Crafting Contemporary Pagan Identities in a Catholic Society: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Crafting Contemporary Pagan Identities in a Catholic Society

1st Edition

By Kathryn Rountree


206 pages

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Hardback: 9780754669739
pub: 2010-01-28
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Contemporary western Paganism is now a global religious phenomenon with Pagans in many parts of the world sharing much in common - from a nature-revering worldview and lifestyle to a host of chants, invocations, ritual tools and magical practices. But there are also locally-specific differences. Local religious contexts, landscapes, histories, traditions, politics, values and norms all impact on local Paganisms. This is nowhere more evident than in a strongly Catholic society, where religion and culture are deeply entwined. Taking the Mediterranean society of Malta as a case study, this book invites readers inside the world of a small, hidden sub-culture. Showing what it is like being Pagan in a society where the vast majority of the population is Roman Catholic, and Catholicism permeates every sphere of public and domestic, social and political life, Rountree reveals that Paganism here is a unique brew of indigenous and global influences. Pagans employ both creativity and borrowing in constructing identities within a cultural context characterized by antagonism as well as continuity. This book explores the intersections of religious and cultural identity, the global and local, Paganism and Christianity, with insights grounded in rich ethnographic detail based on long-term fieldwork. Rountree makes invaluable comparisons with other studies of modern Pagans and their various worlds.


'The book gives a clear and vivid account of the activities of the Pagans who were central to the author’s research, describing their rituals, their views, and their backgrounds. … an intriguing account and leaves one with a desire to know more about these young people living a secret life and their participation in the very different society in which they have been brought up.' Journal of Contemporary Religion '… well-written, original, intelligent, and a very valuable contribution to the empirical literature on modern Paganism. It is highly recommended.' Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review '…this book is not just about how contemporary pagan identities are crafted in Malta. Keeping the long, historical relationship between Christianity and Europe in mind, the major contribution of Rountree's work is that it takes us a step further towards the reconsideration of this closely knit relationship; it helps us reconceptualise (what is meant by) religion and spirituality, Christianity and paganism, Neopaganism and 'New Age', materiality, embodiment and the spiritual; it shows that religious boundaries are not so difficult to dissolve, while emphasising on the creativity and fluidity with which religious identities are crafted in the contemporary, globalised world.' Culture and Religion 'I have never visited Malta but after having read this book it feels as if I know the place… . I recommend this book to anyone interested in contemporary Malta and to scholars of Neo-Paganism who are interested in local varieties of this religion.' Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 'This book is well-written, original, intelligent, and a very valuable contribution to the empirical literature on modern Paganism. It is highly recommended.' Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review 'Rountree's careful and detailed study of this small number of Pagans illuminates a number of important issues. The first is about the construction of identity in a monochrome spirit

About the Author

Kathryn Rountree is Professor of Social Anthropology at the School of Social and Cultural Studies, Massey University, New Zealand

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General