Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Two Calls for Papers for special editions of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies


Those with a keen interest in the academic study of modern Paganism should be very familiar with The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, the foremost (and indeed, only) peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted to the field. Always on the lookout for new submissions, The Pomegranate has recently issued a number of CfPs for special themed issues, each edited by a particular editor:

The Impact of Traditionalism on Contemporary Magical Communities

Traditionalism is a philosophical school which has significantly impacted religious communities and political movements in the twentieth and twenty first centuries, yet it remains virtually unknown among scholars and the general public.  Yet when Steve Bannon cited Réne Guénon and Julius Evola as key influences in formulating his political positions, this inspired new interest in the history and ideas informing the growing Alt Right. However, both Guénon and Evola have been known within Pagan and occult communities for decades as esoteric theorists. Overall, the tenets of Traditionalism, which include Perennialism, the cultivation of an initiated elite, the notion of cyclical time, a past golden age and anti-modern sentiments, have increasingly impacted Pagan and occult communities, as some of these ideas are complementary to Pagan and occult aesthetics, values and practices.

 This special volume of The Pomegranate would feature articles examining the ways in which Traditionalism has influenced Pagan and occult subcultures.  Topics could include:

·       Traditionalism and Pagan or esoteric publishing.

·       The intersection of Traditionalist ideas with Pagan values and ethics.

·       Neofolk music.  

·       Traditionalism and Polytheism, Reconstructionism and Heathenry.

·       Pagan and occult themes in Traditionalist theory.

·       The impact of Traditionalist debates in various orders, such as the O.T.O.

·       The impact of Traditionalism on historic individuals relevant to Paganism, for example W.B. Yeats or Kathleen Raine.

Please note that while papers may reflect the impact of Traditionalism on the Alt Right or New Right in relationship to these topics, that we would like to ensure that we focus on relevant philosophies and frameworks explicitly inspired by Traditionalism.

 If you would like to contribute to this issue of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies edited by Amy Hale, please submit an abstract of 300-500 words to amyhale93@gmail.com by April 1, 2019.  Final Submissions of 5000-8000 words will be due August 1, 2019.

Digital Pagan and Occult Practice

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to Pagan and/or Occult intersections with mobile technologies, game design, programming, hacking, social bots, trolls, sock puppets; spellcasting in OSNs (on-line social networks); on-line covens; software as spell crafting; virtual familiars, fetches, and spirit homes; blogging and Craft community ; digital spaces and virtual collectives of marginalized witches; young Millennial and GenZ Pagans in on-line spaces; Pagan generational gaps and the ‘digital divide’; digital chaos magick, both historic and contemporary; ritual magick in virtual spaces or with digital tools; challenges in the ‘Nature vs. Technology’ binary.

What is the current interplay between digital technologies and Pagan and Occult practice? Many deliberately distance their Craft from new media technologies, seeing screen-based mediation as antithetical to a nature-based practice.  Yet many Millennial and GenZ Pagans and Occultists embrace these new tools. While earlier generations of Pagans used sites like Witchvox.com to find fellow practitioners, the rapid development of commerical on-line social networks, such as Facebook, present new avenues for Pagans and Occultists to pursue community.

 Digital spaces have created myriad new tools and opportunities for magickal practice, from Phantasmaphile’s WitchEmojis to the mass binding spell on President Donald Trump. Online magickal practices, tools, and actions leverage the power of vast social networks, making normally hidden and secretive acts highly public — sometimes as a side-effect, sometimes deliberately. Millennial and GenZ Pagans appear to use sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter for their practice in a radically different way from older users. But is this actually the case? And if it is, are Millennial and GenZ beliefs and practices also different? Indeed, numerous blog posts on Patheos - Pagan have consider this question, with discussions ranging from ‘validity’ to a consideration of how digital natives adopt new technologies for magical practices. But are these new trends in on-line magical practice also new religions? Do Millennial and GenZ Pagans and Occultists have a different relationship to the gods and spirits and, if so, is this because of digital technology? Is there really an on-line schism between GenZ magical practitioners and older generations, or does it just appear that way on Instagram?

But these publicly available and searchable Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr feeds are only the most forward facing manifestations of Digital Paganism. What of ‘back end’ digital magick? On-line social networks are rich with (or polluted by, depending on your perspective) social bots, trolls, and sock puppets, which are software and account behaviors used to skew the appearance of popularity and therefore algorithmic rankings. Chaos magicians used software code in their operations from the 1990s onwards, yet there has been little written about this practice since the explosion of social media technologies in the last decade. MySpace, which is arguably the first widely adopted social media platform, come out in 2006; the first iPhone in 2007; the incredibly rapid development and adoption of these information technologies is astounding. It seems obvious that Pagan programmers would adopt these new technologies towards their practices, but where are they? What are they doing, and why has this become so hidden, even as so-called “aesthetic witchcraft” has become so popular? There are certainly Pagans and Occultists building divination and astrology apps, but are they also discrete apps as spells? Or are their spells entirely backend? How do digital technologies (including OSNs, video games, mobile apps, AR, and VR, and other forms) present new ways for Pagans and Occultists to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Be Silent? What are the roles of gender, race, age, class, and global location in the adoption and manipulation of digital media technologies for the pursuit of Hidden Knowledge? 

And if there is a generational schism growing between GenZ and older generations of magickal practitioners, what might this mean for the future of Paganism in an increasingly networked and connected global society?

If you are interested in contributing to this special issue of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies Please, email an abstract (200 – 400 words) to Heather D. Freeman (heatherfreeman@uncc.edu). Heather D. Freeman is Professor of Art – Digital Media at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Director/Producer of the feature documentary Familiar Shapes: The Story of Social Bots, Early Modern Witches, and How Information Technologies Reveal Them.

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