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CSU Fresno Paganism Question


I have to write a 5 page observation on what I’ve seen during a pagan ritual. I have the notes and interview script, I just need someone to write it in 5 pages.

Interview notes:

1) When do you celebrate each of the 8 solar holidays?
2) What got you into this religion?
3) What are some positives about the religion you’re a part of?
1) The holiday dates of the Solstices & Equinoxes wobble between a range of dates each year, due to calendars not exactly matching the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, and we usually celebrate on the nearest Sunday, because it’s the only day we all have off, usually. Dates: Winter Solstice: Dec 20-23, Mid Winter: Feb 1, Spring Equinox: March 19-22, Mid Spring: May 1, Summer Solstice: June 19-23, Mid Summer: Aug 1, Autumnal Equinox: Sept 21-24, Mid Autumn: Nov 1.

2) Got into it through research into an alternative to the Christianity I was raised with, when I found that Atheism and Buddhism left too many questions for me, “love and light” religions seemed to deny reality, and outright darker religions left me miserable. It was a middle way, that rooted itself in the symbolism and a connection with nature, which felt comforting to me.

For my individual path, different from the rest of my coven, I am a devotee of Dionysus, because he has the most relevance to my life, what I need in my life, and where I desire the most growth within myself.

3) There is no “right way” to practice, technically. The point is self growth, a seeking of harmony with Nature, both the harmful and beneficial, an understanding that “good” and “bad” are not absolutes, but rather perspectives, leading to a search for prioritizing balance between individuals and contrasting concepts/perspectives.

“What is good for the Wolf, is not necessarily good for the Deer.”

Also, ideas/concepts are often personified and interacted with as individuals, often called “Spirits”. I take it literally, though other pagans take it metaphorically, but the result is the same: aiding memorization and the altering of one’s own thoughts/feelings/behaviors by changing your relationship with these internal Spirits. Some call this “High Magick”.

I personally believe that certain external Spirits can also affect probability and “coincidence” (I personally don’t believe in coincidence). Some call this “Low Magick”.

If you’re part of a coven, as I am, there is also the mutual sharing/teaching of ideas, and mutual support.


– Meetups on Sundays for group workings, to celebrate the 8 Solar Holidays, once month go over bylaws and member roles, and once a year, celebrate the group anniversary.
– The 8 Solar Holidays are the Winter Solstice (New Solar Year), Mid Winter (Last Frost), Spring Equinox (Time of Renewal, Thinning of the Veil of the Fae), Mid Spring (Time of Fertility), Summer Solstice (Time of Fire), Mid Summer (First Harvest), Autumnal Equinox (Second Harvest), Mid Autumn (Third Harvest, Thinning of the Veil of the Dead), and back again, the year visualized as turning like a wheel.
– Birthdays are celebrated, as a group, on the closest Solar Holiday to them.
– Make and dissolve provisional group holidays as necessary.
– Meetups are for discussion, sharing, mutual aid with, & teaching of beliefs, knowledge, crafts, and arts relating to psycho-spirituality, since we believe that psychology & spirituality are intermeshed, & different aspects of the same phenomena.
– Communicate over distance, when physical meetups aren’t possible.
– Engage in group rituals for what we intend to achieve as a group, and to help each other with individual goals.
– Trade and share, goods and services with each other, to help each other grow and move forward, because individual growth and achievement is part of group growth and achievement.
– Each of us share general beliefs and practices, but have many differing individual beliefs and approaches outside of that, which is a draw of modern paganism to each of us, we can work together, without all having to be the same.


