“The Most Powerful Portal in Zion” - Kursi

The Spiritual Site that Became an Intersection of Ley-lines and Multicultural Discourses

Authors

  • Marianna Ruah-Midbar Shapiro Zefat Academic College
  • Adi Sasson Tel-Aviv University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.36576

Keywords:

Israel, sacred places, Judeo-Christian tradition, Syncretism, Holy Land

Abstract

Kursi is an Israeli site that has recently been increasingly appropriated by various alternative-spiritual groups, especially contemporary Pagan and neoshamanic ones. Located on the Sea of Galilee’s northeastern shore, it lies in an array of archeological-historic sites relating to Jewish-rabbinical, Christian, and, to some extent, Pagan history. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority regulates the site (rather than a religious institution) and is interested in intensifying its mystical aura, and thus amplifying its spiritual appropriation. The various discourses surrounding Kursi (of archeologists, Christian pilgrims, etc.) are eclectic, and adopt from one another to varying degrees. Nevertheless, it seems the contemporary Neo-Pagan/Neo-ShamanPagan/neoshamanic discourse is most comfortable with adopting and reinterpreting elements from other discourses. Practitioners fearlessly and creatively meld all contents together. Their invention of a tradition combines Israeli, Jewish, Christian, Pagan, and New Age symbols with scientific findings, pseudo-scientific theories, and establishment-related discourses, thus weaving them into a new synthetic-syncretistic mythology via ritualistic work.

Author Biographies

Marianna Ruah-Midbar Shapiro, Zefat Academic College

Marianna Ruah-Midbar Shapiro is the founder and head of the department for Mysticism and Spirituality, and a senior lecturer at Zefat Academic College

Adi Sasson, Tel-Aviv University

Adi Sasson is a tour guide of Christian pilgrims in Israel. She has an MA in gender studies from Tel Aviv University.

References

Albanese, Catherine L. Reconsidering Nature Religion. Harrisburg, Pa: Trinity Press International, 2002.

Baigent, Michael, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. Holy Blood, Holy Grail: The Secret History of Christ & The Shocking Legacy of the Grail. New York: Delacorte Press, 2007. https://doi.org/10.2307/203731

Barkay, Gabriel, and Eli Schiller, eds. The Sea of Galilee and the Surrounding Area Throughout Christian Tradition. Jerusalem: Ariel Publications, 1999. [Hebrew]

Barnes, Linda L. “American Acupuncture and Efficacy: Meanings and Their Points of Insertion.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 19, no. 3 (2005): 239–66. https://doi.org/10.1525/maq.2005.19.3.239

Benishai, Richard. The Door to Sirius. N.p.: Healthy Home, 2012.

Berger Helen. A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States. Studies in Comparative Religion; Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcs/42.4.852

Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. New York: Doubleday, 2004.

Carroll, Lee (Kryon). The Twelve Layers of DNA: An Esoteric Study of the Mastery Within. Sedona, Ariz.: Platinum, 2010.

Cohen, Haim, and Michal Artzi. “Kursi: Kursi Beach—2015.” Archeology News, July 31, 2017. http://www.hadashot-esi.org.il/report_detail.aspx?id=25247 [Hebrew].

Crowther, Kiesha. Message for the Tribe of Many Colors, edited by Jennifer Ferraro. Santa Fe, N.M.: Earth Mother Publishing, 2011.

Dubisch, Jill. “The Seduction of the Past in New Age Pilgrimage.” In The Seductions of Pilgrimage: Sacred Journeys Afar and Astray in the Western Religious Tradition, edited by Michael A. Di Giovine and David Picard, 145–67. London: Routledge, 2016. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315553047

Dvorjetski, Estee. Leisure, Pleasure and Healing: Spa Culture and Medicine in Ancient Eastern Mediterranean. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Fedele, Anna. “From Christian Religion to Feminist Spirituality: Mary Magdalene Pilgrimages to La Sainte-Baume, France.” Culture and Religion 10, no. 3 (2009): 243–61. https://doi.org/10.1080/14755610903279663

Feldman, Jackie. A Jewish Guide in the Holy Land: How Christian Pilgrims Made Me Israeli. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2016. https://doi.org/10.6017/scjr.v11i1.9588

Feraro, Shai. “‘And Not a Word About the Goddess’: On Processes of Making and Displaying a Pagan Identity in Israeli Women’s Spirituality Festivals and Workshops by Israeli Pagan Women.” Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review 5, no. 1 (2014): 9–30. https://doi.org/10.5840/asrr2014512

