A Raven Grimassi Mystery...

Discussion in 'Pagan' started by WiccanWade, Aug 23, 2003.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Hi Raven Grimassi, and a genuine welcome to CR. :)

    I should also quite apologise, as the Sserna comment should never have been allowed to remain. Whilst diversity and disagreement is acceptable, forum policy nowadays is a lot more responsible.
     
  2. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    Hi Raven.

    I'm glad to see you have joined in the discussion to help clarify the issues.

    The criticisms I made are ones that I find apply to many Wiccan authors although this is slowly changing. The problem stems from the unfortunate lack of emphasis in many books that Wicca is just one religious path that incorporates witchcraft, and that witchcraft itself is a practice that can be practiced in many religions (Pagan, Christian, Jewish, etc.) or in no religion at all. I'm hoping that these sorts of distinctions can be addressed in future books (regardless of the author) either to clarify the issues or to debunk them with solid evidence.

    My apologies if I came across as a bit harsh. For the record, I do enjoy the books you've written and find they are filled with a huge amount of historical material that certainly deserves further examination. Your books provide a good foundation for the many seekers who wish to explore Wicca. I just have to admit that sometimes I don't agree with various conclusions you've made based on the evidence you've presented.

    I'm sure I'm not alone in being eager to hear your thoughts on all sorts of topics we've been discussing here!
     
  3. Raven Grimassi

    Raven Grimassi New Member

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    No worries, through the years I've developed a rather thick skin. ;)

    I certainly never expect everyone to agree with my material. My writings are simply my interpretation and my conclusions on the available data I have encountered. Even the best of scholars disagree with one another regarding such things. To do otherwise is to become complacent, which can lead to stagnation. I prefer a babbling brook, which is why I babble a lot. :D

    Best regards - Raven
     
  4. Xirian

    Xirian Spirited

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    I have just begun reading "Italian Witchcraft" and so far I'm impressed by the material written there. I've talked with a person who claims to be a hereditary italian witch who was taught by his grandmother. He said she taught him "the magick and ritual that she knew (not all that much, unfortunately) such as how to read tarot, very basic Strega Ritual and rudimentary spells. She had learned from her Grandmother, who had come from Tuscany in the 1870's."

    He also goes on to state that, "Raven Grimassi has been a liberating force for the bringing of Strega practice and belief to the table of Wiccan believers, and He has my personal thanks for doing it." He has also mentioned that, "His (Raven Grimassi) way of doing things went right along with what Granny taught me."

    I have become friends with this person and have no reason to doubt his word on anything. Not only has he been an asset to my learning Italian, but his guidance has been helpful in so many ways, especially when I was ready to stop studying and practicing my religion. He has offered to guide and teach me whatever he can about Italian witchcraft because he believes that his Grandmother would have wanted him to pass on their teachings, and he has kept his word. He is invaluable to me and my spiritual path, and your books are just as helpful as well.

    Thank you!!!
     
  5. WiccanWade

    WiccanWade New Member

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    Wow! Talk about reviving the dead! How times change... It's been about 3 years since this rant, off the spur of the moment. And, with a more seasoned (and calmer, less Piscean) head, I felt I should clarify my posititions.

    First of all, re: Ronald Hutton:

    A recent quantence oif mine out it wonderfully, recently (and I ag with her 100%): Hutton often commits the leap of faulty logic that leads him to claim that an absence of proof constitutes proof of absence! Basically, Hutton states, in error: "We cannot really know what the ancient pagan religion of the British Isles was; therefor we can be sure it was nothing at all like what todays Pagans practice." Obviously, if history cannot say for certain what it was, than it also cannot claim with certainty that it was nothing like what today's Pagans practice!

    Recently, I was speaking with a British Witch-friend of mine, who is good friends with historian Nigel Pennick. And, according to Nigel, Hutton has made dozens of mistakes (particularly in Triumph). He shall be devoting a future book to such research.

