeptics. 

Michael Grosso delves into the biography of the saint to explore the many strange phenomena that surrounded his life and develops potential physical explanations for some of the most astounding manifestations of his religious ecstasy. Grosso draws upon contemporary explorations into cognition, the relationship between the human mind and body, and the scientifically recorded effects of meditation and other transcendent practices to reveal the implications of St. Joseph's experiences and abilities.

25.1.16

Deep Waters

Lightning Guides. Cults: In Too Deep from Jonestown to Scientology. Sonoma Press (1 Feb. 2016)

Cults: In Too Deep From Jonestown to Scientology explores 20th and 21st Century cults and the 1960’s American culture by which many of them were born. From the Manson Family to The Ripper Crew to Scientology, Cults provides an in-depth look at America’s religious and social cults, their nefarious leaders, and the millions of lives they have stolen.

22.1.16

Revisiting the Nazi Occult

We are a little late drawing this to your attention, but feel it will be of interest to many readers:

Monica Black and Eric Kurlander (Eds.) Revisiting the 'Nazi Occult' (German History in Context) Camden House. (October 29, 2015)

Historians have long debated the role of the occult in the Third Reich. After 1945 the consensus held that occultism, an ostensibly anti-modern, irrational blend of pseudo-religious and -scientific practices, directly facilitatedthe rise of National Socialism. More recently, scholarly debate has denied the occult a role in shaping the Third Reich, emphasizing the Nazis' hostility to esoteric religion and alternative forms of knowledge. Bringing together cutting-edge scholarship on the topic, this volume calls for a fundamental reappraisal of these positions. 

The book is divided into three chronological sections. The first, on the period 1890 to 1933, looks at the esoteric philosophies and occult movements that influenced both the leaders of the Nazi movement and ordinary Germans who became its adherents. The second, on the Third Reich in power, explores how the occult and alternative religious belief informed it as an ideological, political, and cultural system. The third looks at Nazism's occult legacies. In emphasizing both continuities and disjunctures, this book promises to re-open and re-energize debate on the occult roots and legacies of Nazism, and with it our understanding of German cultural and intellectual history over the past century.

11.1.16

The Politics of Witch-Hunting

Peter Elmer. Witchcraft, Witch-Hunting, and Politics in Early Modern England. Oxford University Press. (January 2016)

Witchcraft, Witch-hunting, and Politics in Early Modern England constitutes a wide-ranging and original overview of the place of witchcraft and witch-hunting in the broader culture of early modern England. Based on a mass of new evidence extracted from a range of archives, both local and national, it seeks to relate the rise and decline of belief in witchcraft, alongside the legal prosecution of witches, to the wider political culture of the period.

Building on the seminal work of scholars such as Stuart Clark, Ian Bostridge, and Jonathan Barry, Peter Elmer demonstrates how learned discussion of witchcraft, as well as the trials of those suspected of the crime, were shaped by religious and political imperatives in the period from the passage of the witchcraft statute of 1563 to the repeal of the various laws on witchcraft. In the process, Elmer sheds new light upon various issues relating to the role of witchcraft in English society, including the problematic relationship between puritanism and witchcraft as well as the process of decline.