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Session Chair: N.N. | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Matouš Vencálek

Contemporary Paganism and Politics: The Relation of Political and Religious Views among Czech Pagans

Both political and religious affiliation reflect one's worldview. However, the relation of religion and politics is a complex and highly debated issue. This paper focuses on a connection between religiosity and politics in a framework of one specific expression of modern spirituality – Contemporary Paganism. That is an umbrella term (also Modern Paganism, Neopaganism, or simply Paganism) for a diversified group of movements whose main unifying characteristic is that they are to a lesser or greater extent based on or inspired by prehistoric or ancient religious faiths and beliefs. Paganism is highly diversified: some groups have emerged from naturalizing and romanticizing tendencies and emphasize the sacredness of nature, worship and respect for all of its creatures; while some groups have emerged from nationalistic tendencies and focus on worshipping the Gods and ancestors. The paper explores the correlation between the religiosity and political orientation of modern Pagans; what is the attitude of Pagans toward politics? Are the political views of Pagans as diversified as their religiosity, or are there any unifying elements?

Shai Feraro

The return of Baal (to the Holy Land): Canaanite reconstructionism among Israeli Neopagans; A double-edged sword

This presentation will focus on the recent emergence of Canaanite reconstructionism amongst Israeli Neopagans. This development will be set against the background of the unique nature of Israeli society and identity politics, as well as of Canaanism – a cultural/ideological movement, which climaxed during the 1940s in British Mandate Palestine but declined soon after the founding of the state of Israel. If Modern Israeli Pagans hope to achieve a greater sense of integration into (and a common inheritance with) the parent society, it is unclear which Pagan 'path' could best serve such a goal. Indeed "Israeli Pagans are clearly at present in a double bind, whereby if they follow non-Israeli traditions such as Wicca and Druidry, they are accused of importing alien beliefs, while if they revive aspects of the ancient native religion, they are accused of bringing back the ancient evil against which true religion originally defined itself" (Hutton 2013).

Kathryn Rountree

Pagans and the Traditionalization of Invention: A Cosmopolitanism Project

The paper will analyse, through several case studies, how religious innovation and the revival of tradition are combined by modern Pagans in a continuous, dynamic process of creating authenticity. Cosmopolitanism, with its interest in the local/global nexus and relationships between self and Other, self and nation, and oneness and diversity, offers a novel lens through which to explore modern Paganisms and Native Faiths. The paper examines both the culturally-inflected nature of Pagan diversity and the global commonality which emerges as a result of Pagans occupying a ‘glocal’ space and participating in supra-national networks facilitated by the Internet and increasing mobility. It questions the importance of the categories of ‘nation’ and ‘global community’ in the creation of Pagan identities and allegiances and seeks to explore tensions between cosmopolitanism, globalization, nationalism and indigenous renaissance. How, and to what extent, does cosmopolitanism play out in the context of individuals’ and local groups’ situated subjectivities?

Pavel Horák

„We are Pagans...“: Self-reflection and the Influence of Christianity in the Czech and Irish Contemporary Paganism

Neopagans try to reconstruct and continue practising ancient European pre-Christian traditions. Comparing the way of thinking of ancient “pagans” and their Christian contemporaries I will show how Christianity came up with a completely new way of thinking, especially with the notion of religion as we know it nowadays. Neopagans have unconsciously adopted the theoretical framework Christianity came up with. Hence I claim that contemporary Neopaganism has found itself within the framework of Christianity and its self-conceptualization is therefore implicitly Christian. I will show it through the data collected from my fieldwork of the last four years among the contemporary Czech Neopagans and comparing it with the results from my fieldwork among Irish Neopagans. The data from my fieldwork are striking and appeal for the need to rethink the theoretical foundations of Pagan Studies. Hence the attempt is to outline a few basic ways how to deal with this issue.


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