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A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society) Hardcover – January, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Comparative Studies in Religion and Society
  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press; First Edition edition (January 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570032467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570032462
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,541,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Berger (sociology, West Chester Univ.) has spent ten years doing participant-observation research among several inclusive groups (those that include both men and women) of witchcraft and neopagan practitioners in the Northeastern United States. Her fascinating study explores the beliefs and rituals of contemporary neopagans while examining the dynamics of change in this modern religious tradition as many of its early adherents reach middle age. Tracing the development of neopaganism in the United States over the last 30 years, Berger identifies both the wide diversity among witchcraft practitioners and the ideas that most of them share?reverence for nature, a feminist orientation, and a sense of community based on common beliefs. Clear and thorough references and an extensive bibliography round out this well-structured, scholarly work. Valuable for academic collections on new religious movements.?Elizabeth Anne Salt, Courtright Memorial Lib., Westerville, OH
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

In the course of her conversion, Curott spent many hours reading about goddess religion in early cultures. In this way, Wiccans reject modernity, which is resolutely patriarchal, for something that is not so much postmodern as pre-postmodern or late modern. Like many postmodern theorists, they are comfortable with multiple realities. Intuition is as valid as rational argument; science works, but so does magic. -- The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Mary Lefkowitz

Customer Reviews

"Festivals are the most visible way that Neo-Pagans build a community."
Steven H Propp
Not a bad work, and certainly valuable and written in acessible langauge, but the scope of the investigation was too narrow to have much external validity.
Alpha
Certainly it isn't going to tell anyone much about actually _practicing_ the religion, so don't plan on reading it for that purpose.
Yet Another Semi-Anonymous Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Logan Bauer on October 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A Community of Witches helped me to see how Witchcraft/Neo-Paganism/etc. has evolved and is growing through the eyes of a researcher - one who has not completely become a part the religion, yet has experienced it and watched people grow from the inside. I really enjoyed Helen's observations and connections to the concerns of parents bringing children into Wicca, and pointing out the ideas of a fluid community based on common interests. This book helped me to realize some of the many elements that are changing within this growing religion, and to think about where it fits together in my life. Thank YOU Helen for the wonderful thoughts!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
"One of the finest sociological studies of American Wicca ever published. It is unlikely to be superseded. Its author is to be commended for maintaining a high degree of theoretical sophistication while remaining accessible to the average reader." Stephen D. Glazier (University of Nebraska) in Review of Religious Research, volume 40, number 4 (June 1999), p. 380.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher W. Chase on March 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Helen Berger is probably one of the leading investigators in trying to get a sense of the numbers and ideological places Pagans and Witches in the U.S. are going. While her book "Voices From The Pagan Census" is designed to display mostly raw survey data with little interpretation, this work handles most of her interpretive analysis of this movement. A note of warning--although the title includes "Neo-Paganism," there is very little here not of Witchen or Wiccan tradtion. Those looking for cross-tradition discussion will be disappointed.

Her book, thankfully, is centered around questions of family and tradition continuity through children, and how the influence of multi-generational change will affect the communities at hand. Her own major influence is Anthony Giddens, who holds that "postmodern fracturing" is the logical outgrowth of modernity, rather than a new era. Likewise, the subject or self has in no way evaporated, but rather remains symbolically negotiated and mediated between public and private experiences. As globalization lifts and floats institutions above their historically grounded practices and origins, so Wicca, as a religion of its time, asserts a similar possible universality, and this accounts for the way it draws both on individual experience and large, competing traditions of formerly indigenous knowledge as valid ways of practice.

Offering a background in census numbers, the concept of magic, Gerald Gardner, and other common Witchcraft parameters, Berger first focuses on the concept of the "magical self," a Promethean space attuned to the mysticism both of specific theurgical rituals and the mysticism of everyday life.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Vincent M. Silenzio on January 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Though this may be a scholarly work on Wicca, the average reader will be pleasantly surprised. Ms. Berger's prose is accessible, and her view of Wicca and neopaganism is balanced. As a physician and ethnographer interested in biomedical and alternative healing traditions, I found Berger's work fascinating and enlightening.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Maria on April 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book if you are interested in how Wicca is growing in the U.S. and the concerns of modern day wiccans. The first chapter is a quick summary of wiccan beliefs and sabbats, etc. But the rest of the book really has nothing to say about wiccan beliefs. The rest of the book deals with covens, community, and how Wicca is a postmodern religion. Overall, its a good book if you're interested in the theology of Wicca, otherwise (especially if you're looking for a book to use for practicing and learning wicca) it needs a lot more.
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