TROMSØ, No. –American researcher James R. Lewis, a professor of religious studies at the University of Tromsø, has decided it’s time to take the pulse of Pagan communities once again. Since before the advent of the internet, there have been several such surveys, each with its own specific area of focus. While the new Pagan III survey has some questions that have caused some participants to scratch their heads, other academics are largely supportive of any effort to more accurately describe the dynamics within Pagan communities. Lewis’ work reaches back specifically to a census survey conceived by Andras Corban-Arthen in the 1980s.
Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started! A follow-up to the Pagan Census Revisited is now up and asking for Pagan participation.
Perhaps one of most thought-provoking presentations I attended at the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco was that by sociologist Helen A. Berger at the Contemporary Pagan Studies Group panel “Pagan Analysis and Critique of Religion.” Her talk, “Fifteen Years of Continuity and Change within the American Pagan Community,” was a flurry of statistical information gleaned from a 2009 re-visitation of the Pagan Census project. This isn’t the first time Berger, co-author of “Voices from the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States,” has presented some initial finding from this new collection of data; in late 2010 she wrote an editorial for Patheos.com’s “Future of Paganism” series where she revealed where the data was leading. “In comparing the two surveys [The Pagan Census and the Pagan Census Revisited] I found that the number of Pagans who claim to practice alone has grown from 51% to 79%. The growth of solitary practitioners has been facilitated by books and the Internet.
Pagan scholar Helen Berger, co-author of “Voices from the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States”, has announced that she and fellow researchers James R. Lewis and Henrik Bogdan are revisiting the Pagan Census project. The Pagan Census was first initiated nearly twenty years ago, and compiled data from thousands of modern Pagans to give a fascinating snapshot of our communities during Paganism’s meteoric rise in the 1990s. Now, in an age of blogs and instant communications, an update is underway to compare and contrast just how much we’ve changed. “A number of scholars have noted that it would be helpful to have a follow-up of that survey to see if and how the community has changed or remained the same. The survey that follows uses many, although not all of the same questions that were in the original survey to provide that comparison.