The Goddess and the Great Rite

Hugh B. Urban

in Magia Sexualis

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247765
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932883 | DOI:
The Goddess and the Great Rite

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This chapter examines the revival of modern magic and neo-paganism that began in England in the mid-twentieth century, focusing on Gerald Gardner, who was the most important figure in the Wiccan revival. It explains that much of Gardner's witch practice centered around the power of sex and its liberation, and that one of the most important aspects of the neo-pagan revival has been its ties, not just to sexual liberation, but also to feminism and women's liberation. The chapter argues that the role of feminism in neo-paganism has, from its origins, been profoundly am-bivalent and problematic, because while neo-paganism offered new roles of authority, power, and status for women as ritual experts, it also reinscribed women into highly stereotyped gender roles.

Keywords: modern magic; neo-paganism; Gerald Gardner; Wiccan revival; England; sex; feminism; women's liberation; gender roles

Chapter.  11860 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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