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Shaman of Oberstdorf

Posted 29 4 15

Shaman of Oberstdorf

by Wolfgang Behringer

Shaman of Oberstdorf: Chonrad Stoeckhlin and the Phantoms of the Night is a study of the arrest and trial of Chonrad Stoecklin (1549–1587), a German herdsman from the town of Oberstdorf who was accused and executed for the crime of witchcraft after experiencing a series of visions. Written by the German historian Wolfgang Behringer, himself a specialist in the Early Modern witch trials of Germany, Shaman of Oberstdorf was initially published in German as Chonrad Stoekhlin und die Nachtschar: Eine Geschichte aus der frühen Neuzeit by R. Piper GmbH & Co. in 1994. It was subsequently translated into English by H.C. Erik Midelfort and published in 1998 by the University of Virginia Press.

The reviews published in specialist academic journals were largely positive, with several reviewers remarking that Behringer had presented a more believable case than Ginzburg for the existence of visionary traditions in Early Modern Europe.

"Historians such as Carlo Ginzburg, Gabór Klaniczay and Éva Pócs have argued that descriptions of sabbath experiences and familiar-encounters found in early modern European witch trials were expressions of popular experiential traditions rooted in pre-Christian shamanistic beliefs and practices. As a result of this work, most scholars now acknowledge that there was a genuinely folkloric component to European witch beliefs in this period, although opinions still differ as to its extent."

Emma Wilby, 2005.

Shamanistic traditions in Early Modern Europe
From the 1960s onward, various historians studying the witch trials on
continental Europe had begun arguing that in some areas, the image of
the witch had been influenced by underlying local folklore about visionary journeys.
Poc's book on Hungarian witchcraft and magic appeared in her native language in 1997,
before being published in an English translation in 1999 as Between the Living and the Dead.



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