By Helen A. Berger
A group of Witches explores the ideals and practices of Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft - in most cases recognized to students and practitioners as Wicca. whereas the phrases "magic," "witchcraft," and "paganism" evoke photos of the far-off earlier and distant cultures, this e-book exhibits that Wicca has emerged as a part of a brand new spiritual circulation that displays the period during which it constructed. Imported to the U.S. within the overdue Sixties from the uk, the faith absorbed into its uncomplicated textile the social issues of the time: feminism, environmentalism, self-development, replacement spirituality, and distrust of authority. Helen A. Berger's ten-year player remark learn of Neo-Pagans and Witches at the japanese seaboard of the us and her collaboration on a countrywide survey of Neo-Pagans shape the root for exploring the practices, constructions, and transformation of this nascent faith. Responding to students who recommend that Neo-Paganism is purely a pseudoreligion or a cultural flow since it lacks critical authority and transparent barriers, Berger contends that Neo-Paganism has a number of the features that one may count on of a faith born in past due modernity: the appropriation of rituals from different cultures, a view of the universe as a cosmic entire, an emphasis on growing and re-creating the self, an intertwining of the non-public 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 (Studies in Comparative Religion)
Kirkpatrick et al. (1986) and Orion (1995) had similar findings. Because of the secrecy of participants, it is impossible to know the exact number of Neo-Pagans and Witches in the United States. Aidan Kelly extrapolates from mailing lists, festival attendance, and the number of covens in the area he knows bestthe San Francisco Bay areaand estimates that there are 300,000 Neo-Pagans in the United States (1992:13941). This is probably an over-estimation, as in each of the three methods he uses, Kelly is gauging the number of covens in the United States and multiplying the number of covens by ten, which he believes is the average coven membership.
Sexualityheterosexual, homosexual, and bisexualis openly celebrated at Neo-Pagan rituals. Sex is seen as a magically powerful act. As the wheel of the seasons turns, so do the holidays. The summer begins on the longest day of the year, June 21. During this holiday, the sun, now at full strength, is celebrated, but so is the beginning of its descent into winter. While this is a joyous holiday, there is a remembrance that the sun now at its height will start waning. Lammas, which takes place on August 1, commemorates the height of summer and is the first harvest celebration.
6 All these groups share a common interest in envisioning a different society than the present-day United States, in either the past, the future, or another galaxy. The influence of these groups is most clearly seen at festivals and gatherings where hundreds of Neo-Pagans come together. Intermingled with people in tie-dyed T-shirts and Page 13 jeans are men and women dressed in medieval-style garb. Some groups refer to their membersand in fact all people they encounter in Neo-Pagan circlesas lord or lady.
A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States (Studies in Comparative Religion) by Helen A. Berger