364 Pages 37 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    364 Pages 37 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Living Folk Religions presents cutting-edge contributions from a range of disciplines to examine religious folkways across cultures. This collection embraces the non-elite and non-sanctioned, the oral, fluid, accessible, evolving religions of people (volk) on the ground. Split into five sections, this book covers:

    • What Is Folk Religion?
    • Spirit Beings and Deities
    • Performance and Ritual Praxis
    • Possession and Exorcism
    • Health, Healing, and Lifestyle

    Topics include demons and ambivalent gods, tree and nature spirits, revolutionary renunciates, oral lore, possession and exorcism, divination, midwestern American spiritualism, festivals, queer sexuality among ritual specialists, the dead returned, vernacular religions, diaspora adaptations, esoteric influences underlying public cultures, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), music and sound experiences, death rituals, and body and wellness cultures.

    Living Folk Religions is a must-read for those studying Comparative Religions, World Religions, and Religious Studies, and it will also interest specialists and general readers, particularly enthusiastic readers of Anthropology, Folklore and Folk Studies, Global Studies, and Sociology.

    Introduction: Three Little Words Aaron Michael Ullrey and Sravana Borkataky-Varma

    PART I: What is Folk Religion?

    1. Interrogating the Folk-Classical Divide in the Study of Indic Religions through a Local Bengali Ritual Performance Frank J. Korom

    2. The Sādhū Who Came for Lunch: Revising Tropes of Disconnection in the Jain Diaspora Tine Vekemans

    3. What Makes Folk Buddhism? Alyson Prude

    4. Why a Folk Religion May Not Exist among Followers of an Abrahamic Faith: The Case of Sunni Egypt Hasan El-Shamy

    PART II: Spirit Beings and Deities

    5. Goddess Trees in the Forest of Bliss: Local Place and Translocal Space in a City of Pilgrims David Gordon White

    6. Bhairava, Hanumān, and the Deified Dead: A Material Study of Vernacular, Official, and Folk Registers of Living Hinduism in Vārāṇasī, North India Seth Ligo

    7. There Is Something in Me: Narratives of LGBTIQ+ Sangomas (Traditional Healers) in South Africa Rachel Schneider

    PART III: Performance and/or Ritual Praxis

    8. Sufi Festivals in Contemporary Morocco: Authorizing and Performing Folk Religiosities John C. Thibdeau

    9. Mantras for "Every God and Goddess": Vernacular Religious Ritual in the Literature of Sabhapati Swami Keith Edward Cantú

    10. Observing Buddhist Precepts by Divination: Practices According to Zhanchajing Xingyi Wang

    11. Spellbinding Skalds: Music as Ritual in Nordic Neopaganism Padraic Fitzgerald and Mathias Nordvig

    12. Cremating the Body Politic: Mapping the Materiality of the Indo-Caribbean Mortuary Ritual Corpus Keith E. McNeal

    PART IV: Possession and Exorcism

    13. Talking to the Other Side: Spiritualism as "Vernacular Religion" in Central Ohio Hugh B. Urban

    14. Becoming a God: Spirit Possession Practices at a South Indian Temple Julie Edelstein

    15. Post-Christianity and Esotericism: A Study of a Satanic Exorcist William Chavez

    16. Controlling the Lore: A Survey of UFO Folklore in the United States Diana Walsh Pasulka

    PART V: Health, Healing, and Lifestyle

    17. Indigenous Revitalization, Rock Music, and the Holy Spirit: The Religious Logic of Healing at Lake Junaluska Jason E. Purvis

    18. The Triple Goddess: Examining Maiden, Mother, Crone in Wiccan-Witchcraft Traditions Jason Mankey

    19. Lifestyle Brands That Rock Your Soul: Wellness Culture as Folk Religion in North America Anya Foxen



    Sravana Borkataky-Varma is a scholar of Indian religions focusing on esoteric rituals and gender, particularly in Hindu Goddess Tantra. She is the Instructional Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. At present, she is a Center for the Study of World Religions fellow at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University.

    Aaron Michael Ullrey is a Historian of Religions focusing on magic and the religions of South Asia, especially tantras associated with Śaivism and Jainism. He teaches Religious Studies at the University of Houston and is a Sanskrit language instructor at Naropa University.