Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pre-emptive response to the forthcoming adulation for Caroline Tully

[Be sure to check out this follow-up post: "What is my problem? (In which I inform Caroline Tully that I am not in love with her.")

World renowned graduate student and self-proclaimed "fervid article writer" Caroline Tully has published an interview of herself (by Sasha Chaitow) on her blog. In the coming hours and days this will certainly lead to a chorus of praise and acclaim for Tully from the usual suspects throughout the Pagan blogosphere. (See list at the bottom of this post for a link to the interview and other relevant links.)

While the interview dutifully perpetuates the mythology of Tully as both an important figure in modern Paganism and a leading light in the pseudo-academic niche of "Pagan studies", there is no mention of her most recent and notable contribution in both of those areas, namely her unhinged diatribe in the peer-reviewed academic journal The Pomegranate titled "Researching the Past is a Foreign Country: Cognitive Dissonance as a Response by Practitioner Pagans to Academic Research on the History of Pagan Religions".

In particular there is no mention in Sasha Chaitow's interview of Tully's ridiculous claim to have documented and psycho-analyzed a supposed "internet smear campaign" against Ronald Hutton "motivated" by criticisms of Hutton found in Ben Whitmore's 2010 book Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft.

Tully's ludicrous claim of a "smear campaign" against her hero (she has never made any attempt to disguise her adoration for Hutton) should be challenged by anyone who claims to be a serious scholar of modern Paganism. What evidence does Tully provide to support her claim? In particular, what documents or other statements constitute the supposed "smear campaign". Is Ben Whitmore personally responsible for this "smear campaign", or does his culpability stop at having provided the "motivation" for it? And what precisely does Tully charge Carla O'Harris, the only other person (besides Whitmore) named in connection with the "smear campaign", with? Is O'Harris perhaps the ringleader?

But more importantly, Tully's own smear campaign against "Pagans who dislike Ronald Hutton" needs to be loudly condemned by the Pagan community. Many well known Pagans have promoted views of Pagan history that are at odds with what Hutton wrote in Triumph of the Moon. In fact, Hutton himself has admitted that in Triumph he completely "ignored the existence" of the most important historical connections between ancient and modern Paganism!



Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd suspected for a while that the academic Left felt threatened by modern Pagans. Even the socialists of Pagandom are not going to bow and scrape before the ivory tower, and ask Noel Ignatiev's cadres for permission to believe as they do.

They can all kiss my Zeus-worshipping ass.

They're preparing to throw us Kuffar under the bus now...before CAIR asks them politely to do it later.


Anonymous said...

What a thoroughly impolite article this is. Not an ounce of sympathy, empathy, or willingness to open a constructive dialogue with Tully.

Just hate and rampant, unrelenting criticism and mockery. It reminds me of schoolyard bullying more than anything else.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Dear Anonymous, I wasn't really going for politeness, but I thought that was obvious.

I believe that the tone of my post is perfectly appropriate considering what Tully wrote in her Pomegranate "opinion piece", and what she has written elsewhere. It is a grave embarrassment to all Pagans that she is considered a "Pagan scholar", and I cannot think of a polite way of saying that.

Peregrin said...

Hi ho,

I know Caroline a little, and so followed up a couple of links that led here. (Mostly, I have better things to do).

I should not have been surprised to be delivered to 'egregores'. While following your blog assiduously in the past, I stopped paying attention to it because your gems are too often hidden under the type of rhetoric you display here.

I would love to see some arguments countering Ms Tully's ideas without personal invective. In fact, I would love to see this blog without such invective peppered throughout. Then I'd be a regular reader once more.

Thanks a bunch :)

Anonymous said...

She is rude. In person and not, unless of course you are *someone* within the public face of paganism. I don't like her writing. I don't like her attitude and I don't like her 'academia' and love of hitting the spotlight whenever there is the opportunity such as now I suspect! Posting up a moan about someone allegedly bagging you out over an elist is trite. Who cares. Its an opportunity for people like me to see what so many have suspected for a long time. Just because you have hung around like a dag on a sheep's arse doesn't make you legendary. It makes you a dag hanging endlessly and unproductively on a sheep's arse. Sorry I don't have google accounts or a URL or whatever else. But you can find me on

Sasha Chaitow said...

Hello Apuleius. While I don't condone the tone you've taken towards Caroline Tully, the whole debate you've referred to is none of my business. For the record however, you and your readers should know that: Phenomena magazine is a Greek-language special-interest magazine that is distributed with a daily national newspaper. In Greece, where the field of both Western Esotericism in which I am specialised, and Pagan Studies, in which I am not specialised, but very interested, are almost entirely unknown. The interview was requested by my editor, who knows next to nothing about Pagan Studies, but knows a lot about our readership, and who approved the questions. The point of the interview was to introduce the readership to this field, and to help clarify very basic notions about Paganism and the pagan scene in general, because in Greece (a conservative society with a very powerful church) it is still a very misunderstood word and concept, though there is a growing reconstructionist movement. The politics of the pagan scene, the scholar-practitioner debate, and the whole Hutton debate, are of no interest to my readership whatsoever because they don't know the first thing about it. And as a scholar of Western Esotericism myself, I am aware of it, but neither involved, nor particularly interested in it. I don't understand the politics of the scene, and nor do I care to, I'm too interested in education. If you have something constructive to offer to the purpose of informing the Greek readership about Paganism or Pagan studies, then contact me next time you're in Greece and I'll see if my editor has the space to host an interview with you as well, how's that? Otherwise, I really would suggest that you try to understand the context of a given discussion before you wade in with venomous remarks such as these.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

@Sasha Chaitow: I still think that if you were going to ask Tully to talk about Pagan studies, then you should have asked her about her most recent contribution to that field, which contained destructive accusations that are potentially very harmful to the Pagan community and mean-spirited mischaracterizations of a very significant portion of the Pagan community.

