published on October 30, 2015
Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective
The Case of Modern Paganism
This article explores the relationship between mainstream and orthodox historical scholarship, and the appearance and nature of the modern religion of Pagan witchcraft or Wicca. It suggests that such scholarship was directly responsible both for the appearance of Wicca and the form which it has taken, producing a complex interaction between the religion and more recent academic history-writing, by turns mutually supportive and adversarial. It also, however, examines the relationship between historians of Wicca itself and wider contemporary society, arguing that this is frequently fraught in itself, as an uninformed public hostility to Pagan witchcraft can be applied to those who study it. The result is a series of loops of reference and understanding or misunderstanding, with scholarly history, past and present, connecting all.