Friday, 17 January 2014

The Pomegranate Vol. 14, No. 2 and my review of Sara Hannant's “Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids" photographic exhibition

From his base in Hardscrabble Creek, Colorado, world renowned Pagan studies scholar Chas S. Clifton (whom I interviewed right here back in December 2012) has just announced that the latest volume of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies has been uploaded online, while subscribers to the printed edition should be getting their copies in the next few weeks. For those unaware of The Pomegranate and its significance, it is the world's foremost (and only) peer-reviewed academic journal devoted to the interdisciplinary field of Pagan studies. For better or worse, I've become something of a regular contributor to the journal over the past few years, it being one of the few academic outlets dedicated to the study of contemporary Paganism, one of my specialties. 

I'm still awaiting my printed copy, but just from browsing the online contents, it's clear that there are some exciting things in there; of particular interest for me are Sacha Chaitow's paper on the esoteric French novelist Joséphin Péladan (on the subject of which she has been devoting her PhD), and Léon A. van Gulik's study of oaths and secrecy within initiatory traditions of Wicca (which again appears to have emerged from his doctoral research). 

This issue also contains a piece by yours truly, in the form of a review article devoted to a photographic exhibit that was held a couple of years back in my own little corner of the world, South-East London. The Horniman Museum (a wonderful Edwardian collection of curios; if you ever get the chance, go there!) held Sara Hannant's exhibition "Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey through the English Ritual Year" from October 2011 to September 2012, prior to it going on a tour around the country. As its name suggests, the exhibit explored the concept of the English Ritual Year, although (as I note in my review) it focuses on those seasonal festivities with strong agricultural links, thus emphasising a "Merry England" image that avoids traditional, ritualised events like the Queens' Birthday, London Gay Pride Parade, or Notting Hill Carnival. Many of the images in the exhibition feature Pagans, standing as a testament to the role that the contemporary Pagan movement has played in reviving and re-interpreting older, traditional seasonal festivities in the British Isles. If you ever get the chance to the see the exhibit as it continues its tour, I would certainly recommend it !

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