Oom ang Makapangyarihan sa lahat


1876 (October 31):  Pierre Bernard was born as Perry Arnold Baker in Leon, Iowa.

1889:  Bernard met his yoga teacher, Sylvais Hamati.

1893:  Bernard and Hamati traveled to California.

1898:  Bernard ran the San Francisco College for Suggestive Sciences. He performed the “Kali Mudra” stunt to advertise the power of yoga.

1902:  Bernard was arrested for practicing medicine illegally.

1906:  Bernard published Vira Sadhana: The International Journal of the Tantrik Order of America

1906:  Bernard left San Francisco, traveling to Seattle and then New York City.

1910:  Bernard was arrested in New York City on charges of abduction. The charges were subsequently dropped.

1918:  Bernard and Blanche DeVries married.

1919:  Bernard created the Braeburn Country Club in Nyack, New York, with funding provided by Anne Vanderbilt.

1919:  State police raided the Braeburn Country Club

1924:  Bernard expanded the Braeburn Country Club to become the Clarkstown Country Club.

1933:  Bernard created the Clarkstown Country Club Sports Centre, with a baseball diamond and a football field.

1939:  Boxer Lou Nova trained under Bernard for his bout against Max Baer.

1941:  DeVries resigned from the Clarkstown Country Club, formalizing her separation from Bernard.

1955:  Bernard died.

1956:  DeVries sold the Clarkstown Country Club to the Missionary Training Institute.


Pierre Bernard, sometimes referred to as “Oom the Omnipotent,” was an early advocate of postural yoga in America. He created a number of short-lived organizations to promote yoga, Sanskri, and tantric teachings, including San Francisco College for Suggestive Therapeutics, The Tantrik Order of America, and the New York Sanskrit College. He finally found success in the Clarkstown Country Club, where he popularized postural yoga by training the wealthy, athletes, and celebrities.

Bernard demonstrated some genuine knowledge of hatha yoga, Vedic philosophy, and even tantric practices. However, he embellished this training with a good measure of charlatanism, especially in the first part of his career. After meeting his wife, Blanche DeVries, Bernard was able to make postural yoga acceptable to Americans by re-branding it as “physical culture” and a technique for achieving health, beauty, and athleticism. Prior to this, many Americans associated yoga and Hinduism with sexual deviance, primitivism, and white slavery. At their country club in Nyack New York, they trained heiresses, athletes, and celebrities, who further popularized yoga. For better or worse, Bernard pioneered an American movement that separated postural yoga from its Hindu roots, transforming it into a secular exercise form.

Pierre Bernard’s biography[Image at right]  is challenging because he used numerous aliases and provided false details about his origins. The most authoritative sources record that he was born in 1876 as Perry Arnold Baker in Leon, Iowa (Love 2010:9). Bernard often claimed he had travelled in India, although this seems implausible. He did, however, meet a man named Sylvais Hamati in 1889 in Lincoln, Nebraska, who taught him hatha yoga and Vedic philosophy. Hamati’s background is also murky. He had come to America from Calcutta and may have worked as a performer prior to meeting Bernard. Bernard began studying under Hamati for three hours a day and, in 1893, they travelled to California (Love 2010:12-13). In San Francisco, Bernard was able to meet some early representatives of Hinduism in America, including Swami Vivekananda and Swami Ram Tirath (Laycock 2013:104).

With help from his uncle, Dr. Clarence Baker, Bernard established a business using his yogic training as a sort of holistic medicine. By 1898, Bernard had established a business called the San Francisco College for Suggestive Therapeutics. That year, he performed a stunt called “the Kali Mudra” [Image at right] as a public demonstration of the power of yoga: Bernard entered a death-like trance and doctors were invited to probe or cut him in an attempt to elicit a response. In 1902, Bernard was arrested for practicing medicine illegally. This was the first of many obstacles as Bernard sought a way to earn a livelihood training Americans in yoga (Laycock 2013:104).

Bernard and Hamati were also experimenting with an esoteric group called The Tantrik Order of America. This group drew bohemians, actors, and artists, and offered training in Vedic philosophy, yoga, and tantra. Bernard had plans to create a network of Tantrik lodges in different cities; however, it remains unclear if significant groups were ever formed outside of San Francisco. In 1906, Bernard published the first and only volume of Vira Sadhana: The International Journal of the Tantrik Order of America.  [Image at right] Bernard also created a social club known as “The Bacchante Club,” where men dressed in Oriental-inspired robes, smoked hookahs, and watched women perform Oriental dances. The San Francisco police monitored The Bacchante Club, even sending in officers undercover (Love 2010:40). The police may have been motivated by sensationalized media stories about Hindu gurus mesmerizing and enslaving white women.

Bernard left San Francisco in 1906, possibly hoping to avoid police scrutiny. He and a few followers travelled to Seattle before re-locating to New Yo rk City. By 1910, Bernard had created a new Tantrik Order lodge on 74th Street in Manhattan. Once again, Bernard’s operation presented both an esoteric and an exoteric face: The lodge offered yoga classes to promote health and vigor as well as initiation into the secrets of the Tantrik Order (Laycock 2013:105).

Many of Bernard’s students were young women who had become interested in yoga after watching vaudeville performances of Oriental dancing. Bernard had a number of romantic relationships with his female students. One such student was Gertrude Leo, who had met Bernard in and followed him to New York. Bernard also had a relationship with Zelia Hopp. Hopp suffered from health problems and Bernard had approached her under the alias “Dr. Warren” and offered to help. On May 2, 1910, Hopp, along with Leo’s Sister, Jennie Miller, led detectives to Bernard’s school whereupon Bernard was arrested for abduction (Laycock 2013:105-06).

1910 was the same year that the Mann Act, also known as the White-Slave Traffic Act, was passed. Hopp and Leo’s story seemed to confirm many Americans’ worst fears about women being trafficked, and Bernard’s trial became a media coup. It was covered not only in New York City’s forty daily newspapers, but also in Seattle and San Francisco. Leo and Hopp reported that Bernard sometimes referred to himself as “the Great Om,” and by the afternoon after his arrest, headlines were calling him “Oom the Omnipotent.” They also claimed that Bernard had kept them in captivity using a combination of threats and hypnotic power. Bernard spent more than three months awaiting trial in the infamous Manhattan jail known as “The Tombs.” The case collapsed after Bernard’s lawyer was able to get Leo disqualified as a witness, and Hopp dropped all charges and fled New York City. With no witnesses, Bernard was released (Laycock 2013:107).

Bernard seems to have learned from this episode that Orientalist fantasies about yoga were a double-edged sword: They could attract clients in search of adventure, but they also played into a moral panic about gurus using nefarious forms of mind control to prey on women. During the trial Bernard insisted that yoga was merely “physical culture,” a talking point that he would continue to raise in the face of criticism.

Upon his release from The Tombs, Bernard moved to Leonia, New Jersey. When he returned to New York, he set up a new school, but this time he branded his teachings as academic, rather than esoteric. He called his new business the New York Sanskrit College and took the alias Homer Stansbury Leeds. He hired faculty from India to teach courses in Sanskrit, Vedic philosophy, Ayurvedic medicine, and Indian music. Unfortunately, the New York Sanskrit College was immediately the subject of rumors by neighbors and media in search of stories. The State Board of Education sent police to arrest him for running a “college” without any license or academic credentials. This time, Bernard evaded arrest end returned to Leonia (Laycock 2013:107-08).

In Leonia, Bernard began a new romance with the woman who would change his fortunes: Dace Shannon Charlot. Charlot had come to New York after leaving her abusive husband. Her divorce attorney also represented Bernard. Charlot’s divorce had attracted some media attention, which she hoped to use to launch a career in vaudeville. She changed her name to Blanche DeVries and studied dance at the New York Sanskrit College. [Image at right] Bernard and DeVries married in 1918, and in their letters the two refer to each other as “Shiva” and “Shakti,” respectively. DeVries understood how to find the right market for Bernard’s teachings. Bernard ceased fleeing police, holding “Bacchante Club” meetings, or using aliases. With DeVries’s guidance, Bernard opened several yoga studios around New York aimed exclusively at women (Laycock 2013:108).

One of Bernard’s new students was Margaret Rutherford, daughter of Anne Vanderbilt. In 1919, Mrs. Vanderbilt funded the Braeburn Country Club in Nyack, New York (Laycock 2013:108). The Club attracted wealthy aristocrats who sought to improve their health and relieve their boredom by studying yoga. The town was initially hostile to Bernard. There were rumors that Bernard ran “a love cult” and that he performed abortions. In its first year, mounted state police raided the club (Randall 1995:83). But Bernard soon became an important taxpayer and even a pillar of the community. In 1922, the New York Times wrote of him, “The ‘‘Omnipotent Oom’ . . . is known here simply as Mr. Bernard, one of the most active and patriotic townspeople of Nyack.”

In 1924, Bernard spent $200,000 purchasing and developing an additional seventy-six acres for his estate, renaming it the Clarkstown Country Club (Laycock 2013:108). This was followed by the creation of the massive Clarkstown Country Club Sports Centre in 1933, which featured a baseball diamond, a football field, and impressive electric lights (Love 2010:250). At the height of his career, Bernard owned $12,000,000 in real estate. He was the president of a county bank, owned a mortgage company, a reconstruction corporation, and a large realty company, and was the treasurer of the Rockland County Chamber of Commerce (Clarkstown Country Club 1935:124).

However, Bernard never shed his flamboyant style completely, which attracted more patrons to his club. He purchased a troupe of elephants as well as several apes and other exotic animals. The elephants were featured in an annual circus in which students performed as acrobats. Bernard also invented the sport of “donkey ball,” a variant of baseball with all players (save the catcher and pitcher) mounted on donkeys (Love 2010:274).

The club became a hub for Americans who were integrating Asian religions into American culture. Bernard’s nephew, Theos Bernard, travelled to Tibet before receiving his doctorate from Columbia University and publishing a classical text on hatha yoga. Bernard’s half-sister married Hazra Inayat Khan, the founder of The Sufi Order International (Ward 1991:40). The biochemist Ida Rolf studied under Bernard, and her physical therapy technique of structural integration or “rolfing” has similarities to the scientific approach to yoga advocated by Bernard (Stirling and Snyder 2006:8). In her youth, Ruth Fuller Sasaki spent time at the Clarkstown Country Club as therapy for her asthma (Stirling and Snynder 2006:6). She went on to be instrumental in importing Zen Buddhism to America, translating important several important texts into English.

In 1939, heavyweight boxer Lou Nova arrived at the country club to study yoga. The training had been conceived as a stunt to promote his upcoming fight with Max Baer. Nova learned headstands, meditation, and boxed with one of Bernard’s elephants, which had been trained to wear one oversized glove on its trunk. Newspapers reported that Nova had mastered “the cosmic punch” under Bernard’s training. Later, Nova patented a device called the “yogi nova” to assist practice with headstands (Laycock 2013:125). Figures like Nova helped to broadcast the idea to Americans that yoga could give athletes an edge.

By the end of the 1930s the Clarkstown Country Club had started a slow decline. Bernard also became estranged from DeVries, and in 1941 she resigned from the Club, formalizing her separation from Bernard (Love 2010:304). Bernard died in 1955. The following year, the nearby Missionary Training Institute purchased the land. Today, Nyack College stands on the former site of the Clarkstown Country Club. The campus folklore includes stories about paranormal phenomena left behind by the strange rituals allegedly performed by Pierre Bernard (Swope 2008).


 The Clarkstown Country Club had a sizeable library and Bernard lectured on a wide variety of topics. However, little is known about his actual beliefs regarding yoga and tantra. This problem is rendered more difficult by the fact that he catered his teachings to his audience, presenting himself as an esoteric master in some contexts, a holistic healer in others, and an athletic trainer in still others. There is no record of Bernard discussing doctrines of Hinduism such as karma, reincarnation, or moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth). Perhaps Bernard was most honest in a 1939 interview for American Weekly when he stated, “Yoga’s my bug, that’s all. Like another guy will go in for gardening or collecting stamps” (Love 2010:296).

There is some evidence that while he was running The Tantrik Order Bernard understood himself to be a traditional tantric guru and expected his initiates to regard him as having a quasi-divine status. This may be how Bernard regarded his own teacher, Sylvais Hamati. Intriguingly, Bernard’s publication Vira Sadhana contains an illustration of the Greek god Bacchus holding a staff and states that he came from India (Tantrik Order of America 1906:49). There are, of course, legends tying Bacchus’s Greek counterpart, Dionysus, to Asia. Bernard’s Bacchante club was named after Bacchus and Bernard may have believed that the Greek mystery schools were, in fact, a form of tantra imported from India.



Little is known about the Tantrik Order of America. [Image at right] It apparently had seven degrees of initiation, each of which required a blood oath. Women were allowed to join, as was revealed by testimony during Bernard’s 1910 trial for abduction. The Order seemed loosely modeled on Freemasonry, and its chapters were called “lodges.”

In New York City, we have some descriptions of Bernard’s yoga classes, which seem to have added elements of the exotic. A detective testifying at Bernard’s trial described students tumbling on a mat with “strange figures” on it while Bernard stood near a crystal ball (Laycock 2013:106). These esoteric elements were largely dropped by the time Bernard was running a country club. Bernard does seem to have pioneered important material aspects of American postural yoga, such as having specialized mats and having students wear tights while training.

The Clarkstown Country Club emphasized physical culture and adult education with a heavy dose of play and whimsy. A stone pediment at the gate stated, “HERE THE PHILOSOPHER MAY DANCE AND THE FOOL MAY WEAR A THINKING CAP” (Boswell 1965). In addition to yoga classes, Bernard would lecture on a wide range of topics and maintained a large library. The Club forbade sex, liquor, and smoking, at least officially. Bernard still consumed cigars, and skinny-dipping was reported to be a popular activity.


Bernard seems to have regarded Sylvais Hamati as his guru. During his time in New York there were rumors that Bernard encouraged his students to think of him as a god. While this behavior disturbed Americans, it makes more sense in the context of tantra where gurus are understood as having a divine status. Bernard was also rumored to sometimes be deliberately off-putting around new students, doing things like chomping cigars and spitting near their feet, to test whether they were worthy to study under him (Watts 2007:120).

DeVries seems to have been essential in helping Bernard to rebrand himself. However, she does not seem to have been an equal partner in teaching yoga or running the finances of the Clarkstown Country Club. Despite their estrangement, she was left as Bernard’s sole heir and executress upon his death.


Bernard’s lifelong challenge was getting Americans to overcome their negative attitudes toward yoga, which were rooted in bigoted fear of Hinduism, racist attitudes toward Asians, Victorian attitudes about the body and sexuality, and a moral panic over white slavery. Of course, many Americans were interested in yoga because of Orientalist fantasies about beautiful dancing harem girls and athletic, savage men. Bernard was not above catering to these fantasies, which caused many to perceive him as a charlatan. He was ultimately able to strike a balance in which he made yoga appealing to those seeking beauty and athleticism without seeming scandalous.

Since Bernard, many Americans now associate yoga not with mysticism but with posh yoga supplies and vain people sculpting their bodies. Groups such as the Hindu American Foundation have expressed frustration that Americans have divorced yoga from its roots in Hinduism and turned it into a form of secular exercise (Vitello 2010). Bernard was clearly interested in Vedanta philosophy and would likely have taught a less secular form of yoga, if only Americans been ready for this in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Mga larawan
Image #1: Pierre Bernard.
Image #2: Bernard performing the Kali Mudra.

Larawan #3: Vira Sadhana: The International Journal of the Tantrik Order of America.
Image #4: Blan.che DeVries.
Image #5: Clarkstown Country Club.
Image #6: Tantric Order of America charter document.

Mga sanggunian

Boswell, Charles. 1965. “The Great Fuss and Fume Over the Omnipotent Oom.” True: The Man’s
 Magazine, Enero. Tinanggap mula sa http://people.vanderbilt.edu/~richard.s.stringer-hye/fuss.htm sa 22 2008 Nobyembre.

Clarkstown Country Club. 1935. Life at the Clarkstown Country Club. Nyack, NY: The Club.

Laycock, Joseph. 2013. “Yoga for the New Woman and the New Man The Role of Pierre Bernard and Blanche DeVries in the Creation of Modern Postural Yoga.” Relihiyon at Amerikanong Kultura: Isang Journal of Interpretation 23: 101-36.

Love, Robert. 2010. Ang Great Oom: Ang Improbable Birth of Yoga sa Amerika. New York: Viking.

Randall, Monica. 1995. Phantoms of the Hudson Valley: the Glorious Estates of Lost Era. New York: Overlook Press.

Stirling, Isabel and Gary Snyder. 2006. Ruth Fuller Sasaki: Zen Pioneer. New York: Shoemaker and Hoard Publishers.

Swope, Robin S. 2008. “The Specters of Oom” The Paranormal Pastor, Hulyo 1. Na-access mula sa http://theparanormalpastor.blogspot.com/2008/07/specters-of-oom.html on 3 March 2021.

Tantrik Order of America. 1906. Vira Sadhana: International Tantrik Order vol 1: issue 1. New York: Tantrik Press.

Ward, Gary L. 1991. “Bernard, Pierre Arnold.” Pp. 39-40 in Religious Leaders of America, edited by J. Gordon Melton. New York: Gale.

Watts, Alan. 2007. In My Own Way: An Autobiography 1915-1965. New York: New World Library.

Vitello, Paul. 2010. “Hindu Group Stirs a Debate Over Yoga’s Soul” New York Times, Nobyembre 27. Na-access mula sa https://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/nyregion/28yoga.html sa 3 March 2021.

Petsa ng Pag-publish:
9 Abril 2021


Santa Muerte


1860s:  On the northern frontier of what had been until recently the Viceroy of New Spain, in New Mexico and southern Colorado, a group of mestizo Penitentes were discovered worshiping death. The figure was venerated and referred to interchangeably as Santa Muerte and Comadre (co-godmother) Sebastiana.

1870s-1900:  There was virtually no mention of Santa Muerte in the traditional written historical record.

1940’s:  Santa Muerte reappeared in ethnographies penned by Mexican and North American anthropologists, primarily as a folk saint being appealed to by women seeking the saint’s help to bring back errant husbands and boyfriends.

2001:  On All Saints Day, Enriqueta Romero Romero placed her Santa Muerte statue outside the shop where she sold quesadillas. She thereby established the first public shrine dedicated to the devotion of death in the downtown Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito.

2003:  Self-declared “Archbishop” David Romo’s temple, the Traditional Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, Mex-USA was granted official recognition by the Mexican government. On August 15, the feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the church celebrated the inclusion of Santa Muerte in its set of beliefs and practices.

2003:  The Santuario Universal de Santa Muerte (Universal Sanctuary of Santa Muerte) was founded by “Professor” Santiago Guadalupe, a Mexican immigrant from the state of Veracruz, in Los Angeles.

2004:  One of Romo’s disgruntled priests filed a formal complaint over the church’s inclusion of the Santa Muerte in its devotional paradigm.

2005:  The Mexican government stripped the Traditional Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, Mex-USA of its official recognition. However, Mexican law did not require such sanctions, and the incident provoked political controversy.

2008:  After the death of her son, Jonathan Legaria Vargas, who had erected the largest effigy of Santa Muerte in Tultitlan Mexico City, his mother Enriqueta Vargas established the largest Santa Muerte network of transnational churches to honor Santa Muerte.

2009:  A growing number of people, in particular women, started establishing shrines to Santa Muerte across Mexico.


Santa Muerte’s name reveals much about her identity. La Muerte means death in Spanish and is a feminine noun (denoted by the feminine article “la”) as it is in all Romance languages. “Santa” is the feminine version of “santo,” which can be translated as “saint” or “holy,” depending on the usage. Santa Muerte is a folk saint, that is to say a saint of the folk, who is not recognized by the Catholic Church. Unlike official saints, who have been canonized by the Catholic Church, folk saints are spirits of the dead.[Image at right] They are considered holy for their miracle working powers by the local populace, to whom they are linked by locality and culture. Generally, they are local people who died tragic deaths and who thereafter were believed to listen to prayers and answer them with miracles. In Mexico and Latin America in general, folk saints command widespread devotion and are often more popular than the official saints. Where Santa Muerte differs from other folk saints is that for most devotees, she is the personification of death itself and not of a deceased human being.

The folk saint was created by the folk from an admixture of Indigenous death deities and the Grim Reaper during the colonial era when the Spanish introduced Catholicism.  The most common version of the story of the saint’s indigenous identity in Northern Mexico gives her Aztec origins but others give her Purepecha, Mayan or even Zapotec origins. For those in Northern Mexico, Santa Muerte is thought to have originated as Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec goddess of death who, along with her husband Mictlantecuhtli, ruled over the underworld, Mictlan. Like Santa Muerte, the deathly couple was traditionally represented as human skeletons or carnal bodies with skulls for heads. Aztecs believed that those who died of natural causes ended up in Mictlan, and they also invoked the gods’ supernatural powers for earthly causes.

When Spanish clergy came as part of the colonial conquest of the “New World,” they brought with them the figures of Mary, Jesus, the saints and the Grim Reaper to teach catechism during their conversion mission. While for the Spanish the Grim Reaper was but a representation of death, Indigenous people, following on from their devotion to death deities, took the Grim Reaper as a saint of death to be venerated for favors just like other saints, and Jesus. Drawing on traditions of sacred ancestral bones, worship of death deities and interpreting Christianity through their own cultural lens, they took the church’s skeletal figure of death for a saint in its own right. She was worshiped covertly for hundreds of years in total secrecy, due to punishment by the Spanish when they discovered Indigenous worshipers supplicating Santa Muerte.

Spanish colonial documents from 1793 and 1797 housed in the archives of the Inquisition describe local devotion to Santa Muerte in the present-day Mexican states of Querétaro and Guanajuato. The inquisitorial documents describe separate cases of “Indian idolatry” revolving around skeletal figures of death petitioned by Indigenous citizens for political favors and justice. [Image at right] Neither Mexican nor foreign observers recorded her presence again until the 1940s.

The first written references to the skeleton saint in the twentieth century mention her in the context of acting as a supernatural love doctor summoned by a red candle. Saint Death of the crimson candle comes to the aid of women and girls who feel betrayed by the men in their lives. Three anthropologists, one Mexican and two American, mentioned her role as a love sorceress in their research conducted in the 1940s and 1950s.

Mula sa mga 1790 hanggang 2001, pinarangalan ni Santa Muerte. Ang mga altars ay pinananatiling sa mga pribadong tahanan, sa labas ng pampublikong paningin, at mga medallion at scapulars ng skeleton saint ay nakatago sa ilalim ng mga kamiseta ng mga deboto, hindi katulad ngayon kung maraming ipinagmamalaking ipinapakita ang mga ito, kasama ang mga T-shirt, mga tattoo, at maging sapatos ng tennis bilang mga badge ng kanilang paniniwala.

The folk saint emerged publicly when Enriqueta Romero, a quesadilla-seller in Tepito, Mexico City placed her statue outside her modest home in 2001 in thanks to the folk saint for her son’s manumission from gaol. After this, devotion to death exploded, with many becoming devotees or declaring their faith publicly. Following in the footsteps of Romero, men and women such as Enriqueta Vargas who established a transnational church in 2008, began to open their own churches to the saint of death. It is female leaders who have been at the forefront of this movement as given its focus on the female folk saint of death, unlike the Catholic Church which precludes women from accessing positions of power, Santa Muerte considers all equal before death and that includes all genders. This has allowed women to emerge as prestigious and powerful spiritual leaders from Yuri Mendez in Cancun, who established the largest shrine in the city, and perhaps even in Quintana Roo, over a decade ago to Elena Martinez Perez who established the largest shrine to the folk saint in the region of Oaxaca over fifteen years ago. A prayer to Santa Muerte for women, originally written by Yuri Mendez, reveals the importance of women not only in spreading devotion but also in the many needs they have, their desires, their fears and why they turn to the female folk saint of death who they believe will treat them as an equal.

Santa Muerte, I, your fervent servant, ask you for me and for all those women who work hard every day to bring sustenance to the home, that we do not lack prosperity, that the doors of success be opened, I also ask for those who are studying, help them to fulfill their objectives satisfactorily.

