Vol 18 No. 1 (2016)
Studies of Aleister Crowley’s followers have tended to focus on unconventional or bohemian figures. This article examines a different type of person—Neville Foreman, an insurance clerk and family man who lived in the unfashionable Clapton district of Hackney, East London. Several years’ correspondence between Foreman and Crowley sheds light on the profile of a Crowley acolyte from a more conventional background. Whilst Foreman was no bohemian, this lower-middle class office clerk was nonetheless an esoteric seeker. Dissatisfied with his previous explorations in New Thought, Theosophy and Anthroposophy, Foreman arrived at Crowley and Thelema hoping for spiritual guidance and personal development, and also seeking some resolution to his sexual difficulties.
Theoretical, Terminological, and Taxonomic Trouble in the Academic Study of Contemporary Paganism: A Case for Reform [+] 31-59
As the academic study of contemporary Paganism approaches its fourth decade, it faces a variety of theoretical, methodological, and terminological challenges, some of which have faced little or no exploration to date. Here, an attempt to tackle some of the most significant will be made. First, I will examine both how academics and practicing Pagans have defined “contemporary Paganism,” criticizing many such definitions and arguing for the scholarly adoption of a classificatory approach rooted in Wittgenstein’s “family resemblance” paradigm. Second, I shall argue for the need of a much clearer definition of what “Pagan studies” actually studies, before challenging the utility of the term “Pagan studies” itself for being too closely associated with Pagan community activism. Third, I present my argument as to why our field is in such dire need of serious reform in order to establish much needed academic respectability.
This quantitative study investigates Pagans as having a concealable stigmatized identity and is based on data from a large-scale national survey of Pagans, Witches and Heathens in the United States (N=3318) that was conducted by the author. Following the thought of Goffman and his successors, this study provides a quantitative snapshot of the ways stigma affects contemporary Pagans in the following domains: personal and household relationships; the workplace; social institutions; and with the public at large. Particular attention is paid to the fear that Pagans will suffer false accusations. This study provides data about the prevalence of reported adverse events that the participants attribute to prejudice against their stigmatized Pagan identity. Participants’ perceptions of risks of negative outcomes arising from stigma are also analyzed. Individuals with a concealable stigmatized identity must make information management choices concerning whether or not to employ a “passing” strategy or to disclose their stigmatized identity, each strategy bearing different costs. This phenomenon is colloquially known within Paganism as the “broom closet.” The relationships between the “broom closet” and adverse events and perceived risk are analyzed. Numerous areas for further research are suggested.
Alex Mar, Witches of America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), 276 pp., $26 (cloth). 96-97
Patrick Curry, ed. Divination: Perspectives for a New Millennium (New York: Routledge, 2010), 289 pp., $149.95 (cloth) $199.96 (eBook). 98-99
Loraine Hutchins, and H. Sharif Williams, eds. Sexuality, Religion, and the Sacred: Bisexual, Pansexual, and Polysexual Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2012), 226 pp., $160 (cloth), $53.95 (paper). 100-103
Arthur Versluis, Magic and Mysticism; An Introduction to Western Esotericism (Lanham, Md.: Rowan and Littlefield, (2007), 179 pp. $28 (paperback). 104-107
Philip Heselton, Doreen Valiente: Witch (Nottingham, UK: The Doreen Valiente Foundation in association with The Centre for Pagan Studies, 2016), 357 pp., £21.99 (hardcover) £14.99 (paper) 108-111
Christine Hoff Kraemer, Eros and Touch from a Pagan Perspective: Divided for Love’s Sake (New York: Routledge, 2014) 224 pp., $145 (cloth) 112-115