over the Kupalo fires,
midsummer's day, 2004, Trukhaniv Island in the Dnipro river, Kyiv
Paganism is frequently cast by
Anglo-American scholars as a form of “nature religion.” Some have also
identified its political leanings as left rather than right. This
article tests these preconceptions against the evidence provided by
East European, especially Ukrainian, Paganism or “Native Faith.” The
author examines Native Faith notions of nature as land, as “blood,” and
as “tradition,” and argues that these are underpinned by a concept of
“territorialized ethnicity”—the belief that ethnic communities are
natural and biological entities rooted in specific geographical
territories. The article traces this idea to its precursors in European
and Soviet thought, and suggests that it may be more commonly found
around the world than Western theorists presume. In light of such a
different understanding of nature, the concept of “nature religion” may
need to be rethought.
of Deeper Identities: Neo-Paganism and Native Faith in Contemporary
8 (3), 2005, pp. 7-38. (First Prize Winner of Thomas
Robbins Award for Excellence in the Study of New Religions, 2005.) Click for pdf
This article examines the growth of
Neopaganism and Native Faith in post-Soviet Ukraine. It traces the
historical development of Neopagan ideas and contextualizes their
emergence within the cultic milieus of alternative religion and ethnic
nationalism. It surveys the main contemporary Ukrainian Neopagan and
Native Faith groups and movements, assessing their future growth
possibilities and comparing them with more familiar forms of Western
Neopaganism. The author argues that these Ukrainian movements have
become caught up within a set of ideas which are ideologically
right-wing and scientifically insupportable, but that this represents a
phase of development comparable to an earlier phase of Anglo-American
Neopaganism, at least in its reliance on "alternative" scholarship and
on a strong form of "identity politics." Like those Western movements,
Ukrainian Native Faith might overcome its present-day limitations, but
this will be difficult as long as the country continues to face the
economic and political struggles within which it has recently been
"The Revival of Ukrainian Native Faith," in Modern
Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives
, ed. M. F.
Strmiska (ABC-Clio, 2005).
Articles in The
of Religion and Nature
, ed. by J. Kaplan, B. R. Taylor
(ed.-in-chief), L. Hobgood-Oster, A. Ivakhiv, and M. York (2 volumes,
London: Thoemmes Continuum, 2005): "Neo-Paganism in Ukraine," "Russian
Mystical Philosophy and Nature" (with M. N. Epstein), "Slavic
Religion," and others.
"Scholarship on the Ancient Eastern Slavs: A Bibliographic
Overview." Ethnic Forum (Journal of Ethnic Studies and Ethnic
Bibliography) 15:1/2, pp. 162-175. Kent State University, Ohio.
- This article summarizes and evaluates the major ethnographic,
archaeological, historical and other scholarly sources on the ancient
Eastern Slavs, their cosmology, mythology and religious practices. I
assess some of the controversies in
scholarship on the ancient Indo-Europeans and the ethnogenesis of the
Slavs, Marija Gimbutas's work on the matricentric "Old European"
civilization, and the problems of reconstructing
an ancient worldview from its remnants preserved in the Christian-pagan
"double-faith" of the nineteenth and early
"The Cosmos of the Ancient Slavs." Gnosis 31 (Spring 1994), pp.
- A popular presentation of the archaic Slavic cosmos, its sense of
space and time, and the ways it has been re-emerging, and inspiring
cultural and religious movements, since the fall of the Soviet Union.