“Protect our path, remove all evil and danger that surrounded us.

Drive away any man who wants to harm us, bless our marriage or our courtship.

Ensure that love is not lacking in our lives.

Santa Muerte, whatever my problems are, I trust you and I know that you will not leave me alone and you will help me (here the devotee should make their request as per the problem that they are going through)

I am a woman, I am your devotee, and I will be until the last day of my life, my life is in your hands, and I will walk calmly because I know that you are with me and you will not leave me all alone.

Bless and protect my family, my friends, keep all falsehood and hypocrisy away from me.

I thank you, I know that you listen to me and that always will listen to whatever I have to say. Give me much wisdom and sufficient temperance to walk within this society.

And I ask for nothing but respect, because I am a woman and I have the same rights as anyone else.

You are fair, and you will not allow me to suffer any humiliation from anyone.

I am a woman, I am your devotee and I will be until the last day of my life, may my requests will be heard


Several notable men have also established churches, but these have been fleeting. For example, David Romo who established the Traditional Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, Mex-USA was arrested in 2011 on various charges, including kidnapping, and his Church abruptly closed. Jonathan Legaria Vargas, also known as “Comandante Pantera” (Commander Panther) and “Padrino (Godfather) Endoque,” was a charismatically outspoken leader in the growing public devotional tradition surrounding Santa Muerte. He had built a towering seventy-five foot-tall effigy of Santa Muerte in Tultitlan on the gritty outskirts of Mexico City, and was on his way to becoming a centralizing figure in the loose knit community of Santa Muertistas.  However, in 2008 he was gunned down in his car as assailants sprayed it with 150 bullets, killing him instantly. His mother, Enriqueta Vargas however, made Santa Muerte spread transnationally by opening churches in Colombia, Costa Rica and across Mexico.

Trans figures have also been drawn to the folk saint. Since death judges no one since death comes to us all, the saint has a large LGBTQ+ following. One such trans leader in New York is Arely Vasquez who opened a shrine to Santa Muerte in Queens about a decade ago.

Santa Muerte is prayed to by a motley crew of followers from businesswomen and men, housewives to  lawyers to politicians and nurses. She is known above all for her appeal to those living at the margins of society and close to death. Indeed, much of the Saint’s popularity comes from a context of heightened awareness of death in Mexico, given the tragic amount of violence, death and destruction caused by the ongoing drug war which has been raging across Mexico for many decades and is only escalating under the current president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose policy of “abrazos no balazos,” (“hugs not bullets”) has proved ineffectual and only worsened the lives of those who must face narcoviolence on their doorstep daily. Femicide is also a major issue in Mexico with ten women murdered daily and a woman is raped every twenty seconds. Such gendered violence is treated with impunity. In such an environment, many rather than fearing death have forged a relationship with a saint of death, whom they ask for life and for protection from the heinous violence on the streets on Mexico.

Santa Muerte provides miracles to devotees, granting them love, luck, health, wealth, protection, well-being and much more. Santa Muerte is the only female saint of death in the Americas. She is most often depicted as a female Grim Reaper outfitted with a scythe and wearing a shroud. [Image at right] Often, she holds a set of scales representing her ability to deliver justice to those in trouble with the law, or who require revenge. Santa Muerte sometimes holds a globe that symbolizes her global dominion over the world as death herself. She typically appears with an owl perched at her feet. In Western iconography, the owl symbolizes wisdom, and some Mexicans view this nocturnal bird similarly. However, the Mexican interpretation relates much more to death. Indigenous death deities, the underworld and night were often linked to owls in precolonial times. Owls and their linkage as a harbinger of death are encapsulated in the popular Mexican proverb: “When the owl screeches, the Indian dies.”

The Pope and many bishops have decried Santa Muerte as a narco-saint and those who follow her as heretical. Even the government has followed this tack, especially under Calderon, who destroyed thousands of shrines on the US-Mexico border in a futile attempt to expunge the drug trade. Sometimes exorcisms are even carried out by Catholic Clergy to expunge apostates of her spirit. However, most Santa Muertistas (followers of Santa Muerte) view devotion to the folk saint as complementary to their Catholic faith or even a part of it, despite condemnation.

Santa Muerte has many familiar nicknames. She is known variously as the Skinny Lady, the Bony Lady, White Sister, Godmother, co-Godmother, Powerful Lady, White Girl, and Pretty Girl, among others. As godmother and sister, and often described as a mother, the saint becomes a supernatural family member, approached with the same type of intimacy Mexicans would typically accord their relatives. She is seen as caring, kind but also like any woman who is scorned, may also be wrathful. As part of their offerings, devotees may share their meals, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco, as well as marijuana products, with her.

In some ways adherents view her as a supernatural version of themselves. One of the main attractions of folk saints is their similarities with devotees and often a favorite offering, such as a particular brand of beer is also the devotee’s favorite. For this very reason people feel closer to folk saints and believe they can establish stronger bonds as they typically share the same nationality and social class with their folk saint. This is much the case with Santa Muerte, who is said to understand the needs of her devotees. Additionally, many devotees are attracted by the leveling effect of Santa Muerte’s scythe, which obliterates divisions of race, class and gender. One of the most oft-repeated acclamations is that the Bony Lady “doesn’t discriminate.”

Herein lies one of Santa Muerte’s great advantages in the increasingly competitive religious marketplace of Mexico and in the greatest faith economy on earth here in the United States. Much more than Jesus, the canonized saints, and the myriad advocations of Mary, Saint Death’s present identity is highly flexible. It is largely dependent on how individual devotees perceive her. Despite her skeletal form, which suggests death and dormancy to the uninitiated, the Bony Lady is a supernatural action figure who heals, provides, and punishes, among other things.

It has been estimated that 5,000,000 to 7,000,000 Mexicans venerate Santa Muerte, but numbers are hard to gauge and no official polls exist to date. The folk saint appeals to a motley crew that includes high school students, nurses, housewives, taxi drivers, drug traffickers, politicians, musicians, doctors, teachers, farmers and lawyers. Because of her condemnation by both Catholic and Protestant churches, more affluent believers tend to keep their devotion to the saint of death private, adding to the difficulty of quantifying just how many individuals are devoted to the skeleton saint. The saint has a huge following among the most marginalized and those whose professions entail that death is always at their door. This could be drug dealers, but also policemen, prostitutes, prisoners, delivery drivers, taxi drivers, firefighters, or miners. In Mexico, many occupations we consider safe in the U.S. are perilous. For example, delivery drivers are at high risk of being held at gunpoint by criminals and having their merchandise and van stolen, they may not live to tell the tale. Poverty is also high in Mexico, over Sixty-two percent of people live on very low income and forty-two percent below the poverty line. Given lack of income, precarious living conditions and narco-violence, death is never far away, and so many poor feature among the Bony Lady’s faithful. Women are also very drawn to the folk saint because, as pointed out, the religion proffers them opportunities in leadership roles. But women also join as they are a high-risk group in Mexico given that femicide is a severe; over ten women murdered daily and many more kidnapped to be raped, killed or sold into prostitution. Narcos do not only peddle drugs, they also work in the sex trade, the slave trade and the organs trafficking trade, among other iniquitous industries.  Many women ask the Bone Mother to proffer protection to them from such nefarious characters, and to keep their families safe from them too.

In terms of regions, the saint is most popular in the following five areas:  Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Chiapas, Veracruz, Oaxaca and Mexico City. Guerrero, home to Acapulco has a fervent following due to high criminality in the area. However, the saint is venerated across the country where she occupies more shelf and floor space than any other saint in dozens of shops and market stalls specializing in the sale of religious and devotional items throughout Mexico. Her candles are often sold in mainstream supermarkets, especially in areas where many worship her. Votive candles are the best selling of all the Santa Muerte products. Costing only a dollar or two, they afford believers a relatively cheap way of thanking or petitioning the saint, but some unable to afford them may use any candle they can find.

Santa Muerte, as a new religious movement, is generally informal and unorganized and only recently became widespread in 2001. Because of this and the lack of any official body overseeing the faith, it has absorbed many influences from other religions such as Palo Mayombe and Santeria (in Veracruz and other places where Cubans interact with Mexicans, especially in such regions in the U.S.). New Age influences have also become integral to Santa Muerte, with the most obvious example of this being the use of the seven colors corresponding to the seven chakras being integrated into the faith as Santa Muerte’s seven powers.

Over the last two decades, the Bony Lady has been accompanying her devotees in their crossings into the United States, establishing herself along the 2,000 mile-long border and in U.S. cities with Mexican immigrant communities. It is in the border states where she is most popular: Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Arizona. The faith as practised by Latino/as, although similar, tends to differ in some respects, especially in second generation devotees whose praxis changes from that of their parents who brought with them more Mexican traditions. In the younger generations, praxis becomes especially syncretic, absorbing influences from other Hispanic faiths as well as incorporating Heavy Metal elements popular in the U.S. Beyond these border states, devotion to Santa Muerte has spread to cities and towns deeper within the U.S., as indicated by the increasing availability of her devotional paraphernalia.

Los Angeles is the American mecca of the skeleton saint. It has two religious article stores bearing her name (Botanica Santa Muerte and Botanica De La Santa Muerte), and most botanicas stock many shelves of Santa Muerte paraphernalia. The City of Angels offers devotees three places of worship where they can thank the Angel of Death for miracles granted or petition her for assistance: Casa de Oracion de la Santisima Muerte (Most Holy Death House of Prayer) and Templo Santa Muerte (Saint Death Temple) and one of the largest shrines to the folk saint, La Basilica de la Santa Muerte. These are three of the first temples dedicated to her in the United States.

In Mexican, Texan, and Californian penitentiaries, worship of the Bony Lady is so widespread that in many she is the leading object of devotion and even prison guards may worship her. In less than a decade the folk saint has become the matron saint of the Mexican penal system and is also popular in American prisons. Almost all TV news coverage of her rapidly increasing folk faith in the United States has been provided by local stations in border cities. These news reports tend to be sensationalistic, playing up Saint Death’s alleged ties to drug trafficking, murder, and even human sacrifice, but these fail to portray the more commonplace devotion among the many other groups who worship the folk saint. The mushrooming devotional base is a heterogeneous group with various afflictions and aspirations who turn to her for a range of favors the most popular of which tend to be love, health and wealth.

The media portray the skeleton saint as a dark deity turned to for dirty deeds, since like most folk saints she is amoral she can be asked for anything, including to bless criminal activities. Nevertheless, Santa Muerte as worshiped by most believers is neither the morally pure virgin nor the amoral spiritual mercenary who perpetrates all kinds of dark deeds but a flexible supernatural figure who can be called on for all manner of miracles and it is precisely her multifaceted miracle-working that has ensured her flourishing follower among devotees from all walks of life.

Much more than an object of contemplation, [Image at right] the Bony Lady is a saint of action. Santa Muerte’s popularity as a folk saint also derives from her unique control over life and death. This is especially appealing in spaces of violence, such as prisons or drug-riddled neighborhoods; however, this does not mean only narcos worship her, for their violence puts many other populations at risk, including children who also feature among her followers. Devotion, as I have noted in my fieldwork, can start very young. Children fearing danger for themselves or their parents may turn to the folk saint and although unable to buy her lavish offerings they may express their faith in other ways, such as cleaning an altar, gifting a candy they got to her or saying a novena (a nine-day prayer) to the folk saint. [Image at right]

Her reputation as the most powerful and fastest acting saint is above all what attracts results-oriented believers to her altar. Most devotees perceive her as ranking higher than other saints, martyrs, and even the Virgin Mary in the celestial hierarchy. Saint Death is sometimes conceived of as an archangel (of death) who only takes orders from God himself. At other times she may be even considered more powerful than God since death is the ultimate power and become Goddess-like in her omnipotence and omniscience.


The logic of reciprocity underlies the way in which rank and file believers seek divine intervention. Much as in Christian contexts, the request for a miracle begins with a vow or promise. Thus, devotees request miracles from Saint Death in the same way they would from other saints, both folk and official, they then promise to repay her, often with offerings of victuals or libations, but they might also offer to change their ways, such as to stop gambling, taking drugs, drinking or driving recklessly.

Since many devotees are extremely poor even the smallest offering can be of significance, such as a bottle of water, especially in a country where clean water is a precious commodity. What distinguishes contracts with Santa Muerte is their binding power. If she is considered by many to be the most potent miracle worker on the religious landscape, she also has a reputation as a harsh punisher of those who disrespect her. Santa Muerte is said to bring revenge on those who break their promises, [Image at right] this could be by causing minor misfortunes or even visiting death upon their family or friends.

Most devotees visit shrines to pay their respects to the folk saint and give her offerings; this is also where they say prayers and light candles. However, most largely practice the faith within the privacy of their own homes, at ad hoc altars that they have assembled. These may be simple or ornate, depending on the income of the devotee and the space they have. They might consist of nothing but a small statue of Santa Muerte or even just a votive with offerings to the folk saint, or the altar could contain many large and lavish statues of the saint and figurines, such as owls and other items related to the folk saint, like skulls. Offerings at altars and chapels often consist of alcohol, sometimes tequila or other hard liquors, such as mezcal and whisky for the more affluent and beer for the impecunious. Devotees also love to offer flowers, the colors of which general correspond to the favor being asked; the more lavish and larger the bouquet the better. They also gift her foods; these may be homemade items such as tamales, or they may be fruits. Apples are a favorite offering. They may also provide nuts, bread rolls chocolate and candy, among other foods. In Mexico cigarettes are typically offered, while taking from the Cuban influence in the U.S. cigars are also frequently offered. The Bony Lady is always offered glasses or bottles of water as, like her forebear la Parca, she is said to be perpetually parched.

Prayers, novenas, rosaries, and even “masses” for Santa Muerte generally preserve Catholic form and structure if not content. In this way, the new religious movement offers neophytes the familiarity of Mexican Catholicism along with the novelty of venerating an emerging folk saint. Most shrines and chapels hold a rosary once a month in the honor of the folk saint. However, witchcraft and folk medicine beliefs are also central to the faith. Devotees believe in hexes and the need to seek protection from the folk saint to break them. They also often believe in folk medicine and the importance of spiritual cleansing.


Drawing heavily on Catholic modes of worship, devotees employ a colorful range of rituals, however, they also practice witchcraft, and, as detailed, the rituals also incorporate elements from New Age spirituality. The general lack of formal doctrine and organization means that adherents are free to communicate with Saint Death in whatever manner suits them, and so there is tremendous heteropraxy, with some devotees using tarot, dreams or other methods to “talk” to their saint. Prayers are sometimes impromptu and designed ad hoc for the purpose. However, as chap books and other tomes, such as the Biblia de la Santa Muerte (a prayer book featuring petitions to the folk saint featured on amazon) circulate, a certain amount of orthopraxy is emerging.

One such typical prayer that has emerged was pioneered by the godmother of the new religious movement, Enriqueta Romero Romero (affectionately known as Doña Queta). She created the rosary to Santa Muerte (el rosario) by adapting a Catholic series of prayers dedicated to the Virgin. She took these prayers and largely swapped the Virgin’s name for Santa Muerte’s to honor the folk saint within a Catholic framework. Doña Queta organized the first public rosaries at her Tepito shrine in 2002, and since then the practice has proliferated throughout Mexico and in the United States. The monthly worship service at Doña Queta’s altar regularly attracts several thousand faithful.

Among the most common ways to petition Santa Muerte is through votive candles, often color coded for the specific type of intervention desired. Santa Muertistas may employ votive candles in the traditional Catholic way or they may add to this ritual with witchcraft rites. Spell books circulate which often advise devotees to recite prayers, light candles, but also use items as used in witchcraft during rituals. For example, a love spell may feature the use of a red Santa Muerte image, [Image at right] a red Santa Muerte statue but also a lock of hair or piece of clothing from a loved on that will need to be used in a specific way for the spell to be cast.

Most devotees use votive candles as mainline Catholics would, offering these wax lights as symbols of vows, for thanks or prayers. In addition to candles, devotees make offerings that correspond to things they desire. For example, red roses may be given for a petition for love, or money may be offered for good fortune. The main colors used in Santa Muerte rituals are red, white and black. This trio dominated in the earlier stages, but many have been added since then. Red has typically been for favors related to love and passion. White has been for cleansing, healing and harmony. Black has notoriously been said to be the color of black magic, hexing and for narcos and criminals seeking blessings and help with their nefarious activities. However, this is an incorrect portrayal; many use black for protection and safety and more recently, since COVID-19, this color is being used for protection and healing from the virus.

Votive candles, flowers and statue colors correspond to the favors being asked:

red: love, romance, passion, petitions of a sexual nature

black: vengeance, harm; protection and safety from coronavirus

white: purity, protection, gratitude, consecration, health, cleansing

blue: focus, insight and concentration; popular with students

brown: enlightenment, discernment, wisdom

gold: money, prosperity, abundance

purple: supernatural healing, for working magic, access to spiritual realms

green: justice, equality before the law

yellow: overcoming addiction

yellow, white and blue: road opener

yellow and green: business prosperity and money

black and red: reversing black magic and ill fortune, sending hexes back to sender

multicolored: multiple interventions


The long period of furtive devotion ended on All Saints Day, 2001. Doña Queta, [Image at right] who at the time worked as a quesadilla vendor, publicly displayed her life-size Santa Muerte effigy outside her home in Tepito, Mexico City’s most notoriously dangerous barrio. In the decade since then, her historic shrine has become the new religious movement’s most popular in Mexico. More than any other devotional leader, Doña Queta has played the starring role in transforming occult veneration of the saint into a very public new religious movement.

Just a few miles away, self-declared “Archbishop” David Romo founded the first church dedicated to the Santa Muerte. Borrowing heavily from Roman Catholic liturgy and doctrine, the Traditional Holy Catholic Apostolic Church Mex-USA offered “masses,” weddings, baptisms, exorcisms, and other services commonly found at most Catholic churches in Latin America, but it was closed down in 2011 when Romo was arrested for multiple criminal charges, including kidnapping.

In the United States, the Los Angeles based Templo Santa Muerte offers a full range of Catholic-like sacraments and services, including weddings, baptisms, and monthly rosaries. The Templo’s website hosts a chat room and streams music and podcasts of masses to those who cannot make it to the services offered by “Professors” Sahara and Sisyphus, founders of the Templo. Both leaders emigrated to the United States from Mexico. The latter’s training included an apprenticeship with two Mexican shamans, one of whom “taught him to speak to Most Holy Death.” Their rituals are very much influenced by New Age rites and are highly syncretic due to the U.S. influence.

Ang ilang milya sa buong bayan ay ang Santuario Universal de Santa Muerte (Saint Death Universal Sanctuary). Ang Sanctuary ay matatagpuan sa gitna ng Mexican at Central American immigrant community ng LA. Ang "Propesor" na si Santiago Guadalupe, na orihinal na mula sa Catemaco, Veracruz, isang sikat na bayan para sa panggagaway, ay ang salamangkero ng Santa Muerte na namumuno sa simbahan ng storefront na ito. Ang mga tapat na mananampalataya ay dumadalaw sa Sanctuary para sa mga pagbibinyag, kasal, rosaryo, novenas, exorcisms, cleansings, at indibidwal na espirituwal na pagpapayo.

Enriqueta Vargas [Image at right] was one of the most famous leaders. She started The SMI (Santa Muerte Internacional) temple in Tultitlan in 2008, beneath the feet of the largest statue of Santa Muerte in the world, which her son had built before his murder. She established a network of shrines across Mexico and into other Latin American countries, such as Costa Rica, spreading the faith. Through her innovative use of social media platforms and digital communication tools, along with her charismatic Evangelical-style leadership, the organization has become a popular source for information on Santa Muerte. It is built upon a strong global community of devotees connected through live video coverage of regular worship services at the shrine and digital outreach on Facebook. When she died in 2018 from cancer, her daughter took over and continues her mother’s work.

Aside from these most famous shrines, innumerable chapels have been started across Mexico, with men and women spreading the faith. In large part it has been women who have established the most shrines to the Saint of Death, creating prestige and power for themselves and guiding community relations. Other famous female shrine owners and Santa Muerte leaders include Yuri Mendez, who over a decade ago established the largest shrine to Santa Muerte in Cancun; it is also the most prominent in the region of Quintana Roo.  The chapel features innumerable statues of the female folk saint of death, and some have Mayan-derived names, such as Yuritzia, the most important and powerful statue in the shrine with whom Mendez has a special bond. Mendez is considered a guide within her community. As a self-identified witch, shaman and healer, she offers services of healing, magic and curanderismo (curing through plant medicines). As a “bruja de la 3 virtudes” (witch of the three virtues), she offers red, black and white magic to devotes. Her rosary every second day of the month attracts hundreds of devotees. Mendez has a distinctly feminist outlook on devotion to death, using her prestige and social capital as a Santa Muerte leader to highlight women’s issues. These include femicide, and aiding women with distinctly feminine issues, such as domestic violence or men who do not pay for child support.

Elena Martinez Perez [Image at right] is another notorious Santa Muerte figure in the region of Oaxaca. The Indigenous Zapotec sabia (wise woman) established her shrine in Oaxaca to thank Santa Muerte for a miracle of healing in c. 2002. It has expanded from a small makeshift structure and has been rebuilt several times; it is now a large and renowned chapel that receives hundreds of weekly visits. Her family, largely the female members, help her run, clean and decorate it, while her sons and grandsons play a lesser but  still important role in construction and other tasks that require heavy lifting. Her daughter-in-law and daughter more recently opened a shop by the shrine where they sell candles to the many devotees who come to pray. The shrine is famous in the region for its incredible celebrations honoring Santa Muerte during Day of the Dead in November. This includes two days of rituals, music and festivities during which the shrine is decorated sumptuously. These celebrations are uniquely Oaxacan and influenced by Indigenous culture.

Other notable female shrine owners are Adriana Llubere who became a devotee in the year 2000 and in 2010 erected a chapel featuring a statue which she calls Canitas, in San Mateo Atenco. Measuring one meter eighty centimeters high, Canitas is perhaps the only representation of Santa Muerte that is capable of standing or sitting, as required for different times or circumstances. Llubere is known for rolling her statue around in a wheelchair, especially during special occasions. The statue is the unofficial matron saint of those who have been falsely incarcerated. After being freed from jail for what she claims was bogus charges, Llubere commissioned the prisoners of Almoloya de Juárez to make the statue for her. To this day the prisoners there, in penitentiaries across Mexico, and even in the U.S., have a special attachment to this effigy, especially those who believe they were innocent. Upon their release, many make a pilgrimage to thank Canitas, whose name means little inmate, as being “en cana” (slang for being in jail).

Other notable shrine owners are Sorraya Arredondo who owns a large chapel called “Angel Allas Negras” (Angel with Black Wings) in Tula in Hidalgo that is dedicated uniquely to Santa Muerte in her black form and features a large befeathered statue known as La Guerrera Azteca, the Aztec Warrior. It honors the folk saint as of Nahua origin. About an hour and a half away in Tizayuca Hidalgo, Maria Dolores Hernández owns a shrine known as La Niña Blanca de Tizayuca, the White Girl of Tizayuca where she offers tarot and other spiritual services. Michelle Aguilar Espinoza and her family own a famous shrine in San Juan Aragon called la Capilla de Alondra since its wooden effigy of Santa Muerte is called Alondra. It wields a wooden scythe that has been passed down for generations and is believed to have special powers.


The Catholic Church in Mexico has taken a decisive stance against Santa Muerte, denouncing the new religious movement on the grounds that the veneration of death is tantamout to honoring an enemy of Christ. The Church argues that Christ defeated death through resurrection; therefore, his followers must align themselves against death and its representatives, including Santa Muerte. The previous Mexican president, Felipe Calderon, was a member of the National Action Party (PAN), founded by conservative Roman Catholics in 1939. Calderon’s administration declared Santa Muerte religious enemy number one of the Mexican state. In March 2009 the Mexican army bulldozed dozens of roadside shrines dedicated to the folk saint along the US-Mexico border. However, under the current president, AMLO, there has been less pressure to destroy shrines.

