Should researchers of spirituality and religion be distantly "objective," or engaged and active participants? The traditional paradigm of 'methodological agnosticism' is increasingly challenged as researchers emphasize the benefits of direct participation for understanding beliefs and practices. Should academic researchers "go native," participating as "insiders" in engagements with the "supernatural," experiencing altered states of of consciousness? How do academics negotiate the fluid boundaries between worlds and meanings which may change their own beliefs? Should their own experiences be part of academic reports? Researching Paganisms presents reflective and engaging accounts of issues in the academic study of religion confronted by anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, historians and religious studies scholars-as researchers and as humans-as they study contemporary Pagan religions. The insights that contributors gain, with resultant changes to their own lives, will fascinate not only other scholars of Pagan religions, but scholars of any religion and indeed anyone who grapples with issues of reflexive research.
Jenny Blain is Senior Lecturer, School of Social Science and Law, Sheffield Hallam University, UK. Douglas Ezzy is Senior Lecturer, Sociology, University of Tasmania, Australia. Graham Harvey is Lecturer in Religious Studies, Open University, UK.
1 Preface 2 Introduction 3 Part I: Performance and Reflexivity 4 Bardism and the Performance of Paganism: Implications for the Performance of Research 5 Methods of compassion or pretension? The challenges of conducting fieldwork in modern magical communities 6 The Deosil Dance 7 Part II: Challenging Objectivity, Theorising Subjectivity 8 Psychology of religion and the study of Paganism 9 Drugs, Books, and Witches 10 Gleanings From the Field: Leftover Tales of Grief and Desire 11 Religious Ethnography: Practising the Witch's Craft 12 Part III: Embodying Relationships, Community and History 13 At the Water's Edge: An Ecologically-Inspired Methodology 14 Thealogies in Process: Re-searching and Theorising: Spiritualities, Identity and Goddess-talk 15 Living with Witchcraft 16 Part IV: Re-locating the Researcher 17 Between the Worlds: Autoarchaeology and neo-Shamans 18 Tracing the in/authentic seeress: from seid-magic to stone circles 19 Pagan Studies or the Study of Paganisms? A case study in the Study of Religions 20 Index 21 About the contributors