Communication with the Dead

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 March 2024) | Viewed by 3808

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Interests: belief narratives; witchcraft; the dead; vernacular religion

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Pécs, 7622 Pecs, Hungary
Interests: folk belief; vernacular religion; witchcraft; shamanism; cult of the dead

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Communication with the dead is a rather universal phenomenon of human culture, with many common features but also local, geographical, temporal, and ethnic variations as well as religious differences. In this volume, we aim to expand our current knowledge on communication between the living and the dead by examining the current social embeddedness of the phenomena and new goals and new forms of communication with the dead emerging within new social, public, ideological, and political conditions (wars, migration, political, ideological and religious globalization, new alternative spiritualities, etc.) as well as by presenting case studies from previously unexplored geographical areas (especially, but not exclusively, East-Central Europe).

Authors are encouraged to touch upon a variety of topics, among others on the forms of communication with the dead (dreams, visions, ecstasy, near-death experience, necromancy, private practices and public rituals, ghost walks, legend trips, etc.); the social context of communication with the dead (community of the living and the dead, ancestors and ghosts, time, place, occasions of the communication); specialists (fortune tellers, seers, visionaries, mediums, etc.); aims of communication (providing for the needs of the dead in the afterlife; asking for advice or help to the benefit of individual, family or wider community; divination; gaining knowledge and initiation of healers, soothsayers, and prophets through the dead, etc.), and others. The purpose of this volume is to illuminate the topic of communication with the dead from a multidisciplinary perspective, that is, from the perspectives of a variety of academic disciplines—folkloristics, ethnology and anthropology, history, religious studies, psychology, and others.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400-600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send these to the guest editors Éva Pócs (pocseva7@gmail.com) and Mirjam Mencej (mirjam.mencej@ff.uni-lj.si) and to the /Religions/ Editorial Office (coraline.chen@mdpi.com) by 10 September 2023. Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. You will be notified about the selection by 30 September 2023. If accepted, papers of min. 4000 to max. 20000 words are to be submitted by 30 March 2024. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review. The Special Issue will be published by December 2024.

Prof. Dr. Mirjam Mencej
Prof. Dr. Éva Pócs
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • the dead
  • dreams
  • ecstasy
  • near-death experience
  • necromancy
  • visions
  • rituals
  • mediums
  • seers
  • visionaries
  • fortune tellers
  • ancestors
  • ghosts