    However, bear in mind that since the publication of The Triumph of the Moon, other scholars have disproven Hutton's earlier theories [e.g. Wiccan Roots and Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration, both by Philip Hesselton]. However, many Pagans who are into scholar-worship, and thoughtlessly accept one's words as unquestionable gosdpel, simply because they have a degree, are quick to critisize Hesselton, even though a lot of his research has Hutton's backing! Hutton is, quite simply, NOT to be viewed as "the final word" as he commonly is in America!

    Agenda driven academia passes easily under the banner of disinterested objectivity as Independant Scholar Max Dashu once wrote. :D You know, a great example of academia's pretense to disinterested objectivity somes from an article by a Pagan archaeologist, Jeri Studebaker, from a Pagan mag. She attended an archeology symposium a few yeas back in TX. And, she noticed something which would have infurriated me! She noticed that those scholars who merely toed-the-line without question, and relatively weak evidence, were practically applauded; while those scholars who disagreed, presenting papers, with far stronger evidence, were practically laughed off the stage! Disinterested objectivity, indeed!

    Oh, and speaking of Wiccan history (well, pagan history, in general), I thought everyone here might find the following articles and reviews of interest (I can't wait until Max's series of books re: witches is finally published!):

    * http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/hutton_review.html [I hear that Hutton desperately wants to revise The Pagan Religions. Honestly, I'd love toread the revisions, and hope they show much more objectivity where the Neolithic, particularly, is concerned!]
    * http://www.asphodel-long.com/html/pagan_religions.html
    * http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/racism_history.html
    * http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/eller.html [Now, it's Eller's utter hypocricy which disturbs me so deeply! She appears entirely unable to stick to what she, herself, defines as proper methodological protocall!!!]
    * http://www.asphodel-long.com/html/myth_of_matriarchal_prehistory.html
    * http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/icons.html

    One other thing I wondered, whilst reading Hutton's material, way back when, was what evidence he may have either excluded, in favour of any bias, or simply have glossed over, or whatever. For example, his chapter concerning Folklore, he stated that the notion of any pagan survivals amongst Folklore have crummbled withion the academic field of folklore, and proceeded to cite a few articles in support of that. But, I wonder if there are scholars out there, whom disagree with this, and have had papers published, that Hutton maybe didn't know about, or didn't cite, or whatever, as an alterbative theory. Now, as I understand propper methodology, in order for one;s theory (regardless of whom) to remaina valid theory, it must also be falsifiable, including those amongst folklore, I pressume.

    All in all, it so often seem amongst so-called "mainstream" academia, that if it's not in writing, it esssentially didn't happen. Or, if it cannot be PROVEN, it didn't happen. I, personally, diagree with such conclusions. But, that's just me.

    Now, moving on two Grimassi and the Strega:

    I still, honestly, don't know what to make of the so-called "Strega" as an actual survival of any sort. It hasn't been historically proven to me. So, until that time, I will respect it, absolutely, as a modern religion, perhaps a synthesis, like Wica. Although, I remain sceptical of such clkaims, until I read of their verifiable, historic, existance.

    Now, two personal contentions that I have with is what I recall reading re: all ancient pagan religious practices stemming from an Italian origional, as if theyw ere the first people in all of Europe and gace rise to every cult of every people, which simply is not the case. No historian that I am aware of would back such a claim. But, this is just me,a a supporter of the Indoi-European theory.

    However, speaking of history and research, I always like to check out an author's respective Bibliography, to see how knowledgible they are on their subject, and how many various theories they discuss. And, while I don't agree with every position of Hutton, his books are still quite valuable as far as reference material is concerned, and taking a look at other theories. Suffice it to say, I was always surprised that I don't recall reading that Raven ever citied Hutton's books The Stations of the Sun or The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Ilses in the books with which this thread is concerned, particularly his Beltane.

