Paganism: A Very Short Introduction
'Paganism' is an evocative word that, even today, conjures up deep-seated emotions and prejudices. Until recently, it was primarily a derogatory term used by Christians to describe the non-Christian cultures confronted and vanquished by their Churches. For some it evokes images of sacrifice and barbaric behaviour, while for others it symbolises a peace-loving, nature-worshipping spiritual relationship with the earth. This Very Short Introduction explores the meaning of paganism - through a chronological overview of the attitudes towards its practices and beliefs - from the ancient world through to the present day. Owen Davies largely looks at paganism through the eyes of the Christian world, and how, over the centuries, notions and representations of its nature were shaped by religious conflict, power struggles, colonialism, and scholarship. Despite the expansion of Christianity and Islam, Pagan cultures continue to exist around the world, whilst in the West new formations of paganism constitute one of the fastest-growing religions. Focussing on paganism in Europe, but exploring the nature of paganism globally, Davies looks at how Europeans discovered new cultures through colonial expansion, missionary work, and anthropological study. Contemporary social paganism can be a liberating and social force, and the idea of a global Pagan theology is now on the religious map. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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List of illustrations
Chapter 1The ancient world
Chapter 2Paganism in retreat
Chapter 3Gods in the North
Chapter 4Pagans across the oceans
Chapter 5Embracing the pagan past
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19th century Africa American amongst ancient ancient Egypt animals archaeological Archaeology Aryan baptized blót Britain burial Catholic Catholicism Christian chronicler Church classical communities contemporary conversion cultural customs dedicated deities described divine druids early Christian Egyptian England Europe European evidence example excavations faith Folklore folklorists Frankish Freyja German global goddess gods Greco-Roman Greek Hellenic historian History human sacrifice idols indigenous religions influence inspired interpreted Islam John Journal King Late Antiquity Lithuanian London magic Martin Carver medieval Mediterranean Michael missionaries Mithras Modern Paganism monotheism myth neo-paganism Neoplatonism non-Christian Norse mythology northern notion numerous Olaus Magnus Oxford pagan pagan religions pagan worship past philosophy Polabian Slavs political polytheism pre-Christian religion prehistoric priest Renaissance rites ritual Roman Empire Rome Romuva Ronald Hutton runes Saami sacred groves sacrificed Saxon Scandinavia Serbian Shamanism Short Introduction Slavic Society sources spiritual stone survivals temple theory traditions tree tribes veneration Viking Visigoth Western Wicca witchcraft