Indigenous European Spirituality Encoded in the Folk Tradition

Over several years of studying indigenous European belief (paganism, mythology), and then studying the folk tradition (folklore, folk customs, holiday traditions, witch trial records), I began to realize that the idea that paganism died out after conversion to Christianity was simply preposterous. Native European spirituality remained an incredibly powerful force in the consciousness of the European people well into the modern era. 

Popular Religion: A Hybrid Belief System

The topic of what scholars call “popular religion” comes up a great deal in my work. I discussed it in more detail in this other blog article, but it bears some overview again for our purposes here.

Popular religion is a phenomenon that occurs when a religio-cultural change has occurred from the top down in a society.  Most commonly in the case of “popular religion,” this change is due to a forced religious conversion.  Our Western worldview tends to imagine that this is a strictly Christian occurrence. However, the very same things have occurred in places where Islam and even Buddhism spread and usurped the native religious practice. 

What happens is that the authorities dictate that a new religion has been proclaimed, and typically the political rulers at the top as well as the…

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