A number of high-profile drug kingpins and individuals affiliated with kidnapping organizations are Santa Muertistas. The prevalence of Santa Muerte altars at crime scenes and in the cells of those imprisoned has created the impression that she is a narco-saint; however, this is due to press sensationalism. Many narcos worship St. Jude, Jesus, the Virgin of Guadalupe, El Nino de Atocha (an advocation of the Christ Child), these figures have not attracted the same media attention. Many of her devotees are members of society who have been marginalized by the prevailing socio-economic order. This could be due to their sexual orientation or due to their class, since the working class is typically looked down upon. In either event, because of their low status in the eyes of the upper classes and the powerful, they and their faith are often dismissed as deviant.


** The material in this profile is drawn from the following papers          and book: R. Andrew Chesnut, Nakatuon sa Kamatayan (Oxford 2012).


Aguirre, Beltran. 1958. Cuijla esbozo etnográfico de un pueblo negro Lecturas Mexicanas.

Aridjis, Eva, dir. 2008. La Santa Muerte. Navarre, FL: Navarre Press.

Aridjis, Homero. 2004. La Santa Muerte: Sexteto del amor, las mujeres, los perros y la muerte. Mexico City: Conaculta.

Bernal S., María de la Luz. 1982. Mitos y magos mexicanos. Second Edition. Colonia Juárez, Mexico: Grupo Editorial Gaceta.

Chesnut, R. Andrew. 2012. “Santa Muerte: Mexico’s Devotion to the Saint of Death.” Huffington Post, January 7. Accessed from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/r-andrew-chesnut/santa-muerte-saint-of-death_b_1189557.html
sa 25 March 2021.

Chesnut, R. Andrew. 2003. Mga Competitive Spirit: Bagong Relihiyosong Ekonomiya ng Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cortes, Fernando, dir. 1976. El miedo no anda en burro. Diana Films.

Del Toro, Paco, dir. 2007. La Santa Muerte. Armagedon Producciones.

Graziano, Frank. 2007. Mga Kulturang Debosyon: Mga Katutubong Bayan ng Espanyol Amerika. New York: Oxford University Press.

Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. 1974. “Godfather Death.” Tale 44 in The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales. New York: Pantheon. Na-access mula sa http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm044.html sa 20 Pebrero 2012.

Holman, E. Bryant. 2007. Ang Santisima Muerte: Isang Mexican Folk Saint. Self-publish.

Kelly, Isabel. 1965. Folk Practices sa North Mexico: Kapanganakan ng Kapanganakan, Tradisyong Tradisyonal, at Espirituwalismo sa Laguna Zone. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Kingsbury, Kate 2021. “Danger, Distress and Death: Female Followers of Santa Muerte.” In A Global Vision of Violence: Persecution, Media, and Martyrdom in World Christianity, edited by D. Kirkpatrick and J. Bruner. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Kingsbury, Kate. 2021.”Death in Cancun: Sun, Sea and Santa Muerte.”’Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly 46: 1 16-

Kingsbury, Kate. 2020. “At Death`s Door in Cancun:  Meeting Santa Muerte Witch Yuri Mendez.” Skeleton Saint. Na-access mula sa https://skeletonsaint.com/2020/02/21/at-deaths-door-in-cancun-meeting-santa-muerte-witch-yuri-mendez/ sa 25 March 2021.

Kingsbury, Kate. 2020. “Death is Women’s Work: the Female Followers of Santa Muerte.”’ International Journal ng Mga Relasyong Latin American 5: 1-23.

Kingsbury, Kate. 2020. “Doctor Death and Coronavirus.” Anthropologica 63:311-21.

Kingsbury, Kate. 2018. “Mighty Mexican Mothers: Santa Muerte as Female Empowerment in Oaxaca.” Skeleton Saint. Na-access mula sa https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=Mighty+Mexican+Mothers%3A+Santa+Muerte+as+Female+Empowerment+in+Oaxaca  sa 25 March 2021.

Kingsbury, Kate and Andrew Chesnut. 2021. “Syncretic Santa Muerte: Holy Death and Religious Bricolage.” Relihiyon 12: 212-32.

Kingsbury, Kate and Andrew Chesnut. 2020. “Holy Death in Times of Coronavirus: Santa Muerte, the Salubrious Saint of Mexico.” International Journal ng Mga Relasyong Latin American 4: 194-217.

Kingsbury, Kate and Andrew Chesnut. 2020. “Life and Death in the Time of Coronavirus: Santa Muerte, the ‘Holy Healer’,” The Global Catholic Review. Na-access mula sa https://www.patheos.com/blogs/theglobalcatholicreview/2020/03/life-and-death-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-santa-muerte-the-holy-healer/ sa 25 March 2021.

Kingsbury, Kate and Andrew Chesnut. 2020. “Mexican Folk Saint Santa Muerte: The Fastest Growing New Religious Movement in the West,” The Global Catholic Review. Na-access mula sa https://www.patheos.com/blogs/theglobalcatholicreview/2019/10/mexican-folk-saint-santa-muerte-the-fastest-growing-new-religious-movement-in-the-west/ sa 25 Marso 2021.

Kingsbury, Kate and Andrew Chesnut. 2020. “Not Just a Narcosaint: Santa Muerte as Matron Saint of the Mexican Drug War.” International Journal of Latin American Religions 4:25-47.

Kingsbury, Kate and Chesnut, Andrew. 2020. “Santa Muerte: Sainte Matronne de l’amour et de la mort.” Anthropologica 62: 380-93.

Kingsbury, Kate and Andrew Chesnut. 2020. “The Materiality of Mother Muerte in Michoacan: The Tangibility of Devotion to Saint Death.” Skeleton Saint. Na-access mula sa https://skeletonsaint.com/2020/12/12/the-materiality-of-mother-muerte-in-michoacan/ sa 25 March 2021.

La Biblia de la Santa Muerte. 2008. Mexico City: Editores Mexicanos Unidos.

Lewis, Oscar. 1961. Ang Mga Anak ni Sánchez: Autobiography ng isang Mexican Family. New York: Random House.

Lomnitz, Claudio. 2008. Kamatayan at ang ideya ng Mexico. New York: Mga Sona ng Zone.

Martínez Gil, Fernando. 1993. Ang mga ito ay nasa ilalim ng España de Austrias. Mexico: Siglo Veintiuno Editores.

Navarrete, Carlos. 1982. Ang San Pascualito Rey ay isang kulto sa isang Misa sa Chiapas. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas.

Olavarrieta Marenco, Marcela. 1977. Magia en los Tuxtlas, Veracruz. Lungsod ng Mexico: Instituto Nacional Indigenista.

Perdigón Castañeda, J. Katia. 2008. La Santa Muerte: Protectora de los hombres. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.

Thompson, John. 1998. "Santísima Muerte: Sa Pinagmulan at Pagpapaunlad ng isang Mehikanong Mahiwagang Larawan." Journal ng Southwest 40: 405-36.

Toor, Frances. 1947. Isang Treasury ng Mexican Folkways. New York: Crown.

Villarreal, Mario. "Mga Halalan sa Mexico: Ang Mga Kandidato." Amerikano Enterprise Institute. Na-access mula sa http://www.aei.org/docLib/20060503_VillarrealMexicanElections.pdf. sa 20 Pebrero 2012.

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** All photos contained herein are the intellectual property of Kate Kingsbury or R. Andrew Chesnut. They are featured in the profile as part of a one-time licensing agreement with the World Religions and Spirituality Project. Reproduction or other use is prohibited.

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Glastonbury Goddess Religion


1983:  Glastonbury Goddess group founders participated in the anti-nuclear protests at Greenham Common Peace Camp, Berkshire, England.

1996:  The first Glastonbury Goddess Conference was held, co-organised by Kathy Jones and Tyna Redpath. First procession.

2000:  The Glastonbury Goddess Temple was created in the form of a “pop up” Temple at several locations around Glastonbury. It was said to the be the first Temple dedicated to a Goddess in the British Isles in over 1,500 years.

2002 (February 1- 2):  The Temple was opened at Imbolc.

2003:  The Glastonbury Goddess Temple became the first officially registered Goddess Temple in England and recognized as a place of worship.

2008:  The Temple changed from an Association to being a “Not-for-Profit” Social Enterprise, enabling the group to purchase the Goddess Hall.


As a local organisation, the Glastonbury Goddess religion’s history is complex and varied, and can be situated within the wider spiritual feminist movements that began in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, and gained popularity throughout the United States, Europe and Australasia. Influential to these movements were the writings of authors such as Monica Sjöö, Maria Gambutas, Lynn White, Starhawk, and many more, all of whom lead to a variety of political and spiritual critiques of mainstream Western society and its style of thinking) that highlight the ecological, social, and personal damages done by a perceived patriarchy responsible for modern neoliberalism, capitalism, and industrialization. At the heart of many, but not all, of these critiques rests the thesis of a perceived pre-Christian past where the monotheistic male God replaced, by way of force and domination, female Goddesses at different sites throughout Europe and beyond.

The wider feminist eco-spiritual wider movement within which the Glastonbury Goddess movement sits is significant to understanding the motivations of the founders and foundation of the Glastonbury Goddess religion for two main reasons:  First, the origins of the Glastonbury Goddess movement can be traced to the anti-nuclear protests that took place at a site called Greenham Common in Berkshire, England, in the early 1980’s protest and to Kathy Jones’ involvement in the protests. According to Christina Welch: “At Greenham common there existed among the protestors the ‘not uncontroversial existence of an ancient matriarchal religion was, and still is, understood as important in reclaiming both the land, and the power of women, as well as the Goddess (Mother Earth) as a signifier for the importance of both’” (Welch 2010:240-41). “Healing” the land and emotional wounds inflicted by perceived patriarchy-colonisers is also a significant part of this movement and drives much of the reason for its foundation.

Second, in line with eco-feminist movements in Europe, the Americas, and the Antipodes, the Glastonbury Goddess religion is motivated by acts of “reclaiming.” This reclamation focusses on the land in and around Glastonbury, female bodies, and the historical (or kanyastorical) and mythical narratives that surround Glastonbury. The Glastonbury Goddess group actively challenges neoliberal attitudes toward the planet’s natural resources. This has led to the development of their corresponding, localised eco-matriarchal spirituality that recognizes the Glastonbury Goddess as both the land itself around Glastonbury, and Mother Goddess who takes the place of a monotheistic God.

Although there are many significant figures and events in the creation, success, and continuation of the movement, the more recognizable origins of the religion as it manifests contemporarily in Glastonbury can be traced to three main elements: one particular person, Kathy Jones; one successful event, the first Goddess Conference held in Glastonbury in 1996; and the establishment of a fixed Goddess Temple in 2002.

Kathy Jones has been hugely significant throughout the movement. Marion Bowman tells us that “Kathy Jones has been particularly influential in promoting the vision of Glastonbury as an important pre-Christian site of Goddess devotion, and is extremely keen to help others ‘rediscover’ and promote the Goddess in their own locations” (2009:165). Jones has written several works based on the Glastonbury Goddess. She has also written books such as The Ancient British Goddess (2001) where she acknowledges a few of her sources of inspiration. These include Robert Graves’ Ang White Goddess, Marija Gimbutas’ Language of the Goddess at Civilisation of the Goddess, Caitlin and John Matthews’ Ladies of the Lake, and ‘Michael Dames for his Goddess inspired views of landscape in The Avebury Cycle at Silbury Treasure’ (2001:ii).

The first Goddess Conference was co-organised and founded by Jones and Tyna Redpath, owner of one of Glastonbury’s hallmark High Street shops, “The Goddess and The Greenman.” First held in 1996, the Goddess Conference has become an annual event in Glastonbury that brings people from all over the world to experience a host of events that include a variety of workshops involving ritual making, the production of Goddess religious material cultures, healing ceremonies, and priestess trainings. These events culminate in the colour and vibrant event of a statue of the Glastonbury Goddess being processed through Glastonbury’s High Street, around different significant sites, and up to the Glastonbury Tor. According to Marion Bowman, the Goddess Conference:

has not only been important in the consolidation and celebration of Goddess spirituality in the town itself, it has become influential in Europe, the USA, the Antipodes and elsewhere. Speakers, writers and figures inspirational to the nation and international Goddess movement, such as Starhawk, come to Glastonbury for the conference. The conference has created a number of ‘traditions’, and has proved a great forum for creativity in relation to Goddess-related music, drama and material culture, as well as ritual and myth, which then gets disseminated by attendees (Bowman 2009:165).

The Goddess Conference is a hugely significant for the group’s foundation and current success. As Bowman suggests, this is the site where people, who come from different parts of the planet, are able to experience and take away a localised and specific form of Goddess devotion with clear instruction on how to erect temples and bring back the Goddess of attendees’ own lands, thus inspiring movements in other parts of the world.

From the time of the first Goddess Conference in 1996, a few “pop up” Goddess temples could soon be found around Glastonbury. This eventually led to the opening of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple in a prime location off Glastonbury’s High Street in 2002 and served to root the temple to Glastonbury itself. [Image at right] The Glastonbury Goddess Temple is currently a “welcome to all” fixed site within which to attend group events and gatherings, make offerings at an altar, seek healing services, and meditate.

It was, therefore, the combination of the initiatives of a core group of founders, the efforts of Kathy Jones and her particular vision, and the opening of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple that has led to the group being what it is today. It is a successful, localised new religious movement that is both situated in its place while being a powerful inspiration for the growth of a wider emergence of similar movements, all of whom creatively interpret ancient links to the past while firmly rooting themselves as active participants in their localised present.


The Glastonbury Goddess Temple religion is a materially rich, colourful, and vibrant, traditionally non-doctrinal, new religious movement. It has claims on Britain’s ancient past whose beliefs, narratives and practices are bound up explicitly with the land/landscape features, historical, mythical and newly creative narratives. Glastonbury’s specific interpretations of the contemporary Pagan ritual “wheel of the year” mean that festivals and events are organised around equinoxes, solstices, Imboc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. The Glastonbury Goddess movement is not, however, a ‘native faith’ movement as neither ethnic connections with Glastonbury nor Somerset are sought or claimed. In fact, the devotees themselves do not necessarily claim to be indigenous but focus outwardly on the Goddess who is claimed to be indigenous to Glastonbury, and devotees report a sense or feeling of “coming home” to Glastonbury.

On the whole, the Glastonbury Goddess group tends to distance itself from Wicca and practice forms of spirituality that are found most commonly within the “holistic milieu” (Heelas and Woodhead 2005:1, 31). The primary emphasis tends to be on healing, as well as psychic and personal development, only here the focus is on healing from patriarchal damage and “male-inflicted” wounds. Cynthia Eller says,

In spiritual feminist thought, it is a given that all women need healing: if not from specific illnesses or infirmities, then from the pains suffered as a result of growing up female in a patriarchal world. Spiritual feminists aspire to healing themselves and their sisters through a variety of less than medically and psychotherapeutically orthodox techniques, including homeopathy, chakra balancing, massage, Bach flower remedies, acupressure, and so on (Eller 1995:1096).

The Glastonbury Goddess group employs these methods, but believe that the damage is personal, as well as social and cultural, and is a result of the wider, damaging effects of Christianity. The group carries out cultural work whereby new Goddess oriented traditions are created and ritually maintained. A significant aspect of the work rests on the establishment of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple, which claimed to be the first Temple dedicated to an indigenous Goddess in Britain, indeed in Europe, in over 1,500 years. At the heart of this community lies the belief/understanding that both women and the Goddess of the land have been suppressed and oppressed by the onset of Christianity, and it is their mission to restore Her, not only to Glastonbury, but to all parts of the world.

Locally, however, Glastonbury itself is a small town in the South West of England with a population of around 9,000 people, but with many names: the “Isle of Apples,” the “Isle of Glass,” the “Isle of the Dead,” and most famously, “Isle of Avalon” (Glastonbury’s mythical counterpart). Glastonbury Goddess group members assert that there are certain sacred places in the world where the upwelling of Goddess energy can be felt strongly. One of these places is Glastonbury, which is a gateway to the mythical Isle of Avalon (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019). The word “isle” is used due to the prominence of the Glastonbury Tor mound which, along with Chalice Hill, Wearyall Hill, Windmill Hill and Stone Down, stands out amongst an otherwise flat range of levels that were once covered by water.

The Glastonbury Tor is the most iconic feature in Glastonbury; it sits atop a large mound with naturally occurring spiral-shaped tiered pathways that lead to its summit. The Tor itself is the tower remnant of a Catholic chapel that was burned down during King Henry VIII’s desolation of the monasteries. Dominating the Somerset Levels, it can been seen from as far as South Wales on a clear day, and has served as a visible land marker for those making religious pilgrimages to Glastonbury for centuries. The Tor is both a famous visitor’s attraction, and the focus for many of Glastonbury’s alternative religious activities, including that of the Glastonbury Goddess religion. However, according to Bowman, for the Goddess religion the Tor mound forms part of the larger body of the Goddess that devotees discern in the land (Bowman 2004:273). Therefore, if it were to have a doctrine per se, the doctrine would be carved into the landscape where the body of the Goddess is discerned in its features. When asked in an interview with the BBC: “How does the Goddess relate to Glastonbury in particular?” Kathy Jones reported that the Goddess is found

through the shapes of the hills and valleys. Glastonbury is a town situated on a small group of hills, composed of Glastonbury Tor, the Chalice Hill, Wearyall Hill, Windmill Hill, and Stone Down. These hills rise out of the flat lands surrounding Glastonbury, and when you look at the shape of them, you can see different outlines from the contours of the hills. One of the forms that we see is the shape of a giant woman lying on her back on the land. She is the mother Goddess in the landscape (interview with Kathy Jones, BBC 2005).

A further indication is revealed by a priestess of Avalon who states: ‘Our Lady of Avalon, keeper of the mysteries, and Lady of the Mists of Avalon presides over the lands from which the Tor is visible to the naked eye’ (Anonymous 2010).

As for the mythic narratives that inspire the beliefs of Goddess devotees, the links with “Celtic Christianity” and stories connected with St Bride also play large roles in the current construction of the movement (Bowman 2007). We might, therefore, begin to learn about the beliefs of the group with a story of St Bridget. Bowman writes: “It is said that St Bridget visited Glastonbury in 488 and spent time at Beckery or Bride’s Mound, an area on the edge of Glastonbury where there seems to have been a chapel dedicated to St Mary Magdalene” (2007:24). And, “In the late nineteenth century John Arthur Goodchild claimed that there had been in Glastonbury the survival of an ancient Irish cult venerating the female aspect of the deity which became attached to the figure of St Bride (Benham 1993; Bowman 2007: 25). Kathy Jones, one of the group’s founders, along with a core group of other devotees, such as Tyna Redpath, adopted this idea of a surviving “cult” dedicated to the feminine divine as the foundation upon which the contemporary Goddess movement in Glastonbury was created. Jones claims, for example, that “Where we find St Bridget we know that the goddess Bridie was once honoured” (Bowman 2004: 281, citing Jones 2000:16). This forms a kind of Glastonbury Goddess mission statement that underpin strategies of reclamation and restoration of the Goddess to the land, as well as to the adaptation of the narratives found in Glastonbury’s history, legends and mythologies in an attempt to re-present “Herstory.” Kathy Jones writes,

The Lady of these islands who was lost in the mists of history is being rediscovered and brought back into the light of day, wearing new clothes, shining with renewed radiance. She is whispering in our ears, appearing in our visions, calling to us across time to remember Her and we are responding. All over Britain thousands of women and men now celebrate the Goddesses of this land in ways which probably haven’t happened for a thousand years or more (2001:i).

Indication of the word “strategy” above is deliberate. I have argued elsewhere (Whitehead 2019) that the Glastonbury Goddess religion employs the use of a series of strategies intended to restore the Goddess the land, and to missionize about Her “return” and Her healing benefits for Mother Earth, communities, and to women and men generally. As outlined above, there is an activist element to the group that is not only politically and socially engaged but is fully active in its efforts in spreading the religion worldwide. Therefore, actions such as the establishment of the Goddess Temple, the annual Goddess Conference, the Goddess processions, [Image at right] the crafting of its material cultures and rituals, the training of priestesses in a particular fashion, performances, healing events, and more are created in such a way as to set an active example to people from different parts of the globe. They exemplify how Goddess religions (starting with temples) might be established and take root and grow in relation to their own land and localised female deities who may have also been suppressed or mostly forgotten.

These local actions with deliberate global consequence can be understood through what Gilles Deleuze and Pierre-Felix Guattari (1972) refer to as “reterritorialisation.” Kellie Jones builds on this, saying: “Reterritorialisation includes recapturing one’s (combined and various) history, much of which has been dismissed as an insignificant footnote to the dominant culture” (Kellie Jones 2007). In the case of the Glastonbury Goddess religion, “reterritorialization” is part of an initiative to “reclaim” the land from the patriarchy, i.e. male dominated Christianity and oppression where the Goddess is perceived to have been deliberately suppressed and destroyed. To Glastonbury Goddess devotees, reterritorialisation also takes the form of “re-membering” their ancestral heritage, and “re-turning” to the Goddess’ “loving embrace” (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019).

Reterritorialisation also takes place through belief in claims to authenticity, i.e. Christianity is the later arrival to Glastonbury, and the Goddess was “there first.” “For the Goddess religion, a link to the past has been created that establishes a valid, authentic claim to Glastonbury where the Lady of Avalon can be championed and restored to her rightful place. This reclamation of the feminine satisfies the need to celebrate that which had been previously overlooked, forgotten and/or oppressed” (Whitehead 2013:71).

A sub-set of the strategy of reterritorialization in the Glastonbury Goddess movement is that of “indigenizing.” Building on Paul C. Johnson’s assertion that “indigenizing” is a style of relating (Johnson 2002), I wrote: “Indigeneity is used as a central identifier from which clear relationships with Glastonbury as a geographical site are claimed, expressed, and stylized, communities are “imagined” and built, and the movement’s religious material cultures are crafted” (Whitehead 2019:215-16). Belief that the group are indigenizing, reterritorializing, re-inventing and restoring the Goddess to the land manifests materially through the purchase of several properties in town (See, Timeline), the preference for the use of indigenous materials to make the statues the Temple, and the visibility of colourful vibrancy with which the religion is expressed. Jones says, “Together we are bringing the Goddess alive once again through our worship of Her, through spiritual practice, ceremonies, actions, creative expression, study, writing, artwork, music, dance and in our daily lives’ (Jones 2001:i, in Whitehead 2013:70).

For most Glastonbury Goddess devotees, the Goddess is “everywhere and in all things.” Therefore, in terms of analytic categories, locating the Goddess is a complex undertaking. Accounts from group members reveal that the Goddess can be framed as monotheistic, duo-theistic, polytheistic, and animist, and can be all of these things at once, or none of them at all. She is also known by many names and through a variety of different manifestations, locally, and in different locations globally. She is represented in Her Temple through a variety of female deities that have associations with specific aspects of Glastonbury’s surrounding landscape (springs, wells, groves, hills, the Tor mound). These are all “aspects” of the “one.” It can be suggested that when one refers to “the Goddess” in Glastonbury, either one is referring to all of them as one, a particular face” of the Goddess that “resonates” with an individual devotee, or with the goddess that is being celebrated at that particular point in the wheel of the year.

However, the main sources for “who the Goddess is” within the Goddess religion at Glastonbury come from founding member, Kathy Jones. According to an online article from the BBC titled “Goddess Spirituality in Glastonbury” (BBC 2008), Jones states that the main Goddesses worshipped are the Lady of Avalon (who is Morgen la Fey), the Nine Morgens, Brigit or Bridie of the Sacred Flame, Modron who is Great Mother of the lineage of Avallach, Our Lady Mary of Glastonbury, the Crone of Avalon, the Tor Goddess, Lady of the Hollow Hills, Lady of the Lake and the Lady of the Holy Springs and Wells. The roles of the Nine Morgens specifically can be best described as healing Goddesses who are connected to different parts of the landscape around the town such as springs, mounds, and groves. Kathy Jones says that the Nine Morgens are a ninefold Sisterhood who “rule over the Isle of Avalon surrounded by the Lake of Mysts” (2001:213). The names were recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the Vita Merlini in the twelfth century as Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliton ea, Gliten, Cliton, Tyrone, Thitis, Thetis and Morgen La Fey’. There were also nine legendary ladies of the lake named by John and Caitlin Matthews as ‘Igraine, Guinevere, Morgan, Argant, Nimue or Vivienne, Enit, Kundry, Dindraine and Ragness, who derive their powers from the Otherworld (Jones 2001:213). The Nine Morgens play a significant role in Temple life (See, Rituals/Practices).

