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Folklore, Religion and Contemporary Spirituality: Virtual Special Issue 2, 2011

Virtual Special Issues of Folklore

Folklore Virtual Special Issues are unique collections of articles, editorials, and podcasts, handpicked by the editor.

Each issue examines a particular theme within the discipline of folklore, offering original insights into a range of fascinating and curious topics.

The special editor of this Folklore, Religion and Contemporary Spirituality VSI is Marion Bowman. Listen to the podcast introduction by Juliette Wood and check out the Featured Articles and further reading from Folklore, which are free for Folklore Society members to download.

Download the podcast by Juliette Wood

Excerpt from the podcast:

From these six articles we get some flavour of the myriad nuances, multiple histories and contextual detail that must be taken into account when trying to understand and analyse religion as it is lived. The reality and diversity of religion resides in “the totality of all those views and practices of religion that exist among the people apart from and alongside the strictly theological and liturgical forms of the official religion,” as Don Yoder elegantly put it (Yoder 1974, 14). However, too often “popular” or “folk” beliefs, customs, material culture and practices outside a narrowly reified concept of “official religion” have been devalued or dismissed as quaint, mistaken, superstitious or deviant, not simply by polemicists assuming right is on their side, but by scholars of religion. As Norman Primiano has commented, however, “One of the hallmarks of the study of religion by folklorists has been their attempt to do justice to belief and lived experience” (Primiano 1995, 41). Particular aspects of folklore studies which complement the study of both “traditional” religion and contemporary/“alternative” spirituality include the disinclination to privilege written over oral forms; the recognition that belief spills over into every aspect of behaviour; and the appreciation of the dynamic nature of tradition, characterised by Henry Glassie as “the creation of the future out of the past” (Glassie 1995, 395).

Download the transcript

Featured Articles from Folklore

Modern Pagan Festivals: A Study in the Nature of Tradition, by Ronald Hutton vol. 119/3, 2008.

A Place of Community: “Celtic” Iona and Institutional Religion, by Rosemary Power, vol. 117/3, 2006.

The Holy Thorn Ceremony: Revival, Rivalry and Civil Religion in Glastonbury, by Marion Bowman, vol. 117/2, 2006.

“Folklore” and “Popular Religion” in Britain during the Middle Ages, by Carl Watkins, vol. 115/2, 2004

Taking Superstitions Seriously, by Torunn Selberg, vol. 114/3, 2003.

Sites, Sacredness, and Stories: Interactions of Archaeology and Contemporary Paganism, by Robert J. Wallis and Jenny Blain, vol. 114/3, 2003


Further Reading from Folklore

The Levitating Altar of Saint Illtud, by Andrew Evans, vol. 122/1, 2011.

A Theory of Vernacular Rhetoric: The Case of the “Sinner’s Prayer” Online, by Robert Glen Howard, vol. 116/2, 2005

Procession and Possession in Glastonbury: Continuity, Change and Manipulation of Tradition, by Marion Bowman, vol. 115/3, 2004.

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt: A Motif in Scandinavian Folk Art, by Nils-Arvid Bringéus, vol. 114/3, 2003.

Vernacular Religion and Nature: The “Bible of the Folk” Tradition in Newfoundland, by Marion Bowman, vol. 114/3, 2003

Folk Religion in a Calvinist Context: Hungarian Models and Scottish Examples, by Margaret A. Mackay, vol. 113/2, 2002.

The Legend of St. Cuthbert’s Beads: A Palaeontological and Geological Perspective, by N. Gary Lane and William I. Ausich, vol. 112/1, 2001.