Vol 19 No. 2 (2017)
The Image of Paganism in the British Romanticism [+] 141-165
This article tries to answer the question of how the concept of Paganism was conceived and shaped by the Romantic thinkers, and whether it has influenced our current understanding of both antique Paganism and contemporary Paganism; if yes, how? My aim is to show this with the example of the Romantic period in the Great Britain especially between 1750–1850. I omit the commonplace account on the poets and other artists and their works in this paper, instead of that, I focus mainly on the works of antiquarians, historians, and philosophers, and want to show a different image of the Romantic period than it is often perceived. I start with the work of pre-Romantic antiquarian William Stukeley, and end with the work of Iolo Morganwg. The article argues that the very image of the ancient past was shaped by Christian theological concerns and questions, and the political situation and artistic romantic sentiment of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Thus, the image of Paganism as it exists today reflects religious and political disputes of those centuries. The article also argues that not only has this image of Paganism has been retained till today, but that it has also influenced some notions of contemporary Pagan thought. This notwithstanding, the image of Paganism is no longer considered in its full scope, since the concerns and questions which guided its construction sank into oblivion, while their “product”— the romantic image of the Celts and Druids remained.
Paganism and Politics
A conference on “Paganism and Politics” held at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic in June of 2016 provided a platform for a stimulating discussion of the ways in which modern Paganism is affected by and involved with political and social issues in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. In the following, Michael Strmiska, one of the organizers and keynote speakers of the conference, provides an overview of conference papers and several other related articles that are featured in this special section of The Pomegranate , with a further selection forthcoming in the next issue.
Pagan Terror: The Role of Pagan Ideology in Church Burnings and the 1990s Norwegian Black Metal Subculture [+] 173-204
The church burnings wave of the early 1990s in Norway, connected with the emerging black metal subculture of the time, is often associated with Satanism, and the burnings are sometimes labeled as “Satanic terrorism.” Instead, the text argues that some arsons may be rather seen as Pagan terrorism, since some of the leading figures in the early Norwegian black metal subculture (especially Varg Vikernes) have indicated that their acts were inspired by their own personal versions of Paganism. These church-burners have described themselves as the successors of the Vikings of old and as “Pagan warriors” continuing an age-long war against Christianity and its culture. Using Mark Juergensmeyer’s terms we can understand such actions against Christianity as a type of cosmic war, employing public performances with high shock value.
The following article deals with the socio-political image of witches and concentrates on the links between certain witch images and the ideology of some feminist movements in contemporary Poland. The core stereotype of the witch (the dangerous yet very much needed Other in the Christian culture) is first presented, followed by its feminist interpretation (the free, independent woman who lives on the edge of patriarchal culture) and Pagan witch stereotype (which largely agrees with feminist interpretation). In the due course the brief history of intertwining web between modern witchcraft, women’s spirituality and feminism is shown, along with the examples of Margaret A. Murray, Z Budapest and Starhawk. The second part of the article is dedicated to the Polish background: from the feminist-political discourse to the image of the witch in the contemporary arts. Some recent cases – including organizing the First Official Rally of the 21st century Witches as the proclamation of tolerance and the social discussion on the statue of Katarzyna Włodyczkowa, the witch of Czeladź – are presented to show how the image of the witch has been incorporated to the broader feminist discourse, proving that the power of a female witch-figure remains a strong symbol and a core concept.
Religious, Socio-cultural and Political Worldviews of Contemporary Pagans in the Czech Republic [+] 233-250
This paper presents the results of a research inspired by Helen Berger’s Pagan Census, conducted among Czech Pagans. It explores the worldviews of Czech Pagans from different Pagan groups regarding the questions of spirituality (e.g. the beliefs about afterlife, reincarnation or magic), society and culture (e.g. LGBTQ+ rights, drugs or the status of women in society) and politics (e.g. regarding the market regulation, social welfare, as well as specific political party preferences). It focuses on the differences, as well as on the commonalities among various Pagan groups, as the Pagan movement is highly diversified and sprouts from several different sources: some groups have emerged from naturalizing and romanticizing tendencies and emphasize the sacredness of nature, worship, and respect for all of its creatures; while some groups have emerged from rather nationalistic tendencies and focus on the worship of the gods and ancestors with a strong emphasis on ethnic background. The results show that the vast majority of Czech Pagans believe in some sort of afterlife and more than a half of them believe in reincarnation. The vast majority also believe in magic and nearly a half of them practice it. While there are little differences between various Pagan groups on the left-right economic scale, as they all seem to be mostly centrist or slightly left of center, adherents of reconstructionist or ethnic Pagan groups tend to hold more conservative positions on the socio-cultural scale than the adherents of revivalist or eclectic Pagan groups.
New Age Movements, Occultism, and Spiritualism Research Library: The Making of a Pagan Archive [+] 251-264
In 2016, a Pagan Archives was established in the Archives and Special Collections of Valdosta State University. Titled, the New Age Movements, Occultism, and Spiritualism Research Library (here forth called NAMOSRL), the drawing together of resources for this collection and from a variety of paths, faiths, and traditions was twelve years in the making. Individual archival contemporary Pagan and Wiccan source materials are few and far between but growing in number. Many of these archives devoted to contemporary Paganism or Wicca are private and tend to only acquire resources for a specific path. As the name suggests, NAMOSRL is designed as a research library. As such, the library contains books and periodicals, but also individual archival collections. The following narrative describes the development of this unique collection.
Stefanie von Schnurbein, Norse Revival: Transformations of Germanic Paganism (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 418 pp., $140 (cloth), $25 (paper), Open Access (ebook). [+] 265-267
Stefanie von Schnurbein, Norse Revival: Transformations of Germanic Paganism (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 418 pp., $140 (cloth), $25 (paper), Open Access (ebook).
Gerd van Riel, Plato’s Gods (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2013); vii and 137 pp.; $153.00 (cloth), $50.95 (paper), $45.86 (ebook). [+] 268-270
Gerd van Riel, Plato’s Gods (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2013); vii and 137 pp.; $153.00 (cloth), $50.95 (paper), $45.86 (ebook).
Gregory E. Munson, Todd W. Bostwick, and Tony Hull, eds., Astronomy and Ceremony in the Prehistoric Southwest: Revisited. Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Anthropological Papers 9 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014), 163 pp., $30 pap [+] 271-274
Gregory E. Munson, Todd W. Bostwick, and Tony Hull, eds., Astronomy and Ceremony in the Prehistoric Southwest: Revisited . Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Anthropological Papers 9 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014), 163 pp., $30 paper.
Jonathan Allen, ed., Lost Envoy: The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare (London: Strange Attractor Press, 2016), 336 pp, £35 (cloth). [+] 275-276
Jonathan Allen, ed., Lost Envoy: The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare (London: Strange Attractor Press, 2016), 336 pp, £35 (cloth).