Published Papers (5 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

14 pages, 286 KiB  
Article
The Dead in Vernacular Magic Practices among Bosniaks
by Mirjam Mencej
Religions 2024, 15(5), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050605 - 14 May 2024
Viewed by 294
Abstract
Based on fieldwork research among the Bosniak (Muslim) population in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, this article starts with the technique of summoning the dead, aimed at obtaining information about missing goods. It argues that the practice of summoning the dead, like [...] Read more.
Based on fieldwork research among the Bosniak (Muslim) population in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, this article starts with the technique of summoning the dead, aimed at obtaining information about missing goods. It argues that the practice of summoning the dead, like practices aimed at magically harming others, is based on the same moral rules that govern everyday relations between the living and the dead. While these rules are generally followed and observed in everyday life, they can also be deliberately inverted to one’s own advantage or to the disadvantage of others. Ultimately, I argue that the dead prove to be moral agents who act when moral norms are violated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with the Dead)
16 pages, 332 KiB  
Article
The Living and the Dead in Slavic Folk Culture: Modes of Interaction between Two Worlds
by Svetlana M. Tolstaya
Religions 2024, 15(5), 566; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050566 - 30 Apr 2024
Viewed by 426
Abstract
Slavic folk culture is a fusion of Christian and of pre-Christian, pagan beliefs based on magic. This article is devoted specifically to ancient pre-Christian ideas about death and posthumous existence and the associated magical rituals and prohibitions, which persist to our time. It [...] Read more.
Slavic folk culture is a fusion of Christian and of pre-Christian, pagan beliefs based on magic. This article is devoted specifically to ancient pre-Christian ideas about death and posthumous existence and the associated magical rituals and prohibitions, which persist to our time. It considers the following interactions between the living and the dead: 1. the measures taken and prohibitions observed by the living to ensure their well-being in the other world; 2. the measures taken by the living to ensure the well-being of their dead relatives in the other world (including funeral rites; memorial rites; cemetery visits; providing the dead with food, clothes, and items necessary for postmortem life; and sending messages to the other world); 3. communication between the living and the dead on certain days (including taking opportunities to meet, see, and hear them; treat them; prepare a bed for them; and wash them); 4. fear of the dead and their return and the desire to placate them to prevent them from causing natural disasters (hail, droughts, floods, etc.), crop failures, cattle deaths, diseases, and death; 5. magical ways for protecting oneself from the “walking dead”; 6. transforming the dead into mythological characters—for example, house-, water-, or forest-spirits and mermaids. The material presented in the article is drawn from published and archival sources collected by folklorists and ethnographers of the XIX and XX centuries in different regions of the Slavic world, as well as from field recordings made by the author and his colleagues in Polesie, the borderland of Belarus and Ukraine, in the 1960–1980s, in the Russian North and in the Carpathian region in the 1990s. It shows that the relationship between the living and the dead in folk beliefs does not fit comfortably within the widespread notion of an “ancestor cult”. It argues that the dead are both venerated and feared and that the living feel a dependence on their ancestors and a desire to strictly observe the boundary between the two worlds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with the Dead)
10 pages, 258 KiB  
Article
Traces of Necromantic Divinatory Practices in the Picatrix
by Endre Ádám Hamvas
Religions 2024, 15(4), 512; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040512 - 21 Apr 2024
Viewed by 685
Abstract
In the famous medieval magical manual called the Picatrix, the unknown author describes the phenomenon of magic with the term nigromantia. As is well known, the original meaning of the Greek term necromantia has a more concise meaning. It is used for a [...] Read more.
In the famous medieval magical manual called the Picatrix, the unknown author describes the phenomenon of magic with the term nigromantia. As is well known, the original meaning of the Greek term necromantia has a more concise meaning. It is used for a special kind of divination, i.e., divination through the parts of a cadaver and the conjured spirit of the dead. Seemingly, in the Picatrix, no necromantic ritual can be found; moreover, the author stresses that his main goal is pious, i.e., to find the path leading to the ultimate source of the universe, the one and only God. In my article, I show that on some pages of the Picatrix, there are traces of divinatory practices that may be connected to the original meaning of the term nigromantia. In the third book of the manual, descriptions of some interesting rituals attributed to the pagan Sabeans of Harran and their teacher, the god Hermes can be found. During the practices, the magician involved conjured spirits of the heavenly bodies and powers as well. Because of this, by looking closely at and analyzing the given text, it is possible to piece together a complex web of necromantic and demonic divinatory rituals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with the Dead)
16 pages, 602 KiB  
Article
Dead Men Talking: Ibn ‘Arabī’s Interactions with Messengers and Saints
by Ismail Lala
Religions 2024, 15(4), 504; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040504 - 19 Apr 2024
Viewed by 577
Abstract
The mystical thinker Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabī (d. 638/1240) had many audiences with the dead. This article explores who Ibn ‘Arabī interacted with, and how. Usually as dreams and visions, the meetings Ibn ‘Arabī had with messengers were generally at key milestones in [...] Read more.
The mystical thinker Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabī (d. 638/1240) had many audiences with the dead. This article explores who Ibn ‘Arabī interacted with, and how. Usually as dreams and visions, the meetings Ibn ‘Arabī had with messengers were generally at key milestones in his life, or to confer particular distinctions upon him. A special subset of these visions was of Prophet Muḥammad specifically, and these were to derive a legal ruling from him, or because he was under the special care of the Prophet. Conversely, the audiences he had with departed saints were largely to do with more quotidian issues, either regarding his relationship with spiritual masters, or to correct a misapprehension about someone. Finally, but more seldom, he had physical interactions with corporealised spirits from beyond. As these betrayed a higher rank than mere visions, they were reminiscent of his audiences with messengers in that they confirmed his exalted spiritual rank. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with the Dead)
Show Figures

Figure 1

10 pages, 248 KiB  
Article
Whose Soul Is It?—Destinative Magic in East-Central Europe (14th–18th Centuries)
by Benedek Láng
Religions 2024, 15(3), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030377 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 769
Abstract
This study explores destinative elements in late medieval and early modern learned magic in East-Central Europe, focusing on names, images, characters, invocations, and addresses facilitating communication with transcendental entities. It contends that a thematic shift occurred in the early modern era, witnessing a [...] Read more.
This study explores destinative elements in late medieval and early modern learned magic in East-Central Europe, focusing on names, images, characters, invocations, and addresses facilitating communication with transcendental entities. It contends that a thematic shift occurred in the early modern era, witnessing a decline in destinative talisman texts, replaced by a surge in treasure-hunting manuals. Drawing from legal cases and treasure-hunting manuals, the research aims to categorize the “souls” frequently invoked in these practices. The term “souls” is interpreted as either spirits or the souls of the deceased, reflecting the significant role of the dead in treasure hunting, often conducted in cemeteries. This shift is linked to changes in the sociocultural background of practitioners, marking a transformation in magical practices from destinative talismans to treasure hunting, revealing a nuanced evolution in East-Central European magical traditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with the Dead)
Back to TopTop