Tuesday, March 1, 2011

21st Century Pagans on the Old Religion (The Old Religion: Getting Beyond the Noise, Part Eight)

In Triumph of the Moon, Ronald Hutton triumphantly claimed that the whole notion of the Old Religion had been "swept away" by a "tidal wave" of research. Not only that, but "virtually the whole set of assumptions" underlying the concept of the Old Religion had also been, according to Hutton, thoroughly demolished. Indeed, he went even further and declared that all those who persisted in so much as suggesting that there might be some truth in the idea of the Old Religion were caught in "the trap of fundamentalism"!

But it turns out that despite all the obnoxious chest-beating on the part of Ronald Hutton and his loyal followers, a great many Pagans have continued to believe, as Pagans have always believed, that there is, indeed, some truth, and perhaps more than a little, in the idea of the Old Religion.

"Wicca is a nature based, Earth centered spiritual path rooted deeply in the history of Europe and even as far back as our Paleolithic past."
[What is Wicca?, Christopher Penczak (from his website)]

"The Goddess is alive. She has always been. But during the last two millennia, at least here in the West, She has been obscured. Occulted, but not erased, Her life-enhancing worship did not die. It was secreted within the inner teachings of esoteric societies, trivialized as folk custom, or enveloped within a mass of religious practices that officially denied Her."
[Isis Magic, M. Isidore Forrest]

"Wicca is called the Old Religion because it is based on the religious practices of our Pagan ancestors. Wicca worships Goddess and God using those symbols found deep within the psyche of humanity. Their antiquity and universality given them a power that more modern Gods will always lack."
[Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World, Vivianne Crowley]

"Paganism is the ancestral religion of the whole of humanity. This ancient religious outlook remains active throughout much of the world today, both in complex civilisations such as Japan and India, and in less complex tribal societies world-wide. It was the outlook of the European religions of classical antiquity - Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome - as well as of their "barbarian" neighbours on the northern fringes, and its European form is re-emerging into explicit awareness in the modern West as the articulation of urgent contemporary religious priorities."
[What Paganism Is, The Pagan Federation website]

"Modern witches follow in the tradition of our earliest ancestors and are the shamans and healers of the 21st century. We are priests and priestesses of the Great Goddess; we practice the ancient art of sacred magic in the modern world. Certainly witchcraft has changed over the milleniia, but we still have much in common with the neolithic practitioner crouched before a fire, crushing herbs for a healing brew."
[The Wicca Handbook, Eileen Holland]

"The goddess Hekate was one of the most significant deities of the ancient world. Her history stretches back across the millennia. We find traces of her in the recent past, through into the Renaissance - stretching back through the Byzantine and Roman Empires, Hellenistic , Classical and Archaic Greece through into the Greek Dark Ages - and beyond. Hekate has been with us for at least three thousand years."
[Hekate Liminal Rites, Sorita d'Este, David Rankine]

"Despite persecution, witches and their beliefs survived the crucible or severe trials of the Inquisition and the Middle Ages ... The terror that had engulfed Europe and New England simmered down, and the last execution for witchcraft took place in Poland in 1793. But neither the faith nor the magick died out completely. Practitioners of witchcraft stayed hidden in the shadows and kept their knowledge and powers secret."
[Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft, Denise Zimmerman, Katherine A. Gleason]

"Theurgy is the late Classical Neoplatonic practice whose closest modern equivalent is Drawing Down the Moon. In both cases the practitioner achieves temporary unity with a deity, and is to some degree transformed in the process. These similarities, along with some others, are the reason why some investigators of our history argue that Wicca's earliest major roots lie not in Celtic Britain or stone age Europe but in late Classical times."
[Theurgy and Drawing Down the Moon: Theurgicon 2010, Guz diZerega]

"Foxwood is a dedicated temple to the Old Gods and a Traditional House of the Old Religion. Originally founded in 1990 by Lord Orion, High Priest in Celtic and Alexandrian Traditions and initiate of Welsh Tradition. The teachings of Foxwood are based on the ancient ways of Prytani Celtic, Strega, and Faerie Traditions and are collectively transmitted as Celtic/Traditional Craft or 'The Old Religion'. Foxwood is a haven for personal exploration of the esoteric tradition of the Old Religion as passed on by the Elders of Foxwood."
[Foxwood Temple of the Old Religion website]

The origins of Italian Witchcraft go deeply into the past of the pre-Christian era.   The earliest forms were no doubt rooted in primitive ideas about magic and spirit beings.  But over time the concepts comprising Italian Witchcraft evolved.  As elements of foreign beliefs in magic were absorbed in Italy, indigenous beliefs were influenced by them over time.  This did not eradicate the old traditions or replace them, but almost certainly changes various elements were integrated.
[The Roots of Italian Witchcraft, Raven Grimassi]

The Old Religion: Getting Beyond the Noise
  1. Part One: Two Myths
  2. Part Two: "A very specific historical claim"
  3. Part Three: The Recantation of Ronald Hutton
  4. Part Four: "A Different World" (Recantations, Part Deux)
  5. Part Five: More on "A Different World" (Recantations, Part Trois)
  6. Part Six: Magical Christianization (Recantations, Part Quatre)
  7. Part Seven: The Recantation of Ronald Hutton, The Final Episode [parts 5, 6 & 7 are not done yet]
  8. Part Eight: 21st Century Pagans on the Old Religion
  9. Part Nine: Coeval With Time [part 9 is still to come]