The Ethics of Pagan Ritual
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.
Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the banality of evil. New York: Penguin, 1964.
Bado-Fralick, Nikki. Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.v8i2.249
Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernity and the Holocaust. Oxford: Polity Press, 1989.
Berger, Helen, and Douglas Ezzy. Teenage Witches, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2007.
Bergum, Vangie, and John Dossetor. Relational Ethics: The Full Meaning of Respect. Hagerstown, Md.: University Publishing Group, 2005.
Brett, Julie. “A Year of Two Life Cycles.” Druids Down Under. http://www.druidsdownunder.blogspot.com.au
Brown, Bob. Optimism. Sydney: Hardie Grant Books, 2014.
Connolly, William. Pluralism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.
Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1988.
Davy, Barbara. “An Other Face of Ethics in Levinas.” Ethics and the Environment 12, no. 1 (2007): 39–65. https://doi.org/10.2979/ete.2007.12.1.39
——. “Being at Home in Nature: A Levinasian Approach to Pagan Environmental Ethics.”The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies 7, no. 2 (2005): 157–72. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.2005.7.2.157
Ezzy, Douglas. “Geographical Ontology: Levinas, Sacred Landscapes and Cities.” The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies 6, no. 1 2004): 19–33. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.126.96.36.199685
——. Sex, Death, and Witchcraft. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.
——. “Religion, Aesthetics and Moral Ontology.” Journal of Sociology 52, no. 2 (2016): 266–79.
Greenwood, Susan. Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld, Oxford: Berg, 2000.
Grimes, Ronald. Deeply into the Bone: Re-inventing Rites of Passage. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
Harris, Adrian. “Time and Place: Seasonal Thoughts.” Bodymind Place. http://www.adrianharris.org/blog/2011/12/time-and-place-seasonal-thoughts/
Harvey, Graham. Animism: Respecting the Living World. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.
——. Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding Religion as Everyday Life Durham: Acumen, 2013.
Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Johnson, Nathan, and Robert Wallis. Galdrbok: Practical Heathen Runecraft, Shamanism and Magic. London: Wykeham Press, 2000.
Jordan, Robert. The Eye of the World: Book One of The Wheel of Time. New York: Macmillan, 1990.
Kellehear, Allan. A Social History of Dying. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Lefkowitz, Mary. Greek Gods, Human Lives. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.
Levinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity. Translated by A. Lingis. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1979.
Lewis, James. “The Pagan Explosion.” In New Generation Witches, edited by Hannah Johnston and Peg Aloi, 13–23. Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2007.
McGuire, Meredith. Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Orsi, Robert A. Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. https://doi.org/10.1080/15228967.2012.673388
Pike, Sarah. Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. https://doi.org/10.1086/343188
Restall Orr, Emma. Living with Honour: A Pagan Ethics, Winchester: O Books, 2007.
Ruti, Mari. Reinventing the Soul. New York: Other Press, 2006.
Salomonsen, Jone. Enchanted Feminism: The Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco. London: Routledge, 2002. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203249451
Seligman, Adam, Robert Weller, Michael Puett, and Bennett Simon. Ritual and Its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11841-009-0119-2
Snook, Jennifer. American Heathens: The Politics of Identity in a Pagan Religious Movement. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.33926
Starhawk. Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising. New York: New Society, 2002.
Taylor, Charles. The Ethics of Authenticity. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991.
Vásquez, Manuel A. More than Belief: A Materialist Theory of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-0922.2012.01618_9.x
York, Michael. Pagan Ethics: Paganism as a World Religion. Dordrecht: Springer, 2015.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.