Friday, March 4, 2011

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

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."