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 away previous and distant cultures, this publication exhibits that Wicca has emerged as a part of a brand new spiritual circulation that displays the period during which it built. Imported to the USA within the past due Nineteen 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 japanese seaboard of the USA and her collaboration on a countrywide survey of Neo-Pagans shape the foundation for exploring the practices, constructions, and transformation of this nascent faith. Responding to students who recommend that Neo-Paganism is in simple terms a pseudoreligion or a cultural circulate since it lacks critical authority and transparent barriers, Berger contends that Neo-Paganism has the various features that one might count on 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 undeniable 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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In turn the spirits of each of these directions, or quarters, are invited to bring their power into the circle. After the circle has been consecrated, the father removes the child's afterbirth from a plastic bag and places it in the hole in the center of the circle. The afterbirth has been stored in the family's freezer since the child's birth. The blood from the afterbirth runs down the father's hand and into the hole. The air is permeated with the sweet smells of blood and sweat. Addressing the child, the father tells him that this umbilical cord sustained him for the nine months he was attached to his mother; now there is a new rope, a white one that will spiritually attach him to the mother of us all, mother earth.

The influence of these groups is most clearly seen at festivals and gatherings where hundreds of Neo-Pagans come together. Intermingled with people in tie-dyed T-shirts and Page 13 jeans are men and women dressed in medieval-style garb. Some groups refer to their membersand in fact all people they encounter in Neo-Pagan circlesas lord or lady. Both fantasy and science fiction literature and movies are very popular among Neo-Pagans. Some adherents initially learn about Neo-Paganism through their involvement in fantasy and science fiction groups (Neitz 1991).

The underlying link for Neo-Pagans among these divergent religions is their reverence for nature. Not surprisingly, the worship of nature is central to Neo-Paganism. Both the cycle of the seasons and the moon phases are celebrated. The eight yearly sabbats commemorate the beginning and height of each season. Ostava, which most Neo-Pagans consider the New Year, occurs on the vernal equinox, March 21, the beginning of spring. 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.

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