The Theory of the Earth Energy
Academia and the Vernacular in Search of the Supernatural
Keywords:Baltic Countries, Dowsing, Folklore, History of Geology, Place-legends
AbstractUsing the concept of “implicit religion,” this article attempts to show how the broad field of vernacular ideas and practices, related to the “forces beyond,” provide an explanation for living in general. The idea that reality is shaped by an imperceptible “force” or “radiation,” which has an impact on human health and cognition, is the background for curiosity about dowsing practices. The discussions of early miners in Germany show the accommodation of vernacular practice within the framework of natural science and technology during the early modern period. A similar approach was also present at the end of the 1980s when the Baltic Dowsers’ Association formulated its activities, as seen in the collections of articles generated by their periodical conferences. The article concludes with an analysis of the formulation of vernacular truth about Earth energies alongside the material sciences, and presents the usage of such place legends and vernacular practices in the fringes of Academia.
FM 1 Interview with male informant on 24-09-2011.
FM 2 Interview with male informant on 6-01-2012.
Collections of articles
Tallinn: The Earth’s Fields and Their Influence on Organisms. International Symposium. Pärnu, Aug. 26-29, 1991. Excursion Guide and Abstracts. Tallinn: Academy of Sciences Institute of Geology.
Vilnius: The Earth’s Fields and Their Influence on Organisms. Abstracts. International Seminar at Vilnius. May 31–June 2, 1994. Vilnius: Institute of Mathematics and Information.
Tallinn: The Earth’s Fields and Their Influence on Organisms. International Symposium July 04-07, 1996, Excursion Guide and Abstracts. Tallinn: Institute of Geology, Baltic Dowsers’ Association.
Tallinn: The Earth’s Fields and Their Influence on Organisms. International Seminar at Rõuge June 26-30, 2000. Tallinn: Institute of Geology, Baltic Dowsers’ Association, Estonian Psychotronics Society.
Kloogarand: The Earth’s Fields and Their Influence on Organisms. Abstracts. Tallinn: Institute of Geology, Geopathic Society, Baltic Dowsers’ Association.
Agricola, Georgius. 1950 . De Re Metallica. Translated by Herbert Clark Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover. London: The Mining Magazine.
Asprem, Egil. 2008. “Magic Naturalized? Negotiating Science and Occult Experience in Aleister Crowley’s Scientific Illuminism.” Aries 8: 139–165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/156798908X327311
———. 2011. “Pondering Imponderables: Occultism in Late Classical Physics.” Aries II. 2: 129–165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/156798911X581207
———. 2013. “The Problem of Disenchantment. Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse 1900-1939.” PhD Thesis. University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities. (The thesis is published in a revised version Asprem, Egil. 2014. The Problem of Disenchantment. Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse 1900-1939. Leiden: Brill.)
Bowman, Marion, and Ülo Valk. 2012. “Introduction.” Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life, edited by Marion Bowman and Ülo Valk, 1–19. Sheffield and Oakville: Equinox.
Dégh, Linda. 1996. “What is a Belief Legend?” Folklore 107: 33–46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0015587X.1996.9715912
Dym, Warren. 2006. “Mineral Fumes and Mining Spirits. Popular Beliefs in the Sarepta of Johann Mathesius (1504–1565).” Reformation and Renaissance Review 8(2): 161–285. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/rrr.v8i2.160
———. 2011. Divining Science. Treasure Hunting and Earth Science in Early Modern Germany. Leiden: Brill.
Hammer, Olav. 2004. Claiming Knowledge. Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age. Leiden: Brill.
Hutchinson, Keith. 1982. “What Happened to Occult Qualities in the Scientific Revolution?” Isis 73(2): 233–253. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/352971
Karant-Nunn, Susan. 1989. “Between Two Worlds: The Social Position of the Silver Miners of the Erzgebirge, c. 1460–1575.” Social History 14(3): 307–322. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03071028908567745
Knuuttila, Seppo. 2012. “Some Epistemic Problems with the Vernacular Worldview.” Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life, edited by Marion Bowman and Ülo Valk, 369–381. Sheffield and Oakville: Equinox.
Norris, John. 2006. “The Mineral Exhalation Theory of Metallogenesis in Pre-Modern Mineral Science.” Ambix 53(1): 43–65. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/174582306X93183
———. 2007. “Early Theories of Aqueous Mineral Genesis in the Sixteenth Century.” Ambix 54(1): 69–86. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/174582307X165434
Oring, Elliott. 2008. “Legendry and the Rhetoric of Truth.” Journal of American Folklore 121(480): 127–166. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/jaf.0.0008
———. 2012. Just Folklore. Analysis Interpretation Crtique. Los Angeles, CA: Cantilever Press.
Primiano, Leonard Norman. 1995. “Vernacular Religion and the Search for Method in Religious Folklife.” Western Folklore 54(1): 37–56. Special Issue on Reflexivity and the Study of Belief. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1499910
———. 2012. “Manifestations of Religious Vernacular: Ambiguity, Power and Creativity.” Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life, edited by Marion Bowman and Ülo Valk, 382–394. Sheffield and Oakville: Equinox.
Pärna, Karen. 2012. ““Spiritual Labour”: Working on the Spiritual Marketplace and Producing Spirituality.” Implicit Religion 15(4): 395–405. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/imre.v15i4.395
Valk, Ülo. 2008. “Folk and the Other: Constructing Social Reality in Estonian Legends.” Legends and Landscape. Articles Based on Plenary Papers Presented at the 5th Celtic-Nordic-Baltic Folklore Symposium, edited by Terry Gunnell, 153–170. Reykjavik: University of Iceland Press.
Waring, Lee. 1987. “The Silver Miners of the Erzgebirge and the Peasants’ War of 1525 in the Light of Recent Research.” The Sixteenth Century Journal 18(2): 231–247. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2541179