Sarah M. Pike

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Sarah M. Pike
ResidenceChico, California
Occupationprofessor, Author, and Scholar
Academic background
EducationPhD, (with distinction) Religious Studies, Indiana University (PhD minor, Women's Studies), 1998

MA, Religious Studies, Indiana University, 1989

BA, cum laude, Religion, Duke University, 1983
Alma materIndiana University, Duke University
Doctoral advisorRobert Orsi
Academic work
DisciplineComparative Religion
InstitutionsCalifornia State University, Chico

Sarah M. Pike is an American author and professor of comparative religion in the Department of Religious studies at California State University, Chico.[1][2] Her interests include paganism, environmentalism, religion and ecology, and ritual studies.[1] Her research on neopaganism and radical environmentalism has been lauded as being significant to the study of festival and group behaviour.[2][3] She is the president of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture, co-chair of the American Academy of Religion, Ritual Studies Group, and director of the California State University, Chico Humanities Center.[4][5]


Pike completed her BA, cum laude, in Religion at Duke University in 1983. She earned her MA and PhD (with distinction) in Religious studies from Indiana University in 1989 and 1998 respectively.[6] Her doctoral advisor was Robert Orsi.[7] During her time at Indiana University, Pike extensively observed and involved herself within local (Midwestern) neopagan communities and gatherings as part of her field research.[8]



Pike's most recent book titled For the Wild: Ritual and Commitment in Radical Eco-Activism[9] covers issues regarding the demonization of radical environmentalists and how religious studies translate into nature and ecology.[2] She explores the motivations for those who partake in risky and illegal behaviour to protest against the destruction of natural habitats and forestry.[2] Her first book, Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves, primarily focuses on neopagan festival behaviours including witchcraft, magic, Spiritualist gatherings, as well as individual and group identity.[3][10] In her book, New Age and Neopagan Religions in America, Pike sees members of neopagan religions as placing high emphasis on ritual practice as a way of shaping individual and group identities, having significant connections with nature, and understanding God as a living entity.[11]

  • Pike, Sarah M. (2017) For the Wild: Ritual and Commitment in Radical Eco-Activism, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520294950
  • Pike, Sarah M. (2004) New Age and Neopagan Religions in America, New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231124023
  • Pike, Sarah M. (2001) Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520923805

Selected articles and book chapters[edit]

Pike has written several articles and book chapters on topics such as Burning Man, neopaganism, rituals, environmentalism, youth spirituality, New religious movement and animal rights activism.[6][5] Her work also includes Wiccan ritual practices pertaining to sexuality, polyamory, and marriage.[12]

Year Journal/Book Article/Chapter
2018 Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Nature, edited by Laura Hobgood and Whitney Bauman. London: Bloomsbury.[13] "Feral Becoming and Environmentalism's Primal Future”
2016 Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture "Mourning Nature: The Work of Grief in Radical Environmentalism”[14]
2016 Spiritualizing the City: Agency and Resilience of the Urbanesque Habitat, edited by Victoria Hegner and Peter Jan Margry (New York: Routledge)[15] "The Dance Floor as Urban Altar: How Ecstatic Dancers Transform the Lived Experience of Cities”
2014 Social Science Research Council Forum, “Reverberations: New Directions in the Study of Prayer."[16] "Sweating Our Prayers in Dance Church"
2014 Religion and the Marketplace in the U.S., edited by Detlef Junker, Jan Stievermann, and Philip Goff. London and New York: Oxford University Press[5] "Selling Infinite Selves: Youth Culture and Contemporary Festivals”
2013 Social Science Research Council Forum, “Reverberations: New Directions in the Study of Prayer.”[16] "Prayer and Presence in Unexpected Places”
2012 The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media, edited by Diane Winston. London and New York: Oxford University Press[17] "Witchcraft Since the 1960s”
2011 Children and Religion: A Methods Handbook, edited by Susan B. Ridgely. New York: New York University Press[18] "Religion and Youth Culture”
2010 God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture, edited by Katherine McCarthy and Eric Mazur. New York: Routledge, Inc.[19] "Desert Goddesses and Apocalyptic Art: Making Sacred Space at the Burning Man Festival"
2010 Weinhold, J. & Samuel G. (eds.) "The Varieties of Ritual Experience," in Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual. Volume II – Body, Performance, Agency and Experience, ed. by Axel Michaels et al. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz[20] "Performing Grief in Formal and Informal Rituals at the Burning Man Festival”
2009 Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 77: 647-672. "Dark Teens and Born-Again Martyrs: Captivity Narratives After Columbine”[21]
2008 Key Words in the Study of Media and Religion, edited by David Morgan. New York: Routledge[4] "Religion”
2006 Teaching New Religious Movements, edited by David G. Bromley. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press[6] "Men and Women in New Religious Movements: Constructing Alternative Gender Roles”
2004 Researching Paganisms, edited by Jenny Blain, Doug Ezzy and Graham Harvey. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press[22] "Gleanings from the Field: Leftover Tales of Grief and Desire”