“MotherWorld” is a vision that is held by the Glastonbury Goddess group that mobilises its members into social justice activism and sums up the group’s beliefs and motivations. According to the Glastonbury Goddess Temple website, the primary values for the MotherWorld vision are:

Honouring Mother Earth as a living being. Taking care of Her world. Love for each other, kindness, support, respect, care and compassion. Honoouring all forms of mother, honouring fathers, and the celebration and nurture of children and young people. Protecting and taking care of the earth, water, fire, air and space in Her world’ (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019).

In addition to the values found in the MotherWorld initiative, the Glastonbury Goddess movements’ situatedness within wider eco-matriarchal feminist movements in North America, Europe and Australasia can be gleaned through this statement:

MotherWorld is the society where the patriarchal structures and values of dominance, power-over control and coercion, greed, excessive profit, destructive competition, violence, rape, war, slavery, suffering, hunger, poverty and the pollution of Mother Earth and Her atmosphere, are recognized as shadow expressions of humanity, which need to be challenged, deconstructed, transformed and healed. In MotherWorld healing practices for individuals, communities and for the Earth Herself are encouraged and made readily available to all (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019).

This statement both reflects the anti-nuclear sentiments of earlier Greenham Common protestors in Berkshire, England in the 1980’s, one of whom was Kathy Jones, and signals a continuation of such sentiments into the beliefs, practices, mission, and motivations of the movement in its current form.


Ritual creativity sits at the heart of Glastonbury Goddess ritual practice, and ritual practices are entangled with belief, as well as with the strategies of reterritorialization and indigenizing outlined in the previous section. As change, renovation, innovation and devotion are encouraged, countless forms of volatile, votive expressions, ad hoc rituals are continually carried out. Outlined here are a selection of two such “ritual zones” where different rituals take place: the annual Goddess procession that takes place during the Goddess Conference and the veneration of the Goddess figures (and the Nine Morgens, see below).

In order to gain ground and prominence, the Glastonbury Goddess religion has established itself as a visible and active force in Glastonbury. This is most visibly performed in the Goddess processions that take place once a year, around Lammas (August 1), and during the time of the annual Goddess conference, the first of which set both the Goddess and the movement in motion in Glastonbury in 1996. This first procession is significant because it ritually marked off territory and re-staked a claim on the land that is Glastonbury, publicly signalling that the Glastonbury Goddess movement was back in the running.

To this day, the procession continues to be a beautifully colourful, loud, and joyful event, involving the use of flags, banners, candles, costumes, drumming, singing, and shouting to express devotion. The Goddess is processed up Glastonbury’s High Street to the Chalice Well, through the Victorian Well House that houses the White Spring, then up the hill to Glastonbury Tor, and then back down again. Bowman suggests that the procession mirrors Christian Pilgrimage processions that begin from the Tor and proceed to the Abbey (2004:283). The Goddess procession is, however, far more colourful, loud and vibrant than that of the Anglican and Catholic processions. Arguably, Goddess material culture and performances are bright, colourful, and eye-catching for this very reason. As noted by Bowman (2004), the more material and performance cultures are created in relation to the Goddess movement, the more visible the Goddess religiosity becomes in Glastonbury.

The Glastonbury Goddess Temple sits just off the Glastonbury High Street and serves as a hub of more highly ritualized activity, as well daily devotional practice. When I have visited the Temple, I have found that it is usually dimly lit and candles and incense create a mood of tranquillity and calm. Soothing, devotional “Goddess music” is usually playing softly in the background. I have also noted how the materials are in a continual state of flux and change (in keeping with the cyclic nature of this religion), and how the many of the materials used to decorate and facilitate the temple aesthetic often come either from the land, or from the homes of devotees.

In the centre of the Temple there is a main altar, on which I have documented bones, acorns, flowers, feathers, leaves, and stones. Daily ritual offerings are the source of these natural objects and are indicative of what is “acceptable” to the Goddess in terms of spiritual currency. Small clay and bronze goddess figures, such as the Venus of Willendorf, are also often seen. Plastics and artificial materials are, however, also present within the temple, despite the understanding that “things indigenous” to the land around Glastonbury are preferred (and more ecologically friendly). Further, the Goddess takes the form of different willow wickerwork statues who are venerated, spoken with, petitioned, ritually implored, and understood to “embody” Her.

The figures of the Nine Morgens [Image at right] are permanent residents in the Goddess Temple. The Nine Morgens form a protective circle around a small space in the Temple that is, according to a conversation with one of the Temple Melissas (See, Organization/Leadership), dedicated to those who want or need healing. Ritual healing is available daily in the Temple. All one needs to do is to enter the Temple and request it, and the circle is opened in order to allow access. Once the person requesting the healing is inside, the circle of statues is closed so that they can begin to do their work on the person in need.


The organisation and leadership of the Temple, although shaped primarily by the vision of Kathy Jones, now presents itself as a collective group akin to a board of directors. According to the Glastonbury Goddess Temple website, the Glastonbury Goddess Temple “is a social enterprise, a not for profit company limited by guarantee. All profits are reinvested in the Temple’s work. No profits are taken out of the Temple by any individuals” (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019c). The structure is complex, but the group members have organised themselves into “three overlapping circles” that both manage the Temple’s activity, and play key roles in Temple life: First, there are Temple Directors who ensure that the integrity of the vision of the Temple is maintained and who oversee major decisions, especially regarding finance. Second, there are Temple Tinglers who “are the circle of Temple staff and tutors…responsible for the everyday running of all Temple venues and activities, as well as Temple teachings.” Third, there are the Temple Weavers who form the “wider circle of all Temple directors, staff and volunteers that are involved in serving the local Temple community.” This group organises Temple seasonal ceremonies and online activities (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019c).

Three further groups support the inner workings of the Temple. These are the Temple Melissas who “serve regularly in the Glastonbury Goddess Temple” and hold “the space open to the public each day” (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019c). Melissas are likened to “worker bees” who work for the “queen bee” (i.e. the Goddess of Glastonbury). In order to become a Melissa, one must go through a period of training, including how to ritually open and close the Temple daily. The Melissas are also in charge of making sure that visitors receive information, and they facilitate the Nine Morgens to do their healing upon request. Melissas will also cleanse and purify Temple goers through smudging, if asked.

The second group of individuals is known as Temple Madrons. The word “madron” is used deliberately instead of “patron” to indicate those who make regular supportive donations to the Temple. The third group is comprised of trained Priestesses and Priests of Avalon, along with other Temple students and graduates. These members form "a global network of people and are bringing Goddess alive in a myriad of ways all over Her world” (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019c).

The Glastonbury Goddess Temple can be considered the “parent temple to the ones affiliated in England (Kent, Norfolk, Sheffield, Nottingham), Austria, Italy, the U.S. (California, Oregon, Utah), and Australia (New South Wales, Victoria) since the Glastonbury Goddess Temple has ‘trained’ many of the founding members of these temples (Glastonbury Goddess Temple 2019d). Training Priestesses and Priests in Avalon helps ensure that appropriate inspiration has been given that will continue to shape the materiality, terminology, ethos, and rituals of the movement as it goes beyond the scope of Somerset, England.


The Glastonbury Goddess religion faces a number of issues and challenges, including charges of spiritual materialism, the “whiteness” of members of the movement, and “class.” According to Bowman:

…issues related to race, class and elitism, due to the mainly white, middle class attendance of the conference, reflecting the charge that the Goddess spirituality movement is a predominantly white, middle-class, middle-aged, European/North American phenomenon, neither representative of nor involved with the less privileged women of the world (Bowman, 2005:176).

Similarly, this has been observed by other scholars such as Kavita Maya, who states that

Race has long been a contentious undercurrent in the movement: as British feminist theologian Melissa Raphael noted, ‘the perceived lack of an ethnic mix in Goddess feminism is something of a vexed issue’ (Raphael 1999:25–26 in Maya, 2019:53).

The “whiteness,” middle-age, and middle-classness of members of the group is somewhat of a shared phenomenon among similar ways of thinking, believing, and practicing in the North America and Australasia. Similar to what was observed by Eller in her observation of feminist Goddess movements in North America, the disproportionate numbers of white, middle-class, middle-aged entrepreneurs that form part of the Glastonbury Goddess movement disrupts the MotherWorld vision (outlined in the Doctrine/Beliefs section) whereby the movement aims to be globally encompassing (and economically) encompassing. Additionally, since the Goddess conference invites speakers and attendees from all over the world, many eco-feminists have argued that air travel and other forms of spiritual tourism (Bowman 2005:177) belittle the religion’s emphasis on environmental sustainability.

Following from the criticism of the predominant “whiteness” found in the movement, other criticisms involve the group’s claims to indigeneity. Arguably, use of the term “indigenous” demonstrates a recklessness or lack of awareness of the way in which the term has become politicised, the power dynamics, and struggles that many indigenous groups (for example, in Latin America, Native North America, Australia, and even Northern Europe, among many others) continue to undergo. As many aspects of Goddess spirituality form part of the holistic milieu where appropriation of different cultures forms part of a valid critique, it can be argued that those who form new religious movements in Western Europe could better problematise how indigeneity is constructed or imagined. However, movements such as these can also be seen in the more positive light of cultural and religious creativity, especially since much of the aim is to redress a cultural imbalance of injustice and marginalisation of both nature and the feminine. Kathryn Rountree writes (citing Barnard) ‘while anthropologists hotly debate “the indigenous” as an anthropological concept, the concept is “defined intuitively by ordinary people – indigenous and non-indigenous alike – around the world, it does have meaning” (Barnard in Rountree 2015:8).

Rountree has further outlined the challenges that spiritual feminist movements like the Glastonbury Goddess Temple face, which supports observations that Goddess worship is both structurally similar to and a substitute for the worship of a monotheistic male God (Rountree 1999:138). Local backlashes against the movement in Glastonbury itself have included the opening of a shop dedicated to phalluses, a reclamation of “Hern the Hunter” by male (and some female) contemporary Pagans, and Beltane (May 1 / May Day) celebrations that heavily feature phallic symbols in order to counter what is perceived by some to be an imbalance of femininity in Glastonbury.

Mga larawan

Image 1: The Glastonbury Goddess Temple.
Image 2: The Glastonbury Tor with the Goddess during the Goddess Conference Procession, 2010.
Image 3: The Nine Morgens in the Glastonbury Goddess Temple.

Mga sanggunian

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Rountree, Kathryn, ed. 2015. Contemporary Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe: Colonialist and Nationalist Impulses. New York and Oxford: Berghahn.

Rountree, Kathryn. 1999. “The Politics of the Goddess: Feminist Spirituality and the Essentialism Debate.” Social Analysis 43: 138-65.

Welch, Christina. 2010. “The Spirituality of, and at, Greenham Common Peace Camp.” Teolohiya ng Feminist 18: 230-48.

Whitehead, Amy 2019. “Indigenizing the Goddess: Reclaiming Territory, Myth and Devotion in Glastonbury.” International Journal for the Study of New Religions 9: 215-34.

Whitehead, Amy. 2013. Religious Statues and Personhood: Testing the Role of Materiality. London: Bloomsbury.

Petsa ng Pag-publish:
Marso 26 2021






Amy R. Whitehead

Amy R. Whitehead is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at Massey University in New Zealand. An Anthropologist of Religion/Religious Studies scholar, she is the author of Religious Statues and Personhood: Testing the Role of Materiality (2013), as well as several journal articles and chapters for edited volumes. Amy’s primary areas of research concern the material and performance cultures of religions, the “turn to things” in the Study of Religions, and Earth Traditions (Paganisms, Goddess movements). She has also co-edited edited volumes, including Indigenous Religions: Critical Concepts for Religious Studies (2018), and is the managing series editor for Bloomsbury Studies in Material Religion.


Janet Farrar


1950 (June 24):  Janet Owen was born in Leyton, Essex, United Kingdom.

1970:  Owen was initiated into Alex and Maxine Sanders’ Alexandrian Wiccan coven in West London; later that year she was upgraded to the second degree in its tripartite ritual system.

1971:  Janet Owen and Stewart Farrar “hived off” of the Sanders’ coven to form their own, which met in Leyton and Wood Green. Owen left the group later that year and started working with a Qabalist ceremonial magic group.

1972 (January 1):  Janet Owen married Victor Ewer. She broke from the Qabalist group and re-joined Farrar’s coven in June.

1974 (January 31):  Janet Owen and Stewart Farrar entered a handfasting, a Wiccan marriage ceremony.

1975 (July 19):  Owen and Farrar were legally married, both having divorced their previous spouses.

1976: Janet and Stewart Farrar relocated to County Wexford in Ireland, where they established a Wiccan coven.

1978:  Janet and Stewart Farrar moved to County Mayo.

1980:  Janet and Stewart Farrar moved to County Dublin.

1981:  Eight Sabbats for Witches published, co-written by Janet and Stewart Farrar.

1982:  Janet and Stewart Farrar moved to County Louth.

1984:  Ang Witches 'Way was published, co-written by Farrar and Farrar.

1985:  Janet and Stewart Farrar moved to County Meath.

1987:  The Witches’ Goddess: The Feminine Principle of Divinity was published, co-written by Farrar and Farrar.

1989:  The Witches’ God: Lord of the Dance was published, co-written by Farrar and Farrar.

1990:  Spells and How They Work was published, co-written by Farrar and Farrar.

1992:  The Magical History of the Horse was published, co-written by Janet Farrar and Stewart Farrar with Virginia Russell, although Stewart’s name was not included as author

1995:  The Pagan Path: The Wiccan Way of Life was published, co-written by Janet Farrar, Stewart Farrar, and Gavin Bone. That year Janet and Stewart joined the Church of All Worlds.

1999:  The Healing Craft: Healing Practices for Witches and Pagans was published, co-written by Janet Farrar, Stewart Farrar, and Gavin Bone.

2000 (February 7):  Stewart Farrar died.

2000:  The Complete Dictionary of European Gods and Goddesses was published, co-written by Janet Farrar, Stewart Farrar, and Gavin Bone.

2001:  Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone were handfasted. That year they established a new coven, the Coven Na Callaighe.

2004:  Progressive Witchcraft: Spirituality, the Mysteries and Training in Modern Wicca was published, co-written by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone.

2008:  Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone were made honorary elders by a group of sangoma in South Africa.

2013:  A second edition of Progressive Witchcraft was published, retitled The Inner Mysteries: Progressive Witchcraft and Connection with the Divine.

2014:  Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone were legally married.

2016:  Lifting the Veil: A Witches’ Guide to Trance-Prophesy, Drawing Down the Moon, and Ecstatic Ritual was published, co-written by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone.


Janet Farrar [Image at right] is one of the most significant figures among the third generation of Wiccans. Through a series of books co-written with her second husband, Stewart Farrar, during the 1980s, she played a prominent role in popularizing this Pagan new religious movement across a wider, international audience. With Stewart, she was also responsible for establishing what is probably the first Wiccan coven in the Republic of Ireland. Through her writing and later her public speaking, she became a key voice for reform within the Wiccan movement, arguing for its democratization and urging its practitioners not to blindly follow the ritual liturgies and systems set forth by the religion’s founders. Through her publications, she also became one of the earliest figures to promote historical scrutiny of Wicca’s origins. Probably the most famous British Wiccan alive today, she is an internationally known and well-respected figure in Pagan circles.

Janet Mary Owen was born June 24, 1950 in Leyton, Essex, an area that would be absorbed into Greater London during the following decade. Her father, Ron Owen, was from a working-class English background and was then employed as a care assistant at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Her mother, Ivy Owen (née Craddock), was of Scottish ancestry; she died in 1955, leaving Janet with very few memories of her (Guerra 2008:73–76). Ron Owen was a practicing Protestant but was tolerant and interested in religions other than his own, adopting something of a universalist attitude that all religions ultimately led to the same God. His own father, who played a major role in Janet’s upbringing, took a similar attitude (Guerra 2008:76–77). After her earliest years in Essex, Janet was sent to a state-funded boarding school, the Royal Wanstead School in Hertfordshire (Guerra 2008:79–80). On graduating at the age of sixteen, she returned to Greater London to secure work, initially in a furrier’s shop and then for a succession of music companies, supplementing this with occasional modeling work.

It was at this point in her life that she became involved in Wicca. One of Janet’s friends had read King of the Witches, a book by the journalist June Johns. Published in 1969, it provided a biography of the prominent Wiccan high priest Alex Sanders (1926–1988). With his wife Maxine (b. 1946), Sanders had moved from Manchester to the Bayswater area of West London in 1967, where they established a coven of practitioners. Intrigued, Janet’s friend decided to go along and meet the Sanders. Janet was concerned about this and decided to accompany her friend, largely to try and keep her safe. To her surprise, Janet was attracted to Alex Sanders’ ideas and decided to start attending his twice-weekly classes (Guerra 2008:90).

Sanders was the founder of the Alexandrian tradition, now one of the best-known forms of Wicca. A new religious movement that had arisen in the early to mid-twentieth century, Wicca drew on the (since discredited) claims of the Egyptologist Margaret Murray (and others) that the alleged witches of early modern Christendom had been members of a secretive pre-Christian religion revolving around the worship of a horned god. Although there is much diversity among Wiccans, most practitioners call themselves witches and Pagans, venerate deities whose names and identities are (at least partly) drawn from those of pre-Christian Europe, celebrate seasonal festivals known as Sabbats, and cast spells utilizing what they regard as magic (Doyle White 2016). Sanders appears to have been initiated into an older form of Wicca, the Gardnerian tradition, in 1963. He had subsequently used its liturgies and ritual structure as the basis for his own, Alexandrian system, which he then falsely claimed had been passed down to him by his grandmother (Hutton 1999:320–24; Di Fiosa 2010:51–64).

Sanders was very keen to attract as many new recruits as he could. A running joke emerged among his followers that even the milkman would get initiated into Wicca if he stood on Sanders’ doorstep for too long (Farrar and Bone 2004:31). Janet was initiated into his coven early in 1970 (Guerra 2008:97). In the coven she met Stewart Farrar (1916–2000), a journalist, novelist, and television scriptwriter who had been initiated into the Alexandrian tradition not long prior, and they began working together in a ritual capacity. On October 17, 1970, in a house in Sydenham, South London, Sanders oversaw a rite during which both Janet and Stewart were upgraded to the second degree. This was a step up in the Masonic-derived threefold initiatory structure used in both Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca (Guerra 2008:103).

Janet Owen and Stewart Farrar [Image at right] then “hived off” of Sanders’ coven to form their own group, of which they served as the presiding high priestess and high priest. This initially held its meetings at both Janet’s home in Leyton and the Wood Green home of two of their initiates, Barbara and Don Pleasance (Guerra 2008:103). Not long after, on April 24, 1971, Sanders oversaw a rite to upgrade both Janet and Stewart to the third and final degree of his tradition. At the time, both Janet and Stewart were in relationships with other people, but Stewart began to develop romantic feelings towards his high priestess, who was thirty-four years his junior. Learning of this, Janet decided to leave the coven in September; she then married her fiancé, Victor Ewer, in January 1972 (Guerra 2008:110–12).

No longer working with her Wiccan coven, Janet began conducting rituals with an occultist group in London that mixed Qabalah with a system of ceremonial magic drawing on the imagery of ancient Egypt. It was run by Walter Johns, who regarded Janet as a gifted spirit medium whose powers could assist his activities. Janet and her husband Victor moved in to live in the lower half of Johns’ house. However, Janet’s relationship with Johns grew strained and after the latter tried to ritually invoke an “Angel of Death” against Stewart Farrar, she cut all contact with her new mentor (Guerra 2008:111–12, 114–15).  In June 1972 she re-joined the coven she had founded with Stewart, resuming her role as its high priestess.

Much as Sanders had sought to attract publicity for his tradition (and himself), so Janet and Stewart Farrar began engaging with the media, giving a number of television and radio interviews about Wicca, as well as several public lectures on the topic. Their approach, however, tended to be less overtly sensationalistic than that of their initiator. As the historian Ronald Hutton later commented, Janet and Stewart demonstrated themselves to be “the most articulate” of the Sanders’ initiates (Hutton 1999:338; Hutton 2019:351). Stewart also began drawing on Wicca for his novels; one such example was his 1973 book, The Twelve Maidens, which he dedicated to Janet.

In December 1973, Janet and her husband Victor agreed to a divorce. Soon after, in January 1974, Stewart moved in with Janet and her father in Leyton; it was at this point that the relationship between the two friends took on a romantic dimension (Guerra 2008:117). On January 31, their initiates Don and Barbara Pleasance oversaw a “handfasting” ritual (a form of Wiccan wedding ceremony) between Stewart and Janet. After their respective divorces were formally confirmed, they legally married on July 19, 1975. To please Christian relatives, they also had a nuptial mass overseen by a friend who was a priest of the Liberal Catholic Church and an occultist. Their honeymoon was then spent in Egypt, where they believed that they had both previously lived in past lives. There they met Olivia Robertson (1917-2013), the co-founder of a Goddess-worshipping occult order called the Fellowship of Isis (Guerra 2008:118, 120–21).

Growing dissatisfaction with Sanders’ behavior led the Farrars to increasingly distance themselves from him and by 1974 they were no longer referring to themselves as “Alexandrians.” They decided to move away from London, relocating to Ireland in May 1976 and bringing Janet’s father with them. Initially settling near Ferns in County Wexford, it was here that they launched a new coven, the first known Wiccan group to be established in the republic (Guerra 2008:122, 125–27). They were not Ireland’s only modern Pagans, however, and in the 1970s and 1980s they regularly visited the Fellowship of Isis’ headquarters in Clonegal Castle, County Carlow, becoming members of the group (Farrar and Bone, personal communication). Reflecting a growing divergence from more dominant views in the Wiccan community, the Farrars began initiating gay individuals into their coven, something strictly prohibited by many other groups (Farrar and Farrar 1984:170; Farrar and Bone 2012:25). In December 1978, they relocated again, this time to Ballycroy in County Mayo, where they lived with their friend Virginia “Ginny” Russell and her mother. Their economic situation became strained; Janet contributed to the group’s finances with occasional tarot readings. They faced some local opposition, and in April 1980 they moved near Swords in County Dublin (Guerra 2008:130, 133).

In March 1978, Stewart first began corresponding with Doreen Valiente (1922–1999), [Image at right] a prominent Wiccan who had played an important role in editing and expanding the Gardnerian liturgy. As well as becoming a friend of the Farrars, she confirmed Stewart’s suspicions that much of what Sanders had presented as his own family tradition was simply taken largely wholesale from the Gardnerians (Guerra 2008:130–32). In 1981, the publisher Robert Hale released Eight Sabbats for Witches, co-written by Janet and Stewart. In this book, the Farrars highlighted that the traditional Book of Shadows used in Gardnerian and Alexandrian covens gave little detail regarding how to celebrate the eight seasonal festivals known in Wicca as “Sabbats” and so set out to provide ritual exemplars that the Farrars had largely devised themselves (Farrar and Farrar 1981:15).

The Farrars continued to move around Ireland, in 1982 settling in Beltichburne, County Louth, and in 1985 in Ethelstown, County Meath. Janet’s father, Ron, lived with them until his death in 1987. In 1984, the Farrars’ second co-written book, Ang Witches 'Way, was published. This incorporated much of the Gardnerian-Alexandrian Book of Shadows, discussed its chronological development, and then outlined the Farrars’ own thoughts on a wide range of issues, from reincarnation to the practicalities of running a coven. Next came The Witches’ Goddess (1987) at The Witches’ God (1989), perhaps the earliest concerted explorations of Wiccan theology. They followed this with Spells and How They Work (1990), which was one of the earliest focused studies of magic from a Wiccan perspective. With Stewart, Janet then co-wrote The Magical History of the Horse (1992). Janet had originally planned to write the book with Virginia Russell, who had a great deal of experience with horses, and the latter’s name remains on the cover despite the fact she did not involve herself heavily in the project (Guerra 2008:142–43).

