Joanna Malita-Król – Poland: Strategies of adopting to the COVID-19 pandemic among different Pagan groups in Krakow

Joanna Malita-Król
Institute for the Study of Religions, Jagiellonian University in Kraków

Poland: Strategies of adopting to the COVID-19 pandemic among different Pagan groups in Krakow

(abstract)

Most of religious milieus were forced to rearrange their rituals practices in the face of the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. In the Polish context, as in many others, it meant establishing certain limits of the believers present at the ceremony along with social distance and obligatory masks for everyone except for the person conducting the ceremony.
These restrictions affected both officially registered religious associations and those more informal ones. Most Pagan groups in Poland fall in the latter category and that includes all the groups I am currently researching. Namely, these are groups following different Pagan paths in the city of Kraków – among them Reformed Druids of Gaia Poland, Native Polish Church (and other Native Faith groups.
In this paper, I will present three strategies of adopting the rituals to new pandemic circumstances: firstly, adjusting to the restrictions in offline, actual rituals; secondly, relocating rituals to online sphere, using Zoom or similar platforms and thirdly, refraining from rituals at all, with suggestions to celebrate privately at home instead. I will also discuss the reasons for choosing a particular strategy in case of every group. My analysis is based on my ongoing field research (participant observation during rituals combined with semi-structured interviews with participants) among Pagans of Kraków.

Biography of the author:

Joanna Malita-Król, PhD, is researcher and lecturer in cultural and religious studies at the Institute for the Study of Religions, Jagiellonian University. She is also JASSO stipend holder (Kobe University). Her academic interests centre around contemporary witchcraft and Paganism, yet she also studies Japanese culture, especially the Heian period. She is currently conducting ethnographic research which exploring the ritual places of contemporary Pagan rituals in Poland.