Synopses & Reviews
Recent decades have seen a revival of paganism, and every summer people gather across the United States to celebrate this increasingly popular religion. Sarah Pike's engrossing ethnography is the outcome of five years attending neo-pagan festivals, interviewing participants, and sometimes taking part in their ceremonies. Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves
incorporates her personal experience and insightful scholarly work concerning ritual, sacred space, self-identity, and narrative. The result is a compelling portrait of this frequently misunderstood religious movement.
Neo-paganism began emerging as a new religious movement in the late 1960s. In addition to bringing together followers for self-exploration and participation in group rituals, festivals might offer workshops on subjects such as astrology, tarot, mythology, herbal lore, and African drumming. But while they provide a sense of community for followers, Neo-Pagan festivals often provoke criticism from a variety of sourcesand#151;among them conservative Christians, Native Americans, New Age spokespersons, and media representatives covering stories of rumored "Satanism" or "witchcraft."
Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves explores larger issues in the United States regarding the postmodern self, utopian communities, cultural improvisation, and contemporary spirituality. Pike's accessible writing style and her nonsensationalistic approach do much to demystify neo-paganism and its followers.
"Earthly Bodies is a thoroughly and ceaselessly informative exposand#233;. This is an original, important, no-punches-held, illucidating, approachable and entertaining work for both the specialist and general public alike. The venue of summer camp gatherings has become an important expression of contemporary western paganism. The author gives us an inside view of the thrills, difficulties and conflicting nuances of these ad hoc communities and their significance toward the possible establishment of more permanent institutions."and#151;Michael York, author of The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements
Includes bibliographical references (p. 259-271) and index.
About the Author
Sarah M. Pike is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at California State University, Chico.
Table of Contents
Driving into fairie: place myths and neopagan festivals -- Shrines of flame and silence: mapping the festival site -- The great evil that is in your backyard: festival neighbors and satanism rumors -- Blood that matters: neopagan borrowing -- Children of the devil or gifted in magic? The world of memory in neopagan narrative -- Serious playing with the self: gender and eroticism and the festival fire.