Witches had been burned at the stake in Medieval Russia, as they were throughout Europe. However by the 18th century the occult had become fashionable and spiritualist groups were common throughout Russia. Mediums and secretive societies were particularly popular during the reign of Catherine the Great. Occultists like Cagliostro ultimately ran afoul of the Empress, leading Catherine to author plays condemning the occult. But such was not the case by the end of the Romanov dynasty, when occultists such as Dr. Philippe and Rasputin wielded enormous influence. Nineteenth century literary figures such as Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Dostoevsky attended séances, while Pushkin shared his own family’s belief in ghosts. There was even an occult newsletter called The Rebus that was published for over 40 years.
In The Occult in Tsarist Russia, author Thomas E. Berry offers a fascinating historical expose of this widespread and somewhat forgotten phenomenon; even providing some insight into how the occult might have ultimately influenced the decline of the Tsarist era.
THE OCCULT IN TSARIST RUSSIA (ISBN: 978-1-61897-
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About the Author: Dr. Thomas E. Berry is a retired Professor of Russian language and literature who lectures in the Odyssey Program of Johns Hopkins University, the Smithsonian Institution and the Russian Cultural Center of the Russian Embassy, Washington DC. He was granted a “Gramota,”
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