Vol 9 No. 2 (2007)

Articles

Claremont Graduate University
Garth Reese is the coordinator of digital initiatives for special collections at the University of Oklahoma library and a PhD candidate in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation considers the intersections of occult philosophies and theology in seventeenth-century English thought through the person of Thomas Vaughan, better known to alchemists as Eugenius Philalethes.
Although religious archives as they exist today are a relatively recent development, the need to maintain a collection of materials essential to the administration of a church or other religious body emerges at the moment that body is founded/ This is especially true in the case of contemporary Pagan religious bodies, many of which, whether because they tend to be non-scriptural, or because they are smaller, younger, or less secure than mainline Christian denominations, have neither created nor maintain formal archives. ‘Archival’ materials related to these bodies tend to reside on hard drives or in file cabinets in members’ homes or offices; hardly a dependable setting for long-term preservation. Yet archives are essential to gaining credibility and respectability in the greater American (even global) religious landscape. More importantly, they allow religious bodies to retain control over their own histories, which is essential for small, sometimes threatened, groups like contemporary Pagans.
University of Bristol
A leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs. Also the leading historian of the ritual year in Britain and of modern Paganism.
Contemporary Pagan Witches have for the most part abandoned the foundation myth that they represent the survival of an ancient religion forced underground during the era of European witch trials. They have transformed older models of witchcraft to serve the needs of modern spirituality. Yet those same older models present problems to publics and governments around the world, where witchcraft persecutions and panics over 'ritual abuse' continue. Scholars of historical witch trials still have a role to play in educating people about the psychological realities of witchcraft and the dangers of panic and persecution.
Kabbalah Recreata: [+-] 132-153
Egil Asprem is a graduate student in religious studies at the University of Amsterdam. His main research focus is on ritual magic and modernity from the Victorian era to contemporary times.
In the early twentieth century, certain elements of the Kabbalah were transformed by being given new interpretations and uses in the context of what I term the “programmatic syncretism” of modern, fin de siècle occultism. In so doing I will focus specifically on one text by Aleister Crowley, which I consider the full-blown example of the phenomenon in question. The text demonstrates how the occultists' Kabbalah functions first and foremost as a classificatory tool and a mnemonic system, mainly for practical use in magical rituals. That use is part of a reinterpretation of the Kabbalah in the modern occult revival, mainly from Eliphas Levi through the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, culminating in the works of Aleister Crowley. It is my intention that this focus will not only shed light on a process of reinterpretation peculiar to fin de siècle occultism, but also on the processes characteristic of religious innovation in the modern age in general.
Dept of Global Studies, Orange County Community College
Dept of Global Studies, Orange County Community College
Animal sacrifice, once among the most universal of religious practices, is now among the most reviled and rejected. This article explores how a small number of Modern Nordic Pagans in the United States are experimenting with recreating the practice of animal sacrifice as part of their project of revitalizing past tradition.
Cape Cod Community College
Michael Strmiska teaches world history at Cape Cod Community College in Massachusetts. He is the editor of Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives (ABC-Clio, 2006). mailto:strmiska@earthlink.net
The meaning of animal sacrifice has fascinated historians of religion for decades. In addition, it goes against trends of professed concern for animals in contemporary Western culture, although the notion of sacrifice remains important in Christianity, and animal sacrifice is still practiced at the feast of Id al-Adha in Islam. Scholars of religion have viewed it various as a bribe to divine powers (Edward Tylor), as reinforcing the community of believers (Robertson Smith, Emile Durkheim, and others), as recapitulating a primal event (Mircea Eliade, Sigmund Freud), as deflecting social tensions (René Girard), and as a substitute for hunting (Walter Burkert) or hunting’s structure idealized in the face of primal chaos (Jonathan Z. Smith). Today, some followers of Modern Nordic Paganism (e.g. Ásatrú) have revived animal sacrifice as part of the ritual of blót, which honors important turning points in the ritual calendar. Fieldwork among these Pagans suggests that perhaps Burkert’s vision of animal sacrifice as a privileged vestige of prehistoric hunting culture offers the best lens for understanding this controversial practice.
Claremont Graduate University
Garth Reese is the coordinator of digital initiatives for special collections at the University of Oklahoma library and a PhD candidate in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation considers the intersections of occult philosophies and theology in seventeenth-century English thought through the person of Thomas Vaughan, better known to alchemists as Eugenius Philalethes.
Although religious archives as they exist today are a relatively recent development, the need to maintain a collection of materials essential to the administration of a church or other religious body emerges at the moment that body is founded/ This is especially true in the case of contemporary Pagan religious bodies, many of which, whether because they tend to be non-scriptural, or because they are smaller, younger, or less secure than mainline Christian denominations, have neither created nor maintain formal archives. ‘Archival’ materials related to these bodies tend to reside on hard drives or in file cabinets in members’ homes or offices; hardly a dependable setting for long-term preservation. Yet archives are essential to gaining credibility and respectability in the greater American (even global) religious landscape. More importantly, they allow religious bodies to retain control over their own histories, which is essential for small, sometimes threatened, groups like contemporary Pagans.
University of Amsterdam
Egil Asprem is a graduate student in religious studies at the University of Amsterdam. His main research focus is on ritual magic and modernity from the Victorian era to contemporary times. E.Asprem@student.uva.nl
In the early twentieth century, certain elements of the Kabbalah were transformed by being given new interpretations and uses in the context of what I term the “programmatic syncretism” of modern, fin de siècle occultism. In so doing I focus specifically on one text by Aleister Crowley, which I consider the full-blown example of the phenomenon in question. The text demonstrates how the occultists' Kabbalah functions first and foremost as a classificatory tool and a mnemonic system, mainly for practical use in magical rituals. That use is part of a reinterpretation of the Kabbalah in the modern occult revival, mainly from Eliphas Levi through the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, culminating in the works of Aleister Crowley. It is my intention that this focus will not only shed light on a process of reinterpretation peculiar to fin de siècle occultism, but also on the processes characteristic of religious innovation in the modern age in general.

Book Reviews

Drake University
Visiting Assistant Professor Department of English
Eastern Mediterranean University
Asst. Prof. Dr. in the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, Eastern Mediterranean University
University of Amsterdam
Assistant professor and chairman of the Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, University of Amsterdam
Eastern Mediterranean University
Asst. Prof. Dr. in the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Murph Pizza is an doctoral candidate in religious studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an instructor at Cherry Hill Seminary.
Colorado State University-Pueblo
Chas S. Clifton is editor of The Pomegranate.