The Pagan group Feraferia had a fairly large (by Pagan standards of the time) following, chiefly in Southern California, starting in the late 1960s.
It was largely the creation of one man, the visonary artist Fred Adams, and was a unique creation, with some inspiration from the ancient Minoan civilization but no real connection to Wicca, ceremonial magic, other Pagan groups, although he did take up John Michell’s vision of ley lines and sought to delineate them in Southern California.Many Feraferia members, however, also participated in Wiccan and other magickal groups. That’s how it often goes.
Adams described Feraferia (meaing “wild festival”) as “a love culture for wilderness, a liturgy of holy wildness, and a religion celebrating the Magic Maiden.”
Adams died in 2008, followed by his wife and co-leader, Svetlana, in 2010.
So while the Adamses are gone and the group around them largely dispersed, Jo and others have tried to keep the vision alive, and here is a way to share in it.
They put out a zine, which I got in the 1970s, but to participate back then, you really had to be there, and “there” was Pasadena, California.
But you can still get feeling for “celebrating wildness” this way.
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When I was new to Pagan studies — actually, “Pagan studies” had not even coalesced as a field of study — Jim Lewis’s edited volume Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft(SUNY Press, 1996) was one of my go-to volumes.
I had an essay in it, not something I am proud of, but definitely a product of “fake it till you make it.”It has not been cited often. Once was in a court brief over a prisoners’ rights case.
And like many scholars of new religious movements (NRMs), he had a hard time making a living in academia. Despite the vibrancy and relevance of NRM research, it just does not draw the funding and respect. You’re better off specializing in New Testament studies and writing yet another book about the Apostle Paul, or developing some new slant on gender-and-theology, if you want to be hired.
Born in 1949, Jim died October 11, 2022. I did not learn this until the American Academy of Religion meeting in late November, sadly. He was hugely prolific as an author and editor, but he was also working right up to the end — because he had to.
After some para-academic publishing work, Jim had taught in the University of Wisconsin system for some time but apparently never had a solid position. Then he was hired by the Arctic University of Norway in Tromso, which really is so far north that you lose the Sun for a while. Seasonal affective disorder aside, it seemed like a good gig, and I for one was happy for him. And presumably there would be enough petro-kroner for a pension.
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, with special attetion to the growth of Paganism in nations that collect religious-membership statistics.
But apparently there was a problem in Norway — he had not put in enough years — he could not get a full-time appointment past age 66 — or some such thing. I don’t how this worked, but he ended up at Wuhan University in China, although he was working remotely in 2020, luckily for him.
If you look at his publications from 2018–2021, you will see a lot about Falun Gong, the large, international new religious movement that has been a particular target of the Chinese government.
To be honest, the Chinese government, after a period of general hands-off, has been realy hard on all religions: Tibetan Buddhism, Islam, Chinese Christian groups, ancient Daoist temples, family and clan ancestral shrines — all have been shut down, bulldozed or forced to turn themselves into government billboards.
Beyong writing critically about Falun Gong, he tried cutting some corners in order to pad the rèsumès of his new Chinese colleagues. As far as The Pomegranate was concerned, I refused to play along, and he cut all communications.
But whatever he did, I suspect he took the Wuhan gig to make some last good money as a senior scholar for himself and his wife. Which loops me around to where I started, that the study of new religous movements still, after fifty or sixty years, is not taken as seriously in academia as it ought to be — and hence not compensated.
And that is why too that I don’t expect to see any endowed chairs in Pagan studies in my lifetime.
2) Pagans and wiccans are becoming more established
More established [than self-identified shamans] are pagans [sic]
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, who number 74,000 people (up from 57,000 in 2011) and who gather most in Ceredigion, Cornwall and Somerset, and wiccans [sic], who number 13,000. Wicca is sometimes described as a witchcraft tradition whose roots lie in pre-Christian religious traditions, folklore, folk witchcraft and ritual magic.
Don’t get a swollen head, unless you speak Romanian (see number 3).
Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts, Brno, Czechia
The Department for the Study of Religions at Masaryk University invites your participation in a conference on the overall theme of “Paganism and its Others” to be held in Brno, Czechia, 13-14 June, 2022, with in-person participation encouraged but online presentations also acceptable.
Although relating to the religions of ancient times, the contemporary Pagan movements are part of our shared modern world, bringing up many challenges and opportunities in interactions with their Others. It is precisely these interactions and their implications that we would like to explore at this conference.
