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An old barn near Sandy Neck on Cape Cod, Massachusetts in December 2012

Simon Winchester is a British journalist and best-selling author who spent decades on the road before finally buying a small farm in the Berkshires. The experience led to his book “Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World."

raven

Years ago, the philosopher David Abram was a sleight-of-hand magician who wanted to learn from the "traditional magicians" of Asia. So he apprenticed with a powerful shaman in Nepal, who seemed to have the ability to transform into a raven.

The Löwenmensch figurine after restoration in 2013

Shapeshifting images run deep in human history, going back to ancient cave paintings. Archeologist Chris Gosden says they're linked to the shaman's ability to cross into the spirit world where humans and animals merge.

the raven

Bad things happen when people lose their connection to the more-than-human world. "Animals know something that we that don't," says psychologist Sharon Blackie. That's one lesson you can take from the old shapeshifting myths and fairy tales.

field hockey witch

The 1980s were a golden age for witches. Women everywhere started covens. Among them, the girls field hockey team at Danvers High School in Massachusetts. At least, that’s how Quan Barry imagines it in her recent novel, “We Ride Upon Sticks.”

witches

Archaeologist Chris Gosden has written a global history of magic, from the Ice Age to the internet. He told Steve Paulson he’s come to believe our own culture would be healthier and happier if we took magic more seriously.

A performer on "Afghan Star."

In the midst of chaos in her home country, Humaira Ghilzai recently sat down with Charles Monroe-Kane to talk about what might be lost culturally as the Taliban take power.

sea wall on a cliff

British journalist John Lanchester’s recent novel “The Wall” paints a very chilly picture of climate catastrophe. It begins in the future, when rising sea levels and an immigration crisis pit children against parents.

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