Upstate Cauldron: Eccentric Spiritual Movements in Early New York State is our Featured Book for July 2016. Part of our Local History Collection, this book is guide to the phenomenal crop of prophets, cults, and utopian communities that arose in Upstate New York from 1776 to 1914. The book received a bronze medal in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the US Northeast – Best Regional Non-Fiction Category.
From 1776 to 1914, an amazing collection of prophets, mediums, sects, cults, utopian communities, and spiritual leaders arose in Upstate New York. Along with the best known of these, such as the Shakers, Mormons, and Spiritualists, Upstate Cauldron explores more than forty other spiritual leaders or groups, some of them virtually unknown.
Godwin uncovers common threads that characterize these homegrown spiritualities, including roots in Western esoteric traditions, liberation from the psychological pressures of dogmatic Christianity, a preoccupation with sex, and involvement in the radical reform movements of the day. He “blends the diffuse and complex religious movements that once converged in Upstate New York to show how we became a modern civilization indelibly stamped by the experience of spiritual outsiders” [Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America: White House Séances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation].
In addition to maps and photographs of surviving buildings and monuments, the book also features a gazetteer of sites listing 150 locations connected to these groups, which may be used as a helpful travel guide to these unique sites.
Author Joscelyn Godwin is Professor of Music at Colgate University. He has written many books on music, mysticism, and Western esoteric traditions.
If you would like to learn more about alternative religions, utopian communities and Doomsday cults in Upstate New York, visit Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections located on the second floor of the Bartle Library [located off of the North Reading Room.