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Pagan Family Values

Childhood and the Religious Imagination in Contemporary American Paganism

S. Zohreh Kermani

Publication Year: 2013

"An intriguing, important, and often entertaining look at an under-studied aspect of new religions. Highly recommended."
—Douglas E. Cowan, author of Cyberhenge: Modern Pagans on the Internet
 
For most of its history, contemporary Paganism has been a religion of converts. Yet as it enters its fifth decade, it is incorporating growing numbers of second‑generation Pagans for whom Paganism is a family tradition, not a religious worldview arrived at via a spiritual quest. In Pagan Family Values, S. Zohreh Kermaniexplores the ways in which North American Pagan families pass on their beliefs to their children, and how the effort to socialize children influences this new religious movement.
 
The first ethnographic study of the everyday lives of contemporary Pagan families, this volume brings their experiences into conversation with contemporary issues in American religion. Through formal interviews with Pagan families, participant observation at various pagan events, and data collected via online surveys, Kermani traces the ways in which Pagan parents transmit their religious values to their children. Rather than seeking to pass along specific religious beliefs, Pagan parents tend to seek to instill values, such as religious tolerance and spiritual independence, which will remain with their children throughout their lives, regardless of these children's ultimate religious identifications.
 
S. Zohreh Kermani teaches Religious Studies part time at Youngstown State University.
 
In the New and Alternative Religions series
 

Published by: NYU Press

Cover

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

An ethnographic project is entirely dependent on the goodwill and assistance of many people. I am profoundly grateful to the many Pagan families who provided me with access, information, and excellent conversation during my fieldwork. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-24

Four-year-old Oliver is at his first SpiralScouts meeting, and he is obsessed with the apple that is just out of his reach. Last night, his mother, Carolyn, told him about SpiralScouts—that it was a scouting group kind of like the Boy Scouts, but for children whose families were Pagan. ...

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1. Crafting History

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pp. 25-56

Pagans sometimes joke that if you ask three Pagans a question, you’ll get five answers. Even after half a century as an American religion, contemporary Paganism remains decentralized both in doctrine and in practice, and very little consensus exists among scholars or practitioners on more than the most fundamental aspects of the religion. ...

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2. Old Souls: Pagan Childhood

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pp. 57-69

This chapter examines Pagan perspectives on childhood and parenting and the ways that understandings of these idioms shape the religious and imaginative worlds of Pagan adults, children, and families. I suggest that contemporary Paganism maintains a complicated tension between the valorization of a sort of self-conscious, ...

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3. Parenting in Neverland

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pp. 70-88

The Council of Magickal Arts (CMA) holds a semiannual Pagan gathering on private land in central Texas. During my two years of fieldwork at this festival, I sometimes fulfilled my mandatory two hours of community service (required by CMA of all attendees at the festival) by volunteering at Fairy Mound ...

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4. Don’t Eat the Incense: Children in Ritual

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pp. 89-113

Erin’s daughter Aisling was not quite two years old when Erin began her solitary practice of Wicca. Raised in a vaguely Protestant home, Erin had been curious about other religions from an early age and had visited a number of different churches as a child, but she found these experiences unfulfilling. ...

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5. A Room Full of FireFlies

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pp. 114-152

Erin is holding what looks like a magnolia branch wrapped with ribbon, but her six-year-old daughter Aisling knows that it’s really a magic wand. Erin and Aisling use this wand to create sacred space for the rituals they have performed together since Aisling was two years old, and Erin has spent most of this chilly November afternoon telling me about these rituals. ...

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6. My Dream Come True

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pp. 153-180

Eoin laughs in a deep, full belly laugh that seems absurdly large coming from a three-month-old baby. The guests who have gathered at Erin’s home this evening for Eoin’s baby blessing ceremony find it impossible to resist tickling him and swinging him in the air, just for the reward of that unlikely sound. ...

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Conclusion: Building Fairy Houses

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pp. 181-188

At a summer solstice campout for the SpiralScouts of Silverling Circle, one of the craft activities in a very full weekend called on the scouts to make “fairy houses.” These houses were intended to provide the local fairies with shelter, but the craft needed very little explanation; ...

Appendix A: “American Pagan Families and Family Values” Online Survey

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pp. 189-192

Appendix B: “Second-Generation Pagans: Experiences and Opinions” Online Survey

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pp. 193-196

Notes

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pp. 197-218

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 219-222

Index

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pp. 223-234

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About the Author

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pp. 235-252

S. Zohreh Kermani received a PhD in American religions from Harvard University in 2010. Her research interests include the history of new and alternative religions in the United States and childhood and religion. ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780814744987
E-ISBN-10: 0814769748
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814769744
Print-ISBN-10: 0814769748

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013