The topics we seek to cover include (but are not limited to) these:
Paganism, its Others and the war in Ukraine: targeted to the theme of Pagans and their perception of the war in Ukraine. How do different Pagan groups interpret the war in Ukraine? How did the war change the relationship between Pagans in Ukraine and in Russia? Do Pagans actively participate in the war (e.g. in the army)? How do Pagans across Europe perceive refugees from Ukraine? Do Pagans help refugees?
Paganism in relation to Christianity: this could concern the contemporary situation or past Pagan-Christian relations; Pagan views of Christians, past or present; strategies of Pagan groups for coexistence with Christianity in contemporary Christian-dominant societies; Pagan acceptance or rejection of Christian elements in Pagan religions; attitudes toward Christian “converts” to Paganism.
Paganism in relation to other minority religions: this could also involve contemporary situation or past history; Pagan views of Jews, Muslims, Eastern religions, New Age movements; strategies of Pagan groups for coexistence, collaboration or competition with other minority religions
Paganism and its internal Others: splits in Pagan groups based on personal or doctrinal differences; successful and unsuccessful strategies to deal with such splits
Paganism and its Sexual and Gender Others: analysis of Pagan responses to increasingly prominent issues of sexual and gender diversity; whether Pagan groups are seeking to be more inclusive of homosexuals, transgendered individuals and others, or excluding them; how Pagan “traditionalists” interpret sexual and gender diversity
Paganism and its Ethnic Others: with most Pagan movements grounded in pre-Christian European religious traditions with primarily “white” European identity and membership, how do Pagans relate to people who are ethnically different in their societies, such as Roma, Africans, Asians? Are Pagans moving to include, exclude or ignore people with such identities in their Pagan associations? Are new interpretations of Pagan traditions developing to enable inclusion of ethnically different persons, or are ethnic borders hardening? Are Pagans supportive of policies and programs to help disadvantaged others such as Roma? Have any Pagan movements developed charity programs to assist such persons and groups?
Paganism and its Scholars: Reflections on the fieldwork and scientific research of Modern Paganism; researcher-researched dynamics, methodologies, theoretical frameworks, advances and problems in Pagan Studies; Pagan Studies in relation to other fields of study.
Periodically I receive these emails, usually in the business-school dialect of babu English. Academic publishing, apparently, is full of scammy stuff like this.I have also encountered them in real estate and in regard to mineral rights.
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Not the first, won’t be the last. If I set the price at US $500,000, could I string “Chia Appu” on for a bit? The only problem there is that I do not own The Pomegranate; Equinox Publishing does. I would need to take the money and move somewhere that has no extradition treaty with the UK.
Academia has its scams, all designed for people willing to trade money for shortcuts. “Diploma mills” have a hoary tradition, of course.
Sadly, I lost a friend over one of these shortcuts. “R.” had written a couple of articles for Pomegranate in the past, and he was good in his field. He then proposed another article, which appeared ready to publish — except that he wanted to list this Chinese professor as co-author.
Pagan studies is a fairly small world, and I had never heard of this man. I looked him up at [well-known Chinese university], and there he was, in the Dept. of Communist Studies or something like that.
It was clear to me that the Chinese professor had had nothing to do with writing the article, which was based on fieldwork in Western Europe. He was just being offered the chance to pad his c.v. in return for some other favor for R. — like a non-resident teaching position?R. is lucky that he was not required to live there, given a certain well-known disease outbreak.
And there was more to the deal. [Well-known Chinese university] was supposedly starting a center for the study of new religious movements. The university was ready to “throw money at” the center’s projects.
If I were willing to designate their center as a “sponsor” of The Pomegranate and “put some Chinese names on the editorial board . . . the arrangement [would be] more than nominally profitable [for you].”R. had his own journal, which I am suppose now has some Chinese professors on the editorial board.
And there was no doubt that [Well-known Chinese university] had the cash.
There it was, a naked bribe. An odd experience. Had I been as financially shaky as R. thought I was — as financially shaky as he himself had often been until later in his career — I might have been more tempted. Sorry, professor of Communist studies, you are not going to buy your way in Pagan studies that easily.
I said no, and R. cut me off completely.
Something chilling occurred to me later. The incident was about five years ago. Since then, the mainland Chinese government has been cracking down on religion — all religions. The online journal Bitter Winter has carried many articles on the repression of not just “foreign” religions, mainly Islam and Christianity, in the People’s Republic, but also Buddhist and Taoist temples, new Chinese religious movements, and even family and clan memorial halls that go back for centuries.
