Monday, May 23, 2011

Wizard Battle

Loads more thrilling than the non-conflict between Christian Day and Charlie Sheen (which is technically a Warlock Battle, if you want to be specific), a war of ideas rages on between sages.

Author Caroline Tully recently had an interview with Professor Ronald Hutton. (Thanks for the heads up, Doc.) In it, he clarifies a number of his views on the subject of pagan survivals, among other things. It's a long discussion, but very interesting.

Golden Dawn Imperator, David Griffin - you may remember him - made a bold retort to several of Hutton's claims, citing contemporary Italian scholarship and making Star Trek references. Whatever your own opinion is on these subjects, you have to admit that Hutton misidentifying Griffin as a Wiccan is pretty funny.


  1. Aside from its academic value this is such a silly subject. It's worthwhile to try and work out what the real history is, but why this would have any effect on someone's magical or spiritual practices is completely beyond me.

    From a technical standpoint the modernity of a system is a feature, not a bug. Horsedrawn carriages have a noble and ancient history in our civilization, but if you own a modern car you're going to beat your Amish neighbor into town every time.

  2. That argument can certainly be made. Though I don't think your choice of metaphor is particularly apt - I think we are deluding ourselves if we think that any of our modern innovations in magic are not founded upon the bedrock of thousands of years of magical tradition. Sigils? Bindrunes. Sex magic? Kingship rituals. Qabbalah? Kabbalah. And so on.

    I can also understand why people might be upset if they felt they had clear evidence of pagan survival that was being deliberately overlooked and made invisible. Academia consistently denied the pagan roots of Afro-Caribbean traditions until the 1960s, dismissing Vodou as mere superstition and cult activity. We can see now how obviously messed up that is. Who knows what kind of cultural biases may be holding back witchcraft scholarship today?

  3. @ Ananael Qaa
    Ah! You have a point there. But if you have a starship, like Hermetic Internal Alchemy or The Great Rite, you can go "where no man has gone before!"

  4. (This is Ananael. For some reason my browser is acting up today and my Google profile isn't being recognized)

    @VVF: It's true that our magical techniques are all developed on the foundation of previous work, but technology works the same way. You can only make certain innovations once your knowledge base supports them. The big modern innovation, the scientific method, lets us take those old techniques and test them out in a more rigorous manner, which means there's a way to tell how well something works regardless of how old or new it is.

    I've seen some of the biases against alternative spiritual practitioners in my dealings with academics, so I know what you're talking about there. I can see where there's an interest in getting the record straight, but personally I'm more interested in how things work because that has direct practical applications. I suppose I just think like an engineer rather than a historian.

    @John: If somebody were to offer me an interplanetary battle cruiser, trust me, I wouldn't say no. I've wanted one of those since I was a kid!

  5. The image of Wiccan-Griffin-Kirk is going to brighten my entire day :-)

  6. I'm trying to figure out if Hutton's words are in any way applicable my own practices, and have to answer "Not only no, but LOL."

    From a historical perspective, his assertions are reasonable (and will no doubt be shattered like every other historical stance invariably is). But they mean exactly zero when it comes to practicing one's faith.