Vol 21 No. 1 (2019)


York University
Sarah L. Veale is a researcher of Greco-Roman antiquity. She has published on magic, philosophy, and the socio-cultural dimensions of religion in the ancient Mediterranean.
The retrieval and subsequent burial of the war dead in classical Greece was considered an important component of any given battle. Scholarship has observed how the retrieval of the war dead in the classical period could determine the outcome of a battle, as well as how the commemoration of the war dead functioned as a tool of civic identity, especially in the city of Athens. Although the above observations provide sufficient motivation for the recovery of the battle dead, this paper proposes an additional impetus for their collection: religion. Although scholars have often noted that Greek customs surrounding the war dead were motivated by religious concerns, what those religious concerns were have not been elaborated. This paper remedies this gap by exploring the relationship between the war dead and the gods. In this paper, I argue that the war dead were considered the property of the gods and were afforded special protections for this reason. Moreover, the proper burial of the war dead was necessary to transfer the war dead from the custody of the human world to the gods below. Such a transfer, I argue, maintained the relationship between the polis and the gods, ensuring its continued existence.
Bethan Juliet Oake is an independent research scholar from the UK, with particular focus on Theology & Religious Studies.
In 2016, a group of witches organised a mass online hex against Brock Turner, the “Stanford Rapist,” in disgust toward his crime and unjust punishment. Responses to this event demonstrate the enormous diversity in Pagan’s opinions regarding the use of hexes, curses, or other forms of potentially “harmful” magic. The research outlined in this article consists of a qualitative survey which sought to identify these differences in opinion and the reasoning behind them. Results demonstrated that Pagans’ attitudes towards potentially harmful uses of magic fell into four distinct categories. It appears that fears of misjudgment and discrimination are very present amongst many within the community, which has led to some individuals attempting to conceal any practices that may be deemed harmful, or “evil,” by outsiders. Additionally, some choose to abstain from using harmful magic due to fears of harm returning to them. However, a significant proportion of Pagans today are in fact open to engaging with potentially harmful magical practices, as long as they can in some way be channeled to provide an outcome that can be deemed positive and/or healing.
Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University
Giovanna Parmigiani earned a PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto, and is currently a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University.
In this article, the result of an ongoing ethnographic fieldwork among a contemporary Pagan group in the Salento area of Italy, I research the peculiar expression of contemporary Pagan spiritualities centered on the interpretation of a “traditional” local dance called pizzica. I focus on the specific way of understanding and living time and temporality among this group that happens through the performance of this dance. In particular, by presenting the particular historicity—i.e. the way in which time and temporality are understood and experienced—of the Salentine group I studied that I refer to as “expanded present” or “presence,” I argue for a re-articulation of the relationships between contemporary Paganism and “history,” “tradition,” and the “reconstructionist/eclectic” spectrum in understanding contemporary Paganisms.
School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania
Douglas Ezzy is a professor of sociology at the University of Tasmania. He was president of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (2015–2016) and is editor of the Journal for the Academic Study of Religion. His research is driven by a fascination with how people make meaningful and dignified lives. His books include Sex, Death and Witchcraft (2014), Teenage Witches (2007, with Helen Berger), and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christians (2018, with Bronwyn Fielder).
Pagan rituals structure the way that Pagans relate to each other and the other-than-human world. I argue that this means that Pagan ethics is predominantly relational ethics. The relational experiences provided by ritual shape the ethical practices of Pagans. I provide a detailed example of one teenager who used ritual to change the way she felt about herself and her life. These changed feelings are often associated with ethical changes because they shape the way people act. Similarly, other Pagans use ritual to change the way they relate to the other-than-human world. I discuss the seasonal rituals of Paganism and how they relate to the sense of ethical obligation that Pagans have towards nature. Finally, the article considers a Pagan ritual recreation of the myth of Persephone’s descent into the Underworld, and the issue of the terror and beauty of nature in a time of climate change. Pagan ritual and symbols provide resources that can generate an ethics of hope and courage.
Zefat Academic College
Marianna Ruah-Midbar Shapiro is the founder and head of the department for Mysticism and Spirituality, and a senior lecturer at Zefat Academic College
Tel-Aviv University
Adi Sasson is a tour guide of Christian pilgrims in Israel. She has an MA in gender studies from Tel Aviv University.
Kursi is an Israeli site that has recently been increasingly appropriated by various alternative-spiritual groups, especially contemporary Pagan and neoshamanic ones. Located on the Sea of Galilee’s northeastern shore, it lies in an array of archeological-historic sites relating to Jewish-rabbinical, Christian, and, to some extent, Pagan history. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority regulates the site (rather than a religious institution) and is interested in intensifying its mystical aura, and thus amplifying its spiritual appropriation. The various discourses surrounding Kursi (of archeologists, Christian pilgrims, etc.) are eclectic, and adopt from one another to varying degrees. Nevertheless, it seems the contemporary Neo-Pagan/Neo-ShamanPagan/neoshamanic discourse is most comfortable with adopting and reinterpreting elements from other discourses. Practitioners fearlessly and creatively meld all contents together. Their invention of a tradition combines Israeli, Jewish, Christian, Pagan, and New Age symbols with scientific findings, pseudo-scientific theories, and establishment-related discourses, thus weaving them into a new synthetic-syncretistic mythology via ritualistic work.

Book Reviews

University of the Cumberlands
Jefferson F. Calico is Associate Professor at the University of the Cumberlands, where he teaches a variety of courses in Religious Studies.
University of Sydney
Carole M. Cusack is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Sydney. She researches and teaches on contemporary religious trends (including pilgrimage and tourism, modern Pagan religions, NRMs, and religion and popular culture). Her books include Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith (Ashgate, 2010) and (with Katharine Buljan) Anime, Religion, and Spirituality: Profane and Sacred Worlds in Contemporary Japan (Equinox, 2015). In 2016 she became Editor of Fieldwork in Religion, and she is also Editor of Literature & Aesthetics (journal of the Sydney Society of Literature and Aesthetics).
Colorado State University-Pueblo
Formerly of Colorado State University, Pueblo, he researches and writes on new religious movements and contemporary Paganism. He served as a contributing editor of Gnosis: Journal of Western Inner Traditions from 1986–2000, and as co-chair of the American Academy of Religion's Contemporary Pagan Studies Group from 2011–2016. His published work includes Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America and as co-editor with Graham Harvey, The Paganism Reader.
book review