The Farrars accompanied these literary projects with personal appearances, lecturing in various parts of Europe and speaking to the media. In September 1989, they lectured at the first open Pagan Festival to be held in Britain, the Link Up ’89 near Leicester, and in 1991 they embarked on a four-month lecture tour of the United States. There, they first met Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (b. 1942), one of the founders of the Simbahan ng Lahat ng Daigdig, an influential American Pagan group established in 1962. They would subsequently join his Church in 1995 (Guerra 2008:190–91). Although they would be listed as one of the Church’s “nests,” they took little active role in its activities (Farrar and Bone personal communication). Another U.S. organization that the Farrars engaged with was the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC), a Wiccan group based in Index, Washington that had been established in 1979 and which was known for its attempts to secure legal recognition for Wicca. They attended its Rites of Spring in 1991 and 1993 and later that decade were appointed third-level clergy in its hierarchy. Through the ATC, they were later able to help secure legal recognition for Wicca in Ireland (Farrar and Bone personal communication).

The Farrars had struck up a friendship with Gavin Bone (b. 1964), an English Pagan who visited them in Ireland on several occasions. Aware that he was entering his own twilight years and would be unable to care for his wife, Stewart encouraged Janet and Bone to establish a romantic relationship, a situation he called “Pan Fidelity.” A trained nurse, Bone moved in with the couple and helped to care for Stewart, while Janet slept with each of them on alternating nights (Guerra 2008:150–51). The trio embarked on U.S. lecture tours in 1993, 1995, and 1996, meanwhile co-authoring The Pagan Path: The Wiccan Way of Life (1995), and then The Healing Craft: Healing Practices for Witches and Pagans (1999). In deteriorating health, Stewart died on February 7, 2000. The Complete Dictionary of European Gods and Goddesses, the final book co-written by Bone and the two Farrars, appeared that year.

Janet Farrar handfasted Gavin Bone in 2001 and they legally married in 2014. The same year as their handfasting, they established a new coven, the Coven Na Callaighe, around which was also established an “outer court” group with a broader membership, the Teampall Na Callaighe (Farrar and Bone, pers. comm.). Through this group they focused on the development of what they called “Progressive Wicca,” viewing this not as a distinct tradition (akin to Alexandrian, Gardnerian, Dianic, etc.) but as a general ethos or approach to the religion. Their co-written book, Progressive Witchcraft: Spirituality, the Mysteries and Training in Modern Wicca, came out in 2004, with a retitled second edition in 2013. With other Wiccan groups that shared their perspective, they launched the Alliance of Progressive Covens, although this proved short-lived (Farrar and Bone, personal communication).

Farrar and Bone [Image at right] placed an increasing focus on practical workshops as a means of disseminating their ideas and experience throughout the international Pagan community. By the latter part of the 2000s this included online courses that they were teaching through the College of the Sacred Mists (Farrar, Bone, and Pitzl-Waters 2008). One of their workshops, The Inner Mysteries, was launched in 2002, subsequently taking place in various parts of Europe as well as in the United States and Australia (Farrar and Bone 2004:14). In 2008, they started undertaking intensive workshops in Italy, with some of their Italian followers subsequently establishing the Tempio di Callaighe, named in honor of the Irish group that Farrar and Bone had established several years prior (Farrar and Bone, personal communication). The duo’s travels took them to new parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, where they participated in ceremonies conducted by a range of indigenous communities (Guerra 2008:164; Farrar and Bone personal communication). While in South Africa in 2008 they were made honorary elders by several Transki-Lesotho sangoma (traditional healing) elders as part of a two-day ceremony. During their travels in North America, they participated in rituals by practitioners of African diasporic traditions such as Santería and Vodou (Farrar and Bone personal communication). Informed by these encounters, they took a growing interest in the role of trance, the process by which gods or spirits are perceived to possess a human in order to impart messages to practitioners. Their book Lifting the Veil: A Witches’ Guide to Trance-Prophesy, Drawing Down the Moon, and Ecstatic Ritual (2016) reflects this influence.

Pagtuturo / DOKTOR

Janet Farrar was originally initiated into Alexandrian Wicca, a variant of the religion developed primarily by Alex Sanders in the 1960s. Sanders was probably an initiate of the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca, and Alexandrianism largely used Gardnerianism as a basis, although added further elements drawn from the ceremonial magical systems in which Sanders was interested. As the Farrar couple established their own coven, they used the Alexandrian system as a basis but also introduced their own innovations and alterations. By 1974, they were no longer comfortable referring to themselves as Alexandrians (Guerra 2008:118–19), although they continued to do so, for instance in their first book Eight Sabbats for Witches. They nevertheless noted that some had referred to them as “reformed” Alexandrians, a description “which has some truth,” but that more importantly they were “unsectarian by temperament” and preferred to simply be called “witches” (Farrar and Farrar 1981:17).

By the early twenty-first century, Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone were describing their approach to Wicca as “Progressive.” In their understanding, this did not designate a distinct tradition in its own right, but rather characterized “a way of seeing the spiritual truths that underlie all nature based religions, especially the truth that they must be able to adapt if they would cater to the spiritual needs of the individual” (Farrar and Bone 2004:10). For them, the “Progressive Witch puts spirituality and therefore divinity at the centre of their practice.” Thus, in their view, Wicca’s future lay more in “a spiritual rather than a magical direction” (Guerra 2008:166). In this sense, Janet Farrar emphasized Wicca as a theologically-oriented tradition rather than as a system of operative magic. Janet and Stewart Farrar believed that the purpose of Wicca was to “put the individual and the group in harmony with the Divine creative principle of the Cosmos, and its manifestations, at all levels” (Farrar and Farrar 1981:12). Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone affirmed that at “the core” of Wicca is “reverence for Nature and the belief that we are not separate from it” (Farrar and Bone 2004:43), underscoring Janet’s view that Wicca was “above all a natural religion” (Farrar and Farrar 1981:154). This idea of Wicca, and modern Paganism more widely, as a form of “nature religion” or “earth religion” was one that had emerged in the United States during the 1970s before spreading rapidly to Western Europe (Clifton 2008).

While expressing a belief in a singular, “ultimate Creator” (Farrar and Farrar 1989:51) or “Ultimate Divine” (Farrar and Bone 2004:86), Janet Farrar has argued that this is an entity so complex that we cannot possibly comprehend it. To attempt to do so, humans must turn to “aspects of Divinity” (Farrar and Farrar 1987:52), such as the various deities found in the world’s many mythologies. In her 1980s writings, Farrar highlighted a gendered polarity with a division between a Goddess and a God, the standard duotheistic system found in Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. Following the example set by the influential British occultist Dion Fortune (1890–1946), Farrar took the view that different deities of the same gender are ultimately reflections of the same entity; that “All Gods are one God, all Goddesses are one Goddess” (Farrar and Farrar 1989:67). Drawing on ideas that were prevalent in various occultist and feminist circles in the twentieth century, she claimed that humanity originally worshipped a Goddess, with veneration of the God coming later (Farrar and Farrar 1987:7–8). While European and European-derived societies have long been patriarchal and focused on a male God monotheism, she held the view that they are increasingly restoring the gendered balance by embracing a Goddess as part of their worldview (Farrar and Farrar 1987:1–2).

By the twenty-first century her approach to theology had shifted. Janet now criticized the duotheism she had formerly adhered to as exhibiting the same problems as God-oriented monotheism: “It tries to make a faceless God and Goddess” that was simply not relatable for most humans (Farrar and Bone 2004:87). Instead, she and Bone embraced a more “polytheistic/animistic” approach to their deities, for instance by affirming the importance of honoring the “spirits of the place” where one is performing ritual (Farrar, Bone, and DF 2019). This was informed by increasing knowledge of living polytheistic traditions around the world, such as Hinduism, Shinto, and African diasporic traditions like Vodou, accompanied by an awareness that these religions probably better capture the attitude to deity that would have been present across pre-Christian Europe than the traditional Gardnerian/Alexandrian duotheistic system (Farrar and Bone 2004:82–83). While engaging with a broad range of deities from various different cultural and geographical backgrounds, Farrar and Bone have described Freya, the goddess drawn from Norse mythology, as their “principal deity” (Farrar and Bone 2004:78). Although very interested in the idea of Jungian archetypes, Janet Farrar has maintained that these entities nevertheless have an independent, objective existence of their own (Farrar and Bone 2004:87).

Adopting the attitude of universalism and religious pluralism that she inherited from her father, Farrar has argued that Wicca and modern Paganism should not be seen as some sort of one true religion. Rather, with Stewart she has written that “all religions are different ways of expressing the same truths” (Farrar and Farrar 1981:154). This tolerance has facilitated various friendships and close relationships with practicing Christians, although it has not stopped her from being highly critical of certain tendencies within Christian thought. References to Christianity in her writing are often negative, connecting it with misogyny (Farrar and Farrar 1981:74; Farrar and Farrar 1987:18–19; Farrar and Bone 2004:17–18, 20), the suppression of sexuality (Farrar and Farrar 1981:74), and the rejection of science (Farrar and Bone 2004:42–43). She has nevertheless spoken positively of Jesus himself, suggesting that he might be a bodhisattva (Farrar and Farrar 1984:121–22), an interesting syncretization of Christianity, Mahayana Buddhism, and Wicca.

Janet Farrar, along with her second and third husbands, has never been a figure to accentuate tradition for the sake of tradition when it comes to Wicca. Opening their book on Progressive Witchcraft, Farrar and Bone stress Wicca’s capacity “to change with the times, to evolve and adapt culturally and socially” (Farrar and Bone 2004:9). Perhaps not surprisingly, they describe how as time went on they found themselves drawing greater inspiration not from the evidence for Europe’s pre-Christian past (the traditional storehouse of imagery which gave birth to modern Paganism) but from living traditions elsewhere in the world, such as Santería and Vodou (Farrar and Bone 2004:12).

In part, this willingness to adapt the tradition stems from Farrar’s longstanding acknowledgement that a great deal of Wicca was created in the mid-twentieth century by Gerald Gardner (1884–1964) and Doreen Valiente. Initially, she retained a belief that Gardner had inherited a core of genuinely traditional material passed down by Wiccans through the centuries. In Ang Witches 'Way, she and Stewart wrote that the Gardnerian initiation rites represented something that had been “carefully preserved, probably for centuries,” before Gardner received them in 1939 (Farrar and Farrar 1984:3). As belief in the historic witch-cult has eroded in much of the Wiccan community, in large part due to the popularity of Professor Ronald Hutton’s 1999 work Ang Pagtatagumpay ng Buwan, Farrar has come to reject this belief. In more recent writings, she has acknowledged Wicca as a new religion rather than as the survival of any pre-Christian witches’ cult (Farrar and Bone 2004:13). Linkages with the pre-Christian past nevertheless remain important for her, as for virtually all Pagans, and more recently she has characterized Wicca as “the reconstructed remnants of Western European Shamanism” (Farrar and Bone 2012:27).


Just as Janet Farrar and her working partners have been open to shifting away from the beliefs that she inherited from their Alexandrian initiators, so they were also interested in developing new rituals. [Image at right] One of the central rites within the Alexandrian tradition, as in the Gardnerian tradition before it, is that known as “drawing down the moon.” This entails the high priestess invoking the Goddess to come down and enter her (Doyle White in press). The Farrars developed a counterpart to this rite that they called “drawing down the sun,” which involved the God then being invoked into the body of the high priest (Farrar and Farrar 1984, 68–70). This new addition demonstrates the importance that they placed on a gendered polarity in their theology at that time.

While innovating, Farrar has nevertheless  maintained many core elements of Wiccan practice. She has for instance observed and celebrated eight festivals throughout the year, known as Sabbats, which are collectively termed the Wheel of the Year. The idea of witches celebrating “sabbaths” was one that derived from early modern stereotypes and was subsequently absorbed into Margaret Murray’s argument that the witch-cult was a pre-Christian survival. Gardner had drawn this system of seasonal festivals into his Gardnerian tradition, celebrating the four cross-quarter days (May Eve, August Eve, November Eve, and February Eve). In 1958, members of his Bricket Wood coven decided to add the equinoxes and solstices to this list, creating the eightfold system that has since proved popular not just among Wiccans but also various other Pagan groups (Hutton 2008). In Eight Sabbats for Witches, Janet and Stewart drew upon folkloric associations linked with the changing seasons in Irish and British folklore so as to flesh out the rites that can take place at these Sabbats (Farrar and Farrar 1981).

Janet Farrar has also stressed that Wiccans should not follow the ritual liturgies for the sake of form alone. Arguing that the Book of Shadows, a liturgical collection deriving from Gardnerianism, should not be blindly followed as if it were a sacred text, she has declared: “We’re not People of the Book—we’re free thinkers!” (Farrar and Bone 2015).


Although it is as a writer that she has exerted the greatest impact on the wider Wiccan community, Janet Farrar has been involved in running a coven since the 1970s. In this capacity she has served as a high priestess, a role initially operating parallel to her husband Stewart as high priest. As noted above, this was based on the Alexandrian model, itself based on the older Gardnerian model, although Janet and her respective high priests have introduced changes to the way that the coven operates.

Both Gardnerianism and Alexandrianism traditionally operate on a three-degree system, with each degree conferring greater knowledge and responsibilities on the initiate. This tripartite system can be traced to Gardner’s borrowings from Freemasonry, although it also parallels the multi-degree system evident in those ceremonial magic orders (such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Ordo Templi Orientis) which influenced the formation of early Wicca. Deeming this system to be excessively hierarchical, in the 1990s Janet Farrar and her partners tried to do away with the three-degree system although found that many of their coven members continued to think of themselves along these traditional lines (Farrar and Bone 2004:50).

While it is not difficult to find accolades proclaiming her importance within the modern Wiccan community, Janet Farrar has typically responded to such adulation with modesty. Unlike Wiccans such as Alex Sanders, she has not sought any title such as “Queen of the Witches.” She has stressed that like all practitioners, there is still a great deal that she has to learn (Farrar, Bone, and d’Este 2019). The lack of arrogance or self-importance on Farrar’s part, coupled with her significant and influential publication output, has earned her a considerable amount of respect within Wiccan circles. It has also perhaps ensured that, although sometimes adopting perspectives and reforms that some practitioners dislike, she has escaped the levels of lasting internal vitriol that sectors of the community directed toward both Gardner and Sanders.


During the 1970s, a major area of dispute within the Wiccan community focused on how the religion should correctly be transmitted to new converts. Gardnerian Wicca, and subsequently Alexandrian Wicca, were initiatory traditions. One could only become a member by undergoing an initiation ritual overseen by a pre-existing initiate, usually (although not always) by joining the latter’s coven. This system was never going to adequately cater to the growing number of people who wanted to be Wiccans, geographically dispersed and isolated from existing groups as they often were. The only way to reach this broader pool of interested persons was to give them the material through which they could self-initiate (or self-dedicate) and establish their own covens from scratch. To this end, various books were published in the 1970s that outlined how readers could set themselves up as Wiccans.

Some, like Raymond Buckland’s Ang Tree (1974), promulgated altogether new traditions distinct from Gardnerianism and Alexandrianism. Others, most notably Ang Aklat ng mga Shadow (1971) of Lady Sheba (Jessie Bell), just published much Gardnerian ritual liturgy wholesale, albeit concealing its true pedigree. Many members of the established initiatory traditions were incensed by this new trend. They felt that this sullied the religion and encouraged disturbed or inexperienced individuals to dabble in things that could prove dangerous. Along with her husband Stewart, Janet Farrar was among those who disagreed with such an exclusionary approach and argued in favor of allowing anyone to set themselves up as a Wiccan should they wish to do so. Their view was in some respects pragmatic. As they noted in their 1980s publications, most of the Gardnerian-Alexandrian ritual liturgy had already been “leaked, plagiarized . . . or distorted either deliberately or by careless copying” (Farrar and Farrar 1984:1) in books like Lady Sheba’s Book of Shadows, the latter of which they called “garbled, illiterate and better ignored” (Farrar and Farrar 1981:179).

They went beyond this and provided a self-initiation rite for any readers who wanted to begin practicing Wicca without access to an existing coven (Farrar and Farrar 1984:248–50). Like their friend Doreen Valiente, they were advocates of the idea that anyone should be able to set themselves up as a Wiccan if they wanted to become one and that Gardnerians and Alexandrians should not claim that they were the only “true” Wiccans. Farrar and Bone later described themselves as being among those who “have challenged whether lineage, which is of Christian origin, has any place in modern witchcraft” (Farrar and Bone 2004:32). In a sense, Janet Farrar and her partners were aligning themselves with the inevitable. Books teaching the reader how to become a Wiccan would proliferate in increasing numbers over subsequent decades, having a huge impact on the demographics of the Wiccan community. By the early twenty-first century, the majority of Wiccans were self-initiated solitary practitioners (Berger 2019).

Janet Farrar represents an interesting case study for scholars exploring the role of women in religions. It is significant that all of her books have been co-written with a male partner, even when (as in the case of The Magical Hero of the Horse), this was not publicly declared at the time. In certain respects, this is an unusual position to be in, at least within the remit of Wicca and related forms of modern Paganism. In Wicca, women have tended to either establish themselves as prominent authors in their own right (for example, Sybil Leek, Starhawk, Silver RavenWolf) or have had their contributions to literary projects overlooked in favor of their male co-author (as with Doreen Valiente’s contribution to Ang Kahulugan ng Pangkukulam, which was published only under Gerald Gardner’s name). Janet’s role in co-authoring books with her male partners has thus demonstrated a collaborative ethos and clear message of gender equity, one which is in accordance with the traditional gendered duotheism of Wiccan theology.

Mga larawan

Image #1: Janet Farrar, photographed in the 1970s or early 1980s.
Image #2: Janet Farrar with her second husband, Stewart.
Image # 3: Janet with her second husband Stewart and Doreen Valiente (left), circa 1989.
Image #4: Janet Farrar with her third husband, Gavin Bone.
Image # 5: Janet at a ritual overseen by Alex Sanders (right), probably performed for publicity purposes.

Mga sanggunian

Berger, Helen. 2019. Solitary Pagans: Contemporary Witches, Wiccans and Others Who Practice Alone. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Clifton, Chas S. 2008. “Earth Day and Afterwards: American Paganism’s Appropriation of ‘Nature Religion.’” Pp. 109–18 In Handbook of Contemporary Paganism, edited by Murphy Pizza and James R. Lewis. Leiden: Brill.

Di Fiosa, Jimahl. 2010. Isang Coin para sa Ferryman: Ang Kamatayan at Buhay ni Alex Sanders. N.p.: Logios.

Doyle White, Ethan. Personal Communication with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone. 14 December 2020.

Doyle White, Ethan. 2016. Wicca: History, Belief, and Community sa Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press.

Doyle White, Ethan. In press. “Drawing Down the Moon: From Classical Greece to Modern Wicca?” In Fictional Practice: Magic, Narration, and the Power of Imagination, edited by Bernd-Christian Otto and Dirk Johannsen. Leiden: Brill.

Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. 1990. Spells and How They Work. London: Robert Hale.

Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. 1989. The Witches’ God: Lord of the Dance. London: Robert Hale.

Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. 1987. The Witches’ Goddess: The Feminine Principle of Divinity. London: Robert Hale.

Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. 1984. Ang Witches 'Way. London: Robert Hale.

Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. 1981. Eight Sabbats for Witches. London: Robert Hale.

Farrar, Janet, and Gavin Bone. 2016. Lifting the Veil: A Witches’ Guide to Trance-Prophesy, Drawing Down the Moon, and Ecstatic Ritual. Portland, OR: Marion Street Press.

Farrar, Janet, and Gavin Bone. 2015. “TWIH Episode 29: The Evolution of Progressive Witchcraft with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone.” This Week in Heresy. January 31. Accessed from https://thisweekinheresy.libsyn.com/webpage/twih-episode-29-the-evolution-of-progressive-witchcraft-with-janet-farrar-and-gavin-bone sa 15 March 2021.

Farrar, Janet, and Gavin Bone. 2012. “Witchcraft and Sexuality: The Last Taboos.” Pp. 25–28 in Gender and Transgender in Modern Paganism, edited by Calyxa Omphalos, Jacobo Polanshek, Gina Pond, Philip Tanner, and Sarah Thompson. Cupertino, CA: Circle of Cerridwen Press.

Farrar, Janet, and Gavin Bone. 2004. Progressive Witchcraft: Spirituality, Mysteries, and Training in Modern Wicca. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books.

Farrar, Janet, Stewart Farrar, and Gavin Bone. 2000. The Complete Dictionary of European Gods and Goddesses. Chieveley, U.K.: Capall Bann.

Farrar, Janet, Stewart Farrar, and Gavin Bone. 1999. The Healing Craft: Healing Practices for Witches and Pagans. Blaine, WA: Phoenix.

Farrar, Janet, Stewart Farrar, and Gavin Bone. 1995. The Pagan Path: The Wiccan Way of Life. London: Robert Hale.

Farrar, Janet, Gavin Bone, and DF. 2019. “Interview with Janet Farrar And Gavin Bone.” AnimaMonday, Pebrero 20. Na-access mula sa https://animamonday.wordpress.com/2019/02/20/interview-with-janet-farrar-and-gavin-bone/ sa 15 March 2021.

Farrar, Janet, Gavin Bone, and Sorita d’Este. 2019. “Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone – Children of Earth Interviews.” Patheos, Hunyo 10. Na-access mula sa https://www.patheos.com/blogs/adamantinemuse/2019/06/janet-farrar-gavin-bone-childrenofearth/ sa 15 March 2021.

Farrar, Janet, Gavin Bone, and Jason Pitzl-Waters. 2008. “Interview with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone.” The Wild Hunt, Marso 30. Na-access mula sa https://wildhunt.org/2008/03/interview-with-janet-farrar-and-gavin.html sa 15 March 2021.

Farrar, Janet, and Virginia Russell. 1992. The Magical History of the Kabayo. Chieveley, U.K.: Capall Bann.

Guerra, Elizabeth, with Janet Farrar. 2008. Stewart Farrar: Writer on a Broomstick. Arcata, CA: R J Stewart Books.

Hutton, Ronald. 2019. Ang Pagtatagumpay ng Buwan: Isang Kasaysayan ng Pagano Pangkukulam Pagan. New edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hutton, Ronald. 2008. "Modern Pagan Festivals: Isang Pag-aaral sa Kalikasan ng Tradisyon." Alamat 11, no. 3: 251-73.

Hutton, Ronald. 1999. Ang Pagtatagumpay ng Buwan: Isang Kasaysayan ng Pagano Pangkukulam Pagan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Buckland, Raymond. 1974. The Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser.

Lady Sheba [Jessie Bell] 1971. Ang Aklat ng mga Shadow. St Paul: Llewellyn.

Farrar, Stewart, 1973. Ang Labindalawa Mga Maidens. London: St Martin’s Press.

Teampall Na Callaighe: The Website of Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone. Na-access mula sa https://www.callaighe.com/ sa 23 Pebrero 2021.

Petsa ng Pag-publish:
Marso 18 2021




1858: Iniulat ni St. Bernadette ang isang serye ng mga aparisyon sa Lourdes, Pransya.

1868:  Margaretha Kunz, Katharina Hubertus and Susanna Leist were born in Marpingen.

1870-18/71:  The French-German War took place and the German Empire was established.

1875:  The first organized pilgrimage from Germany to Lourdes took place.

1876 (July 3):  At Lourdes, a statue in honor of the Virgin was consecrated.

1876 (July 3):  Margaretha, Katharina and Susanne saw a figure in white in the forest.

1876 July):  There was an imitation of the Marpingen apparition by children in Poznan (Prussia).

1877:  An apparition of Mary in a medicine bottle was discovered close to Koblenz.

1877 (September 3):  The apparitions stopped abruptly.

1878 (January 16):  A debate about Marpingen was held in the Prussian lower house.

1879:  A trial against nineteen individuals took place in Saarbrücken.

1883:  Elisa Recktenwald claimed a new apparition.

