Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Happy Samhain!: remembering spiritual festivals with a difference...

As you raid the storecupboard tonight trying to find a few more sweets to hand out to those eager trick-or-treaters, spare a thought for where the origins of this festival lie. Halloween has its roots in Samhain, the Pagan festival which marks the spiritual new year, celebrating the dead and the cycle of life.

What 'spiritual' festivals do you mark and why?

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Premonitions and rationalist reactions...

Have you had a premonition? How did it appear? Did you act on it? How did other people react?

Laurie Taylor in this week’s Thinking Allowed newsletter describes a recent encounter with a lady called Mary:

“There we were,” says Laurie, “all talking with gusto about the present and past problems we'd had with ageing parents…when Mary suddenly announced that the arrangements she'd had to make for her own mother had been relatively easy because she'd been forewarned of the date and time of her mother's death. Had she been given such news by a doctor or a consultant? Oh no, she told us with a new-found eagerness in her voice, she'd had a personal presentiment, a sudden moment in a dream in which a page of a calendar had appeared beside a ticking clock. The calendar said June 16th. The clock said 4.30. And that was exactly the date and time at which her mother finally expired. It is, I suppose, an ugly testament to the inherent intolerance of rationalists, that the gathering broke up pretty quickly after Mary's admission."

But Laurie admits it is beginning to look as though he will have to find some way of playing down his rationalist snobbery. As he finds out on his show from Owen Davies, author of The Haunted: a social history of ghosts, British people are now more inclined than for several centuries to accept the possibility of 'premonitions and apparitions'.

Of course the doctors and consultants Laurie would have deemed more rational to rely on may have struggled to predict accurately the time of death to within months or years, let alone a day or an hour. Is it not somewhat 'irrational' therefore to assume it would have been a doctor who had so accurately predicted Mary's mother's demise?

Have you had a premonition? How did it appear? Did you act on it? How did other people react? What would you say to Laurie?

If you want to hear more of Laurie’s (ir)rational reflections on Thinking Allowed subscribe to the podcast.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Spiritual encounters

Have you met an angel? Do you talk to 'guides'? Have you encountered a spirit?

What does spirituality mean to you?

What does spirituality mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be spiritual? Why?

Welcome to ESp!

Everyday Spirituality is a research project exploring what ‘spirituality’ means in modern society, and how and why people use spirituality in their daily lives. We are not talking here of religion as an organised, institutional way of understanding our place in the greater scheme of things, but as the idiosyncratic and unique ways that individuals seek meaning in their lives in a modern, complex and materialistic world.

On this blog you will find a series of questions or discussions (each post is a new question) based on themes being explored in the research. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts and ideas to as many of these as possible. New posts are added regularly, and if you have an idea for a new one let me know!

This is part of a wider research project being carried out at The Open University. I am currently recruiting new research participants. If you have an interest in 'the spiritual' but do not necessarily consider yourself 'religious' and would like to take part in the research please contact me.