From vengeful gods and goddesses and witches to poltergeists and hauntings, to demonic possession and the accompany exorcism rituals, the human imagination has been captivated for millennia by the power of forces that operate outside the laws of nature and the relationship between humans and the spirit world. Over time, the supernatural has served as a basis for titillating audiences and generating fear. The supernatural has served as a useful means of explaining complicated natural processes in terms humans understand. As history’s famous witch-hunts have demonstrated, the supernatural is also a potent weapon for exerting control over individuals whose behaviour or appearance fail to confirm to the ‘norms’ of the community. Conversely, the supernatural can also provide a means of expressing minority beliefs in a way that challenges the power of mainstream organized religions. The supernatural offers a source of personal comfort in the face of grief by providing assurance that a departed loved one is watching over us. However, as the long line of supernatural hoaxes reveal, however, this longing to believe in the afterlife can enable schemes designed to manipulate and swindle vulnerable people.
But just what purpose does the supernatural serve in 21st century societies? Is it a throwback to the irrational, superstitious and archaic beliefs of a so-called primitive era, or is it a reminder that there is more to existence than the ‘truths’ revealed by the sciences? The Supernatural interdisciplinary research and publishing event aims to interrogate and investigate the supernatural from a variety of perspectives in order to understand the uses and meanings of the supernatural across time and cultures.