1889:  Margaretha revealed the apparitions were “one big lie.”

1932:  A chapel was built at the site where Mary appeared.

1999:  New apparitions occurred in Marpingen.

2005:  The bishop of Trier declared that the supposed apparitions of 1876-1877 and 1999 were not confirmed by the church.


The apparitions of Mother Mary in the German village Marpingen originated with three girls and their families. On Monday, July 3, 1876, the adult population of the village was engaged in haymaking. Since this work was too difficult for children, the eight year-old girls, Margaretha Kunz (1868-1905), Katharina Hubertus (1868-1904) and Susanna Leist (1868-1884) were sent out to pick berries in the nearby forest, called Härtelwald. [Image at right] As they were turning to go home, after the Angelus sounded before dawn, one of the three saw a white figure, which was confirmed by the two others. At home they shared their experience with their parents, who were skeptical initially. They might have seen a woman from the village, the father of Susanna Leist suggested. His wife ordered the girls: “Go back into the woods tomorrow, pray, and if you see her again ask who she is; if she says she is the Immaculately Conceived, then she is the Blessed Virgin.” The girls did what they were asked, and they soon the figure was identified as the Virgin Mary. Families and neighbours became more and more convinced, all the more as Mary began to appear more often to the girls.

There were some miraculous cures, and the visionaries invited the villagers to follow them to the place in the Härtel-forest and to touch the feet of the Mother of God in order to be cured. The pride of the girls, who suddenly stood in the centre of the community’s interest, and the Marian piety of the villagers went hand in hand to broaden interest in the events. Within days, Catholics from neighbouring locations were attracted, and pilgrims from the Saarland and even places much further away visited Marpingen. Some estimated 20,000 visitors in the first week, exceeding the numbers of Lourdes in 1876. July and August of 1877 saw between 600 and 1,200 believers daily taking communion in the parish church. Finally, the apparitions stopped on September 3, 1877. The three visionaries and their families were removed from Marpingen in May 1878, and they were required to stay in the Convent of the Poor Child Jesus in Echternach, Luxembourg.

Social, social-psychological, cultural and other context are critical to understanding the Marian apparitions at Marpingen. In the 1870s, Marpingen was a poor, small village of 1,600 inhabitants in the Saarland, the western part of Germany. Located twenty-five kilometers north of Saarbrücken, the secluded place became the center of Marian interest in 1876. [Image at right]

Economically, Germany experienced a Great Depression beginning in 1873 (Gründerkrach), which didn’t leave Marpingen untouched. The village was impoverished enough and could not live on its own agrarian products. Most farmers were poor goat peasants. During the week, the men had to earn extra wages in the mines outside the village. The farmer-miners were complaining about low wages in these years, since the mines also paid a price for the economic depression. The economic crisis was accompanied by a serious religious and political crisis: The culture war (Kulturkampf) between state and church reached its peak in the mid-1870s. Marpingen was close to the border of France, which longed for revenge for the lost war and Alsace-Lorraine. [Image at right] This was not the only transnational aspect of the story, since Lourdes and the tendencies toward standardization of Marian devotion in the wake of ultramontanism turned out to be crucial for the apparitions in Marpingen. Thus, there were plenty of reasons for villagers to be fearful, to complain and to imitate role models which were successful abroad.

The apparitions met the expectation that in times of crisis the Blessed Virgin would give comfort. Her appearance also made villagers hope to profit from the positive commercial effects of becoming a prominent place of pilgrimage. Marpingen hoped to become the “German Lourdes.”

The apparitions at Marpingen also had an important gender dimension. Because most able-bodied men worked in the mines during the week, the population of Marpingen on those days predominantly consisted of women, children, and old men. Wives were left alone to run the village. Marian apparitions fell on fruitful ground in this female context. This was the situation when the first apparitions started on Monday, July 3, 1876. Until the next Friday there were five days in which the situation dramatized without the working men. The first supporters of the apparitions were women like Katharina Leist, while her husband, who was sick and retired and thus in Marpingen, wiped the thing away as some misconception. On the second evening, twenty children and six women, from the families or neighbours, gathered in the Härtel-forest. Men only appeared on July 5. They included the father of Katharina Hubertus, the publican, the schoolteacher, and later that evening Nikolaus Recktenwald, an unemployed miner suffering from rheumatism. After the children told him to touch Mary’s foot, he felt that he had been cured. This miracle was of considerable importance in shaping the opinion of the villagers as was the fact that men of reputation on that evening approved the apparition claims of the three children. Nevertheless, the role of the local women in nursing the cult remained central. Women also comprised the vast majority of the pilgrims, which can be understood in the wider context of the feminization of Catholic piety during the nineteenth century.

The situation in Marpingen had many collateral effects. The wish to profit from adult attention drove some other children in 1877 to claim Our Lady has also appeared to them. These “rival children,” though, were unable to gain any of the prominence of the three original seers. The satirical journals took full advantage of the events. Apparitions of the Holy Virgin were imitated in other places like in Poznan (Prussia), where in 1877 Polish children claimed to have seen her. Variations of Marpingen became popular. For example, people saw an apparition of Mary in a medicine bottle filled with water from Marpingen that was located in the window of a house. This attracted more than 5.000 pilgrims in the area close to the city of Koblenz.

In the years and decades after 1877, the number of pilgrims fell to a handful daily. Even the claim of Elisa Recktenwald in 1883 (one of the “rival children” of 1877) that Our Lady had appeared to her could not slow the downturn. The complaint and message from Mary to her was “Have I not appeared already to so many children? Yet so few have believed.” There was a new peak of pilgrims in the early years under Adolf Hitler and another one in the post-war years. A visitors-book of 1947 shows that the average number of visitors to the chapel was as high as twenty-two a day.

Another brief revival of Marian apparition claims emerged in the late 1990s. Between May and October 1999, three women again claimed to have had contact to Mary, although they reported different experiences. Marion Guttmann, a thirty year-old housewife, reported seeing her; Christine Ney, who was twenty-four and learning musical education, reported hearing her; and Judith Hiber, who was thirty-five and an assistant in law, reported to badly hear and badly see her. None of them was from Marpingen, however, and community inhabitants were skeptical about the “humbug.”


The apparitions in Marpingen lacked any kind of special doctrine or belief, rather they were a typical manifestation of the pious fashion concerning Our Lady in the nineteenth century, one which incorporated all the typical ingredients which had emerged since the beginning of the century. Earlier Marian phenomena were reported by men, mostly priests, while in the nineteenth century it was women and children who dominated the scene. Classic Marian cults like Guadalupe in Spain or Czestochowa in Poland, both originating in the fourteenth century, dealt with miraculous objects attracting adoration.

The rejuvenated cultic activity in the nineteenth century was centred around apparitions of the Virgin Mary herself, often revealing messages or admonitions, such as to pray more frequently. After these sorts of apparitions happened to Cathérine Labouré in a cloister in Paris (1830/1831) and to two young cowherds in La Salette (1846) during a famine, the most famous event involved Bernardette Soubirous in Lourdes (1858). Finally, all the necessary elements of the modern Marian apparition were complete: the simplicity of the female, young visionary, a message, miraculous cures, the sceptical reactions of the parish priest and over-reacting civil authorities. The new type of Marian apparitions in the nineteenth century was “a French creation” (Blackbourn 1995:4). The apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in Lourdes provided a transnational text to refer to from different angles: for Catholics as a blueprint, for national liberals as a sign of lacking national loyalty. Catholics explicitly hoped to establish a “German Lourdes” in Marpingen. The international charisma of Lourdes appeared infectious. But how could Margaretha, Katharina and Susanne know about this blueprint? How could eight year-old girls contribute to the standardization of Marian devotion in Europe? Their parents and older sisters (one of them wanted to become a nun) and the teacher in primary school were dwelling in Marian piety, and the local priest Jakob Neureuter preached about the apparitions in Lourdes. The French events were a major topic in the media during these years, especially since the first organized German pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1875. The whole village was deeply immersed in Marian adoration. Soon after the apparitions, Catholic newspapers discussed the “German Lourdes,” the “Rhenish Lourdes,” the “second Lourdes,” or the “Bethlehem of Germany.”

Part of the standardization of Marian cult was that most messages delivered by her were quite similar to those uttered in Lourdes and other places: To pray more. Prophecies of the girls were hardly touching major issues like war or starvation, but rather local situations. One of the visionaries later confessed: the people asked for miracles and so we gave them some. Some messages were adapted to Marpingen if the situation required it. The priest, who went after the girls in order to observe them, was informed that the Virgin did not want him to follow the girls. Another message addressed the commercial interests of Catholic merchants. The Blessed Virgin, as a rumor in Marpingen went round, instructed people, “not to shop any longer with the Jews,” some of whom were traders and lived in the neighboring Tholey.

Another part of this standardization was that Mary no longer appeared in colourful clothes anymore but rather in white or blue. After the three girls have learned that they met the Immaculately Conceived, the visions were constantly “improved” and “corrected” by the parents. It was the parents, not the children, who reported a blue sash that Mary was wearing, a detail known from the role model in Lourdes. Many ideas were simply proposed to the children who just agreed to the suggestions. When the children were asked whether the Virgin was carrying a golden Crown and Jesus in her arm, the children readily agreed. The Marpingen Mary more and more resembled the one in Lourdes.

The messages of Our Lady in 1999 were given to the three female seers, who recorded them, and when Mary was gone, the cassette was played to the excited audience. One of the messages was: “It is all in my plan for this place to grow together. Do not be afraid, my children. Trust, trust with all your heart; and place your fears and needs in my Immaculate Heart.” Though the messages were quite minor (to pray along the rosary, to stop abortion and to obey the pope), thousands came to participate in the events, which happened only on weekends. Church services were offered for the public in the chapel, which was built in 1932, and thousands went to the near-by dwell which they believed to contain holy water. Hermann-Joseph Spital, the bishop of Trier, forbade talk about “apparitions” and about the “visionaries.” Instead, acceptable discussion should be about “events in the Härtel-forest.” Marpingen is a place where Mary continues to be worshiped.


Soon after the initial apparitions, women from the village went to the place of the apparitions in the forest to place flowers. People came from near and far to participate in the phenomenon. The most compelling reason to go there was the prospect of miraculous healing. People who were blind, deaf, rheumatic, arthritic, or who suffered from the consequences of typhoid or smallpox, went to the site of the apparitions. They repeated the prescribed prayers while their hands were guided to the spot where the Virgin supposedly appeared. Some were disabled and arrived in wheelchairs, hoping for grace and cure. Many visitors were welcomed to stay overnight in private rooms, since Marpingen was hard to reach. The nearest train station was located in St. Wendel, seven kilometers away. The business of quartering boomed, and the taverns were full.

In the first days after July 3, 1876 about 4,000 people visited the site; in the second week of the apparitions 20,000 people came to Marpingen. Since that time, people came more frequently on weekends or for Marian festivals. They received communion and went to the site of the apparitions in order to pray. There was a final wave of pilgrims in the phase between July and September 1877, sometimes reaching 9,000 pilgrims a day, because the Holy Virgin had announced that she was ending her visits. Especially on the predicted last days of the apparitions during the first three days of September 1877, there were 30,000 visitors. In her last appearance Our Mary reportedly said: “I will be back in hard times”.

Most also drank the miraculous water in the Härtel-forest. The water from the dwell near the apparitions was believed to have miraculous potential and was sold for consumption by the needy. A pilgrim from Trier filled a twelve liter jug and carried it home by foot in February 1877. Not only the villagers profited. Retailers from outside Marpingen opened ambulant shops in order to sell devotional objects.


Many famous sites of pilgrimage in the nineteenth century were gathering places, such as the pilgrimage to the Holy Robe in Trier 1844 or Lourdes since 1858. Many organizations formed or were involved in bringing the pilgrims in such places. Marpingen is an example of the opposite. The movement came from below. There was no ecclesiastical architecture which supported the events and no hierarchical institution which could evaluate the evidence of the apparitions. Marpingen belonged to the diocese of Trier. During the culture war between state and church (Kulturkampf), which raged between 1871 and 1878, the bishop of Trier, Matthias Eberhard, was arrested in 1874. Thus, the diocese was left without a bishop. Eberhard died in May 1876, shortly before the apparitions in Marpingen began. It was not until 1881 before a new bishop was elected, Michael Felix Korum. Also, there was no dean in St. Wendel, the deanary responsible for Marpingen. The church suffered losses not only on the top level but also on the level of ordinary staff. Many priests were arrested or, if they had died, were not replaced by a new one because, among other things, the state asked for an official state exam in higher education (Kulturexamen), which the church refused. Of the 731 parishes of the diocese, 230 were without leadership.

The position of Jakob Neureuter, the parish-priest who supervised his flock in Marpingen since 1864, was particularly stressful. He personally believed in the apparitions but was ecclesiastically required to be cautious until an official investigation approved them. But without a bishop there was no official investigation of the type that the bishop of Regensburg could initiate for the apparitions in Mettenbuch (1876). Neureuter was left alone in keeping the collective emotions under control, standing between the emphatic expectations of his flock, the regulations of the church, and the hostility challenging his village from outside.

In the absence of a bishop in Trier, Johann Theodor Laurent (1804-1884), Apostolic Vicar in Luxembourg and titular bishop of Chersones, was asked to write a report on the apparitions. He uttered serious doubts about them, about Mary’s “frequent changes of dress,” and of her words, which often were only a “mere aping” of Lourdes. He suggested that perhaps everything was a diabolical delusion, since the visionaries also met Lucifer sometimes. The bishop played a crucial role in the fact that the apparitions at Trier were never approved.

The pilgrims, who flooded Marpingen, represented lower social status groups; the bourgeoisie, such as academics (Bildungsbürger) and upper status businessmen (Wirtschaftsbürger) was missing. Some wives of the Catholic nobility were committed, most prominent among them: Princess Helene of Thurn und Taxis, and in 1877 the mother of the Bavarian King and the sister of the Austrian Kaiser.

The apparitions and religious worship in Marpingen, as in many places, were part of a strong wave of Marian apparitions that occurred during the Italian and German unification wars in the decade between 1866 (Philippsdorf) and 1877, with a peak around 1870 in Italy and in Alsace. The events and their consequences were not isolated phenomena but rather were national and transnational. Embedded in European texts and contexts, Marpingen both resulted from previous apparitions in other places in other countries and also inspired new apparitions in different places. Marian apparitions were communicated beyond borders and sparked off new events. For example, when a statue in honour of the Virgin was consecrated in Lourdes, 100,000 Catholics were present, among them thirty-five bishops and 5,000 priests. This event happened on July 3, 1876, the very same day when 894 kilometres away from Lourdes three girls in the Härtel-forest reported seeing a white figure during early evening.

The (missing) church hierarchy in Trier and the centre of ultramontane adoration, Rome, played a minor role in the events in Marpingen. A correspondent from the Berlin Catholic newspaper “Germania” wrote an article in the “Civiltà Cattolica,” promulgating the consecration of a chapel at the place of the apparitions. It was not until 1932 that private initiative lead to the erection of a Marian chapel for pilgrims at the site of the apparitions. [Image at right] All of this occurred during years that saw dramatic unemployment in the region. The authorities of the church in Trier refused to consecrate the chapel because they didn’t want to encourage superstition. Some elderly women in 1934, 1935 and 1937 tried to move the situation forward by claiming to have seen Mother Mary. While the church labeled them “hysterical women,” the flow of pilgrims to Marpingen grew again during the regime of National-Sozialism. In the post-war years and through the 1950s, there was pressure from pious agitators who tried to convince the ecclesiastical hierarchy to consecrate the chapel but they failed. A consecration, which would have been an official approval of the visions, has never happened.


Ten days after the first apparition, armed infantry invaded the village expelling the pilgrims with means of force. Some people were seriously injured, and access to the forest was closed. But neither the army nor the additional gendarmes, who were sent to Marpingen to control the situation and to seal the area where the pilgrims gathered, could stop the Holy Virgin. Now she appeared in barns and houses within the village. The army occupied the village for a couple of weeks. Authorities interviewed the people involved. Among those examined were the parish-priest Jakob Neureuter and the visionaries.

Catholic and liberal newspapers across Germany reported the events from different angles. While Catholic newspapers emphasized the status of the villagers as victims, the liberal position surmised a clerical complot behind the events. For them Catholics were superstitious and nationally not reliable. They considered the gathering of thousands of people as a case of breach of the public peace. The parish priest and several villagers were arrested and put on trial. The three girls, who started it all, were the subjects of intense interrogations. Nevertheless, the events extended into the year 1877.

Marpingen had to pay a high price for wishing to become a “German Lourdes” and to improve the low community income by means of becoming a centre for pilgrims. The events had a serious aftermath. The penalties included that the village was liable to pay 4,000 marks for hosting troops it never asked for, and also that the investigations involved hundreds of people, villagers and priests. On January 16, 1878, the conduct of the army and bureaucracy in Marpingen was discussed prominently in the Prussian lower house. Members of the Centre party had tabled a motion, calling for reimbursement of the 4,000 marks, the rescinding or the ban to enter the Härtel-forest, and disciplinary measures against the officials involved.

The most serious cases against agitators involved led to a legal tribunal. In the beginning, the investigations concentrated on sedition, riotous assembly, and breach of the peace. After realizing that these accusations were untenable, investigators moved to accuse individuals of fraud and deception. The trial against nineteen individuals started in March 1879 in Saarbrücken with 170 witnesses against the defendants and only twenty-six supporting them.

In both cases, before trial and in parliament, the prominent attorney Julius Bachem was one of the fiercest defenders of the Catholic case, not in the sense that he believed in the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Marpingen, but in the social and legal sense and because he belonged to the same Catholic milieu. At the end, the motion in Parliament was denied, but in court none of the nineteen people charged was convicted.

Later avowals of Margaretha Kunz reveal that they probably only had seen stacked-up wood with the white side pointing outwards. But it was half-dark, and Susanna Leist’s outcry “Grechten, Kätchen, look, over there is a women in white” frightened them and created a collective suggestion. The “great mistake” had been “to believe us immediately instead of calming us down.” It was all “one big lie,” Margaretha confessed in 1889. But as they were climbing in the hierarchy of respect among the villagers, as reporters and priests idolized them, they enjoyed their growing prominence and kept playing the role expected from them.

Marpingen continues to attract some individual pilgrims who worship Mother Mary. After some years of investigation, the bishop of Trier, Reinhard Marx, declared in 2005 that neither the supposed apparitions of 1876 nor those of 1999 were confirmed by the church. The chapel was never consecrated. Marpingen never made it to become the “German Lourdes.” But the Marpingen-Mary of 1999 made it at least into a quartet with the topic Marian apparitions (“the most glamorous appearances of the Holy Virgin in 32 playing cards”), even if only in the category: “not approved.”

Mga larawan

Image #1: The three seers of 1876 (photo: Stiftung Marpinger Kulturbesitz).
Image #2: Stielers Karte von Deutschland in 25 Blatt, Gotha 1875.
Image #3: Section of the Map containing Marpingen.
Image #4: Gregor Hinsberger, Marien-Verehrungsstätte Härtelwald Marpingen, Marpingen, 2003.
Image #5: Marpingen and Lourdes in the quartet of Weltquartett, Hamburg.

Mga sanggunian

Blackbourn, David. 1995. Marpingen. Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in a Nineteenth-Century German Village. New York: Vintage.

Blackbourn, David. 2007. Marpingen. Das deutsche Lourdes in der Bismarckzeit. Saarbrücken: Association for the Promotion of the Saarbrücken State Archive.

Blaschke, Olaf. 2020. “Vom ‘Kulturkampf‘ an der Saar bis zum ‘Burgfrieden‘ (1870–1918).” Pp. 255-86 in Reformation, Religion und Konfession an der Saar (1517–2017), edited by Gabriele Clemens and Stephan Laux. Saarbrücken.

Blaschke, Olaf. 2020. “Pilgrimages, Modernity, and Ultramontanism in Germany.” Pp. 166-89 in Nineteenth-Century European Pilgrimages: A New Golden Age, edited by Antón M. Pazos. Abingdon.

Blaschke, Olaf. 2016. “Marpingen: A Remote Village and its Virgin in a Transnational Context.” Pp. 83-107 in Roberto di Stefano and Francisco Javier Ramón Solans (Hg.), Ang mga Maria Devotions, Political Mobilization, at Nasyonalismo sa Europa at Amerika. Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan.

Rebbert, Joseph. 1877. Marpingen und seine Gegner. Apologetische Zugabe zu den Schriften und Berichten über Marpingen, Metenbuch und Dittrichswalde. Ein Schutz- und Trutzbüchlein für das katholische Volk. Paderborn.

Schneider, Bernhard. 2008. Ein “deutsches Lourdes”? Der “Fall” Marpingen (1876 und 1999) und die Elemente eines kirchlichen Prüfungsverfahrens. Pp. 178-99 in Maria und Lourdes. Wunder und Marienerscheinungen in theologischer und kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive, edited by Bernhard Schneider. Münster.

Petsa ng Pag-publish:
Marso 15 2021


Eddy Family



1842: Ipinanganak si Horatio Eddy.

1841 (o 1842): Ipinanganak si William Eddy.

1844: Ipinanganak si Mary Eddy.

1848: Dalawang batang kapatid na babae, sina Kate at Maggie Fox ng Hydesville, New York, ay inangkin na nakikipag-usap sa isang diwa sa pamamagitan ng "rappings."

1849 (Nobyembre 14): Sina Kate at Maggie Fox, kasama ang kapatid na si Leah, na siningil bilang "The Fox Sisters;" ipinakita ang kanilang mga komunikasyon sa espiritu sa Rochester, sa New York's Colossian Hall.

1862 (Hulyo 13): Namatay si Zephania Eddy.

1864: Sinimulan nina William, Horatio, at Mary Eddy ang kanilang karera sa pagtatanghal ng mga publikong sesyon, itinanghal at pinamamahalaan ng "magnetikong tagapagsanay" na si William Fitzgibbons.

1865: Matapos ang isang oras na pagtatagal ng mga sesyon ng publiko sa Chittenden, Vermont, ang tatlong magkakapatid ay naging isang paglalakbay na pinamamahalaan ni JH Randall.

1866 (Disyembre): Naglibot sina William at Mary kasama si Ira Davenport, nagtatag ng Davenport Brothers.

1872 (Disyembre 29): Namatay si Julia Eddy.

1873 (Setyembre): Ang dumaraming masalimuot na mga sesyon na itinanghal na kapwa sa loob at labas ng bahay ay humugot ng maraming mga madla sa bukid ng Eddy sa Chittenden.

1874 (Agosto): Ang mamamahayag na si Henry Steel Olcott ay bumisita sa Spirit Vale sa loob ng limang araw, sa takdang aralin mula sa New York Sun. Nag-publish siya ng isang liham sa araw sa susunod na linggo, na naglalarawan ng kanyang karanasan. Bumalik siya ilang sandali pagkatapos ay isang investigator para sa Pang-araw-araw na Graphic, nanatili sa labindalawang linggo, at iniulat ang kanyang mga karanasan sa isang serye ng mga artikulo.

1874 (Nobyembre): Nasaksihan ni Shaker Elder Frederick Evans ang isang serye ng mga sesyon sa bukid ng Eddy, na iniulat na higit sa tatlumpung mga espiritu ang naganap sa isang sesyon.

1875 (Marso): Isang katulong na sanay sa Eddy ang nagtapat sa pandaraya pagkatapos ng labis na pagkakalantad sa publiko, na inaangkin na gumaganap siya tulad ng itinuro sa kanya ng Eddys.

1875 (Abril): Nai-publish ang Olcott Ang mga tao mula sa Ibang Mundo.

1875 (Hulyo): Si Mary Eddy ay hindi na kasangkot sa mga pagganap ng pamilya, sa halip na bigyan ang mga session ng solo, sa Chittenden.

1875 (Nobyembre 26): Ang New York Sun naglathala ng detalyadong paglalantad ng mga mapanlinlang na kasanayan sa Eddy Homestead. Ang operasyon sa bahay ay tumigil, at nagkalat ang pamilya, nagsasagawa ng magkakahiwalay na karera.

