Marty Laubach

Marty Laubach is a professor of sociology at Marshall University who studies the sociological processes of knowledge, science, and religion – in particular as they intersect in spiritual experiences. He has been a long time friend of ACE and Chameleons, and an active participant in the Neopagan community. He is one of the founders of the Crystal Serpent (a Bloomington, IN ritual Magick group) and the Bloomington CUUPs chapter. He was an elder of the ELF Lore Family from 1985 to 1992 and editor of the Elven Chronicles newsletter, and has co-organized major rituals (with Bete Cabal) at past WinterStar Symposiums and ELF Fests. His most recent publications include “The Epistemology of Esoteric Culture: Spiritual Claim-Making within the American Neopagan Community,” in the Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies, and a joint article with Luis Martinie, and Roselinda Clemons, “The Practitioner, the Priest, and the Professor: Perspectives on Self-Initiation in the American Neopagan Community,” in the Journal for the Academic Study of Magic.

Psychism and Possession

The phenomenon of psychism has eluded science since the late 1800s. Despite the 20th century triumph of science’s epistemic authority, the contemporary occult revival has seen 75% of the population claiming at least one experience which science says cannot happen, with 15% claiming it “often.” This study will examine psychism in its most extreme form, possession, to understand what the claimant is experiencing at the level of the stream of consciousness.

The Methods of Science?

We like to think that spiritual experiences are more than a flight of fantasy and can tell us something about ourselves and even the world we live in. Sometimes the experience is so intense that we look for “real world” validation, but when we do, we are either told that we are delusional or what we hear leaves us with a taste of pseudoscience and psychobabble. This workshop will touch on this idea of validation and the challenge of Crowley’s credo “the method of science, the aim of religion,” and will discuss what science can and can’t tell us about spiritual experiences.

















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