Vol 20 No. 1 (2018)
Paganism and Politics
This essay begins by reviewing definitions and categories of modern Paganism (also variously termed contemporary or neo-Paganism) that the author first proposed in the 2005 book Modern Paganism in World Culture and then proceeds to discuss parallels with certain political trends in Europe and America today. Particular attention will be paid to how the rising tide of pro-nativist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim sentiment in contemporary European and American politics mirrors certain views and values espoused by the more ethnically oriented forms of Paganism, even though this seeming convergence of interests between Pagans and rightists at the political level is undercut at the religious level by the right wing's firm adherence to Christianity and rejection of religious diversity. The essay proceeds to examine how competing nineteenth century visions of ethnic-centered nationalism and universal humanism are replicated today in the more ethnic and traditional types of Paganism versus those that are more eclectic and universalistic in their outlook. Pagan responses to the events of August 1-12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia form the final topic.
Czech Pagans’ Views on Extremism [+] 45-70
The chief aim of this paper is to describe the relationship of contemporary Czech Pagans-those who identify themselves as such and practice their belief in ritual-to what is described as extremism, using the methods of qualitative analysis, interviews and observation. The paper focuses on the subjective views of Pagans themselves, which allow us to understand the internal processes within this highly particular community. An important element of this is how Pagans themselves understand the term "extremism." The paper outlines specific positions taken by individual Pagans, proceeding to generalize in order to characterize the Czech Pagan community as a whole. It also analyses potential trigger mechanisms, which in some cases entice individuals from the community to take extremist positions.
The Decline of Contemporary Celtic Paganism in the Czech Republic: Factors in the Growth and Erosion of Czech Celtophilia [+] 71-91
In the ancient reports that mention the ethnic situation in the present day Czech Republic region, the Celtic tribe of the Boii appears as the first known inhabitants. This information, together with specific political circumstances in the post-war period, has given rise to a cultural trend of modern Czech Celtophilia. This phenomenon, meaning "love of things Celtic" and concerning usually Celtic cultures or peoples (either historical or modern), can be also considered as a basis for modern Celtic Paganism, which seeks to revive and adapt old Celtic religiosity for contemporary use. The following text will address the phenomenon of Celtophilia within the framework of Czech identity and history. The discussion will deal with two main issues: (1) the historical development of Czech Celtophilia, in its both non-religious and religious forms, and (2) the dynamics of its present-day decline. Though the reasons for Czech enthusiasm for Celtic history and identity, as well as skepticism about Czech Celticity, were always diverse and variable, the purpose here will be to arrive at a general explanation of these issues and their contributing factors. This brief study will mainly engage with the most evident aspects of the whole phenomenon.
The paper aims at examining participation of contemporary Lithuanian Pagans (represented by Romuva in this study) in politics of heritagization. After presentation of a broader picture of the research and the revival of ethnic culture during both Soviet and post-Soviet periods, contemporary Pagan discourse and practices intended for society, as well as attempts to make influence through state institutions are analyzed. The case study shows that they interact and compete with other religious groups and inheritors of the past and can employ a range of strategies to seek power and influence in heritage politics. The post-Soviet context that accounts for some specific characteristics of contemporary Eastern European Pagans is also an important factor in heritage politics related to worldview-based competition, and in Lithuanian case, the well-known hostility of contemporary Pagans towards Christianity is accompanied by the threat that representatives of the Catholic Church feel because of the Pagans' influence in heritage politics.
Bernd-Christian Otto and Michael Stausberg (eds), Defining Magic: A Reader (Sheffield, UK: Equinox, 2013); xiii, 281 pp., $44.95 (paperback).
Edward J. Watts, The Final Pagan Generation [+] 117-118
Edward J. Watts, The Final Pagan Generation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015) 344 pp., 29 B&W photographs, map. $34.95 (hardcover, ebook).
Karen Fjelstad and Nguyễn Thị Hiền, Spirits Without Borders: Vietnamese Spirit Mediums in a Transnational Age [+] 119-121
Karen Fjelstad and Nguyễn Thị Hiền, Spirits Without Borders: Vietnamese Spirit Mediums in a Transnational Age (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), x + 219 pp., $139.99 (hardcover), $49.99 (paperback), $39.99 (ebook).
Mark Williams, Ireland’s Immortals: A History the Gods of Irish Myth (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016); xxx, 578 pp., $39.50 (hardback).
Trude Fonneland, Contemporary Shamanisms in Norway: Religion, Entrepreneurship, and Politics [+] 125-128
Trude Fonneland, Contemporary Shamanisms in Norway: Religion, Entrepreneurship, and Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 248pp., $99 (hardcover), $97.99 (ebook).
Elizabeth Wayland Barber, The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance [+] 129-132
Elizabeth Wayland Barber, The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance (New York: Norton 2013), 448pp., $35 cloth. Elizabeth Wayland Barber is a folkdancer, archaeologist and linguist. In The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance she analyses deeply how the belief in mystical female spirits has developed not only into ritual dances for fertility and healing but also in a variety of customs and traditions of villagers and peasants. Some traditions have survived to present day in Europe as symbols, superstitions, and even in calendar customs. The Dancing Goddesses is the result of a deep research based on fieldwork, archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics and is of interest to any person pursuing deep knowledge regarding not only the origins of European dance but also on ritual, folklore, and archaeology.