Current Issue Abstracts

Volume 17, Number 3, Winter 2022


Harbinger of the Witches' Sabbath? The Emergence of Devil Worship Imagery in the Trial of the Templars
František Novotný

This article discusses the emergence of demonological elements in specific cases in the Trial of the knights Templar between 1307 and 1312. It focuses on the elements of demonic sexuality, and the Devil's appearance in an animal form, both forerunners of the later Witches' Sabbath imagery. I argue that although these elements were not a complete novelty to medieval heresiological thought and inquisitorial practice, with the Trial of the Templars, they were considerably elaborated. Importantly, these motifs did not constitute a firm and integral part of the early fourteenth century inquisitorial thought about heresy; they appeared in a very limited number of recorded depositions of the Templars, produced under unusual circumstances. In these extraordinary cases, I show that unexperienced investigators deviated from the standard reservoir of heresiological knowledge, combining it with information from different kinds of sources about the possibilities of demonic activity. This should be considered an important pattern in the transformation of late Medieval thought about heresy into the theory of diabolical Witchcraft.


Magically Measuring Morals with Food: Two Vernacular Medieval Iberian Exempla
Veronica Menaldi

This article explores the use of food as an essential fictional trigger of time-bending enchantments in two Iberian exempla from frametale narratives—Don Juan Manuel's Castilian fourteenth-century El Conde Lucanor and Isaac Ibn Sahula's Hebrew thirteenth-century Mešal Haqadmonī (a possible source for Don Juan Manuel).. In both "Exenplo XI" and "The Crow's Story" a knowledgeable student seeks out a teacher adept in the magical arts. The students are hospitably greeted by their prospective teachers and either offered or promised a certain food item—roasted partridges or wine—before they descend into a subterranean space unknowingly entering an illusionary reality meant to test their moral fiber. This article compares the use of food in the two stories and illuminates the particularity of the differences connected to the cultural complex of partridges.


John Brown's Soul Goes Marching On: The Spiritualist Press and the Representation of John Brown
Ian S. Wilson

During the nineteenth century, America was entranced by the new religious movement known as spiritualism—the practice of communicating with spirits of the dead through mediums. This article examines how spiritualist newspapers that advocated for the abolition of slavery and other reforms managed to voice support for John Brown and his legendary 1859 raid at Harper's Ferry while also maintaining their commitment to non-violence. The spiritualist movement necessarily had a divided view of Brown (most of the press admired him for his cause even if they disliked his methods), but they were not unwilling to pass on the words of his spirit. I show that the spiritualist press represented his spirit (post-mortem) in ways politically useful but antithetical to how he lived his life.



Claire Fanger


An Irradiation of Latin Grammarians, or The De radiis is not by al-Kindī
Sylvain Matton



Global Tantra: Religion, Science, and Nationalism in Colonial Modernity by Julian Strube (review)
Nicholas Collins


Mattering the Invisible: Technologies, Bodies, and the Realm of the Spectral ed. by Diana Espírito Santo and Jack Hunter (review)
Claire Fanger


Secrecy: Silence, Power, and Religion by Hugh B. Urban (review)
Dmitry Galtsin


Reformation, Revolution, Renovation: The Roots and Reception of the Rosicrucian Call for General Reform by Lyke de Vries (review)
Timothy Grieve-Carlson


William Lethaby, Symbolism and the Occult by Amandeep Kaur Mann (review)
Zachary R. Schwarze


High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies by Erik Davis (review)
Matt Southey


Poisoned Wells: Accusations, Persecution, and Minorities in Medieval Europe, 1321–1422 by Tzafrir Barzilay (review)
Arina Zaytseva