Therein, Hutton commits himself to four positions that, at least to my reading, appear to be very much at odds with how the Huttonian view of Pagan history is often interpreted by those (especially Pagans) who claim to agree with Professor Hutton:
- That "no less than four different cultural streams" provide a continuous connection between ancient and modern Paganism: (a) practitioners of ritual (learned) magic, (b) practitioners of popular magical traditions ("cunning folk"), (c) those who participate in "folk rites", and (d) lovers of Pagan art, literature, and philosophy.
- That modern Pagans are the legitimate inheritors of ancient Pagan traditions that are not only continuous with ancient Pagan cultures, but that have been "massively important and ubiquitous" throughout the entire history of European Christendom.
- That there is "a direct line of transmission" connecting modern Paganism to ancient Egyptian religion. This transmission constitutes "a demonstrable continuity, text to text and person to person, across the centuries."
- That the Christianization of Europe was never complete, and that the modern Pagan revival takes as its starting point those parts of ancient Paganism that managed to survive centuries of attempted extirpation by the Church.
Nevertheless, Hutton persists in the following three very problematic positions:
- (i) That all of those who were part of the "four streams" mentioned above were purely and only Christian, and cannot in any way be considered to have been "Pagan". This includes, most emphatically, all of the victims of the Burning Times.
- (ii) That the "four streams" are neatly separable into two discrete groups with little or no overlap. Streams (a) and (d) represent an "elite" super-stream ("super-stream" is my word, not Hutton's) of learned magicians and scholarly antiquarians; while streams (b) and (c) constitute a "popular" super-stream of folk beliefs and practices. This clear bright line between learned and folk streams is crucial to Hutton's position that these Pagan survivals cannot be construed as indicating the survival Paganism itself.
- (iii) That the ancient forms of "ritual magic" to which modern Paganism is directly and continuously connected "across the centuries", constituted a "counter-cultural" movement in direct opposition to the "religious norms" of ancient Paganism.