Living Witchcraft: A Contemporary American Coven

Living Witchcraft: A Contemporary American Coven

Living Witchcraft: A Contemporary American Coven

Living Witchcraft: A Contemporary American Coven

Synopsis

This is the only ethnography of a living community of witches in the United States. Ravenwood, based near Atlanta, is one of the largest American covens and has supported and encouraged this research through to publication. Of unprecedented importance in clearing the name of witchcraft, the leader of the coven is a civil rights activist, still dedicated in her wiser years to the individual's right to freedom of religion. A must read in women's studies, shamanism, comparative religion and American studies.

Excerpt

No one expected that an unlikely encounter and subsequent friendship among a sociologist, a psychologist, and a literary critic who came together to discuss the mind-body duality would end up in our writing a book on contemporary Witchcraft. The origins of our work lay in a seminar sponsored by the Dana Foundation and led by Robert Detweiler, professor in Emory University's Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts. In the fall of 1990, six professors from various four-year colleges in the Southeast gathered in Atlanta to spend their sabbatical years working on individual projects while also meeting as a group to share research and explore mind-body duality. Although not on sabbatical, a member of the faculty of Emory University's two-year liberal arts college joined in the weekly seminar meetings.

At the initial formal meeting of the group, Professor Detweiler asked the members to talk about why they had applied for the seminar and to talk about relevant past experiences, both academic and otherwise, that led to an interest in the subject of discussion. The first three speakers noted elements of their religious autobiographies. When Allen's turn came, he talked about his work in sociology of religion as well as his childhood religious upbringing. This theme of religion and its impact on the mind body issue continued. Holly (professionally known as Shirley), the literary critic and the last speaker, also related her academic experiences. Then she took a deep breath and said,

I'm interested in ways of fusing the mind-body split that I think traditional religion has fostered. But I think religion can also be a way of reuniting mind and body One religion that does that is Wicca--and that's why I'm a Witch.

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