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Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community Paperback – January 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0520220867 ISBN-10: 0520220862 Edition: 0th

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Earthly Bodies is a thoroughly and ceaselessly informative exposé. This is an original, important, no-punches-held, illucidating, approachable and entertaining work for both the specialist and general public alike. The venue of summer camp gatherings has become an important expression of contemporary western paganism. The author gives us an inside view of the thrills, difficulties and conflicting nuances of these ad hoc communities and their significance toward the possible establishment of more permanent institutions."—Michael York, author of The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements

From the Back Cover

"Earthly Bodies is a thoroughly and ceaselessly informative expos. This is an original, important, no-punches-held, illucidating, approachable and entertaining work for both the specialist and general public alike. The venue of summer camp gatherings has become an important expression of contemporary western paganism. The author gives us an inside view of the thrills, difficulties and conflicting nuances of these ad hoc communities and their significance toward the possible establishment of more permanent institutions." (Michael York, author of The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520220862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520220867
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. Pike spent years attending pagan festivals around the country, and she brings to her analysis the skills of a compassionate and sympathetic ethnographer and a critical scholar of religion. Her descriptions of pagan festivals are detailed, vivid and compelling; she opens this world up to readers who may not be familiar with it--and I am certain that pagans will recognize their culture in her careful account. Pike takes readers deep into the heart of pagan festivals, showing how participants create and inhabit their religious world using varied imaginative idioms, rituals, body work, and so on. Pike is also sensitive to the historical roots of this religious world, and offers helpful discussions of the traditions of alternative religions in American religious history. This is an exciting and engaging book, recommended for scholars and general readers, for anyone who wants to learn something about this important religious culture in the US beyond the distortions and hysteria with which it is too often treated.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Ellwood VINE VOICE on May 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first academic ethnography on magic that has actually been objective in it's portrayal of Paganism. In other words, the author doesn't get caught up in letting her experiences overshadow the importance of actually describing and observing the pagan culture (unlike Magliocco and Greenwood).

Her assessment of pagan culture is fairly balanced. She notes both the positive and negatives aspects of the culture and does so in a positive manner, avoiding any hint of cennsure or judgement. She's simply presenting the facts. Granted this doesn't mean there isn't some subjectivity on her part. Obviously she chose the pagan community because there was a gap in research there and she wants to get tenure, but even with that bias she does a credible job of presenting the pagan community and specifically the festival environment.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Very well researched.

I actually picked this book up at Borders while I was perusing the "New Age/Pagan" book section for new titles and noticed that a picture of a friend of mine was in it! So I bought it.. later I found some good information regarding transformational festivals that some friends of mine organize (Lumensgate).

The author respectifully presented the material and provided pretty good insight into the current Pagan movement in all of its diversity.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
At the time this book was published in 2001, Sarah M. Pike was Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at CSU Chico. She has also written New Age and Neopagan Religions in America (Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series).

She wrote in the Preface to this book, "This is a study of a new religious movement defining and creating itself in the second half of the twentieth century. It is about the festivals that Neopagans hold to celebrate their communities and to experiment with personal religious identities... In this work I explore the ways in which festival space both expresses and shapes the religious yearnings of participants who are searching for spiritual intensity and utopian community."

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"Some Pagans also claim Spiritualism as part of their ritual lineage to legitimate their own medium-like practices." (Pg. 15)
"'Pagan Standard Time' takes over at festivals, indicating that events will take place eventually, but often not at the hour when they are scheduled." (Pg. 26)
"For most Neopagans, death is not the end of life but the beginning of another life in the cycle of reincarnation." (Pg. 60-62)
"Around the campfire others agreed that their festival friends are more of a family than the blood relatives with whom they cannot share their Neo-pagan identities." (Pg. 83)
"Neopagans ... are often polytheists. The Neopagan world is inclusive of many spirits, ancestors, and gods and goddesses who live side by side." (Pg.
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