Vol 10 No. 1 (2008)
The Goddess Returns to Italy - Paganism and Wicca reborn as a new religious and social movement 5-20
A Country for the Savant: Paganism, Popular Fiction and the Invention of Greece, 1914-1966 [+] 21-40
This essay explores the ways in which certain British writers reimagined Greece in the period 1914-66. It is especially concerned with the ways in which Greece represents a ‘pagan’ space in which characters encounter modes of living and belief far removed from those they are used to. With particular reference to John Buchan, Sarban, and Robert Aickman, the essay argues that the disparity between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ Greece led writers into the deliberate fictionalisation of Mediterranean islands in search of a ‘paganism’ that may or may not actually exist.
The variety of religious positions commonly grouped together under the heading “Neo-Paganism” call for no homogenous reading of that phenomenon. As recent research on contemporary forms of paganism has flowered in recent years, emphasis has been given to the nuances and complexities of this kind of new religious currents. For instance it is clear that contemporary pagan currents, such as Wicca, Ásatrú, and Roman paganism, tend to vary significantly between themselves on matters of theology, sociological profile, and political tendencies. While varieties in the social manifestations of given groups can be partly explained by diverging religious/ideological content, it also holds true that ideological formations will be determined in part by the society in which they emerge. This means that a contemporary pagan current such as “Ásatrú” is not necessarily describable as one single tendency on a global scale, but will unavoidably be shaped by local conditions. Thus varieties within currents will tend to follow national and geographical borders, being always locally situated, and adapted to local political, social, and religious conditions. This article discusses the emergence and development of contemporary Norse paganism in Norway in light of the abovementioned framework. Special notice is given to the interplay between public discourses on issues such as paganism, the occult, neo-Nazism, and the relationship between the church and state in Norway, and the self-fashioning of reconstructionist Norse pagans. Through a partial comparison with the thoroughly discussed American context of contemporary Norse religion an argument is advanced that Norwegian Ásatrú came to bear certain distinct marks that are due to and only explicable by specific, local cultural conditions.
The Figure of the Shaman as a Modern Myth. Some reflections on the attractiveness of shamanism in modern societies [+] 70-103
With an increasing interest in shamanism in western societies during the last decades the character of the shaman was–with an act of identifying–implanted into the cultural perspective of many subcultures. Due to the widespread psychologization of shamanism an overgeneralized and oversimplified view of traditional shamanism gives a matrix which creates the different popular conceptualizations of the figure of the shaman. In this paper, four areas explicitly referring to the figure of the shaman are described, demonstrating the fascination it holds and the manifold possibilities of interpretation. The four areas are: neoshamanism, the ‘urban shaman’ as cultural critic and rebel, technoshamanism/cybershamanism, and the field of performing and visual arts. Looking at these areas one can find ten elements of the shaman myth which form the popular image of shamanism in western societies and which constitute the attractiveness and the fascination of the figure of the shaman. Referring to some philosophical concepts of the German philosopher Karl Jaspers the figure of the shaman can be understood as a powerful cipher of transcendence.
Debating the Witch in the South African Context: Issues Arising from the Sapc Conference 2007 [+] 104-121
No abstract required due to essay format