Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community

Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community

Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community

Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community

Synopsis

""Earthly Bodies is a thoroughly and ceaselessly informative expose. 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."--Michael York, author of "The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements

Excerpt

During several years attending festivals, I found that Neopagans everywhere describe their festival experiences in much the same way. Each festival has unique features, but Neopagans approach all festivals as opportunities to participate in a community of others who share some of their religious beliefs and practices. In later chapters I discuss in detail distinct characteristics of particular festivals. Here, however, I explore similar ways in which the festivals—Starwood, ELFest, Wild Magick Gathering, Summerhawk, Rites of Spring, Spiral, Lumensgate, and Pagan Spirit Gathering—are imagined as places of contrast with the rest of the world.

During ELFest 1991, I met Kenneth Deigh, a man who plays many roles in the national Neopagan community. Kenn has been attending festivals in the United States for more than ten years, organizing and directing large group rituals and presenting workshops on various aspects of ritual work: Magical Mudras, a workshop on physical postures and gestures, and Invokation and Evokation, techniques of spirit possession, are two workshops Kenn offered at Starwood, a large festival that takes place at Brushwood sanctuary in southwestern New York. He also edits and publishes Mezlim, a Neopagan magazine. Kenn and a few friends organized their first Lumensgate festival in 1992, which was held on the summer solstice (June 21) at Brushwood. “Lumensgate, ” Kenn wrote me, “means 'gateway to light,' gateway to a place where we can transform, a place where possibilities are open to us. ” As a festival organizer Kenn is . . .

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