    Those whom we call the Celts [or Slavs, Germans, Romans and Greeks, et al.], indeed every Indo-European culture was formed by a fusion by a group of Northern patriarchal warriors whose migration has been traced in 3 successive waves, from the Russian steppes, in an erea noth of the Caucusses. These people, who worshipped male Gods of War and Sky, were known as the Kurgens [i.e. proto-Indo-Europeans], which was how their buriel practices were termed. When they entered their new "homelands" of Southern, Western and Central Europe, they merged with the indiginous inhabitants, sometimes forcefully, forming, over time, what we know know as the Indo-Europeans, of which the Celtic tribes and Slavs, Indians, etc. are a substrata!

    Incidentally, it was prof. Marija Gimbutas who first identified the Kurgen culture early on h=in her professional career.

    Even such culturally diverse Goddesses as Artemis [Greek], Diana [Roman] and Artio [Gallic] have Their antecedents in the Neolithic Cult of the Bear-Goddess, all being Indo-Euroipean cultures, and each Goddess being so-tracible. Even my own beloved pan-Celtic Patron Goddess, the Morrighan, is tracible to the Neolithic Cult of the Bird-Goddess!

    Another thing I seem to recall from one of his book [Beltane?] is the contention that the May Pole is somehoiw tracible to the Roman Herms. I have always been personally scepticle re: this, for two primary reasons. The first contitutes the materials used in their respective construction. Herms were made, I believe, not of wood, but of stone. And, the May Pole is merely a fairly well stripped tree! Now, if Herms were also constructed of wood, another question arises, which must be addressed: May Poles simply were NOT carved, as Herms were.

    Indeed, Hutton write at length re: the known history of the May Pole. Although, he does not venture far enough off of the coast of Britain! After all, May Poles are found in many Continental countries as far apart as Germany and Spain (this practice was even brought over to the U.S. in a German-settled town in Iowa). Hutton never diuscusses the history of these local practices, that I can recall. And, this was a majour failing of his book The Stations of the Sun!


    >>>I mean you no disrespect, but you seem to be going out of your way to arrive at such a conclusion. My books are foremost an attempt to demonstrate that Witchcraft is an ancient religion/practice, and to that end I use the oldest literary and historical works on Witchcraft that I can find. These simply happen to be Greek and Roman writings, which is why you see such an emphasis. If there were pre-Christian Celtic writings on Witchcraft, I would be using that too, but such writings do not exist.<<<

    No disrespect is taken, my friend. However, I do recall, in Italian Witchcraft, I believe [that title no longer has a place on my library shelf, as I gave it away as a gift, some time ago] the seemingly explicit position was made that all ancient pagans were tracible to an ancient/Ice Age Italian antecedant, without a word given to the now accepted Indo-European/Kurgan theories. But, this is specifically what I recall reading, and how I read it.
    >>>As to oral tradition, the Celtic Bards once passed on an oral tradition of myths and legends that were eventually written down. Should we now dismiss and criticize them because of this?<<<

    Yup, for no other reason than the accuracy of those scribing it! Simply put, the Clerical redactors are not to be trusted as being very reliable as a window onto the Irish Iron Age, for example. This is a mistake that darn near every modern Pagan has made, with especial respect concerning my Patron Goddess, the Morrighan, whom more recent research has shown was not a War-Goddess [a modern invention, based on Classicist ideology] but an Earth-Goddess, Tutelary-Goddess, Sovereign-Goddess, and anima loci ["place-soul"]. For all those interested I strongly suggest readin Prof. Maire herbert's article in Miranda Green's The Concept of the Goddess, "Transmutations of an Irish Goddess".

    >>>Actually, what I wrote was that "Crowley went on to form his own magickal tradition and became infamous as a black magician and satanist who identified himself with the number 666".<<<

    This was second-hand information that was fiven to me by a former friend. I have reason to believe, now, that he was purposely misleading me, or taking some strong liberties. But, knowing what I knew then, I had no reason not to fully trust him. Perhaps he was simply reading too much into this passage?

    >>>I do not recall ever making such a statement, and very much doubt its existence. But I would be happy to see you quote me chapter and verse if you can find such a statement made by me.<<<

    Oh, I was summarizing, rather than directly quoting you (well, save for that other alledged Stregan bloke), my friend. However, I do recall, what I specifically stated in this particular message, at hand.

