A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and by Helen A. Berger

By Helen A. Berger

A neighborhood of Witches explores the ideals and practices of Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft - typically recognized to students and practitioners as Wicca. whereas the phrases "magic, " "witchcraft, " and "paganism" evoke photographs of the far away prior and distant cultures, this e-book exhibits that Wicca has emerged as a part of a brand new spiritual move that displays the period within which it constructed. Imported to the USA within the past due Sixties from the uk, the faith absorbed into its easy textile the social obstacle of the time: feminism, environmentalism, self-development, replacement spirituality, and distrust of authority. Helen A. Berger's ten-year player statement learn of Neo-Pagans and Witches at the jap seaboard of the USA and her collaboration on a countrywide survey of Neo-Pagans shape the root for exploring the practices, buildings, and transformation of this nascent faith. Responding to students who recommend that Neo-Paganism is basically a pseudoreligion or a cultural stream since it lacks vital authority and transparent barriers, Berger contends that Neo-Paganism has a number of the features that one could anticipate of a faith born in overdue modernity: the appropriation of rituals from different cultures, a view of the universe as a cosmic entire, an emphasis on developing and re-creating the self, an intertwining of the private and the political, and a undeniable playfulness.

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Extra resources for A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)

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Barker (1994) contends that all definitions of religion are political in nature, as they affect which groups will be given benefits such as tax-deferred status and the ability to perform legal marriages. Beckford (1984, 1992a, 1992b) asserts that the new religious and spiritual movements of late modernity challenge the traditional definitions of religion. Although Wicca is not specifically mentioned by Beckford, it does fit the model of New Age religions that he is analyzing. Beckford believes all of these religions share a holistic world imagethat is, one in which the whole and the parts are enmeshed in a reciprocal relationship.

Greil and Robbins (1994) counsel that we view ''religion as a category of discourse" (10). Barker (1994) contends that all definitions of religion are political in nature, as they affect which groups will be given benefits such as tax-deferred status and the ability to perform legal marriages. Beckford (1984, 1992a, 1992b) asserts that the new religious and spiritual movements of late modernity challenge the traditional definitions of religion. Although Wicca is not specifically mentioned by Beckford, it does fit the model of New Age religions that he is analyzing.

While some aspects of these religions are rejected, such as the subjugation of women or the use of human sacrifices, other aspects are used to create new rituals and practices. In all cases the practices of ancient cultures are disembedded from the original social relationships in which they grew. The underlying link for Neo-Pagans among these divergent religions is their reverence for nature. Not surprisingly, the worship of nature is central to Neo-Paganism. Both the cycle of the seasons and the moon phases are celebrated.

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