Awards and recognition[edit]

Selected positions[edit]


Year Award/Grant
2015 Visiting Scholar, University of Oslo[9]
2013 to 2017 Norwegian Research Council multiyear grant for international collaborative project[9]
1999 American Academy of Religion Individual Research Grant to aid in publication of Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Invited Speakers | Wonder and the Natural World". Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Dahill, Lisa E. (October 24, 2018). "For the Wild: Ritual and Commitment in Radical Eco-Activism by Sarah M. Pike (review)". Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality. 18 (2): 271–274. doi:10.1353/scs.2018.0038. ISSN 1535-3117.
  3. ^ a b Noonan, Kerry; Pike, Sarah M. (2002). "Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community". Western Folklore. 61 (1): 97. doi:10.2307/1500290. ISSN 0043-373X. JSTOR 1500290.
  4. ^ a b c d Morgan, David (June 30, 2008). Key Words in Religion, Media and Culture. doi:10.4324/9780203894071. ISBN 9780203894071.
  5. ^ a b c Santoro, Anthony (January 27, 2015), "Unsilent Partners", Religion and the Marketplace in the United States, Oxford University Press, pp. 240–266, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199361793.003.0011, ISBN 9780199361793
  6. ^ a b c Bromley, David G. (June 1, 2007), "Teaching New Religious Movements/Learning from New Religious Movements", Teaching New Religious Movements, Oxford University Press, pp. 3–26, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195177299.003.0001, ISBN 9780195177299
  7. ^ a b 1959-, Pike, Sarah M. (2001). Earthly bodies, magical selves : contemporary pagans and the search for community. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520220300. OCLC 464069681.
  8. ^ Anderson, Kristin L. (September 2001). ""Not to People Like Us": Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages. By Susan  Weitzman. New York: Basic Books, 2000. Pp. v+289. $26.00". American Journal of Sociology. 107 (2): 545–547. doi:10.1086/343187. ISSN 0002-9602.
  9. ^ a b c Pike, Sarah M. (2017). For the wild : ritual and commitment in radical eco-activism (review). Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality. 18. Oakland, California: University of California Press. pp. 271–274. doi:10.1353/scs.2018.0038. ISBN 9780520294950. OCLC 980346822.
  10. ^ Noonan, Kerry; Pike, Sarah M. (2002). "Review on JSTOR". Western Folklore. 61 (1): 97–99. doi:10.2307/1500290. JSTOR 1500290.
  11. ^ Sarah., Spaid Ishida (2008). The making of an American Shinto community. University of Florida. OCLC 664031265.
  12. ^ Marie, Carda, Jeanelle (November 19, 2008). Wiccan Marriage and American Marriage Law: Interactions. ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University. OCLC 1011131010.
  13. ^ a b editor., Hobgood-Oster, Laura, 1964– editor. Bauman, Whitney. The Bloomsbury handbook of religion and nature : the elements. ISBN 9781350046825. OCLC 985072503.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Pike, Sarah M. (November 21, 2016). "Mourning Nature: The Work of Grief in Radical Environmentalism". Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. 10 (4): 419–441. doi:10.1558/jsrnc.v10i4.30627. ISSN 1749-4907.
  15. ^ Victoria., Hegner (2016). Spiritualizing the City : Agency and Resilience of the Urban and Urbanesque Habitat. Taylor and Francis. ISBN 9781317396697. OCLC 965157439.
  16. ^ a b Organ., Social Science Research Council (USA) Herausgebendes. Reverberations : new directions in the study of prayer. OCLC 1045370993.
  17. ^ Winston, Diane, ed. (August 29, 2012). The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195395068.001.0001. ISBN 9780195395068.
  18. ^ Bales), Ridgely, Susan B. (Susan (2011). The study of children in religions : a methods handbook. New York University Press. ISBN 9780814777466. OCLC 756642789.
  19. ^ Mazur, Eric (October 4, 2010). God in the Details. doi:10.4324/9780203854808. ISBN 9780203854808.
  20. ^ Germany), International Conference "Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual" (2008 : Heidelberg (2010). Body, performance, agency, and experience. Harrassowitz. ISBN 9783447062022. OCLC 711612980.
  21. ^ Pike, S. M. (September 1, 2009). "Dark Teens and Born-again Martyrs: Captivity Narratives after Columbine". Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 77 (3): 647–679. doi:10.1093/jaarel/lfp038. ISSN 0002-7189.
  22. ^ Hjelm, Titus (January 2006). "Researching Paganisms – Edited by Jenny Blain, Douglas Ezzy, and Graham Harvey". Religious Studies Review. 32 (1): 25. doi:10.1111/j.1748-0922.2006.00024_3.x. ISSN 0319-485X.
  23. ^ Phone, Visiting address Domus TheologicaBlindernveien 9 0371 OSLO Norway Mail address P. O. Box 1023 Blindern NO-0315 OSLO Norway; fax. "Sarah M. Pike – The Faculty of Theology". Retrieved December 5, 2018.