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Australian Media on Paganism

Paganism is more fun!

by Chris Griffith, Sunday Mail, 19/10/97

VOODOO ceremonies, Melanesian pig rites and pagan initiations are professional everyday fare for Brisbane anthropologist Lynne Hume.

Yesterday Dr Hume revealed how pure intellectual curiosity, coupled with a thirst for cults and customs, led the inquisitive religious studies academic into an affair with paganism.

Her fieldwork in Australia, the South Pacific, and Canada culminates this week with the release of her book Witchcraft and Paganism in Australia.

"The exotic, the primitive, the occult, the esoteric has always interested me much more than say fundamentalism," she said.

Dr Hume completed her PhD on Aboriginal Christianity and her masters topic was a Melanesian women's pig killing ritual in Vanuatu.

Her interest in paganism began in Calgary, Canada, while she was studying the Unitarian Church.

"They brought in a group of witches who cast a circle in the church. I became interested and joined two covens.

"One was an all-women's coven, the other a loosely organised group who got together to celebrate the seasons."

After 15 years in Canada she returned to Australia five years ago where she teaches "Witches, Pagans, and the New Age" in the University of Queensland's Department of Studies in Religion.

"I still go to a lot of rituals, even though my research studies are almost complete.

"I like the pagan cornmunity, I like the people I've met, it's a fun religion, and it's liberal values."

She said she had done "almost everything" pagans do, with the exception of some sexual "aspects", and publicly going "skyclad" - the Pagan term for naked.

"I'm a bit shy about that."

She couldn't discuss the female initiation rites "which were a private women's thing".

Dr Hume's book is a dossier of paganism in Australia and its history, Organisation and rites.

It examines modern magic, spells, and energies, out-of-body and otherworldly experiences, and more controversial issues such as nudity and sex roles in Wiccan practices.

Sunday Mail, 19/10/97

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