1910 (Disyembre 31): Namatay si Mary Eddy.

1922 (Setyembre 8): Namatay si Horatio Eddy.

1932 (Oktubre 25): Namatay si William Eddy.


Kasabay ng isang relihiyon, isang pokus ng siyentipikong pag-aaral, at isang tanyag na tanyag sa pampubliko na aliwan, Espirituwalismo, at pagsasagawa ng pamamasyal sa publiko na sinasabing pinatunayan nito, perpektong naipakita ang pagtatagpo ng sigasig sa relihiyon, pagtatanong sa empirikal, at popular na aliwan na naglalarawan sa kulturang Amerikano noong kalagitnaan ng ikalabinsiyam na siglo. Nang ilunsad ng mga kapatid na teenager, Kate, Maggie, at Leah Fox ng Hydesville, New York ang kilusang Espirituwalista noong 1949 sa pamamagitan ng mga pagtatanghal sa harap ng mga nabighani ng mga madla ni Rochester kung saan inaangkin nila na nakikipag-usap sa mga espiritu, ang kanilang naging resulta ng katanyagan ay nagbigay inspirasyon sa anumang bilang ng magkatulad na pagtatanghal . Ang Pamilyang Eddy ay kabilang sa pinakatanyag, at pinaka kilalang kilala, ng maraming mga gawaing pampubliko medium entertainment na bumangon sa kalagayan ng tanyag na tao ng Fox Sisters.

Sa kanilang 1870s heyday, ang mga kamangha-manghang mga sesyon na isinagawa ng Eddy Family sa kanilang sakahan ng pamilya sa Chittenden, Vermont [Larawan sa kanan] ay nagdala sa kanila ng pansin sa internasyonal sa anyo ng saklaw ng pahayagan at libu-libong mga bisita na naniniwala na tunay silang nasasaksihan ang mga materialization ng espiritu. Ang totoong impormasyon tungkol sa kasaysayan o background ng Eddys, gayunpaman, ay mahirap makuha. Ang mga magulang na sina Zephaniah (1804-1862) at asawang si Julia (1813-1872), nabuhay bilang magsasaka, nadagdagan ang kanilang kita sa pamamagitan ng pagdadala sa mga boarders at manlalakbay sa kanilang bahay, at magkasama na mayroong labing-isang anak. Sa magkakapatid, sina Horatio, William, at Mary ang pinakaaktibo, unang gumanap ng mga sesyon ng publiko bilang mga espiritwal at pisikal na daluyan sa isang naglalakbay na circuit, at kalaunan ay nasa kanilang sariling tahanan at sa lupain ng pamilya.

Ang pinakalawak na account ng Eddys, Henry Steel Olcott's Mga Tao Mula sa Ibang Daigdig, naglalaman ng sapat na hindi matukoy na impormasyon upang hindi ganap na kapanipaniwala, sa kabila ng matatag na mga kredensyal ng may-akda ng may-akda. Ayon sa kanya, ang mga bata ay minana mula sa kanilang ina na taga-Scotland na si Julia ang kapangyarihan ng "foreseeing," na naipasa sa linya ng babae ng kanyang pamilya, at nakilala si Julia bilang isang Spiritualist, sa pagtutol ng kanyang asawa. Ang epitaph sa puntod ni Julia, "Pumasok sa Mundo ng mga Espiryo Disyembre 29, 1972" ay nagmumungkahi ng tunay na mga hilig na Espirituwalista [Larawan sa kanan]. Walang rekord ng kasaysayan na mayroon, gayunpaman, upang suportahan ang karagdagang pahayag ni Olcott na ang apo sa tuhod ni Julia ay sinubukan at nahatulan ng kamatayan sa Salem para sa pangkukulam noong 1692, at ang mga kapitbahay na binanggit sa mga account sa dyaryo ay pinagtatalunan ito. Ang pag-angkin ni Olcott na tinanggap ni Zephaniah ang ilan sa mga bata bilang isang naglalakbay na gawain, na sa panahong ito ay nagdusa sila ng iba't ibang uri ng pang-aabuso sa pisikal at emosyonal, ay madalas na paulit-ulit sa mga kwento tungkol sa pamilya na ipinakalat sa tanyag na media. Walang rekord ng anumang pagganap sa publiko ng sinumang miyembro ng pamilya ang magagamit bago ang pasinaya ni William, Mary, at Horatio noong 1864, gayunpaman, na dalawang taon pagkatapos ng kamatayan ni Zephaniah, nang ang magkakapatid ay nasa maagang edad na. Ang mga nasabing elemento ng backstory ng pamilya, mga pamana ng minana ng kanilang ina, ang pakikipag-usap sa maagang pagkabata sa mga espiritu, at pagtrato at pisikal na pang-aabuso sa mga kamay ng malupit na mga miyembro ng pamilya o labis na masigasig na mga nagdududa, sa katunayan ay tipikal na ng uri ng mga espiritwal na pinagmulang salaysay. .

Para sa maraming mga naniniwala, ang kanilang tila kamangha-manghang mga pagtatanghal na pagtawag at pakikipag-ugnay sa mga espiritu ay binigyang-katarungan ang bisa ng Spiritualism. Marahil upang maipahiram ang katotohanan sa katotohanan ng mga engkwentro ng espiritu, ang mga pinakamaagang pagsisikap ng publiko na sinikap ni William, Horatio, at Mary ay sinisingil bilang mga eksibitasyong pang-agham kaysa sa mga karanasan sa relihiyon. Si William Fitzgibbons, na namamahala sa kanilang unang eksibisyon sa paglalakbay, ay dating na-advertise ang kanyang sarili bilang isang magnetiko na nagsasanay. Sa anumang kadahilanan, nabigo ang pag-frame na ito upang akitin ang mga madla. Ang isang maagang pagganap, itinanghal sa bahay ni Fitzgibbons bilang isang pang-agham na eksibisyon ng "Human Magnetism at Human Elektrisidad," ay binigkas na "nakakapagod" ng isang dumadating na reporter, at ang Eddys na "maginhawa at mahirap at masyadong bihis." Lumitaw kasama ang Eddys sa parehong eksibisyon na ito ay ang daluyan ng propesyonal na si Jennie Ferris, na inilarawan ng parehong reporter bilang "mas matalino at kaakit-akit." Makalipas ang ilang sandali, ang tatlong Eddys at Ginang Ferris ay naglibot bilang isang tropa sa ilalim ng Fitzgibbons, malamang na natututo ng higit pang mga propesyonal na pamamaraan ng pagtugtog at pag-uugali sa panahong iyon. Ang tropa ay tila nabuwag noong Enero 1865.

Matapos ang ilang buwan kung saan nagsagawa ang pamilya ng mga publikong sesyon sa Chittenden, Mary, William, at Horatio ay nagpatuloy sa paglalakbay sa ilalim ng pamamahala ni JH Randall para sa natitirang 1865. Marahil bilang tugon sa isang iskandalo sa pagkakalantad pati na rin ang isang maliwanag na pagbagsak kabilang sa mga kapatid (kapwa kapansin-pansin na madalas na pangyayari sa kanilang karera), ang Eddys ay umatras mula sa mga pampublikong pagtatanghal hanggang sa tungkol sa Disyembre 1866. Sa oras na iyon, nagsimulang maglakbay sina William at Mary (nang walang Horatio) kasama si Ira Davenport sa isang mahusay na itinatag na Spiritualist circuit.

Si Ira Davenport ay ama at tagapamahala ng Davenport Brothers. Sina Ira at William, ang mga eponymous na kapatid, ay kabilang sa una at pinakatanyag sa mga kilalang laking medium na kilos. Ang mga salamangkero sa entablado sa pamamagitan ng pagsasanay, ang kanilang mga sesyon ay nagtatampok ng isang piraso ng kasangkapan sa entablado na tinatawag na isang cabinet ng espiritu, isang mahaba, makitid na kahon na sapat lamang para sa dalawang medium na makaupo sa tapat ng bawat isa sa loob, na may mga butas sa iba't ibang mga lokasyon na pinapayagan ang mga katulong na itali ang kanilang mga kamay sa mga lubid upang maiwasan ang panloloko, at kung saan maaaring lumitaw ang mga espiritu upang makipag-ugnay sa madla. [Larawan sa kanan] Ang isa pang tampok ng kanilang kilos ay ang iba`t ibang mga instrumentong pangmusika na nakaayos sa sahig ng gabinete na kunin at pinatugtog ng mga espiritu (masama, ayon sa ilang mga ulat). Nang ilang taon na ang lumipas ang Eddys ay nagsimulang magsagawa ng mga sesyon sa kanilang sakahan ng pamilya, kapansin-pansin na inangkop nila ang pareho ng mga elementong ito ng pagtatanghal.

Si William at Mary Eddy ay nagpatuloy sa paglilibot kasama ang Davenport hanggang Enero 1867, nang sila ay naaresto sa Syracuse dahil sa pagganap nang walang lisensya. Matapos ang maraming higit pang mga iskandalo sa pagkakalantad, kabilang ang mga pag-aaway na magkakapatid na inilantad ang bawat isa sa kalagitnaan ng yugto, sina William, Mary, at Horatio ay nag-ikot nang hiwalay hanggang sa humigit-kumulang noong 1869.

Matapos ang isang tatlong taong pahinga, kung saan namatay ang kanilang ina at isang nakatatandang kapatid na babae, nagsimulang maghawak ng pang-araw-araw na mga sesyon ang Eddys, na may lalong kamangha-manghang mga manipestasyon. Ang mga sesyon ay ginanap sa kanilang sakahan ng pamilya, na kinilala bilang The Spirit Vale. Libu-libong mga bisita ang dumating upang saksihan ang mga pagtatanghal na ito, na madalas na manatili ng maraming araw o kahit na linggo nang paisa-isa sa bahay ng pamilya, na tumatakbo bilang isang hiwalay na negosyo na tinatawag na The Green Tavern. Ang mga bisita ay nagbayad lamang ng katamtamang bayad para sa silid at board; ang pang-araw-araw na mga sesyon ay isinasagawa nang walang bayad.

Ang kamangha-manghang, tila tunay, at tila nakakumbinsi na mga pagganap ng Spirit Vale ay agad na nakakuha ng pansin sa mataas na profile. Noong Agosto 28, 1874, ang iginagalang na abugado, mamamahayag, at opisyal ng militar na si Col. Henry Steel Olcott, ay bumisita sa Spirit Vale, sa takdang-aralin mula sa New York Sun. Matapos mailathala ang isang liham sa araw noong Setyembre 5 na naglalarawan ng kanyang karanasan, bumalik si Olcott bilang isang nagsusulat na sulat para sa Pang-araw-araw na Graphic. Sa kanyang pananatili, nai-publish niya ang isang mahabang serye ng mga sulat, na nagdedetalye ng iba't ibang mga phenomena na nasaksihan niya at nauugnay sa kasaysayan ng pamilyang Eddy. Nagbigay siya ng detalyadong mga guhit ng bahay at ang arkitektura nito, ang panloob na sesance room, at ang panlabas na site, kasama ang kanyang sariling account ng nakasaksi, bilang katibayan ng pagiging tunay ng mga pagpapakita.

Sa pananatili ni Olcott, dalawang iba pang mahahalagang pigura ang bumisita din sa Spirit Vale. Ang isa ay si Helena Blavatsky, na naging kasosyo sa buhay ni Olcott at kapwa nagtatag ng Theosophical Society. Ang isa pa ay si Elder Frederick Evans, isa sa mga kauna-unahang pampublikong pigura ng kilusang Shaker. Para kay Evans at iba pang magkaparehong pag-iisip na Shaker, ang Eddy séances ay binigyang-katwiran at pinatibay ang papel na ginagampanan ng Spiritualism sa paniniwala ni Shaker, isang posisyon na hindi nangangahulugang sa pangkalahatan ay gaganapin sa loob ng kilusan mismo.

Kahit na publication ni Olcott noong 1875 ng Ang mga tao mula sa Ibang Daigdig, ang kanyang account sa haba ng libro ng kanyang karanasan sa mga Eddys, nagdala sa kanila ng higit na katanyagan, ang kanilang reputasyon ay mabilis na tumanggi malapit sa pagtatapos ng taong iyon. Ang Eddys, bantog na hindi nagpapahintulot sa mga nagdududa at hindi nasisiyahan sa kung ano ang napagtanto nilang kabiguan ni Olcott na ganap na mapatunayan ang kanilang mga pagtatanghal, nagsimulang pagbawalan ang mga mamamahayag mula sa kanilang mga sesyon nang sama-sama. Habang ang mga alingawngaw tungkol sa pandaraya at masamang hangarin ng mga kapit-bahay ng Eddy's Chittenden ay naging isang paulit-ulit na tema sa iba`t ibang mga account sa pahayagan, tumindi ang negatibong pag-uulat matapos ang isang insidente noong Marso. Nang si DF Westcott, isang Espirituwalista mula sa kalapit na Fair Haven, ay kumuha ng isang katulong na Eddy na nagngangalang Chaplin para sa isa niyang sariling sesyon, ang pagganap sa una ay nakakabigo. Matapos ang isang matangkad na espiritu ay lumitaw at walang ginawa sa partikular, maya-maya ay "kaunti, malabo" ang isa ay lumitaw at "nagsimulang maghangos sa kadiliman, kung saan ang isang may pag-aalinlangan sa madla" ay gumawa ng isang tagsibol at nakarating sa parisukat sa likuran ng dapat na espiritu . " Sa gayon literal na nahuli sa maliwanag na pagpapaimbabaw, hindi lamang "kinilala ni Chaplin na ang buong bagay ay isang mapagpakumbaba," ngunit iginiit na gumaganap siya tulad ng itinuro sa kanya ng Eddy.

Noong Nobyembre 26, 1875, Ang New York Sun nagpatakbo ng isang kamangha-manghang ilantad na nagbibigay ng detalyadong katibayan ng mga mapanlinlang na kasanayan ng Eddy. Ang kanilang account at ng iba pang pangunahing pahayagan sa silangang baybayin na mabilis na nakuha ang kuwento ay nagpapahiwatig na ang katibayan ay ibinigay ng isa sa mga kapatid na babae, at binanggit din sa marahas na pagtatalo sa mga magkakapatid. Kasama sa account ang isang paglalarawan ng lihim na daanan na tumatakbo sa pagitan ng tsimenea ng bahay at ng cabinet ng espiritu [Larawan sa kanan] kung saan nakaupo ang mga miyembro ng pamilya sa panahon ng kanilang mga sesyon, kasama ang mga kapatid na hindi karaniwang nakikita sa mga sesyon na nagbibigay ng isang hanay ng mga costume para sa mga pagtatanghal .

Sa resulta ng matagal na negatibong publisidad, ang karamihan sa pamilya ay nagpunta sa kanilang magkakahiwalay na paraan. Ayon sa isang account, si William ay lumipat bago ang iskandalo, na iniiwan ang bahay kay Horatio. Matapos ang maikling panahon sa Moravia, New York pagkatapos ng Ancora, New Jersey kasama ang ilang iba pang mga kapatid, ipinagpatuloy ni William ang buhay bilang isang medium sa paglalakbay. Matapos ang isa pang pag-aresto noong Pebrero 1878, nang ang mga miyembro ng pamilya ay naaresto sa Albany dahil sa pagsasanay ng Espirituwalismo nang walang lisensya ng isang aliw, isang inanyayahang Shaker na si Elder Evans ay inanyayahan si William at ang iba pang mga miyembro ng pamilya na kasama nilang naglalakbay na pumunta sa kanyang pamayanan sa Mt. Lebanon. Si William at hindi pinangalanan pang ibang kapatid ay nagpatuloy sa pagsasagawa ng mga pag-séance doon sa isang cabinet na itinayo ng Shaker. Si Horatio ay nanatili sa bahay, at noong Hunyo ay nagsasanay ng potograpiyang espiritu. Si Maria ay nagpatuloy na magtrabaho bilang isang daluyan hanggang sa ang mga 1800. Ang kanyang kamatayan noong Disyembre 1910 ay permanenteng nagtapos sa kanyang mahabang karera. Si Horatio ay nanirahan hanggang 1922, at si William hanggang noong 1932. [Imedad sa kanan]


Maliit na magagamit na katibayan ay nagpapahiwatig na ang Eddys ay nagsasagawa ng mga Espirituwalista, o na ang kanilang mga pagganap ay nagmula sa anumang mga tiyak na paniniwala sa relihiyon. Inilalarawan ng ulat ni Henry Olcott ang kanilang ama, at ang karamihan sa mga pamilya ng rehiyon, bilang mahigpit na mga Metodista ngunit ang kanilang ina na si Julia ay may kaakibat na Espirituwalista. Ang epitaph na "Passed to Spirit Life" sa gravestone ni William ay nagpapahiwatig na kahit papaano ay sineryoso niya ang ilang mga espiritista. Gayunpaman, ang impluwensya, ang mga Eddy séances ay nagbigay ng isang kapansin-pansin na impluwensya sa iba pang mahahalagang paggalaw sa relihiyon ng panahong iyon. Si Helena Blavatsky ay tila nagbiyahe sa Chittenden noong Oktubre 1874 sa utos ng kanyang Master. Kung hindi pa niya nagawa ito at hindi nakilala si Olcott, ang Theosophy, isa sa mga pundasyon ng ikadalawampu siglo na Western okultismo, ay maaaring hindi pa nabuo. Marc Demarest asserts: “Henry Steel Olcott's Ang mga tao mula sa Ibang Mundo, kasing dami ng anumang dokumento, ay nagmamarka ng simula ng pagbagsak ng Spiritualism, at ang unang pansamantalang pagbuo ng modernong okultismo. " Sa kanyang pag-aaral ng ugnayan ng Eddys at ng Mt. Ang Lebanon Shakers, si Christian Goodwillie ay nagtapos na sa kabila ng maliwanag na pandaraya sa mga pagganap ng Eddy, ang kanilang pagsasama ay nagpatuloy ng "mas malawak na mga layunin ng Shakerism kasabay ng pandaigdigang pagsabog ng Spiritualism bilang isang praktikal na relihiyon." Kahit na ang pinaka-nakakainis at may pag-aalinlangan sa maraming mga expose sa pahayagan na nai-publish sa panahon ng kanilang karera ay nag-aalangan na tapusin na ang pandaraya ng Eddys ay nangangahulugang ang Espirituwalismo mismo ay mapanlinlang.


Maliit na magagamit na katibayan ay nagpapahiwatig na ang Eddys ay nagsasanay ng mga Espirituwalista, o ang kanilang mga pagtatanghal ay nagmula sa anumang tukoy na paniniwala sa relihiyon. Kapag ang pamilya ay tumigil sa paglalakbay at tumira sa Spirit Vale, ang mga pag-aayos ay naganap sa Circle Room, isang malaking, mahabang loft sa itaas ng pangunahing mga tirahan ng pamilya, na may nakalagay na gabinete ng espiritu sa isang dulo at ang mga tagapakinig sa mga hilera na may kalayuan. Pinaghiwalay ng isang riles ang madla mula sa mga medium. Sa isang sesyon ng isang araw, karaniwang nag-aalok ang Eddys ng tatlong uri ng mga pag-iisa: ilaw (gaganapin sa liwanag ng araw), madilim (sa gabi o sa kadiliman), at sa labas ng bahay. Ang ginawang lokal na lugar para sa mga panlabas na sesyon ay isang pagbuo ng bato na kilala bilang Honto's Cave, kaya't pinangalanan para sa diwa ng isang babaeng Katutubong Amerikano na dapat manirahan doon, at kung sino ang isang paboritong pagpapakita. [Larawan sa kanan] Ang Eddys ay nagdadalubhasa sa maraming mga pagpapakita, maraming mga espiritu sa bawat oras at / o malalaking numero (dalawampu o limampu o higit pa) sa isang sesyon. Minsan ang mga espiritu ay lilitaw bilang mga mahal sa buhay ng mga miyembro ng madla at nakikipag-usap sa kanila; sa ibang mga oras ang mga espiritu ay gumawa ng anyo ng mga lokal na katutubong tao. Sa pagbisita ni Madame Blavatsky, marami sa mga espiritu ay European, at nakita ng mga tagapakinig ng Shaker na nakikipag-usap sila sa mga espiritu ng kanilang yumaong mga nakatatanda. [Larawan sa kanan]


Ang tatlong pangunahing daluyan ng mga pagtatanghal ng Eddy ay sina William, Horatio, at Mary. Ang kanilang karera ay sumailalim sa tatlong mga yugto: naglalakbay bilang bahagi ng isang gumaganap na tropa sa pagitan ng 1864 at 1869 sa ilalim ng iba't ibang mga tagapamahala, ang panahon ng Spirit Vale sa pagitan ng 1873 at 1875, kung saan ang buong pamilya ay lumahok sa mga sesyon, at pagkatapos ng 1875, nang nagkalat ang pamilya. Si William at ilang iba pang mga kapatid ay nanirahan kasama ng mga Shaker, at ang iba pang mga kapatid ay tumagal ng mga karera na solo bilang mga medium, espiritu ng potograpo, at iba pa. Ang pinaka-makabuluhang panahon ng paglalakbay sa tropa ng mga palabas ay nagsimula noong Disyembre 1866 nang magsimulang maglakbay sina William at Mary kasama ang The Davenport Brothers na nagbago ng malaking bahagi ng stagecraft na Eddy's at iba pang mga kilos na matagumpay na naangkop. Ang sesyon ng Spirit Vale ay maliwanag na kasangkot ang buong pamilya, kasama sina William, Mary, at Horatio bilang pangunahing medium at iba pang mga kapatid na tumutulong sa likod ng mga eksena. Matapos ang mga sesyon na ito ay natapos, ang pamilya ay nagpunta sa kanilang magkakahiwalay na paraan sa iba't ibang mga pagpapangkat.


Hindi tulad ng mga Fox Sisters, na sila mismo ang umamin sa pandaraya ng kanilang mga komunikasyon sa espiritu, ang magkatulad at paulit-ulit na diniskita kay Eddys ay malinaw na higit na nakatuon sa pag-uusapan bilang libangan na kumikita kaysa sa isang espiritwal na kasanayan. Ang mga banta ng pagkakalantad ay bahagi at bahagi ng anumang mediumistic na eksibisyon, kung walang iba pang kadahilanan kaysa sa anumang pagkabigo ng mga nagdududa na patunayan ang pandaraya na pinahusay ang reputasyon ng mga medium. Sa gayon ang mga may pag-aalinlangan pati na rin ang mga tunay na mananampalataya ay bumubuo ng isang makabuluhang bahagi ng anumang madla ng panonood sa publiko, at ang tono ng maraming mga account sa pahayagan ng mga mediumistic na pagpapakita na halili sa pagitan ng pagdiriwang na pagpapatunay ng pagkakaroon ng isang kabilang-buhay at nakatutuwang pagbibiro ng kredibilidad ng madla. Kahit na ang mga Eddy séances ay ipinagdiriwang para sa kanilang tila pagiging tunay at ang kanilang mga pagganap ng Spirit Vale ay nakakuha ng pansin ng mga pantas na iskolar at mga pinuno ng relihiyon, ang maliwanag na panloloko ng kanilang mga pagtatanghal ay nakapagpahina hindi lamang sa kanilang kredibilidad, ngunit sa kredibilidad ng seryoso at tunay na pagsasanay ng mga Espirituwalista.

Maraming iba pang mga kadahilanan bukod sa pangmatagalan na isyu ng pagiging tunay na humantong sa isang pangkalahatang pagguho ng Spiritualism noong unang bahagi ng ikadalawampu siglo. Gayunpaman, ang ilang iba pang mga anyo ng Espirituwalismo ay nagpursige sa Estados Unidos, tulad ng mga simbahang Espirituwalista at kampo, at pagsasanay na Espirituwalista sa loob ng mga pamayanang Itim na nakakakita ng kasalukuyang pananalita sa mga kulturang nakasentro sa Africa.

Mga larawan

Larawan # 1: Ang Eddy Homestead.
Larawan # 2: gravestone ni Julia Eddy.
Larawan # 3: Poster ng Davenport.
Larawan # 4: Ang Gabinete ng Eddy.
Larawan # 5: William at Horario Eddy.
Larawan # 7: Honto's Cave.
Larawan # 8: Pagbisita ng mga Espiritu.

