Joscelyn Godwin’s Upstate Cauldron: Eccentric Spiritual Movements in Early New York State (SUNY Press, 2015) is an outstanding guide to the phenomenal crop of prophets, mediums, sects, cults, utopian communities, and spiritual leaders that arose in Upstate New York from 1776 to 1914.
Along with the best known of these, such as the Shakers, Mormons, and Spiritualists, Upstate Cauldron explores more than forty other spiritual leaders or groups, some of them virtually unknown.
In a detailed and thoroughly footnoted and indexed narrative, Godwin uncovers common threads that characterize these homegrown spiritualities, including roots in Western esoteric traditions, liberation from the psychological pressures of dogmatic Christianity, a preoccupation with sex, and involvement in the radical reform movements of the day.
In addition to maps and photographs of surviving buildings and monuments, the book also features a gazetteer of sites listing 150 locations connected to these groups, which may be used as a helpful travel guide to these unique sites.
Author Joscelyn Godwin is Professor of Music at Colgate University. He has written many books on music, mysticism, and Western esoteric traditions.
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