Deepening Conversations between Ritual Studies and Pagan Studies

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Equinox Publishing Ltd


Imagine a room with a desk and bookshelves. On the shelves are books by Mircea Eliade, Starhawk, Catherine Bell, Victor Turner, Robert Graves, Margot Adler, and maybe a few Tarot and oracle decks. The desk supports a messy stack of papers, a drained eco-friendly reusable Starbucks mug, and a printed manuscript with notes. This is a typical home office of a contemporary Pagan practitioner, whose career may vary from education, software engineering, to a government agency or social services, and so on. The short of the matter is that many scholarly books on ritual theory are integrated into the library collections and knowledge set of Pagan practitioners (part of the canon if you will). Important works in ritual studies are warmly incorporated into a modern religious community’s sense of identity and their understanding of the history and practice of religion. In this article, author lifts up the natural, existing connections between Pagan studies and ritual studies and argues that Pagan studies scholars can and ought to deepen the conversations by drawing on other methodologies from ritual studies and sharing their discoveries with the field of ritual theory. Author accomplishes this with a broad overview of Pagan studies and ritual theory, with especial reference to rites of passage, and a sample analysis using liturgical theology of a coming of age ritual for an adolescent male from Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions.