By Helen A. Berger
A group of Witches explores the ideals and practices of Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft - as a rule recognized to students and practitioners as Wicca. whereas the phrases "magic," "witchcraft," and "paganism" evoke photographs of the far away prior and distant cultures, this publication indicates that Wicca has emerged as a part of a brand new spiritual circulate 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, substitute spirituality, and distrust of authority. Helen A. Berger's ten-year player commentary research 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, buildings, and transformation of this nascent faith. Responding to students who recommend that Neo-Paganism is in simple terms a pseudoreligion or a cultural circulation since it lacks principal authority and transparent limitations, Berger contends that Neo-Paganism has some of the features that one could 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 growing and re-creating the self, an intertwining of the non-public 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)
Among sociologists of religion, substantive and functional definitions have traditionally been used to distinguish religion and religious practices from the secular world. McGuire succinctly states, "Substantive definitions try to establish what religion is; functional definitions describe what religion does" (1992:10). Substantive definitions, such as those presented by P. Berger (1967) or Yinger (1970), focus on religions as social institutions that mediate the individual's relationship with the supernatural or sacred.
The people I interviewed are from a wide variety of covens in the northeastern United States; although in some instances the interviewees were members of the same group, in most they were not. Five of the people at the time of their interviews were solo practitioners; three of these individuals had never been coven members. Because of the secrecy of groups and practitioners, I was dependent on snowball sampling, in which I either was introduced to the people I interviewed through other Neo-Pagans Page xvi I knew, or met these individuals at gatherings I attended or at public talks I gave on my research.
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). Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism, as they have developed in the United States, have no central bureaucracy that can determine either dogma or orthodoxy. The lack of a central bureaucracy or dogma has resulted in the development of many branches or "traditions" within Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism.