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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

European interest in its pagan or pre-Christian past has grown and flourished over the past two centuries, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theorization of an ancient, polytheistic nature-based folk religion in the eighteenth century to the iconic 1973 horror film The Wicker Man and its failed 2006 remake. As popular interest has grown around this topic, so too have various groups claiming the heritage of medieval pagan Europe. These modern Pagans face the challenge of constructing a distinct identity tied to a pre-Christian past in a world where medieval pagan culture was suppressed and assimilated, creating a significant temporal gap between ancient practitioners and their more recent successors. Pagans often face this challenge by constructing identities that run counter to the modern, Christian-influenced world, revere a natural world untouched by industrial or postindustrial civilizations, and celebrate the human body. Throughout the past half century, Pagan musicians like the German band Faun and UK-based Omnia have cultivated particular identities through varied references to an idealized pagan Middle Ages. In their outputs, medievalism functions to establish an Otherness to modern society and Christianity, support an ecocentric message, and imagine a liberation of the human body from Christian oppression.

Keywords: The Wicker Man, modern Pagans, pre-Christianity, Faun, Omnia, Pagan folk

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