Imagining Albion: Fantasy, Enchantment and Belonging in Contemporary British Paganism

Purcell, Helen Maria (2015). Imagining Albion: Fantasy, Enchantment and Belonging in Contemporary British Paganism. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000efad

Abstract

Contemporary Pagans in Britain often describe their experience as new practitioners of this emerging religion as that of ‘coming home’. This thesis examines cultural influences contributing to this sense of recognition, utilising the kinds of fantasy reading cited by Pagans as a lens, in order to focus upon key elements within Paganism that may offer explanation as to what that ‘home’ may be. These influences include the use of myth, fantasy literature, magic and connections with place and ancestry to produce individual and communal representations of belonging. Analysis of the research conducted results in the argument that the impetus connecting disparate enchanted arenas for Pagans is the imagining of community identities that can establish a sense of connection to an idealised multi-dimensional landscape often named as Albion. This place connects together both the primary and the secondary realms and all the persons that belong to it. Place is the integrating factor for Pagans within their enchanted worldview. Usage of Celtic and Norse mythologies is significant, as these stories enable the development of communities that root participants into this particular place. Fantasy literature, utilising myth, reinforces community while also inviting individual exploration of society, space and time. Myth and fantasy connect together past, present and future, to establish a sense of identity. Paganism in Britain represents desire for enchanted identity of place sourced in feelings of indigeneity and the imagining of 'coming home’.

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