Fairies, Demons, and Nature Spirits: 'Small Gods' at the Margins of Christendom

Fairies, Demons, and Nature Spirits: 'Small Gods' at the Margins of Christendom

by Michael Ostling

NOOK Book1st ed. 2018 (eBook - 1st ed. 2018)

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This book examines the fairies, demons, and nature spirits haunting the margins of Christendom from late-antique Egypt to early modern Scotland to contemporary Amazonia. Contributions from anthropologists, folklorists, historians and religionists explore Christian strategies of encompassment and marginalization, and the ‘small gods’ undisciplined tendency to evade such efforts at exorcism. Lurking in forest or fairy-mound, chuckling in dark corners of the home or of the demoniac’s body, the small gods both define and disturb the borders of a religion that is endlessly syncretistic and in endless, active denial of its own syncretism. The book will be of interest to students of folklore, indigenous Christianity, the history of science, and comparative religion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781137585202
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication date: 11/23/2017
Series: Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 366
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Michael Ostling is Honors Faculty Fellow at Arizona State University, USA, and Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland, Australia. Author of Between the Devil and the Host: Imagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland (2011), he writes on witchcraft, popular religion, history of emotions, theory in Religious Studies, and critical pedagogy.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Where’ve all the Good People Gone?; Michael Ostling.- Part I: Demonization and its Discontents.- 2. The Threat of Headless Beings: Constructing the Demonic in Christian Egypt; David Frankfurter.- 3. Secrets of the Síd: The Supernatural in Medieval Irish Texts; Lisa Bitel.- 4. The Good, the Bad, and the Unholy: Ambivalent Angels in the Middle Ages; Coree Newman.- 5. Between Fallen Angels and Nature Spirits: Russian Demonology of the Early Modern Period; Dmitriy Antonov.- 6. Crisis at the Border: Amazonian Relations with Spirits and Others; Artionka Capiberibe.- Part II: Enlightenment and Its Ambiguities.- 7. Between Humans and Angels: Scientific Uses for Fairies in Early Modern Scotland; Julian Goodare.- 8. The Álfar, the Clerics, and the Enlightenment: Conceptions of the Supernatural in the Age of Reason in Iceland; Terry Gunnell.- 9. The Devil and the Spirit World In Nineteenth-Century Estonia: From Christianization to Folklorization; Ülo Valk.- 10. Dreaming of Snakes in Contemporary Zambia: Small Gods and the Secular; Johanneke Kroesbergen-Kamps.- Part III: Remnants, Relocations, and Re-Enchantments.- 11. Small Gods, Small Demons. Remnants of an Archaic fairy Cult in Central and South-Eastern Europe; Éva Pócs.- 12. Who Owns the World? Recognizing the Repressed Small Gods of Southeast Asia; Lorraine V. Aragon.- 13. Spirits, Christians and Capitalists in the Rainforests of Papua New Guinea; Michael Wood.- 14.  “Reconnecting to Everything:” Fairies in Contemporary Paganism; Sabina Magliocco.- 15. Afterword; Ronald Hutton

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This fascinating interdisciplinary collection illuminates a range of elusive spiritual creatures who in theory should occupy no place in the Christian cosmos. The scope is impressively broad, and readers are consistently challenged to think in new ways about Christianity’s often surprisingly dependent relationship with older forms of belief.” (Peter Marshall, University of Warwick, UK)

“This substantial volume takes fairies out of the scholarly closet and celebrates them as productions of local culture and spirituality that have somehow weathered the process of Christianization. The editor’s valuable introductory essay sets the stage for contributions ranging from Estonia to the Amazon and from Late Antique Egypt to present-day California. This collection will delight historians, students of religion, anthropology, folklore and anyone fascinated by the revolving door between paganism and Christianity.” (Charles Stewart, University College London, UK)

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