Sacred Polarities? Exploring the Use of Gendered Language in Three Generations of Contemporary Paganism - From 1954 to 2017

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för litteratur, idéhistoria och religion

Abstract: This thesis is a preparatory study for future research, and explores the use of gendered language within pagan witchcraft movements between the years 1954-2017, with the purpose of establishing if, and how, the understanding of gender, and the use of gendered language have undergone any changes over time, to accommodate for the changes in the gender discourse of Western society overall. Specific focus is placed on the accommodation of transgender and gender non-conforming identities.The material is made up of written texts paired with qualitative interviews, which have been examined using critical discourse analysis as method, together with Judith Butler’s theories of sex and gender as social constructs.Key findings are that the understandings of gender have in the majority of the cases shifted from an essentialist, binary model based on heterosexual attraction, to a non-essentialist, multifaceted model based on individual self-identification, and that the language used has changed as part of this process. Additional findings suggest that changes in political and social discourses in Western society have affected the gender discourse within the pagan milieu, but that further research on the topic overall is necessary to fully establish the state of gender discourse within contemporary paganism.

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