Beyond Religion: The Reality of Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic Narrative

Italian countryside. (Credit: beachgirl @ Pixabay)

The eighteenth century in Britain, as well as outside the island nation, was a time of great change. Educated Britons read transformative texts from key Enlightenment figures, such as Voltaire, Newton, Jefferson, Wollstonecraft, Hume, Paine, and others. Many of these same readers enjoyed novels and satiric works, which were authored by the likes of Jonathan Swift, Samuel Richardson, Fanny Burney, and many more. One of the new literary trends of this period was the Gothic narrative, made fashionable by Horace Walpole, Maria Edgeworth, William Beckford, Matthew Lewis, and others. One of the most influential Gothic fiction writers and pioneers was Ann Radcliffe. Her Gothic novels include The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and The Italian (1797). The latter work, set in central Italy, takes place in 1758. It is a familiar tale of forbidden love, between Vincentio di Vivaldi, son of nobles, and Ellena Rosalba, an orphan with mysterious parentage. Yet, it is also a tale—composed from Protestant England—of Catholic Italy, which is cast in a foreboding atmosphere during the Roman Inquisition. Radcliffe includes numerous priests and church officials in the novel, and they are attached to institutional deceit and corruption. Continue Reading


An Ink That Can’t Be Erased

Port Hudson Native Guard (1863)
Port Hudson Native Guard (1863)

    The U.S. Civil War is a topic that all Americans are aware of, at least in some sense. The fact that slaves played a pivotal role in this time is well known. Yet, for thousands of black men that fought for the Union, oftentimes dying, their story was largely forgotten. In her 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry book, Native Guard, Natasha Trethewey – the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States – gave life to the story of an all-black regiment that kept an eye on captured white Confederate soldiers. They were stationed on Ship Island in the Gulf Coast, and were not treated the same way as their white comrades. Through the writing of a literate, but nameless, guard, the toils of war are told through his eyes. In the multi-part poem, which mirrors the book’s title, Trethewey’s fictional character, a former slave, composes journal entries over a more than two year period. Although the soldier was born nearby and is considered a free man, he feels the tight grip of his past still holding him. Guarding white prisoners, the role of the jailer now seems reversed; he imprisons men who would have no qualms about owning him. This intelligent and literate soldier shows that the power of the written word is an equalizer, which frees the mind from bondage.Continue Reading


My First Book is Now Out!



While there are thousands of books which cover a single religion or spiritual topic, A Spirit In Motion serves as today’s starting point for understanding worldwide views of the spirit, soul and afterlife. This all-encompassing book by Aaron J. Schieding addresses many of the great questions asked by people of every generation: What is the inner spark of life? Do we live more than once? Is there an afterlife?

A Spirit In Motion features exclusive interviews with experts in the six largest religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity; get the inside story on the spiritual and afterlife beliefs of these faiths through academics and religious leaders from three different continents. Find out what they have in common and what they don’t. Discover earlier influences on modern faiths from civilizations from antiquity.

Follow Aaron J. Schieding’s quest for spiritual knowledge as he delves into views from the medical and scientific communities, as well as the world of art, film, music, paranormal research, and emerging technology. Read about those who report previous lives. Learn about varying views on the place of the spirit in the martial arts through the stories of well-known figures, as well as an original interview with two martial arts masters. Finally, become versed in the apparent connection between psychedelics, the brain, the divine and the spiritual, by way of an exclusive interview with a medical doctor.


“This is a marvelous look at our souls and their links to unseen dimensions around us through the eyes of eminent scholars and religious leaders!…a book that is highly readable, intensely thought-provoking….It’s a tall order to integrate and explain belief systems and spiritual beings, but Schieding did so in a manner that was quite impressive.”
–Feathered Quill Book Reviews

A Spirit in Motion is worth the read if you have an interest in the beliefs surrounding the human soul, and the afterlife.”
–Readers’ Favorite –✭✭✭✭

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Dracula: Pierced by the Bite of Spiritualism

Screenshot from "Internet Archive" of the movie Dracula (1931)
Screenshot from the movie Dracula (1931)

    The end of the nineteenth century coincided with the final years of one of the most important time periods in the U.K.; the Victorian era. Though it was the beginning of a decline for this island nation, Britain was still the world’s superpower. Amid a changing society, there were questions being posed about inequality, colonialism, race & class, science, religion, and spirituality. Millions of middle and upper class citizens in the U.K. were drawn to the Spiritualist movement, that saw its start in America decades earlier. Continue Reading