    Hmmm...I might have to borrow that book back, now! Just to specifically quote any relevent passages, as this was so long ago (a whopping three years!).

    Take Care,
    Wade MacMorrighan
     
  6. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    RE: Hutton.

    Hutton is a scholar, and in his very visible position as a leading historian in the British university system, he has to be careful to stick by the old conservative and rather staid rules about how to construct arguments, what constitutes verifiable proof, and when claims or conclusions are strong or weak. He's been very open about this and admits that some evidence couldn't be used because it didn't conform or hold up under the conservative rules that scholarly historians must follow.

    And to be honest, claims are much more compelling if they convince even the skeptics and stuffed-shirt scholars!

    Hutton's work did not end with "Triumph of the Moon" either -- he has produced other books and papers on the topics of Paganism within the British Isles. I'd strongly recommend anyone who is reading Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon" to also check out his newer book "Druids, Witches, and King Arthur" as it addresses some of the issues that Hutton has changed his mind about, and provides more information about some issues as well. Hutton doesn't seem to be afraid of admitting when he makes mistakes. I admire him for that.

    It does not surprise me that Hutton fails to look at proof for things (such as the origins of the Maypole) outside of the British Isles. Hutton's specialty has always been the British Isles, and he is very open about that. Just like Raven Grimassi's expertise is mostly focussed on Italian witchcraft -- I wouldn't expect Raven to be quoting Chinese evidence as that's not his area of expertise.

    RE: Philip Heselton's excellent "Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration" and his earlier "Wiccan Roots."

    Hesleton has presented a huge amount of excellent historical evidence that does need a lot more examination. He's also pointed out directions that scholars could be exploring to turn up more. Where Heselton fails, though, is in his conclusions. Unfortunately he makes some rather large leaps of logic which are not necessarily supported by the evidence (including the newly revealed evidence he's presented.) For instance, Heselton's provided us with some excellent leads on who some of the members might have been in the coven of witches Gardner met in the New Forest area back when he says he was initiated into Wica. The evidence presented is very interesting but unfortunately it's not conclusive that all or even any of them (apart from Dafo) were actually witches. All we can say at this point, without further evidence, is that the people identified all <i>might have been</i> witches.

    All of this just indicates that the history of Wicca, witchcraft, and Paganism is far from being clearly understood. There is still a lot we don't know, and honest historians and scholars will admit this. And while it is a logical fallacy to think that absence of proof is proof of absence, sometimes there is enough evidence that we do have to say that, at least at this time, it looks like such-and-such a claim is not supported.

    I could say that Elvis is an immortal who has always existed, but the evidence we have indicates that he very likely wasn't immortal, and that he was born on January 8 1935. Since there is an absence of proof about Elvis before 1935, does that mean he wasn't alive then? And getting back to the topic, since we don't have any real proof that anything like an organized religion called Wica (or Wicca) existed prior to Gerald Gardner's introduction of it, how can we say with any certainty that it did exist before Gardner?

    One of the other major problems we have with the history of Wicca is that while there is little doubt that magickal practices have always been around (divinatory techniques, magickal healing, use of herbs, spells, etc.) it is a mistake to assume that the historical existence of practices used today by Wiccans proves that Wicca itself, which is a specific religion with its own system of belief and somewhat organized way of doing things, is therefore an ancient intact religion that predates Gardner. Anyone can invent a brand-new religion and base it on known ancient practices or ideas.

    Raven Grimassi is certainly helping further the study of Wiccan history by bringing out relevant evidence. Unfortunately, his conclusions have not to date been sufficient to convince scholars that Wicca is in fact an intact ancient religion that predates Gardner. But the research he is doing, just like the research both Heselton and Hutton are doing, helps us to come to what will hopefully become a clearer understanding of our past.
     
