The prophet, alchemist, and physician Anselmo Castelo Branco, while not an unknown name in Portuguese letters, still stands as a largely misunderstood author of the intellectually troubled Portuguese eighteenth century. He is mostly known for his alchemical opus, the Ennoea, and so far scholars have only given superficial attention to his non-alchemical works, leading to significant bias.
While not denying Castelo Branco’s relevance as a medical and alchemical writer, this article hopes to be the first to offer a detailed reconstruction of this author’s biography as well as an extensive analysis of all his known written works. Besides his known contributions to the sciences, his ideas on the Portuguese messianic cult of Sebastianism, prognostication, and the definition of accurate prophecy are analyzed, revealing a complex and nuanced vision which aimed to harmonize the fragmented fields of Portuguese eighteenth-century messianism and millenarianism.
This article studies the “book,” or defter, of Yezidi seers in Northern Iraq. Following an oral religion in an Islamic environment where only “people of the Book” enjoyed legitimate status and social acceptance, Yezidis have developed various strategies to compensate for the absence of a written sacred book. The most unique among these is the phenomenon of “falling into book,” which refers to the altered state of consciousness experienced by some Yezidi seers. “Falling into book” provides the seer with a glimpse into both the past and the future, thus serving as a source of divination and prognostication, which ranges from addressing personal problems to foretelling the (usually apocalyptic) fate of the Yezidi community and the world. Thus the “book” of the seers is perceived to be a kind of “heavenly knowledge,” equal or even superior to the revealed texts of bookish religions.