Three Degrees of Openness in London’s Pagan Scene
Issue: Vol 11 No. 1 (2009)
Subject Areas: Religious Studies
Mary Douglas’s proposed interconnection between the social structure and symbolic system of a group is confirmed for the Pagan scene in London, as it can be described as structured around open, semi-open, and closed groups, each of which presents a distinct type of symbolic system and all of which are functionally connected in different ways. The social characteristics of a group influence the kind of symbolic interaction possible for its members, and the importance of a complex, verbally expressed symbolic system increases with the social cohesion of the group. As a result, the open Pagan scene has developed a minimal symbolic system (“generic Paganism”) and provides special ways of interaction for large groups of strangers. While the three types of Pagan events on the one hand complement each other in terms of the demands and offers they make, open and semi-open events also are important as recruitment and training grounds for closed groups. People from the closed scene, on the other hand, often act as a kind of clergy to those of the open scene.
Author: Maria Balfer