Posts Tagged ‘Modern’
If you, like I, have ever pondered the plurality of culture in modern Wicca and Neo-paganism, then you should read this book.
If you have ever wondered at how Celtic symbolism, the Kabbalistic Tarot, Native American Spirit Animals, and the use of yoga, kundalina, and chakras (etc) can all be blended together within New Age counterculture and contemporary spiritual practices ~ then you should read this book.
How and why did all of the ancestral traditions come to be peacefully united within the context of modern paganism? How has the cultural diffusion of the world at large contributed to such a delightful polygenesis or amalgamation of past and present? If your interest is piqued at this very notion…then you ought to read this book.
Sabina Magliocco’s Witching Cultures: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America is not just an ethnographic exploration into modern Neo-paganism, it represents a new and important step in the anthropology of the contemporary magickal community. Unlike the classic foundation texts on the anthropology of modern witchcraft like Hutton’s The Triumph of the Moon and Luhrmann’s Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magick in Contemporary England, Magliocco’s work does not just seek to explore the existence of a magickal community and their perceptions of magick, but rather strives to understand how the multi-cultural magickal menu came to be so diversified. In attempting to understand how magickal and spiritual traditions are borrowed and hybridized into contemporary practice, Magliocco explores the underlying anthropological meanings and psychological back-story behind such acceptance and incorporation. It is not a history book, it is an examination of modern practices. Though it is light on the structuralist anthropological theoretical framework it was undeniably written in, it is a groundbreaking text in pagan and (by association) wiccan studies.
Witching Cultures: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America is a celebration of how the practice of modern magick delicately and respectfully crosses cultural boundaries to create approachable and shared meanings. As Magliocco concludes “The art of magic allows our imagination to transcend the boundaries of local blood and geography, to experience, at least in part, other cultures and time periods and feel empathy with other living beings (237).”
Of all of the witchy texts I have reviewed lately, Witching Cultures: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America by Sabina Magliocco is my new favorite and I highly recommend you give it a go.
It’s that time of year again: the Christmas carols are blasting in all the stores, Santa Claus is displayed in windows, and the holiday party invitations are rolling in. And despite all the celebratory diversity in the world today, what with Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanza, the recently-past Diwali, and a slew of other fabulous holidays also taking place in the winter: it’s easy to be consumed by the predominantly monotheistic marketing of the winter season. But it’s also easy to find the magickal and classically pagan traditions lurking beneath the thin veneer of the monotheistic Christmas holiday. From the origins of Christmas tree ornaments to the seemingly purely Biblical story of the nativity itself: these traditions come from ancient pagan times and older conceptions of magick and celebration. And if you look closely, you can see these lovely little esoteric gems sparkling through the already glittering displays of baby Jesus, Christmas elves, wrapping paper, and fake snow.
Case in point: the Nutcracker Ballet. I recently had the chance to observe the Fox Theater’s performance of the Nutcracker Suite in Atlanta, Georgia. For many, the Nutcracker is intrinsically linked with Christmas. Every year hundreds of theater companies around the world perform a variant of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet for children and adults alike. Though familiar with the bare bones of the story, I was much surprised to see how little the story actually had to with Christmas-Christmas. And how much more it had to do with the wider realm of Russian and Germanic faerie tale archetypes and the cosmic theory of different dimensions of being, an element shared with many mythological traditions around the world.