Saturday, June 26, 2010

Re-thinking the Re-thought

My thesis is changing quite significantly in view of the responses I have been getting in my interviews.
Originally, I was trying to come up with a system (or at least a guideline) for classifying Neo-Pagan groups. Already, scholars have tried classifying them according to the sources they use, where they live, what they believe, what they do, and what they call themselves. I was trying to explore the possibility of classifying groups by the intent of the practitioner. But I have realized that nearly every Neo-pagan has a different purpose in practicing his religion! So there goes that idea.
Then, I realized I was thinking about it in the wrong direction. Instead of going from the individual to the classification, why not go from the classification to the individual?
Now, I'm trying to distribute questionnaires and interviewing people that are already in a specific tradition such as Druidry, Heathenry, Wicca, or Goddess-Worship. I am asking the individuals what draws them to that specific tradition, so instead trying to classify already uncertain people, I am using the people to define the classifications! I think that this is quite a different attitude than has been felt before. Since paganism is so tied with personal spirituality, why wouldn't I use the individuals to further define these vague, contested labels.
I also have a faint suspicion that New Agers and Neo-Pagans are the last people that should be thrown together, which they often are. I think the attitude and intent of the practitioners are completely disparate. But I will soon find out whether they intentionally draw that line, or if it is a difference in political views to the extent that it seems like a true disparity.

Anyway, I thought you might like to hear something about my actual research for a change.

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