Heather Kyle

Heather Kyleis a Socio-Cultural Anthropologist engaged in year 9 of a 10-year study of Neo-Pagan/Pagan ethics. Her study does not concentrate on the particular dogma of a belief system. Instead, her research centers around how a person's religious beliefs effect their actions in society; How they vote; How they see various issues like environmentalism; How they see the issues surrounding life and death; How they choose our occupations; How they treat each other, etc. And how our beliefs effect our political actions. Over the past 9 years of her study, Heather has collected over 400 interviews with self described Pagans and Neo-Pagans. Many of these interviews have been with well-known authors, elders and "celebrities" within the movement. She has also collected over 150 hours of rituals, classes and other participant observations at Pagan festivals all over the United States including Starwood, as you know. At this point she has a larger and more comprehensive data set than any other researcher in the US today. This makes Heather uniquely qualified to present this preliminary data and to facilitate discussions on how we as a community practice our faith as it relates to our tangible actions in society. She has been awarded several grants to continue her study, has presented her data at Anthropological symposiums across the country and has won various small film festivals with my documentary footage of the Pagan community. Heather's workshops this year relate directly to a book she is writing that will be published in late 2009.

Paganism, Politics and the Separation of Church and State

The question of the separation of church and sate has been a hot button issue in this country since the US Constitution was written. The Pagan community has been especially concerned with this issue for obvious reasons. However, throughout the course of my research I have uncovered a deep philosophical rift within the community when it comes to this question. There has been much debate about what role we play as a group in effecting political change and what role the clergy play in encouraging or discouraging particular political ideologies. In this workshop we will examine how we as a community have been affected by the melding of religious ideologies and political action throughout history and how we can avoid falling into the same traps today. We will also examine t he role of Pagan clergy in presenting political ideology inside and outside of our own groups and the ethical implications of it.

The Political Evolution of Neo-Paganism since the 1960s

Since the 1960s the Neo-Pagan movement has grown and evolved as a result of changing societal values and technological advancements. The consequence of this has been a changing face in the Neo-Pagan demographic and a shift in the spiritual/political focus of many Neo-Pagan groups from radical to moderate. In this workshop, I will discuss how the demographic of the community has changed since the 60s and how this is reflected in the data I have collected, pre and post 9/11 as it is longitudinally compared to data collected in the 1980s by Sociologist Michael York and Margot Adler, Author of Drawing Down the Moon. I will facilitate discussions about where weve been and where we are headed as a socio-spiritual movement and how each of us is effected by these changes.

















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