On the Pagan Parallax: A Sociocultural Exploration of the Tension between Eclecticism and Traditionalism as Observed among Dutch Wiccans


  • Léon van Gulik Radboud University Nijmegen




Contemporary Paganism, Invention of Tradition, Individualism, Motivation, Beliefs


Post-modern nature religions face the challenge of justifying their practices and theology since there is no unbroken line between the classic and contemporary Paganisms of the Western world. Against the background of progressing historical knowledge, these religions constantly have to reinvent or reconstruct their traditions. At the same time, the present context is entirely different to that of when the classic Paganisms emerged. By discussing their roots in romanticism and expressivism, both the relevancy of the revived nature religions and the challenges they face, are explained. These issues are illustrated by drawing on initial results of content analyses of on-line discussions between Dutch Pagans, yielding imaginative narratives of self-justification and self-identification amidst a continuous tension between traditionalism and eclecticism. Contemporary Paganism as a movement is argued to counterbalance sociohistorical developments by its changing acts of sanctioning, its aim to remain the maverick, and its constant strive for experiential receptivity.

Author Biography

Léon van Gulik, Radboud University Nijmegen

Léon van Gulik is a lecturer in psychology at the Department of Social and Cultural Psychology, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His scholarly interests range from mysticism, ritual, cultural and ecological psychology, creativity, contemporary Paganism, magical thinking, to cultural transmission and spatial aesthetics.


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How to Cite

van Gulik, L. (2011). On the Pagan Parallax: A Sociocultural Exploration of the Tension between Eclecticism and Traditionalism as Observed among Dutch Wiccans. Pomegranate, 12(1), 49–70. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.v12i1.49