Sex, Death and Witchcraft: A Contemporary Pagan Festival

Author(s): Douglas Ezzy


Faunalia is a controversial Pagan festival with a reputation for being wild and emotionally intense. It lasts five days, eighty 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.


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Explores a controversial Pagan festival Faunalia and develops a new relational theory of culture.

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

Douglas Ezzy is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Tasmania, Australia.

1. Introduction 2. Soul 3. Ritual 4. Death: The Underworld Rite 5. Shadow 6. The Baphomet Rite 7. Ethics 8. Religion 9. Conclusion

General Fields

  • : 9781472527585
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Academic
  • : May 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Douglas Ezzy
  • : Paperback
  • : 216