Sites, Texts, Contexts and Inscriptions of Meaning: Investigating Pagan Authenticities. in a Text-Based Society
Keywords:sacred sites, contemporary paganism
AbstractQuestions of texts and ‘scripture’ sit uneasily with Paganisms. Most Pagans do not have ‘sacred scriptures’ and point to different constructions of spirituality that do not privilege conventional ‘texts’. Further, popular or political perceptions that a ‘religion’ should or must have ‘sacred texts’ can become a means of denying various Paganisms—or indeed some indigenous spiritualities elsewhere—the official stamp of authenticity being ‘a religion’ in a legal or institutional sense. Yet Pagan meanings and practices are constituted with respect to written or verbal forms that may be regarded as sacred, practical, authentic or inauthentic, according to practitioners and their Paganisms. If we regard ‘text’ as that which can be ‘read’, Pagans may claim authority for practices rooted in, for instance, inscriptions of meaning in places or ‘sacred sites’ rather than in the written word. We investigate and problematise Pagan engagements with such conveyors of meaning: sacred sites, mediaeval literature and folklore, and present-day emergent verse or sung forms, which, used on either a national/international or local scale, may contribute to structuring meanings and practices. We also point to issues in the relationship of ‘text’ and ‘performance’, and re-embed analysis within the context of the hegemony of ‘text’ within social organisation, by questioning extents to which practitioners fall back on the authority of the text for legitimation of self, practice and developing context.
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