In the pre-Civil War era, upstate New York produced several new religious movements, the best-known of which is now headquartered in Salt Lake City. The Oneida community is less well-known — except to people who study such movements. Like the Shakers, they combined a communal lifestyle and self-sufficiency through agriculture and manufacturing. But unlilke the Shakers, they were not celibate. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The Shakers grew through taking in new members, including single parents with young children. The children could stay until a point in their late teens, when they had to make their own decision to join the movement or go elsewhere. Most went elsewhere. Likewise the children of Oneida often wanted something different. Maybe they wanted to be “sticky.”
But show me a twentieth-century commune that could build as beautifully.
This is more a literary than a religious Satanism, although any story of Satan has its religious underpinnings:
Although they attributed positive qualities to the figure of Satan, the subjects examined in this book were not satanists as commonly imagined; that is, they were not believers in a supernatural being called Satan and did not perform rituals dedicated to him. Rather, as Faxneld explains, they were satanists sensu lato (in the broad sense); they used Satan as a symbol to critique Christianity, its accompanying conservative social mores, and patriarchy. Theistic and ritualizing satanism, on the other hand, is termed here sensu stricto (in the strict sense). Thus, the book is not about satanism as a religious practice but as a “discursive strategy”
There is a chapter on “Satanic” witchcraft:
One of the most prominent examples of the negative association between women and Satan was the figure of the witch. In chapter 6, Faxneld investigates works such as Jules Michelet’s La Sorcière (E. Dentu Libraire-Editeur, 1862), arguably “the single most influential text presenting a sort of feminist version of witches” (198). Relevant to new religious movements today, Michelet’s ideas about witches influenced authors who in turn were used as sources in the construction of modern pagan witchcraft. Feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage interpreted witches as satanic rebels against the injustices of patriarchy; and amateur folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland’s work Aradia; or, the Gospel of the Witches(1899), which presented witches as proto-feminist rebels against social oppression, continues to hold an authoritative position within the contemporary pagan witchcraft movement.
The author is a Boston University law professor, and he well summarizes the FIrst Amendment law cases that made it possible, for example, for an avowed Satanist to give the invocation before a city council meeting in upstate New York. And he goes riding around Circle Sanctuary in an “side by side” ATV with Selena Fox.
But Professor Jax Wexler is the kind who expects the class to laugh at his jokes, and he spends a little too much time telling which Supreme Court justices he despises and how getting drunk is the only way to cope after spending time with people from Greece, New York (it’s a suburb of Rochester).
What struck me the most was that to Wexler we Pagans — and the Satanists and all the minority religions — are just “useful idiots.”A “useful idiot” is a person [or group] perceived as propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause’s goals, and who is cynically used by the cause’s leaders … Continue reading We are levers to use against “Christian hegemony,” and when that is finished with, so are we.
He is an atheist with a capital-A, and in his world, there is no Out There or In There or Over There, only human consciousness trapped in the bone box of the skiull and only this world as revealed by Science. Down the road lies the Atheist utopia, once we get rid of all these “deplorables” with their silly religions.
The first problem on any university campus finding a parking spot. I pulled in behind the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, which is part of West Texas A &M University, and all the faculty spaces were full.
There was an empty place for the president’s office. Hmmm.
Ah, there! “Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.” I reckon that by being on their campus, I am bringing types of diversity that this edu-crat never thought of.Put me in charge, and I would fire his/her ass and give all that bloated salary money as pay raises to adjunct professors in the English Department. I call the museum’s research center director, a soft-spoken archivist named Warren Stricker, and tell him that M. and I have arrived. He promises to be right down.
A campus cop drives up, but he is talking to someone else. I am unloading cartons out of the trunk, like I have a perfect right to do so. A timid squirrel sneaks up on a spilled cup of Sonic french fries. The campus cop looks at M. and me, but stays in his vehicle.
The defendant, Loy Stone, and his wife, Louise, were both alumni of West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas — now known as West Texas A & M. The university still plays up the fact that that a young Georgia O’Keefe taught there from 1916–1918. I had approached Texas State University about taking my archive of documents about the case, but Texas is so big that the university archivists (except maybe at UT in Austin) think regionally. TSU’s response was, “We’re all about south Texas. You should talk to the Panhandle Museum.”
And so I did. Warren Stricker was immediately interested.
Dimmitt, Hereford, Plainview — these locales are all right in their front yard, so to speak.
I came away with a Temporary Custody Agreement, but Stricker assured me that his committee had already talked over the donation and wanted it all — the psychic impressions, the private investigator’s reports, the correspondence, the legal depositions, the evidence tags, all of it. Hurray! I am not in the archive business, but I could not bear to just toss all of that in the trash, not after the Stones’ two daughters had saved it all for forty-plus years.
And I like the idea of seeding America’s university libraries with witchcraft materials.