Terror of History Mystics Heretics and Witches in the Western Tradition

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Terror of History - Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition

Terror of History: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition
6xVSHRip | AVI / XviD, ~657 kb/s | 336x224 | Duration: 12:30:12 | English: MP3, 128 kb/s (2 ch) | 4.1 GB
Genre: History

Western civilization is closely associated with reason and science, and with exceptional accomplishment in art, architecture, music, and literature. Yet it has also been characterized by widespread belief in the supernatural and the irrational-with mystics who have visions of the divine, and with entiremovements of people who wait in fervent anticipation of the apocalypse.
In addition, Western culture has been the setting for repeated acts of barbarism: persecutions of certain groups such as Jews, or accused heretics and witches.
Why has this been the case?
This two-part series invites you to consider what might be called the "underbelly" of Western society, a complex mixture of deeply embedded beliefs and unsettling social forces that has given rise to our greatest saints andour most shameful acts. The "terror of history," according to Professor Teofilo F. Ruiz, is a deeply held belief-dating from the ancient Greeks to Nietzsche and beyond-that the world is essentially about disorder and emptiness, and that human beings live constantly on the edge of doom.
We see history as terrifying, so we try to escapeit. One strategy is to withdraw through transcendental experiences. Another, unfortunately, is to shift our fears onto scapegoats such as lepers, nonconformists, and other outsiders whom we choose to blame for "the catastrophe of our existence," as Professor Ruiz puts it.
The Renaissance as a Time of Magic and Astrology
This course explores the concept of the terror of history through a study of mysticism, heresy, apocalyptic movements, and the witch hunting craze in Europe between 1000 and 1700. You will examine new sources and think in new ways about events in the centuries from the late medieval period to early modern Europe.
You will be introduced to texts with which you may not be familiar, such as the Zohar, the Book of Splendor, the text of Jewish Kabbalistic mysticism. Or the Malleus Maleficarum, The Hammer of Witches, a handbook for identifying, interrogating, and trying witches.
You will view the Renaissance not from the perspective that it was the beginning of modernity but that it was a time when many among the educated were fascinated by alchemy and magic, when the Pope depended on his astrologer, when the learned considered the Corpus Hermeticum-a mixture of magic and astrology believed to date from the time of Moses-to be a more valuable text than Platos Symposium.
You will consider how social, economic, political, and religious climates-especially during times of change and stress-exerted tremendous influence on the prevalence of irrational attitudes and persecutions. For example, between 1000 and 1700, periods of economic trouble were highly correlated with a rise in apocalyptic fervor. Similarly, religious wars coincided with the persecution of witches.
This course is presented by a teacher who displays both exceptional mastery over, and endless enthusiasm for, his subject matter. Professor Ruiz has been named one of four Outstanding Teachers of the Year in the United States by the Carnegie Foundation.
Particularly valuable is his willingness to add his own perspective, both professional and personal, to his lectures. Whether discussing aspects of ancient mystical practices that were common in Cuba during his boyhood, or offering an opinion on whether witchcraft has ever truly existed, Professor Ruiz makes clear that history is a living thing.
Why Witches and Heretics Were Persecuted
Much of The Terror of Historyhas to do with the concept of the "other"-those who are seen by society as different-often by virtue of their sex, economic status, or beliefs-and are frequently persecuted.
These lectures examine the concept of otherness in a variety of ways and examine how certain groups came to be seen as other. Often, this involved the creation of boundaries, either real or imaginary, between people.
For example, the enclosure movement of the 15th century fenced peasants off their land, and the Reformation created a new religious boundary between Catholic and Protestant. This made it easier to accuse those who were poor, or of the wrong faith, of being heretics or witches.
The witch craze provides a way to view the concept of other as womens history. Misogynistic attitudes and a growing antipathy toward the poor created a kind of profiling of witches. A witch was identified as someone who was a woman, past childbearing age, poor, lived on the edge of town, and often had certain kinds of esoteric knowledge, such as the use of herbal medicines. In Essex, England, 278 of 291 people accused of witchcraft were women, and all were over 40 years old.
You will also consider how authority-frequently an alliance of secular government and the church-used others for its benefit. The Inquisition and witchhunting were a means to create a sense of community and identity for the populations of emerging nations and to enforce orthodoxy.
Methods of execution, such as hanging, drowning, and burning at the stake, provided multiple benefits: spectacle and entertainment, a sense of shared public purpose, and powerful lessons about the fate of those who deviated from accepted norms.
Have we outgrown the terror of history? Is it behind us?
Professor Ruiz suggests that Western culture can be seen as a pendulum swinging between periods of rational thinking and periods of superstition and irrationality. If we look at the 20th century, it was certainly a time of enormous scientific and technological achievements. On the other hand, it was also the most violent century in history.
The pendulum swings. And the terror of history continues.

Terror of History - Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition
Terror of History - Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition

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Tags: Western, Tradition, Witches, History, Mystics
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