Mga sanggunian

"Isang Gabi sa mga Espirito." 1864. Pang-araw-araw na Eagle ng Brooklyn, Nobyembre 11.

Benoit, Brian. 2020. "Ghosted: Ang Kuwestiyonableng Mga Habol ng Pamilya Eddy sa Mga Pamahalaang Sumakop sa Labing siyam na Siglo Vermont." Readex Blog. Na-access mula sa https://www.readex.com/blog/ghosted-eddy-family%E2%80%99s-questionable-claims-occult-powers-nineteenth-century-vermont sa 8 March 2021.

Demarest, Marc. 2015, "Honto's Cave: Ilang Tala sa Mediumship ng Eddy Family." Chasing Down Emma: Paglutas ng Mga Kontradiksyon ng, at Pagpuno ng Mga Puwang sa, ang Live, Trabaho at Mundo ni Emma Hardinge Britten. Na-access mula sa http://ehbritten.blogspot.com/2015/10/hontos-cave-some-notes-on-mediumships.html sa 8 March 2021.

Goodwillie, Christian. 2015. "Liwanag at Madilim na Mga Gilid ng Espirituwalismo: Ang Eddy Brothers at ang Shakers." Mga Komunistang Lipunan Kuwarter 9: 200-22.

"Ang Eddy Brothers." 1875. Boston Globe, Pebrero 2.

"Ang Eddy's Humbug ay Tumambad." 1875. Ang Albany Times, Marso 23.

"Ang Pinakabagong Pagganap ng Eddys." 1876. Rutland Daily Globe, Hunyo 22.

Ang Theosophist. 1908. 29: 9.

Land, Grebory R. 2020. Espirituwalismo sa Digmaang Sibil sa Amerika. Jefferson, NC: McFarland at Kumpanya.

Olcott, Henry Steel. 1875. Ang mga tao mula sa Ibang Mundo. Hartford, CT: American Publishing Company. 1875.

Petsa ng Pag-publish:
Marso 15 2021






Pagbago ng Charismong Katoliko



1967:  The Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) was founded.

1967–1980s (early):  Protestant expansion and acculturation took place.

1975 (May 18-19):  The first world Charismatic Renewal gathering took place in the presence of Pope Paul VI in St Peter’s Square, Rome.

1978:  The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) was founded.

1980s-1990s:  The Catholic Charismatic Renewal integrated within the Catholic matrix.

1981:  The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Offices (ICCRO) were created.

1998 (May 27-29):  The founders and leaders of fifty-seven ecclesial movements and new communities met with Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Square, Rome.

1990s (late)-2020:  Rapprochement with neo-Pentecostals was achieved.

2000s:  Evangelical and Pentecostal elements were introduced into the wider Catholicism, going beyond the Charismatic Renewal in the strict sense of the term.

2017 (June 3):  A CCR gathering celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in the presence of Pope Francis in Circus Maximus, Rome.

2018:  The Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS) was founded.


The Charismatic Renewal was born in January 1967 when four lay teachers from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit in a group of Episcopalian Pentecostals. Their experience quickly spread outside student circles and the United States, giving rise to a multitude of Catholic assemblies gathering to pray “the Pentecostal way.” In less than ten years, the movement became established on all continents: in 1969 thirteen countries hosted charismatic prayer groups, and by 1975,  ninety-three countries were involved. In Africa it was so successful that the anthropologist and Jesuit Meinrad Hebga spoke of a “veritable tidal wave” (Hebga 1995:67).

Currently the Charismatic Renewal comprises 19,000,000, representing around ten percent of all Catholics (Barrett and Johnson 2006). The movement has 148,000 prayer groups in 238 countries. Group sizes vary from two to one thousand participants. These groups bring together 13,400,000 people every week. 10,600 priests and 450 bishops around the world are charismatic. But the Charismatic Renewal is mainly a lay movement. After an initial exponential growth (more than twenty percent per year until the 1980s), the advance of the Catholic charismatic movement slowed down considerably. It has nevertheless continued at a rate of 2.7 percent per year since the beginning of the twenty-first century (Barrett and Johnson 2006). It is in the South that growth is currently at its highest, where the charismatic movement particularly resonates with traditional cultures (Aubourg 2014a; Bouchard 2010; Massé 2014; Hoenes del Pinal 2017) while encouraging the rise of leaders such as the Congolese Mama Régine (Fabian 2015), the Cameroonian Meinrad Hebga (Lado 2017), the Beninese Jean Pliya, the Indian James Manjackal, etc.

Four phases can be distinguished in the development of the Charismatic Renewal. The first corresponds to the years of its emergence (1972-1982) during which the Pentecostal experience entered Catholicism. Both sides of the Atlantic saw what the Canadians Pauline Côté and Jacques Zylberberg (1990) called “a Protestant expansion and acculturation.” All over the world prayer groups were formed, some of which gave rise to so-called “new” communities (Landron 2004). These include The Word of God  in the United States (1969); Sodalitium Vita Christianae in Peru (1969); Canção Nova (1978) and Shalom (1982) in Brazil; Emmanuel (1972), Théophanie (1972), Chemin Neuf (1973), Rocher (1975), Pain de vie (1976), and Puits de Jacob (1977) in France; etc. Prayer groups and communities regularly organized large common gatherings conducive to ecumenical relations. It is worth pointing out that links were established not only between Catholic charismatics and Pentecostals, but also with Lutheran and Reformed circles caught up in the “charismatic wave” (Veldhuizen 1995:40).

The initial opening up to Pentecostalism was followed by a phase of withdrawal during which the Charismatic Renewal refocused on its Catholic identity (1982-1997). The Roman institution took care to control it by strengthening its affiliation to the church community as a whole. It sought to contain its effervescence by normalizing its rites and practices. The Renewal also took root within the Catholic matrix out of a conscious desire on the part of the movement itself. Having initially represented an “implicit protest” (Seguy 1979) against the Roman institution, it then made a number of pledges: to use emblematic figures (saints, mystics, popes), reappropriate the history of church tradition, and revive practices that were no longer in use (adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, individual confessions, pilgrimages, Marian devotion, etc.). As expressed by Michel de Certeau, in the Catholic charismatic movements “charisma becomes part of the institution it both upholds and wraps itself in” (De Certeau 1976:12). In some dioceses the Renewal found itself under leaders who imposed prudence and reserve with regard to charismatic expressions. This led to a very clericalized Renewal, which gradually lost its vigor. Emotional expressions became less exuberant. The idea of conversion associated with baptism in the Holy Spirit was euphemized.  Groups such as the Emmanuel community replaced it with the term “outpouring of the Spirit” in order to distance themselves from the experience lived in Protestant circles and diminish its importance in relation to the sacrament of baptism. There were fewer, less spectacular healings. Prayer meetings were conducted in an increasingly repetitive way, becoming veritable paraliturgical assemblies. The regulation of the Renewal eventually led to what sociologist Max Weber describes as the “routinization of charisma” and the “Catholic resocialization of emotions” (Cohen 2001), which was coupled with a decrease in its attractiveness among young people and especially in Western countries. 

The third period is that of rapprochement with the neo-Pentecostals in an effort to revive the Renewal (since 1997). As prayer groups were running out of steam, steps were taken to rekindle the charismatic emotion. They took the form of training courses, prayer meetings, evangelization days, individualized welcome cells, and large gatherings. All these initiatives mobilized elements of the third neo-Pentecostal wave which is characterized by its encouragement of extraordinary divine manifestations under the effect of “Power Evangelism.” The phenomenon spread thanks to specialized preachers who operated within interfaith and international networks and sparked a new religious effervescence that the church institution tried very hard to control.

The fourth so-called “post-charismatic” phase began in the early 2000s.  It corresponds to the introduction of evangelical and Pentecostal elements into Catholicism, going beyond the Charismatic Renewal in the strict sense of the term (Aubourg 2020). This introduction could happen “quietly,” in a capillary fashion, without the faithful necessarily being aware of it, using music (e.g. the pop rock songs of the Australian megachurch Hillsong), books (e.g. Ang Layunin na Hinimok ng Simbahan by Californian pastor Rick Warren), discursive practices (e.g. real-life testimony), body techniques (e.g. the prayer of the brothers), objects (e.g. the baptistery for adults), and so on. Prayer groups were also created which were linked to the Charismatic Renewal but did not see themselves as belonging to it, their members coming from a wider range of categories than just Catholic charismatics. This was the case of the Mother’s Prayer groups founded by the Englishwoman Veronica Williams which are now present in ninety-five countries. So-called “missionary” parishes also took their inspiration from evangelical megachurches fully consciously but without being affiliated to the Charismatic Renewal. In doing so, Catholicism borrowed powerful tools from evangelical churches in order to revitalize Catholic practice and slow down the rising curve of religious disaffiliation. In this process of borrowing from the evangelical and Pentecostal world it is worth noting the importance of one particular approach: the Alpha Courses (Rigou Chemin 2011; Labarbe, 2007; Stout and Dein 2013). This evangelizing tool, which is characterized by the conviviality it tries to foster and its well-honed logistical organization, is similar to Pentecostalism in that it focuses its message on developing a personal relationship with Christ, reading the Bible, and “acquiring” the Holy Spirit. Having started in the London Anglican parish of Holy Trinity Brampton (HTB) in 1977, its success has spread throughout the world and in different Christian communities. It has played a key role at three levels: disseminating evangelical practices and tools in the Catholic world, building an international interfaith network of leaders, and implementing a new parish organization model.


“A child of Pentecostalism” in the words of Christine Pina (2001:26), the charismatic movement was initially very directly linked to this branch of evangelical Protestantism since it focused first of all on the practice of charisms: glossolalia (Aubourg 2014b), prophecy (McGuire 1977), healing (Csordas 1983; Charuty 1990; Ugeux 2002). It then emphasized the centrality of the biblical text, conversion (or reconversion), and the explicit proclamation of the kerygma (a message centered on “Jesus Christ having died on the cross for the salvation of humankind”).  Moreover, in the wake of Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement revived the confession of the existence of Satan and his demonic manifestations. It dealt with requests for exorcisms and presented itself as a means to fight against threats of witchcraft (Sagne 1994).

However, from the outset the connection with Pentecostalism raised questions, and Catholics were not content to simply copy its ways. The church institution took care to channel them by setting aside certain elements, such as the insistence on apocalyptic discourse, in favor of others such as respect for hierarchical and governing bodies.


The Charismatic Renewal includes many diverse individuals from all over the world who occasionally take part in various groups and activities: prayer assemblies, conferences, conventions, spiritual retreats, evangelization schools, publishing houses, new communities, etc. However, the Catholic charismatic landscape is organized around two main types of religious groups: communities and prayer groups (Vetö 2012). [Image at right]

Prayer groups do not require intensive commitment from their members and tend to blend in with local church life. Even though their audience is fluid and mobile, prayer groups nevertheless have made an effort at structuring themselves by setting up national coordinating bodies. Prayer groups are led by a shepherd surrounded by a core. In the vast majority of cases, these are lay individuals elected by the other group members. Like Pentecostal assemblies, prayer groups started by Catholics encourage new forms of warm, close-knit sociability. Charismatic prayer puts a lot of emphasis on religious emotions, real-life testimonies, and free expressions of faith. The body plays a central role through rhythmic songs, dances, and numerous gestures and postures such as clapping hands or raising arms.

While spontaneity is the essential feature of charismatic prayer, the latter nevertheless follows a pattern that is repeated every week: the session begins with prayers of praise followed by one or more biblical readings. It ends with collective prayers of intercession and the laying of hands on those individual participants who wish it. Hymns and charismatic manifestations punctuate the meetings (Parasie 2005).

Communities are more visible and better organized than prayer groups. They assert their specific features in relation to each other. Competitive relationships develop among them but also in relation to autonomous prayer groups. Some offer an intense communal life (such as The Word of God in the United States, Béatitudes and Pain de Vie in France) while others (such as Emmanuel) offer a less restrictive way of life. Two processes are at work in these religious groups, which Thomas Csordas describes in terms of “ritualization and radicalization of charisma” (Csordas 2012:100-30). From an administrative point of view they have led to the acquisition of canonical statutes (religious institutes; private or public associations of worshippers governed by diocesan or pontifical law). These communities offer new ways of living together since some are mixed (men and women / priests and lay people / Catholics and Protestants) while others welcome married couples with their children. Most of them encourage their members to wear distinctive clothing or signs: specific shape and color of clothing, stylized cross worn around the neck, sandals, etc. Having gradually taken their place within the Church, the new communities are today entrusted with parishes, abbeys, and ecclesial responsibilities (Dolbeau 2019).

Apart from Pentecostal practices and beliefs, most communities emerging from the Charismatic Renewal have adopted a rigorous orthopraxy, which is characteristic of evangelical milieux. These include strict condemnation of behavior deemed immoral, such as adultery; prohibition of the use of tobacco; mistrust of music, and in particular rock music; prohibition of gambling; and condemnation of yoga, divinatory astrology, or spiritualism (there is, however, a gradation between communities that strongly condemn such practices and those that are less critical of them). Over and above the strictly religious sphere, the changes brought by the experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit are meant to affect the whole life of a converted Catholic, from their social relations to their daily attitude and representation of society. This ethical dimension also affects gender relations.


After first calling itself “Catholic Pentecostalism,” “neo-Pentecostalism,” or “the Pentecostal movement in the Catholic Church” (O’Connor 1975:18), the charismatic movement came to be referred to as the “Charismatic Renewal.” Very often it is simply called the “Renewal.” Its name aside, there is an ongoing debate between scholars, such as Thomas Csordas, who believe that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal could be characterized as a movement (in the sociological sense of the term), and the leaders of this religious grouping, who refuse to be associated with this theoretical category (Csordas 2012:43).

Initially, the Roman Catholic Church viewed this “Renewal” in a largely skeptical, even negative light. It was deemed uncontrollable and its innovations seemed potentially destabilizing for the institutional system. The movement was also discredited because of its tendency towards an emotional Christianity that seemed to devalue engagement in society and of the perceived arrogant attitude of these newconverts who presented themselves as “the future of the Church.” On May 18 and 19, 1975, on the feast of Pentecost, 12,000 people from over sixty countries took part in the 3rd International Congress of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal held in Rome. [Image at right] Pope Paul VI asked them this question, which would go down in the annals of the Renewal: “How could this Renewal not be an opportunity for the Church and for the world? And how, in this case, could one not take all steps necessary to ensure that it remains so?” By calling the Renewal an “opportunity,” the Pope not only gave the charismatic movement the legitimacy it had hoped for, he also encouraged the development of this “new spring for the Church.” Nevertheless, this support for the Charismatic Renewal has, since 1974, been accompanied by an ecclesial control closely interwoven with the endogenous structuring of the Charismatic Renewal. A series of documents were produced with the aim of regulating charismatic practice, such as those written by Léon-Joseph Suenens, Cardinal of Mechelen-Brussels. Subsequent popes have continued to support the Charismatic Renewal whilst constantly enjoining it to safeguard its Catholic identity. [Image at right]

At an international level, whilst refusing to set up an international governing structure, the Charismatic Renewal did acquire a world coordination office, which in 1981 became known as ICCRO (International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Offices). Originally based in Ann Arbor where Ralph Martin was in charge of a liaison and information bulletin, in 1975 the office was transferred to the bishopric of Mechelen-Brussels, and in 1982 to Rome, in the building that housed the Pontifical Council for the Laity (to be replaced by a dicastery in 2016). The latter recognized it in 1983 (as a private association of worshippers endowed with legal status). The organization was renamed ICCRS (International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services), its aim being to promote relations between Catholic charismatic entities as well as liaise with the Holy See. In 2018, CHARIS (Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service) replaced ICCRS. It presents itself as “a communion service and not a governing body,” reaffirming its ecumenical scope. [Image at right]

Locally, bishops designate “diocesan delegates” in their dioceses: priests, deacons, or laypersons whose role is to accompany the Charismatic Renewal groups.

As for the larger communities, the relations of authority within them have given rise to debates and analyses (Plet 1990).


Ultimately, two challenges seem to be facing the CCR and having an impact on its development, if not survival. The first challenge concerns its denominational positioning. From its origin to the present day, the CCR has been navigating between Protestant waters on one side and Catholic waters on the other. It has borrowed from the former (Pentecostalism) the elements that give it its originality and ensure its dynamism, and at the same time it has kept its place within the latter (Catholicism), thus ensuring its durability. This tension between the two denominational worlds (Protestantism and Catholicism) largely overlaps with the tension between charisma and institution which has classically been brought to light in the sociology of religions.

The second challenge relates to its sociographic make-up. In Europe the middle and upper classes have deserted the diocesan prayer groups which, conversely, have increasingly been welcoming members from migrant and diaspora backgrounds. As for new communities, they attract the upper classes with a strong “traditional” sensibility. Generally speaking, Western interest in the CCR has been declining. This evolution is in line with a major trend in contemporary Catholicism which has seen its growth in emerging countries gather pace, while a decline can be observed in the West.

Several important observations may be made concerning the sociocultural profile of the members of the Catholic charismatic movement:

According to Jacques Zylberberg and Pauline Côté, the charismatic movement in Quebec attracted a largely female, middle-aged, single population at first. They further noted the crucial role played by monks and nuns within the movement, as well as the prevalence of the middle classes and the primacy of cultural rationales over economic ones (Côté and Zylberberg 1990:82). In the United States, the Charismatic Renewal primarily involved white urban middle-class individuals (McGuire 1982). It should be stressed that, according to Bernard Ugeux, the Renewal was born in North America at the same time and in the same sociocultural environment as a number of new religious movements that were later identified with the New Age. In France, at first the Charismatic Renewal reached people from extremely varied social backgrounds and in particular two opposite population groups: the middle and upper strata, and the marginalized (the homeless, psychiatric patients, backpackers, former drug addicts, conscientious objectors). Most of the Renewal leaders, however, were from the upper and middle classes.

Over time the type of population joining the Renewal has changed. Nowadays migrants from Latin America and Haiti are strongly involved in the charismatic movement in Quebec (Boucher 2021) and the United States (Pérez 2015:196). In France, migrants from Creole and African societies as well as the lower strata are increasingly present in prayer groups alongside the middle classes. The Renewal has virtually disappeared from the rural world and the upper strata dominate the larger charismatic communities (Emmanuel and Chemin Neuf). The history of the Charismatic Renewal in the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Réunion) [Image at right] shows a very similar evolution: the “white” middle class who started the charismatic movement is now virtually absent from the Renewal groups, with the latter recruiting most of their members from the African and Malagasy Creoles who come from much more disadvantaged social backgrounds (Aubourg 2014a). In Africa and Latin America, the Charismatic Renewal is present in the same social circles as Pentecostalism; it involves the middle class but above all simple ordinary people.

Do members of the Charismatic Renewal represent a traditionalist and politically conservative current within the Church? In the United States the answer to this question is generally yes. The charismatic movement saw its ranks grow, for example, with the arrival of Nicaraguan refugees, who opposed to the Sandinista regime, and Lebanese, who held traditionalist views on marital and sexual morality. As for the founders of The Word of God community, they were far from belonging to the hippie movement. In France, the answer to this question is more nuanced as there is greater heterogeneity (Champion and Cohen 1993; Pina 2001:30). Most community founders subscribed to the ideals of May 1968 (aspiring to self-management, non-violence, denouncing the consumer society) and the choices made by Vatican II (valuing the laity, ecumenism, fairly non-hierarchical organization). On the other hand, communities developed which strongly defended traditional Catholic positions on sexual and family morality, distancing themselves from Protestantism, whose members’ political voting leaned to the right. The Emmanuel community is an example of this (Itzhak 2014). As for the autonomous prayer groups, their main characteristic is a lack of political involvement. Like first-wave Pentecostals, these charismatic Catholics favor prayer over engaging in “the world,”

Mga larawan

Image #1: France, prayer group, 2019.
Image #2: Rome, first charismatic international gathering, 1975,
Larawan #3: Paul VI with Ralph Martin, Steve Clark and  Renewal Leaders, 1973.
Image #4: CHARIS, 2020.

Mga sanggunian

Aubourg Valérie. 2020,  Réveil catholique. Emprunts évangéliques dans le catholicisme, Genève, Labor et Fides

Aubourg Valérie. 2014a. Christianismes charismatiques à l’Ile de La Réunion. Paris: Karthala.

Aubourg Valérie. 2014b. “Chant céleste: la glossolalie en milieu pentecôtiste charismatique à l’île de La Réunion”,  Anthropologie et Sociétés 38: 245-64.

Barrett, David et Todd M. Johnson. 2006. “Le Renouveau charismatique catholique, 1959-2025.” Pp. 163-78 in: “Et Pierre se leva…”, Nouan-le-Fuzelier, Éd. des Béatitudes, edited by Oreste Pesare,

Bouchard, Melissa.  2010. “Les relations entre catholiques et hindous chez les Tamouls sri lankais à Montréal et la notion de syncrétisme: l’exemple des pèlerinages et de la dévotion mariale.” Mémoire de Master en anthropologie, Université de Montréal.

Boucher, Guillaume. 2021. “Transcendance transnationale : étude comparée de congrégations catholiques charismatiques latino-américaine et québécoise à Montréal." Pp. 211-24 in Aubourg V., Meintel D., et Servais O. (dir.), Ethnographies du catholicisme contemporain. Paris, Karthala.

Champion, Françoise et Martine Cohen. 1993. “Recompositions, décompositions: Le Renouveau charismatique et la nébuleuse mystique-ésotérique depuis les années soixante-dix." Le Débat 75: 77-85.

Charuty, Giordana. 1990. “Les liturgies du malheur. Le souci thérapeutique des chrétiens charismatiques.” Le Débat 59: 68-89.

Cohen, Martine. 2002. “Le renouveau charismatique catholique: des hippies, mais aussi des traditionnels.” Pp. 69-74 in Le renouveau religieux, de la quête de soi au fanatisme. A. Houziaux (dir.), Paris.

Côté, Pauline et  Jacques Zylberberg. 1990. “Univers catholique romain, charisme et individualisme: les tribulations du renouveau charismatique canadien francophone.” Sociologie et Sociétés 22: 81-94.

Dolbeau, Samuel. 2019. “Le rapport de la Communauté de l’Emmanuel avec ses paroisses parisiennes. S’accommoder sans se diluer, se spécifier sans s’isoler.” Émulations – Revue de sciences sociales, En ligne.

Csordas, Thomas J. 2012. Language, Charisma, & Creativity. Ritual Life in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. New York: Palgrave.

Csordas Thomas, 1983, “The Rhetoric of transformation in Ritual Healing.” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 7: 333-75.

de Certeau,  Michel. 1976. “Le mouvement charismatique: nouvelle pentecôte ou nouvelle aliénation.” La Sulat 211: 7-18.

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Petsa ng Pag-publish:
Marso 3 2021



Valérie Aubourg

Si Valérie Aubourg ay Propesor ng Anthropology at Ethnology sa Catholic University of Lyon. Pinuno niya ang Science & Humanities Confluence Research Center. Ang kanyang trabaho ay nakatuon sa mga pakikipag-ugnayan sa pagitan ng ebanghelikal na Protestantismo at Katolisismo.


Catherine Maignant

Si Catherine Maignant ay propesor ng pag-aaral ng Irish sa unibersidad ng Lille (France). Siya ang presidente ng French Association of Irish studies (SOFEIR) at ng European Federation of Associations at mga sentro ng Irish Studies (EFACIS para sa maraming taon.) Pagkatapos ng pagsulat ng isang PhD sa unang bahagi ng medyebal na Kristiyanong Kristiyano, siya ngayon ay dalubhasa sa kontemporaryong Irish relihiyon Kasama sa kanyang mga interes sa pananaliksik ang Bagong Relihiyosong Kilusan, ang tugon ng Simbahang Katoliko sa sekularisasyon, interreligious na pag-uusap na Celtic Christianity at relihiyosong mga aspeto ng globalisasyon. Siya ay malawak na inilathala sa lahat ng mga lugar na ito.