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By Helen A. Berger

A group 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 pictures of the far-off previous and distant cultures, this publication exhibits that Wicca has emerged as a part of a brand new spiritual move that displays the period within which it built. Imported to the us within the overdue Sixties from the uk, the faith absorbed into its uncomplicated textile the social issues of the time: feminism, environmentalism, self-development, replacement spirituality, and distrust of authority. Helen A. Berger's ten-year player commentary learn of Neo-Pagans and Witches at the jap seaboard of the USA and her collaboration on a countrywide survey of Neo-Pagans shape the foundation for exploring the practices, buildings, and transformation of this nascent faith. Responding to students who recommend that Neo-Paganism is purely a pseudoreligion or a cultural flow since it lacks valuable authority and transparent limitations, Berger contends that Neo-Paganism has a few of the features that one might anticipate of a faith born in overdue modernity: the appropriation of rituals from different cultures, a view of the universe as a cosmic complete, an emphasis on growing and re-creating the self, an intertwining of the private and the political, and a definite playfulness.

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

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Page 4 Chapter 1 Background The phenomenon of well-educated, middle-class Americans worshipping ancient deities, practicing magic, and participating in rites such as the one described in the prologue to this book has drawn the attention of both the media and a small body of academics. The Witchcraft movement is in many ways elusive, as there is no central bureaucracy or leader to determine orthodoxy. To the contrary, individual inspiration is encouraged. It is these very characteristics that have led some scholars (Luhrmann 1989; Ben-Yehuda 1985; Neitz 1991, 1994) to view Witchcraft as a cultural phenomenon or quasi-religion.

Paralleling the changes in nature, this is seen as a time of new beginnings for people, a time during which old ties are renewed and new ones established. At the Ostava rituals, chocolate rabbits and dyed eggs are traditionally distributed as symbols of fertilityfertility of thoughts and actions, even more than fertility of crops and animals. There is on the whole a deemphasis on human fertility. At a recent Ostava ritual I attended, energy was raised for the purpose of increasing the fertility of endangered species, such as whales.

As will be shown in this book, Wicca, while questioning moral issues, is part of the process in late modernity of reembedding moral issues through lifestyle choices. Ritual practices, community activities, and spiritual quests help to define lifestyle choices and are part of the creation and re-creation of the self within Wicca. The emphasis on globalism, the belief in personal and social transformation, and the use of noninstrumental rationality place Wicca firmly within the Enlightenment tradition.

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