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Grief a dark sacred time


Gunzburg, Darrelyn, ed. 'Special Issue: Inside the World of Contemporary Astrology.' Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 13, no. 1 (2019).

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This special issue offers an insider’s perspective on the practice of astrology in the contemporary world. It builds upon the second issue of the JSRNC published in 2007, which focused on astrology investigating the religion-nature nexus. Bron Taylor argued that the role of the journal was a scholarly commitment to ‘a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary, taboofree inquiry’ (Taylor 2007: 5) and thus accepted that the consideration of
the nature of astrology was a worthwhile academic endeavour. From this second issue a question arose. The editor Michael York asked, ‘In terms of religion, nature and culture, the sociologist’s concern is the wish
to understand how astrology is used. How does it impact on religious perceptions, on cultural institutions and on how we picture the universe?’ (York 2007: 146). This special issue of the JSRNC picks up on York’s question and offers an insight into astrology’s culture-naturereligion link through the exploration of a community that incorporates an alternative epistemology.

Read full Introduction here.

Gunzburg, Darrelyn, Bernadette Brady, and Patrick Curry. 'Special Issue Introduction: Inside the World of Contemporary Astrology.' Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 13, no. 1 (2019): 5-11.

The Imagined Sky


Gunzburg, Darrelyn, ed. The Imagined Sky: Cultural Perspectives. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing, 2016.

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The sky forms fifty percent of our visual world and has a voice across cultures. This complex sky-voice contains great diversity and is informed by human images, dreams, and aspirations. The inherent nature of this sky-voice is transmitted from one generation to another through text, image, oral tradition, physical mapping, and painted description.

This volume is written by some of the most noted scholars in their fields of British history, history of art, social anthropology, Greek horoscopes and narratology, globe cartography, comets and Irish mythology, western astronomy, Australian aboriginal sky astronomy and mythology, and cultural astronomy and astrology. These scholars acknowledge the presence of such a voice, in the sky’s movement mirrored in the archoeastronomy of British prehistory, the apocalyptic myths of comets and meteors, the sky cartography reflected in European globes and frescoes, the Australian aboriginal sky myths, the issue of disappearing dark skies, and in contemporary reflections on the sky. It recognises that sky imagery has persisted in similar forms since its potential roots in the Palaeolithic period.

These eleven essays offer critical engagement in understanding the sky in human imagination and culture and contribute to the new fields of cultural astronomy and skyscapes emerging within the academy.

Buy a copy here.

Space, Place and Religious Landscapes: Living Mountains

Publications - Forthcoming 2020 

(Not available yet) 

Gunzburg, Darrelyn, and Bernadette Brady, eds. Space, Place, and Religious Landscapes: Living Mountains. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

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Mountains have played significant roles in religious lives for millennia. Always given proper names, mountains physically mediate between land and sky and thus are material metaphors for liminal spaces, guardians of gateways, and bridges from one realm to) another, lending themselves to carry notions of bonding and reverence. Yet in terms of religious practice and material culture, scholars of material religion have maintained differing perspectives towards holy places. Jeanne Halgren Kilde considers that religious architecture organises people spatially to maintain power. Kim Knott discusses ways that social, cultural and physical space can be understood relationally through our bodies. Thomas Tweed argues that devotional spaces are both generated and generative, aligning Mircea Eliade’s substantive view that spaces are inherently sacred with Emile Durkheim’s situational view that societies create sacred spaces and ascribe meaning to them. Ian B.Straughn notes that places such as temples and shrines are ‘ongoing vehicles for practicing place-making’. This volume recognises that mountains are relational and that landscapes form personal and group cosmologies. It fuses ideas of space, place, and material religion with cultural environmentalism and takes an interconnected approach to material religio-landscapes (mountains). In this way it fills the gap between lived religious traditions, personal reflection, phenomenology, historical context, environmental philosophy, myths, ritualscapes, and performativity by asking the specific question of whether bonding and reverence to a mountain is constructed by people, intrinsic to the mountain or whether this is a mutual endeavour. Such questions further the current debates in ontology and new animism studies and also advance Viveiros de Castro’s ‘perspectivity’ in suggesting that mountains may be capable of a point of view. As Robert Macfarlane puts it, ‘I am interested, you could say, not only in what we make of places, but also in what places make of us.’ The chapters in this volume consider mountains in England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Ireland, the Himalaya, Japan, Greece, USA, South Asia, and the Andes and embrace the union of sky, landscape, and people to examine the religious dynamics between human and non-human entities. As Edwin Bernbaum suggests: ‘The sacred does not simply present itself to our gaze: it reaches out to seize us in its searing grasp.’ In defining material religion as active engagement with mountain-forming/human-shaping landscapes, the research/ideas presented here are also more widely applicable to other forms of material religion.