Musings on The Apparitionists by Peter Manseau and the Rise of Spiritualism

From my very limited view of the world, it seems as though the belief in the paranormal, the presence of ghosts, and all things strange has been increasing over the years. It certainly has for me. Whether this is due to the media’s attention placed on paranormal content like TV shows, radio, and podcasts or the world’s growing distance to traditional Christianity. Spiritualism has had many ups and downs over the centuries, with very clear revivals in certain decades. 

The Apparitionists by Peter Manseau takes a look at the late 1800s during the invention of photography and how that came to influence people’s belief in the existence of spirits. I was introduced to this book by a colleague of mine at work who was telling me how interesting the concept was, and I’ve had this on my reading list for awhile. I finally had the chance to read it during quarantine and found it to be very interesting for the kinds of ideas it presents and the overall narrative of how photography developed in close proximity to Spiritualism and the fairly prominent court case that was spread around the US with the creation of Morse Code at about the same time. This intersectionality of technology and spirituality is super interesting to me because we are seeing it again in modern times. 

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Musings on Witches of America by Alex Mar

Cover of Witches of America by Alex Mar

I’ve been going down a long rabbit hole of magic and witchcraft related content these past two months as I get back into the swing of being religious and actually practicing said religion. As I was scrolling through the sparse offerings of my library, I stumbled on this book by Alex Mar. Witches of America is an in-depth, anthropological and biographical look at witchcraft and mystery religions in America. Mar travels across America to see what she can learn from different segments of paganism and witchcraft, searching for her own brand of spirituality. She winds up getting involved with a lot of really interesting religions that make a point of only revealing the inner-working of their craft to initiates. Which got me thinking: how have mystery religions — those religions that require initiation before secrets are revealed — adapted to the modern world of social media and the general public nature of social interaction now?

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Musings on Practical Solitary Magic by Nancy B Watson

There are some days when I question how well my personality fits into the very metaphysical and faith based practices of Wicca and magic. I spent a lot of time in high school and college studying psychology, even adding it as a secondary degree. It allowed me to view the world through a new way of thinking, to understand both myself and other people. The brain is one big mystery even now, but studying psychology helped me become more objective and learn just a little bit more about how my dysfunctional brain worked.

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