OBSERVATION PAPER (5 PAGES REQUIRED) plus Abstract & Reference Page (150 pts), plus Abstract (25 pts.), plus Typed Interview Notes (25 pts.): (TOTAL OF 200 PTS.):Cultural anthropologists use a method known as participant-observation to collect data about cultural topics, including religion. You will be stressing the “observation” element when you select, describe and analyze a religion ceremony from a religious tradition with which you are not familiar. The object of the exercise is for you to learn to be an observer, to describe in writing the event you observed, and to discuss it in a manner that allows others to comprehend how and why the ceremony plays a role for those who use it.a) Choose a religious ceremony or event, with which you are not familiar, from a religious tradition outside of your own, to go observe. If you were raised some form of Catholic or Christian, you need to pick a non-Catholic, non-Christian event, for example. Public ones that are regularly held are the easiest to gain access to, but if you have an opportunity to attend a private gathering with permission, that is fine. Check the newspaper’s “Religion” section for a schedule of events, or go through the yellow pages of the phone book under “Religious Organizations” to find an event to attend. There may be a public Pagan ritual that you can attend, should you choose to do so. In addition, if you are interested in Druidry, Heathenry/Asatru, Ceremonial Magick, or Wicca, I can ask around to see if any of the groups is hosting any public rituals. In our community, there are various forms of Buddhism, along with Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Hmong Shamanism/Animism, Bahai, Native American Spiritual Traditions, along with many different sects of Christianity (only for those not raised within any Christian or Catholic or Eastern Orthodox traditions, including Latter Day Saints [Mormon], Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Religious Science), Universal Unitarians [UU] and Scientology. If you were raised atheist, agnostic, or non-religious, still pick a non-Christian Religion since Christianity is the dominant religion in N. American Culture.After you choose the event, get some background data on the group to give the ceremony a religious and cultural context, through library research, to provide an outsider’s or etic perspective. You are required to use one library or online source for this.An outsider source is a source written by a non-member of the group who has studied that group. It can be from, or an encyclopedia of religion, or a text book on multiple religions, etc. Do NOT use the group’s own website, because that would be an insider rather than an outsider source.b) Your abstract should include a paragraph saying which religion you were raised/have practiced since, which religion you will observe, what type of service you will attend, where, when, what category (leader or follower) of insider individual you will interview, and what your outside web or library source will be. This abstract can be written in First Person. See schedule instructions for Observation Abstract due in class on Wed., 9/1/21 in class. (25 points for abstract). Note it should be single-spaced and block formatted (don’t indent). Place your two proposed sources in proper reference style on the bottom of this same page. DO NOT GO DO THE OBSERVATION YET, WAIT FOR YOUR ABSTRACT TO BE APPROVED FIRST (unless you are doing a project discussed with me that occurs the first weekend after the first class meets).c) After you receive back your approved abstract, go observe the event and take notes. Attend the event and observe what happens during it. Write down what you see in an appropriate manner; usually making notes of one or two words at a time, and immediately afterward writing up your description. If it turns out to be appropriate to talk to participants or spectators after the event, write up what they tell you. If not, ask someone if you can interview him or her later and get contact info. You will need to type up a transcript of your interview to turn in with the paper in an appendix at the end of the paper.d) Paper Introduction should include a paragraph saying explicitly what the paper will cover & the order of topic presentation: (mention that a brief background of religion chosen, description of observation, emic-interview based analysis [specifying who was interviewed/what category of participant this person is], etic-library or web-based analysis, and your reaction statement as your conclusion will be given in the paper). It should also say what you were raised or have practiced since, very briefly. These will be the sections for the paper. Use topical section headings throughout the paper to divide paper into clear sections.

e) Give a Brief Background on the Religion observed: This will be just a thumbnail sketch of the basics of this religion. It will most likely be based on your outside source. It should be about ½ a page to 1 page. f) Next, Describe the event you observed and the symbols it uses. You will convert your field-notes into a text of description so that a person not present would understand what happened by reading your account. Do not analyze the meaning of any symbols or symbolic actions here, just describe them as you observed them. This should be probably around 2 pages.g) Interview a participant about the event (with permission) to learn its significance. Write down participant’s name, place interviewed, and date interviewed. (You will need this information for your citations and reference page, where you will cite this person as a source.) This is your other required source. You will need to type up a transcript of your interview to turn in with the paper in an appendix at the end of the paper. This will deal with the meaning behind the symbols you saw and the symbolic actions that you observed. Ask the person you are interviewing what this event means to him or her, how participating in this religion helps him or her in life, and how it helps him or her in adapting to the larger society of which your interviewee is a part? If participating in this religion does not help your interviewee to adapt to society then ask how practicing this religion benefits your interviewee?h) Use your outside (Etic) source of information to analyze the ceremony you observed, explaining the outsider view on why people participate in this religion, stressing the roles played for individual and for the group as a whole. If you have ideas for further research, tell us about them. Do not comment on whether you think the functions are positive or not (i.e., saying, “I don’t think a religious group should do X” is not an appropriate element in a scientific discussion); simply describe what, on the basis of your limited exposure, you think the functions are. i) In light of your insider and outsider sources for analysis, compare & discuss any differences found between them and why you think those differences exist. If you could find information for some things only from one of the points of view or the other, then state this so.j) Last, but not least, in a section entitled “Reaction Statement”, you will discuss your own feelings as you did the assignment. Did you feel uncomfortable in the setting, did you find the doctrine inexplicable, did you find the ritual off-putting, did you feel spiritually energized, etc.? Would you like to attend another event from this religion? Would you like to learn more about it? Would you never want to attend another event from this religion? YOU ARE NOT EVALUATING THE TRUTH VALUE OF THIS RELIGION. You may, however, briefly compare relevant aspects from your religion to this one, in terms of similarity or differences.k) PAPER FORMAT & ORDER:Put the revised abstract under the cover sheet, on a separate page from the introduction. Cover, abstract and reference page are not numbered and don’t count as part of the numbered pages. Neither do the interview notes, which go in an unnumbered appendix in the back of the paper. You will type the paper (double-spaced), proof read it, and submit it in class in hard copy form on Wed. 9/29/2021. It must include the elements required above and be 5 pages, plus a cover and a reference page, or points will be docked. Turn in your typed interview notes attached to the paper in the back. (150 points for paper plus 25 points for the typed interview notes).


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