Paganistan: The emergence and persistence of a contemporary Pagan community in Minnesota's Twin Cities

by Pizza, Murphy (Meredith), Ph.D., THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MILWAUKEE, 2009, 203 pages; 3363442


This thesis is a foundational ethnographic study of the contemporary Pagan community in Minnesota's Twin Cities (Minneapolis/Saint Paul), otherwise known by its members as “Paganistan”. Paganistan has a unique media-influenced genesis, history, and foundational lore that is both self-created and appropriated from Minnesota's cultural mythologies, which have given the community a distinct character and set of traditions. The formation of Paganistan nearly forty years ago as both an imagined and geographical community is documented and analyzed with a focus on what it means to be a Minnesota Pagan to members of the community. Religious practice patterns and the use of reconstruction and innovation in rituals and cosmologies are discussed in four case studies. The construction of personal and community identities for Twin Cities Pagans in the midst of ongoing dialogues about establishing community boundaries in response to a controversial gubernatorial bid is also examined. These patterns, and the consequential creation of the shared values of maintenance of diversity, reverence for place, and space for creativity and innovation are documented and analyzed in the rituals and practices of Twin Cities Pagans. The rituals demonstrate the paradoxical manner in which Pagans transmit culture to the first raised-as-Pagan generation in the Twin Cities, which includes the conscious construction of the role of eiders while simultaneously transmitting the culture to the young. As a result of Paganistan's longevity and unconventional approaches to creating overlapping networks, they have become a community easily found and accessed by newcomers looking for entry points, which is a new occurrence in Pagan communities. This thesis suggests, in light of Paganistan's not being a religious community held together by shared beliefs among members, that the community's spiritual diversity should be studied further. In particular, future research will be carried out on Minnesota Pagan spiritual experiences, healing and recovery narratives, and the documentation of second-generation Pagan experiences once they come of age.

AdviserBettina Arnold
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsReligion; Cultural anthropology
Publication Number3363442

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