What does this crystal-ball have in common with this collection of books?…
… both have been described as ‘mystic’.
Spiritual writing, like we see here in Waterstones, was, until the 1960s, commonly referred to as ‘mystical theology’, while Meg’s ability to prophesy from the stars has earned the Sun great profits.
It was not always the case that mystics were so kind on prophets. This post examines one example of how the mystic’s claims to divine inspiration and the prophet’s claim to receive divine communication came into conflict. This happened in 1709, when several mystics in Scotland converted to a group of prophets who had first emerged on London’s streets three years earlier.
This is quite a long post, reflecting its origins in a paper delivered to friends and colleagues at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, when I was myself in a rather ecstatic state since sitting my viva the previous day on no sleep. I’ve used it, despite (or because of…) the bad night, as I think it is still one of my best pieces. Even if my ideas have changed a bit in the time since, I still think this is a good introduction to people with no idea about early modern mysticism and prophecy. Continue reading →
My name is Michael Riordan and I have fairly recently graduated from Cambridge with a PhD which explored mystics and prophets in Scotland during what we historians like refer to as the long eighteenth century, the period running from the Revolution of 1688 to the Great Reform Act of 1832 (or something like that).
After living in libraries and archives for the last few years, I have finally decided to get out into the open, and embrace the electronic age. This is not my first blog post (I wrote one yonks ago while an intern at Index on Censorship), but I really haven’t embraced this digital humanities thing with the same relish as some of my colleagues, who will have to forgive the fact that I forgot to purchase blogroll prior to writing this.
On this site, and elsewhere, I have used my middle initial ‘B.’ (for ‘Benjamin’) to distinguish myself from a colleague at Oxford who works in a similar area.
I intend to use this place as a route in to the strange new world of cyberspace, to engage with both my fellow scholars and the general public. Hopefully we’ll all find something new and useful in the exercise. Continue reading →