The Ethics of Pagan Ritual


  • Douglas Ezzy School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania





Pagan rituals structure the way that Pagans relate to each other and the other-than-human world. I argue that this means that Pagan ethics is predominantly relational ethics. The relational experiences provided by ritual shape the ethical practices of Pagans. I provide a detailed example of one teenager who used ritual to change the way she felt about herself and her life. These changed feelings are often associated with ethical changes because they shape the way people act. Similarly, other Pagans use ritual to change the way they relate to the other-than-human world. I discuss the seasonal rituals of Paganism and how they relate to the sense of ethical obligation that Pagans have towards nature. Finally, the article considers a Pagan ritual recreation of the myth of Persephone’s descent into the Underworld, and the issue of the terror and beauty of nature in a time of climate change. Pagan ritual and symbols provide resources that can generate an ethics of hope and courage.

Author Biography

Douglas Ezzy, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania

Douglas Ezzy is a professor of sociology at the University of Tasmania. He was president of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (2015–2016) and is editor of the Journal for the Academic Study of Religion. His research is driven by a fascination with how people make meaningful and dignified lives. His books include Sex, Death and Witchcraft (2014), Teenage Witches (2007, with Helen Berger), and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christians (2018, with Bronwyn Fielder).


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How to Cite

Ezzy, D. (2019). The Ethics of Pagan Ritual. Pomegranate, 21(1), 76–99.




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