Friday, March 4, 2011

"The simplest explanation is that the essential foundation already existed." (Suggested Reading on Pagan History)

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Ben Whitmore


Sorita d’Este & David Rankine
    "In this book the authors explore the possible beginnings of the tradition by examining the practices in the context of magickal and spiritual thought spanning thousands of years.Through setting aside the endless debates about initiatory lineages, they look beyond the personalities of the people and instead focus on what they consider to be at the heart of the tradition – the practices. Evidence from many previously uncredited and unconsidered sources is examined. This clearly shows how all the significant component parts of Wiccan ritual and practice have roots reaching back, in some instances thousands of years, before its public emergence at the hands of Gerald Gardner in 1950’s England. They explore the sometimes surprising antecedents for key practices such as initiation, magick circles, ritual tools, the invocation of the Guardians of the Watchtowers, Drawing Down the Moon and The Great Rite. The precedents for the Book of Shadows, Wiccan Rede and Charge of the Goddess are also considered as part of this groundbreaking work."

Raven Grimassi
  • Grimassi on Italian Witchcraft (online article)
  • Grimassi on Italian Folk Magic and Witchcraft (online article)
  • Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe (book)
    (Includes a new appendix that "compares the tenets of Gardnerian Wicca with excerpts from Leland's work, demonstrating that their appearance in print predates Gardner's writings.")
  • Grimassi on Wicca and Witchcraft (online article):
    "Although many modern scholars believe that Witchcraft (as a religion) is a modern construction largely credited to Gerald Gardner, it seems all too apparent to me that too many archaic elements exist to have been a modern construction traceable to Gerald Gardner and a small handful of cohorts. It would have required the combined efforts of mythologists, anthropologists, folklorists, historians, and highly trained occultists working together over several decades to create the complex layers and inner‑connections that appear in just the published material on Witchcraft alone, not to mention the restricted initiate material that was available within a ten year span of Gardner's writings. It seems highly unlikely that such collaboration ever took place, and the simplest explanation is that the essential foundation already existed."

Don Frew

  • "Methodological Flaws in Recent Studies of Historical and Modern Witchcraft"
  • That link goes to a page at Patheos.Com where there is an updated (2011) introduction to Frew's article, which was first published 13 years ago. There are also links to the rebuttals to Frew by Ronald Hutton and Jacqueline Simpson.
  • Sources of Late Platonic Theurgy (pdf version of a bibliography by Frew)
  • Gardnerian Wicca as Theurgic Ascent (pdf version of Frew's presentation to Theurgicon 2010)
  • "I would argue that every Craft tradition today either descends from or has been significantly influenced by Gerald Gardner and his writings. Gardner reports to us that the coven he joined were practicing Neoplatonists. To this extent, Neoplatonism is where all of us come from and an understanding of Neoplatonism can help us understand both the origins of who we are and the meaning of what has been passed down to us. Knowing where we came from helps us understand where we are and why, and so helps us decide where we want to go from here .... The Neoplatonists considered themselves to be part of a 'Golden Chain' of transmission from teacher to student, from Pythagoras through Plato down to Plotinus and the Neoplatonists."

6 comments:

Rhondda said...

Well, I do have to go through all this in more detail, but love your snark. (need to check your references and see if I agree)
How the hell did you get so smart anyway?
Thanks.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Trust me: I'm holding back, snarkwise.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Just to give an idea of where my 'tude is coming from, Peg Aloi refers to Ben Whitmore as "self-serving" and "cluelessly narcissistic". So I take that as my cue that the gloves are off. (In the same post she criticizes Whitmore for his tone!) As far as Donald Michael Kraig (whom I've been a fan of for over a decade) goes, I was going to describe his "review" as just "chickenshit".

Rhondda said...

Well, you know alot of people seem to forget that scholars live in an atmosphere of peer review which means that the prevailing notions of scholarship are really group think. In this day of post modernism, sucking up to that means a livelihood or not. It is very easy to justify. Those who defy that, I really admire.

Rhondda said...

Grimassi and Sorita d'este have been valuable resources for me. This is not about a logical argument, but a thread of consistency or if I dare say a spiritual journey. It consists of picking up threads and making the connections. It is also looking at language and how certain ideas are demonized or not and being brave enough to look at the demonized ones, not romantically, but very pragmatically. A lot of people just take witch to be a romantic idea. I don't, not in these days. There are repercussions and I sure as hell would not trust cross religion dialogue. I have witnessed how First Nations peoples have been betrayed by xians who pretend fellowship. The whole idea of pagan scholarship at universities is anathema to the mission of universities.(brainwashing) Some scholars with tenure may be able to write decent work, but really alot of it is coded.

Kay Broome said...

Thanks Apuleius and Rhondda for your commentary! I agree AP with your comments on Aloi. I don't know about Craig's review but a review of Trials by Ethan Doyle White at the Albion Calling website, (which I see you are familiar with, Apuleius :), is illuminating. Read carefully the second paragraph of Ethan's second response to Wade MacMorrighan. I found interesting his blatant admission that if he didn't go along with the Hutton glorification school of thought, he would not achieve his Masters/PhD degree.

As someone who has attended university and now works as staff at a university, I can attest to how people can get messed over by honest criticism of an accepted theory. Nevertheless, you gotta have guts! And White didn't have to belittle Ben Whitmore so much in his review. Ben should be honoured for giving the pagan community a much needed, open-minded and damn it, well researched, work with an intriguing bibliography that it behooves us to research. I would recommend people not just download Trials of the Moon, but support Whitmore by buying the book. It is worth its weight in gold!