But you and your magazine are of course free to choose what you wish to focus on. For my part I am interested in continuing to challenge Tully's ludicrous claims about a "smear campaign" against Ronald Hutton, and her ignorant and dismissive statements about modern Goddess worshippers.

Sasha Chaitow said...

Apuleius, that is not something that would be considered newsworthy within this context. It is clearly of interest to you given your zealous preoccupation with the topic, but this specific, general Greek readership knows nothing and cares less about it, especially given that less than 1% even know who Ronald Hutton is. If you disapprove of that, then don't read our magazine. Some friendly advice: If you want to take issue with Caroline's work and actually be heard, then I suggest you put together a cogent argument based on her actual work that does not include ad hominem attacks and straw man arguments, which is all that this seems to be, and publish it in an appropriate venue, aimed at readers who do actually have an interest in the topic. Civilised debate can achieve ever so much more than name-calling.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Sasha, either your readership is interested in Tully's views on modern Paganism and "Pagan studies", or they are not. You have chosen to present a sanitized version of Tully, while hiding behind the excuse that no one would be interested in the ugly side of her career as a flack for her hero, Ronald Hutton.

The truth is that Tully is a graduate student with precisely one peer reviewed scholarly publication to her credit, and you have wisely chosen to not dwell on the specifics of her very limited oeuvre because your job is to perpetuate the myth that she is an important figure in Paganism and "Pagan studies".

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stating the 'other side' of the story and for supporting the many people who have been aware of both Hutton's errors and his academic psychophants such as Tulley, and the various members of Clifton's cult-of-personality journal, The Pomegranate. It's about time it was said. They are anything other than 'objective' their personal bias is always clear and they write to support it. They all band together like a pack of wolves and stroke each other's egos. Thank you again. Keep the light shining.

Phoenix said...

Which part of "The point of the interview was to introduce the readership to this field, and to help clarify very basic notions about Paganism and the pagan scene in general, because in Greece (a conservative society with a very powerful church) it is still a very misunderstood word and concept, though there is a growing reconstructionist movement. The politics of the pagan scene, the scholar-practitioner debate, and the whole Hutton debate, are of no interest to my readership whatsoever because they don't know the first thing about it" did you not understand? Since you haven't seen the published version of the interview, you don't even know how it was introduced and presented. Oh, and please don't presume to tell me what my job is, since you don't know the first thing about it, and appear to be so committed to dwelling on your personal gripe with Tully that you don't appear able to conceive that you've taken the whole thing completely out of context. Believe what you like about her, it really doesn't concern me, but you should know that your insistence on ignoring what I'm telling you looks rather silly.

Sasha Chaitow said...

Accidentally posted with Google ID instead of entering my name. The previous comment labelled "Phoenix" is from me.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Sasha, I honestly did not intend for this to devolve into an argument with you, and especially not a personal argument. I apologize for going down that road.

My only argument is with Caroline Tully. She has been part of a very vocal group, along with Peg Aloi, Chas Clifton, and some others, who have made a point of attacking the credibility of critics of Ronald Hutton based on academic credentials or lack thereof (especially in the case of Ben Whitmore, but also others). Therefore I consider Tully's own very thin resume to be fair game, and I see the interview you did with her as fitting into an overall pattern of attempts to inflate Tully's importance far beyond anything that is substantiated by her actual achievements as a scholar.

For all I know, you really do think that Caroline Tully is a person of great knowledge and deep insights who is qualified to speak authoritatively on questions about the history of Paganism and the current state of modern Paganism. I have no idea why you would think that, and I do openly question your judgement on that point.

Anonymous said...

A Different Anonymous

This is hardly a fair representation of Tully's work. All you can say is that she is an 'embarassment' as a scholar, you didn't really get around to justifying why in any convincing way.

Also, "Apuleius Platonicus"? Do you actually take yourself seriously?

Apuleius Platonicus said...

To the other "Anonymous": For more detailed critiques of Tully's "work", such as it is, please see the other posts already linked to in the post you are responding to:

1. What is my problem?
(In which I inform Caroline Tully that I am not in love with her.)

2. In search of the "smear campaign" against Ronald Hutton
(In which I provide 33 different relevant internet sources on the debate over Whitmore's book and pose the rhetorical question: "Uh, where's the smear campaign?")

3. Theoretical Archaeology is a Foreign Country
(In which I briefly demonstrate Tully's remarkable naïveté concerning her own chosen field of study.)

4. Silly Ignorant Goddess Worshippers
(In which I challenge Tully's crude mischaracterizations of the modern Goddess movement.)

Anonymous said...

Remind me again what your academic credentials are? Do you have even the one peer reviewed article published that Tully does?

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Dear "Anonymous": I do not present myself as an academic authority. I am just another Pagan with a blog, and I have never claimed anything more than that.

Tully, on the other hand, is seen both by herself and by a surprising number of other people (some of whom should know better, but many of whom could not be expected to) as just such an authority. I don't really blame Tully, though, but where are the adults, I wonder? Someone needs to take her aside and dissuade her from continuing with this farce. Unfortunately it is clearly the case that precisely the opposite is taking place.

Anonymous said...

This from the same person that puts "Pagan Studies" in quotes and says it shouldn't be an academic discipline? Yes, I'm sure you're wanting what is best for Tully.

Your blog is nothing but bile and vitriol.