|Steilneset Witchcraft Memorial, Vardø, Finnmark, Norway|
Contemporary Pagan Studies Unit
Pagan Intersections with Social and Cultural Systems. These papers investigate the ways in which Pagan belief and practices intersect with wider aspects of culture and experience and the ways in which Pagans themselves interact with services and institutions. Topics include the impacts of being Pagan on health and wellbeing and the ability to see appropriate care and diagnosis, the impacts of Pagan leadership in environmental activism, and how a pilgrimage site is used for educational purposes.
« Kimberly Kirner – Seeking Healing and Support: Mental and Physical Health Challenges in Pagan Communities. Pagans are known for high rate of small-group and solitary practice, often facilitated at people’s homes or public spaces such as national forests and parks. How does this impact how Pagans with mental and physical health challenges experience their communities? How does Pagan community color their experience of support in seeking care and treatment for their health challenges? The 2012 Pagan Health Survey asked United States Pagans about their beliefs, practices, and experiences in healing (N+1811). 76% of respondents reported a period in their lives of significant mental distress or disorder (with 54% having experienced depression, 60% anxiety or panic, and 29% PTSD); 49% of respondents reported a chronic physical illness. This paper explores how Pagans with such health challenges experience their religious community, including both support and discrimination, as well as how multiple stigmas (religious minority combined with frequently stigmatized health challenges) impacts Pagans’ well-being.
« Garrett Sadler – Seeking Healing and Support: Mental and Physical Health Challenges in Pagan Communities.
« Jeffrey Albaugh – A Phenomenological Exploration of Theophany and Metanoia in Contemporary Paganisms. This descriptive phenomenological inquiry explores invariant structures of meaning in the lived experiences of theophany and metanoia in individuals identifying as Contemporary Pagans in the United States. Methods of inquiry included open-ended questions to collect descriptions of numinous experiences. Analysis utilizes the descriptive phenomenological method developed by Amedeo P. Giorgi, and compares the resulting invariant meanings with the current research on Contemporary Pagan belief and practice. Analysis resulted in a predictable map of the psychic experience of encountering the numinous that mirrors the four basic tropes of archetypal psychology, personifying, of imagining things; pathologizing, or falling apart; psychologizing, or seeing through; and dehumanizing, or soul making.
|Chair at Night|
« Jone Salomonsen and Sarah M Pike – Presence and Absence at the Steilneset Witchcraft Memorial. Where do we find memorials to commemorate early modern witch hunts as a crime, and to more the many thousands who were tortured and killed as heretics in Europe (and North America)? How does a state incorporate its crime against those deemed and burned as devilish others into its memorial landscape? According to contemporary memory studies, the time of the monument is passé. Rather than embodying memory, the monument tends to displace it altogether, supplanting a community’s possible memory work with its own material form. The alternative to “monument” is the “memorial,” which is defined as a counter-monument, a built structure in which the artist has attempted a performative piece that may initiate a dynamic relationship between artist, work and viewer. A memorial, therefore, is an egalitarian conception that attempts not only to commemorate the historical impulse that led to the abuse, the kill, the event “itself,” but to facilitate an enactment in which the hierarchical relationships between the object and its audience is breaking down. The enactment in which the hierarchical relationship between the object and its audience is breaking down. The paper will present and discuss the one case in which a local municipality recognized its obligation to remember the early modern witch burnings in its own town and who called on world-renowned artists to design a worthy site. Steineset Witchcraft Memorial in Vardø, Finnmark, in northern Norway, is also a unique sample of an embodiment of the conceptual intent of a ‘memorial.’ The actual memorial is a 2011 co-production by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and the French-American installation artists Louise Bourgeois to commemorate 77 women and 14 men who were burned at the stake between 1620 and 1692 in this sparsely populated county (of 3000 inhabitants at the time in Northern Norway.
I was amazed, pleasantly so, to learn of this spectacular memorial installation in Norway, of all places. Who knew there were Witch burnings in Norway? I didn’t. From the various photos online, it appears that the visitor could be drawn in to the experience of events. I think you can tell a lot from the photos included here.
|The Long Walk to the Fire|
|Long Walk to the Fire Chair|
In service to Coventina,
National Interfaith Representative