Freyne, Sean. “Galilee as Laboratory: Experiments for New Testament Historians and Theologians.” New Testament Studies 53, no. 2 (2007): 147–64. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0028688507000094

Hanegraaff, Wouter J. New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. https://doi.org/10.2307/3170999

Harvey, Graham. Contemporary Paganism: Listening People, Speaking Earth. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

——. “Inventing Paganisms: Making Nature.” In The Invention of Sacred Tradition, edited by James R. Lewis and Olav Hammer, 277–90. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511488450.015

——. Shamanism: A Reader. London: Routledge, 2003.

Ivakhiv, Adrian. “Nature and Self in New Age Pilgrimage.” Culture and Religion 4, no. 1 (2003): 93–118. https://doi.org/10.1080/01438300302812

Lovelock, James. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Megre, Vladimir. Anastasia, Book 1: The Ringing Cedars. Translated by John Woodsworth. New York: Ringing Cedars Press, 2008.

Moody, David E. “Seven Misconceptions Regarding the Gaia Hypothesis.” Climatic Change 113, no. 2 (2012): 277–84. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-011-0382-4

Pearson, Joanne. “Assumed Affinities: Wicca and the New Age.” In Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World, edited by Joanne Pearson, Richard Roberts, and Geoffrey Samuel, 45–56. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998.

Pike, Sarah M. New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.religion.2005.10.003

Rountree, Kathryn. “Performing the Divine: Neo-Pagan Pilgrimages and Embodiment at Sacred Sites.” Body & Society 12, no. 4 (2006): 95–115. https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034x06070886

Ruah-Midbar, Marianna. “‘Back to Paradise’ in New Age Thought: Images of an Ideal Past in the History of the People of Israel.” In Dancing in a Thorn Field: The New Age Spirituality in Israel, edited by Iddo Tavory, 28–59. Tel Aviv: Hakibutz Hameuhad Press, 2007. [Hebrew]

——. “Current Jewish Spiritualities in Israel: A New Age.” Modern Judaism: A Journal of Jewish Ideas and Experience 32, no. 1 (2012): 102–24. https://doi.org/10.1093/mj/kjr026

Ruah-Midbar Shapiro, Marianna. “The ‘Enchanted Benches’ at Kursi National Park: A Case Study of the Formation of an Alternative Sacred Geography.” Horizons in Geography [Ofakim beGeogra?a] 97 (2019, forthcoming). [Hebrew]

Sitler, Robert K. “The 2012 Phenomenon: New Age Appropriation of an Ancient Mayan Calendar.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 9, no. 3 (2006): 24–38. https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2006.9.3.024

Sutcliffe, Steven. “Category Formation and the History of ‘New Age’.” Culture and Religion 4, no. 1 (2003): 5–29.

Tavory, Iddo, and Yehuda C. Goodman. “‘A Collective of Individuals’: Between Self and Solidarity in a Rainbow Gathering.” Sociology of Religion 70, no. 3 (2009): 262–84. https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srp038

Trubshaw, Bob. Sacred Places: Prehistory and Popular Imagination. Loughborough: Heart of Albion Press, 2015.

Twelftree, Graham H. Jesus the Exorcist: A Contribution to the Study of the Historical Jesus. Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1993.

Tzaferis, Vassilios, Elizabeth Kessin, and Dan Urman. “The Excavations of Kursi-Gergesa.” Atiqot: English Series 16. Jerusalem: Department of Antiquities and Museums, Ministry of Education and Culture, 1983.

Urban, Hugh B. New Age, Neopagan, and New Religious Movements: Alternative Spirituality in Contemporary America. California: University of California Press, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520962125

York, Michael. “The Role of Fear in Traditional and Contemporary Shamanism.” Coloquio Milenio: Miedo y Religión. IV Simposio Internacional de la Sociedad Española de Ciencias de las Religiones, Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain, February 3-6, 2000. http://www.michaelyork.co.uk/Domus/CV/confpapers/cp-28.html

Published

2019-11-08

How to Cite

Ruah-Midbar Shapiro, M., & Sasson, A. (2019). “The Most Powerful Portal in Zion” - Kursi: The Spiritual Site that Became an Intersection of Ley-lines and Multicultural Discourses. Pomegranate, 21(1), 100-127. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.36576

Issue

Section

Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)