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By knot of one, the spell’s begun: Finding the Wiccan Path. An investigation of conversion practices within the Wicca community.

Straton, Irina (2020) By knot of one, the spell’s begun: Finding the Wiccan Path. An investigation of conversion practices within the Wicca community. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis offers a sociological interpretation of the change in religious beliefs among members of the Pagan branch called Wicca, arguing that the process of joining Wicca is characterised by a process of religious conversion as well as a process of religious affiliation. This distinction involves a challenge to the analysis of Wiccans as to be found in much contemporary literature. Through the analysis of Adler’s (1979) “coming-home experience”, I suggest that it is possible to analyse neophytes as either converts or affiliates. The thesis argues that the two distinctive groups, Traditional Wiccans and Solitary Wiccans, need to be analysed separately. One main reason for this is that the coming-home experience is founded on too generalised assumptions which undermine the multifaceted ways of becoming a Wiccan. Secondly, conversion and affiliation, although mostly used interchangeably, are different processes because they presuppose a different level of engagement. Using this analogy, I argue that analysed separately Traditional Wiccans show characteristics of a conversion process, whereas Solitary Wiccans show characteristics of an affiliation process. Finally, through this distinction, my aim is to show that there is a more productive way of analysing and looking at members of the Wiccan community. By offering a new perspective on the ways in which individuals join Wicca, this thesis enriches not only the on-going debate supported by contemporary Paganism scholars whether a process of religious conversion is present or not in Wiccan members, but also the more general aspects of secularisation, desacralisation and the re-enchantment of the world, and the implication of religiosity and spirituality in postmodern communities of practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Irina Straton
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2020 09:04
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2020 09:04
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28492

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