Dear readers,

With this thematic issue, the Slaviyanski dialozi journal enters a new territory for Bulgarian humanities that has recently become a subject of research in European science. We are most grateful for this scientific challenge to Professor Xavier Galmiche of the Sorbonne (Paris IV) to whom we owe this new direction.

In recent years, studies on the subject of alternative spirituality have emerged—some of those studies are cited in articles published in this book. It is noteworthy that this concept is generally associated with religious movements and teachings formed outside the church canon, which, depending on the denomination, varies for various cultures. Such a perspective opens fertile ground to cover for the study of the history of religious ideas, constructed, however, not in light of the higher hierarchical positions of the power which legitimizes the boundaries of the canonical notions of the divine, but rather the contrary—as complementary transcendent vision, no less significant in constructing the general image of human spirituality. This includes not only historical events from the recent or distant past, but also the processes associated with the emergence of newer cults of modern, materially prosperous civilization that turns the ethereal substance of spirituality into pragmatic success. The emerging new system of spiritual values in contemporary society is not an alternative to spirituality, but an alternative spirituality.

This phenomenon, the subject of the upcoming issue, however, has many manifestations not only as a collective but also as an individual consciousness. The inherent need of the creative person to individualise both the spiritual problems of being and the separate individual creates the anxiety of the restless human spirit in every work—whether expressed explicitly or discreetly, or by pen or brush. Understanding of the art world as an alternative spirituality to the official axioms of public life and commercial art, leads to rethinking not only the easily recognizable artistic phenomena as manifestations of alternative spirituality, but also those that, according to the ingenious metaphor of Xavier Galmiche, flow like an underground river.

Zhorzheta Cholakova