Sex, Death and Witchcraft A Contemporary Pagan Festival Synopsis
Faunalia is a controversial Pagan festival with a reputation for being wild and emotionally intense. It lasts five days, 80 people attend, and the two main rituals run most of the night. In the tantalisingly erotic Baphomet rite, participants encounter a hermaphroditic deity, enter a state of trance and dance naked around a bonfire. In the Underworld rite participants role play their own death, confronting grief and suffering. These rituals are understood as shadow work - a Jungian term that refers to practices that creatively engage repressed or hidden aspects of the self. Sex, Death and Witchcraft is a powerful application of relational theory to the study of religion and contemporary culture. It analyses Faunalia's rituals in terms of recent innovations in the sociology of religion and religious studies that focus on relational etiquette, lived religion, embodiment and performance. The sensuous and emotionally intense ritual performances at Faunalia transform both moral orientations and self-understandings. Participants develop an ethical practice that is individualistic, but also relational, and aesthetically mediated. Extensive extracts from interviews describe the rituals in participants' own words. The book combines rich and evocative description of the rituals with careful analysis of the social processes that shape people's experiences at this controversial Pagan festival.
Sex, Death and Witchcraft A Contemporary Pagan Festival Press Reviews
Douglas Ezzy offers an intriguing and rich ethnographic study of rituals that confront sex and death in a Contemporary Pagan temporary community setting. In the first in-depth study of its kind, he discusses and analyzes these important yet contentious themes in Pagan ritual in a respectful manner that provides much insight into the practitioners' mindsets. It is exciting to see a scholar of Ezzy's calibre grapple with these difficult issues. * Shawn Arthur, Assistant Professor of Asian Religions, Appalachian State University, USA * Douglas Ezzy offers us a potent brew of embodiment, performance, liminality, sexuality, myth-making, and much more. His clear analysis should inspire us to think again about ritual and religion from relational perspectives. * Graham Harvey, Reader in Religious Studies and Head of Department, The Open University, UK * Sociologist Ezzy takes readers inside the pagan subculture, showing how even short-lived festivals and gatherings exert a powerful force over practitioners. The book is an in-depth study of a controversial pagan festival in Australia, Faunalia, which ran for nine years beginning in 2000. The organizers reconstructed rituals with dark and contested pasts, particularly the erotic Baphomet rite, where participants celebrate a devil-like hermaphroditic deity by entering trance states and dancing around a bonfire naked. In the Underworld rite, participants role-play their own deaths. Ezzy's sympathetic account of these events is retold through participants' eyes rather than through his own firsthand observation, though he is a pagan and has participated in the festival. He argues that these emotionally intense rituals add soul to participants' lives, allowing them to transcend ordinary reality for a brief time and get in touch with their true selves. Ezzy finds that participants report resolutions of internal conflicts and a new sense of self-worth, even years after taking part in these rituals. Summing Up: Recommended. Upperdivision undergraduate students and above. -- R. P. Cimino, University of Richmond * CHOICE * Sociologist Douglas Ezzy takes us to Australia in his new book about a pagan festival called by the pseudonym Faunalia [...]For a few people for a little while at least, Faunalia appears to give purpose and transform consciousness; it would be interesting to know how long that purpose and transformation endure and what those individuals seek next. -- Jack David Eller * Anthropology Review Database *