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Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft [Hardcover]

James R. Lewis


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Book Description

5 April 1996
Provides an overview of neo-paganism from the Goddess to magic and rituals, from history and ethics to the relationship of neo-paganism to Christianity.

This comprehensive anthology examines contemporary neo-paganism ranging from goddess theology to historical-critical essays. Many of the contributors are academically trained neo-pagans, and the resulting volume is a benchmark study of a significant movement that promises to reshape the religious landscape of the next century.

"I feel this book is a very well-rounded exposure to growing special interest groups--from the Goddess to Magic and Rituals, from History and Ethics to Christianity and Neo-Paganism. It demystifies modern witchcraft, and shows it to be a modern reconstruction of a few ancient elements with many new innovations added by certain romantic personalities. Every article by its investigative nature is insightful and certainly of intellectual importance." -- Kevin A. McCormack, World University of America (Ojai)

"Today we see an ever increasing number of New Religious Movements emerging that are strange to the general public. What is strange, unknown, or not understood, is often frightening. What is frightening often leads to conflict similar to that of the burning of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas by our government officials.

"Many religious scholars have told me of their hunger for inside information. When I speak to groups of average citizens, I am pleased to note their extreme interest in this matter. This entire anthology, to me, is enough to stimulate my appetite. I find it to be refreshing in my search and studies by being able to compare the different points of view of the contributors in a single source." -- Moorman Oliver, Jr., Retired Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Criminal Investigator

"Dr. Lewis has located a whole seminar-full of new blood, new scholars who know the groups they are discussing both inside and out. This is a refreshing change from the old-guard religion scholars who are often somewhat baffled by the new religions they have been studying." -- Aidan A. Kelly, Art Magickal Publications
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Neo-Paganism into mainstream scholarship 7 May 2004
By The Old Philosopher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Magical Religion is a collection of scholarly papers by various authors. Contributors include well known neo-pagan writers such as Judy Harrow and Otter G'Zell, some pagan scholars like Dennis Carpenter, Ph.D., and some authors who's names I didn't recognize. I found myself wishing the editor had included a brief bio, CV, or credits for the various contributors. That's a serious fault.
The first section is about "The Goddess," a popular but somewhat increasingly controversial view of Wicca and witchcraft. Significantly lacking is co-equal focus on The God. Left out is any significant mention of the harmony and equality between Goddess and God that are important to many neo-pagans. The publication date is 1996, so perhaps it is understandable many neo-pagans were still being overwhelmed by feminism, "The Goddess" and "women's spirituality" largely originating in California.
One chapter deals with pagans who try to mix Jesus with paganism, and hold to both conflicting religions. The author describes how some pagans are unwilling to give up cultural Christianity even though they also have adopted The Goddess or other pagan religious teachings. Asatru and the Norse traditions of neo-paganism is covered in another chapter.
The scholarly approach to paganism begins to bring pagan religion into mainstream theological study. One chapter deals with the psychology of being a marginal person who's values are different than the cultural norms. One chapter describes the phenomenon of summer gatherings. Still other chapters deal with the possible origins of Wiccan theology and morality. Published by a University this volume makes neo-paganism more accessible to scholars of psychology, sociology, or theology, and can be a resource for any scholar writing a research paper on the emergence of new-paganism.
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