Chapter

The Emergence of Unchurched Traditions

Robert C. Fuller

in Spiritual, but not Religious

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780195146806
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834204 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195146808.003.0002
The Emergence of Unchurched Traditions

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In colonial America, only 15% of the population belonged to a church. The majority was nonetheless spiritual at a personal level, but fashioned their personal beliefs by drawing upon a variety of magical and occult philosophies. Astrology, divination, and witchcraft permeated everyday life in the colonies. By the early and mid‐nineteenth century, the writings of the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg and the American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson gave middle‐class Americans a new vocabulary for describing their inner‐relationship to unseen spiritual dimensions of life. And, by the latter part of the nineteenth century, both mesmerism and spiritualism provided general audiences with new ways of exploring this inner‐relationship to the spirit world.

Keywords: astrology; Colonial America; Emerson; magical; mesmerism; occult; spiritualism; Swedenborg; transcendentalist; Witchcraft

Chapter.  11771 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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