A Journey Through Contemporary Pagan Studies

A Journey Through Contemporary Pagan Studies April 6, 2012

While covering last year’s American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco one recurring theme I noticed when attending the sessions for Contemporary Pagan Studies, and listening to more informal discussions, was how scholars could better interact and communicate with the Pagan community. Since many Pagan scholars are themselves Pagans, the disconnect between their work and the wider Pagan community, or worse, the misapplication or misunderstanding of their work, has been an ongoing concern. One of the reasons I wanted to start a Wild Hunt podcast was so I could have semi-informal chats with Pagan scholars about their work in order to humanize them, making their research and findings more accessible. Now, a new project seeks to take the wider Pagan community on a journey through the history of Contemporary Pagan Studies using The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies as a guide.

On March 26th, The Pagan Perspective blog announced that it would start doing weekly or biweekly examinations of articles that appeared in The Pomegranate, starting with the first issue published in 1997, and working its way to the present. The series is already underway with in-depth examinations of  Chas Clifton’s article “Aradia and the Revival of Modern Witchcraft” and “From Fact to Fallacy: The Evolution of Margaret Alice Murray’s Witch-Cult” by Catherine Noble. In his introductory post to this ambitious ongoing series, Ben Hoshour, who writes The Pagan Perspective, and is also employed by Cherry Hill Seminary, talks about the goals of this initiative.

“There are several reasons for initiating this coverage of the Pomegranate. First, as we have seen in Catherin Tully’s article, there is a gap bewteen academics and practictioners that sometime results in heated debates and cognitive dissonance. Second, not everyone has access to an academic library or to those academic articles and books that are relevant to Contemporary Paganism.  As a result, I will be reviewing and presenting a synopsis of these articles for practicing Contemporary Pagans – a set of cliff-notes, if you will, that can be read to gain the primary points of the article. It is my hope that these synopses are not only educational, but will stimulate discussion and debate amongst practitioners, which is the fertile soil where great ideas are birthed.”

According to Hoshour, several of the academics he’ll be referencing have agreed to engage in the comments section, so that follow-up questions, clarification, and updates, can be shared.

This should be a great service to the Pagan community, and I’ll hope that many of you decide to head over to The Pagan Perspective, subscribe to its updates, and engage in the conversations that will follow. For my part, I’ll try to remind my readers here of future updates in the series, and look forward to getting feedback from Contemporary Pagan scholars when I attend the 2012 AAR Annual Meeting this November.

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