Conference Publication Details
Mandatory Fields
Jenny Butler
Proceedings of the Congress Sacral Through the Eyes of the Lay and the Initiated
Expressions of the Sacred in Contemporary Pagan Culture in Ireland
Optional Fields
Neopaganism Neo-Paganism Paganism Ireland Irish Paganism Irish Neo-Paganism Irish Landscape Irish Religion Sacred Landscape Irish Sacred Sites Sacred Sites Ireland Landscape Spirituality Nature Religion
Piterskaja, E. S. and Kharitonova V. I.
Moscow, Russia
This paper draws on current research, from the perspective of an "outsider ethnographer", into neo-pagan culture in Ireland.  It deals with the traditions of Wicca, Witchcraft and Druidry, using the methodology of ethnographic interviewing and participant observation.  Two aspects of neo-pagan culture are examined in relation to sacred beliefs: (1) ritual practice at Sacred Sites and (2) the depiction of the sacred in Visionary Art. Certain places on the landscape are attributed sacred status and are thus set apart as locations for the practice of ritual. Reference is made to some of the well-known sacred sites in Ireland, including the Hill of Tara and Newgrange and prehistoric sites such as ringforts and stone circles. Consideration is given to issues such as spiritual links to "ancestors" and ancient pagan religion and how it is important, for many contemporary practitioners, to maintain spiritual links with the ancestral peoples of this country. Certain sites hold special meaning because of their associations with ancient Druids and pre-Christian religion. The indigenous early religion of Ireland is emphasised in Irish neo-pagan discourse. Examples are given of the rituals practiced at these sites in celebration of the seasonal festivals and their significance within the neo-pagan belief-system. The deep spiritual connection with landscape and nature often gives rise to creative expression and this paper draws on the work of neo-pagan artists and craftspeople to illustrate the perception and expression of the sacred in neo-pagan worldview. The two strands of analysis of sacred sites and artwork are interlinked in this analysis to portray the essence of what is sacred in neo-pagan culture.
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