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By Helen A. Berger

A neighborhood of Witches explores the ideals and practices of Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft - typically identified to students and practitioners as Wicca. whereas the phrases "magic," "witchcraft," and "paganism" evoke photographs of the far-off earlier and distant cultures, this publication indicates that Wicca has emerged as a part of a brand new non secular move that displays the period during which it constructed. Imported to the USA within the past due Sixties from the uk, the faith absorbed into its simple cloth the social matters of the time: feminism, environmentalism, self-development, replacement spirituality, and distrust of authority. Helen A. Berger's ten-year player remark learn of Neo-Pagans and Witches at the jap seaboard of the us and her collaboration on a countrywide survey of Neo-Pagans shape the root for exploring the practices, constructions, and transformation of this nascent faith. Responding to students who recommend that Neo-Paganism is only a pseudoreligion or a cultural circulate since it lacks critical authority and transparent obstacles, Berger contends that Neo-Paganism has the various features that one may count on of a faith born in past due modernity: the appropriation of rituals from different cultures, a view of the universe as a cosmic complete, an emphasis on developing and re-creating the self, an intertwining of the private and the political, and a undeniable playfulness.

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Extra resources for A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States (Studies in Comparative Religion)

Example text

Wicca in the United States Raymond Buckland, a student of Gardner, is credited with introducing Wicca in the United States (Kelly 1992). Since migrating in the 1960s, Witchcraft has grown and taken a particularly American flavor. Mysticism, ecological concerns, women's rights, and anti-authoritarianism have all been incorporated into this new religion. Wicca in the United States is more eclectic than the religion in present day Great Britain (Orion 1995). An elective affinity developed between Neo-Paganism and fantasy groups, the Society for Creative Anachronism, and science fiction groups (Ben-Yehuda 1985; Neitz 1991).

The distinction between the two is hard to define, but on the whole Witches are the more committed members of the religion. Adherents' self-definition as either a Witch or a Neo-Pagan is regularly accepted by others in the religion. Andras Corban Arthen suggested to me that "Neo-Pagans are just Page 11 Witches who haven't come out of the broom closet yet" (Andras Arthen Interview 1986). Most Neo-Pagans, however, take the label of Witch (Neitz 1991; Orion 1995). It is a label that brings with it many negative associations.

The Neo-Pagan community is one based on a lifestyle choice. According to Giddens the political element of life choices is life politics. He differentiates between emancipatory politics and life politics.  . [and] overcome the illegitimate domination of some individuals or groups by others" (Giddens 1991:211). On the other hand, life politics is the politics of choicethe choice to enter into and maintain an egalitarian relationship, the choice to act in a nonracist manner, the choice to be ecologically responsible, the choice to join organizations to ensure that your concerns with equity, the environment, or other issues are embedded within the society.

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