'Gods, Wights and Ancestors': The Varieties of Pagan Religious Experience at Ancient Sacred Sites

Jennifer Susan Uzzell


This article explores anomalous experiences reported by people identifying as Pagan, whilst visiting places of ancient religious significance in the UK and the US. It is the result of research conducted through an online survey and through informal interviews. The research seeks to establish the extent to which these experiences conform to William James’ (2016, pp. 380–381)  descriptors of mystical experience as ineffable, noetic, transient and passive. It suggests that while some of the experiences described do conform to the traditional categories, others describe a different sort of experience, possibly arising from a very different world view, which is neither monotheistic nor monist and as such is not concerned with concepts such as transcendence. These experiences are real and meaningful to those who have them but have, to date, been under-represented in research into religious experience. The article concludes that more research is needed into religious experiences within the context of the ‘new animism’. (Harvey, 2006)


paganism, animism, ancient sites, religious experience, numinous

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