Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America is a folkloric and anthropological study of the Wiccan and wider Pagan community in the United States. It was written by the American anthropologist and folklorist Sabina Magliocco of California State University, Northridge and first published in 2004 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. It was released as a part of a series of academic books titled 'Contemporary Ethnography', edited by the anthropologists Kirin Narayan of the University of Wisconsin and Paul Stoller of West Chester University.
Magliocco became interested in studying the American Pagan movement in the mid-1990s, following the culmination of her fieldwork research in a Sicilian village. From 1995 through to 1997, she began studying the Pagan community in the San Francisco Bay Area, joining a Wiccan group, the Coven Trismegiston, which was led by the high priest Don Frew and high priestess Anna Korn. Becoming involved with the faith, Magliocco noted that she no longer remained an objective outsider, but became an active participant after experiencing altered states of consciousness during several Pagan rituals. In 2002 she published her first book on the subject, Neo-pagan Sacred Art and Altars: Making Things Work, which was followed by the more general Witching Culture two years later.
Witching Culture provides an anthropological study of the Wiccan and wider Pagan community in the U.S., with a particular emphasis on the role that folklore has within the movement; in this it looks both at how Pagans have adopted pre-existing folklore and how unique Pagan folklore actually develops within the community. It deals with the influence of folkloristic on the early development of Wicca, in particular the influence of figures like Sir James Frazer, Charles Leland and Margaret Murray.
The reviews published in specialist academic journals were predominantly positive, with James R. Lewis and Jacqueline Simpson being particularly praiseworthy, although some reviewers opined that Magliocco's openly Pagan beliefs had some negative repercussions for the study.
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original title: Witching Culture
date of publication: 2004
main subject: anthropology of religion
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