  7. WiccanWade

    WiccanWade New Member

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    That's b.s. methodology and conforms to the academic pretense to objectivity, plain an simple, and absolutely unforgivible. Other scholars are not so stoic, why must he be? In fact, this is what makes Hutton so unreliable as a source for information. In fact, if anything, he should NEVER have drawn the conclusions he did from such limited evidence! He should have come out against such stoicism re: "old academia" and why it was wrong, or why he wasn't able to use such-and-such for evidence, rather than extrapolating conclusions based upon the exclusion of evidence he wasn't able to make use of. That is academically inexcusible! Also, he was biased towards his own conclusions many times, rather than weaighing both sides of a given argument (e.g. his chapter "Finding A Folklore"). In essence, he so often refuses to cite anything, academically, which goes against his agendas. I abhor scholars' matter-of-fact positions, btw.

    Also, I'm not sure if I'd mentioned it, but...according to historian Nigel Pennick (whose work Huttion endorses), Hutton has made dozens of mistakes in Triumph, for example.

    Why try and convince the most skeptic of scholars, when there will always be sceptics, regardless of how convincing once's argument? Indeed, academia is wholey agenda-driven regardless of the weight of the evidence! A great example of this comes from a past issue of Pan gaia and pagan archaeologist Jeri Studebaker. A few years before she related that she had attended an Archaeology symposium in Texas and witnessed something truley horrific: She noticed that those scholars presenting papers who merely toed the academic-line, with relatively weak evidence, were applauded; whilst those presenting papers and questioning current academic sacred cows, using FAR stronger evidence by comparison to the last group, were all but laughed off the stage!

    I have read it, and whgile commendible in some parts, it coems too little, too late. His book The Triumph of the Moon and The Pagan Religions have alreadsy done far too much damage in engendering a form of scholar-worship amongst Pagans, to the point that they mock anyone's research if they don't have a degree, which is idiotic, and excuses academia of mistakes. This is inexcusible logic.

    Indeed, a great example of Hutton's leaps of faulty logic occurs in The Pagan Religions. He says, for example, that we don't know exactly what the ancient pagan religions of the British Isles was; but we can be sure that it was nothing like what modern Pagans practice." Well, if hiustory cannot say with any degree of certainty, than it also cannot say, with any certainty that it's nothing like modern Paganism in any way. He also does academia a disservice in his refusal to admit any theories within the pages of his books, as academia (specifically history) is made u far less of so-called "facts" than it is of theories, conjecture, and even innuendo. All of this was (and is) lacking in Hutton's work.

    And, while I'm thinking about it: a lot of good his articles will do anybody when so few have access to them, or know when and where they may have been published! You give Hutton more credit than he deserves considering the damage his purposefully limitted research has done to modern Paganism.

    This is a moot point when he does draw upon other evidence as it suits him, such as Germano-Celtic evidence in Stations of the Sun, yet...he fails to look at the May Pole outside of the UK? This also seems to happen in his book The Pagan Religions. I suggest (if you haven't done so, yet) that you read the above articles concerning Hutton and other scholars. :cool:

    Concerning Hesselton's conclusions, what CAN be said is that is that hen is only guilty od what Hutton is also guilty of, academically. Indeed, Hesselton put's forth a great deal of good evidence re: the Mason family. Yet...because Hutton has a PhD., many refuse (indeed, blindly) to acknowledge this fact. But, I'll tell you something, a PhD. doesn't mean squat! I've known many PhD. who don't know nearly as much as some withoutn degrees (Independant Scholars are a gerat example of thgis: I don't know about the UK, but in the UK they are often invited to read their papers and their research, and are well-respected). Indeed, according to a British Witch friend of mine, Hutton has even come out and know accepts the ecxistance of the New Forest coven (though, I don't know where Hutton has come out about this, yet).

    And, Hutton all-to-often maintains this in his writings as a hidden agenda.

    Take Care,
    Wade MacMorrighan
     
  8. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Hmm...seems the suggestion you're making is that historians cannot be allowed to make any comment on modern reinterpretations of ancient religious practices...

    This is purely subjective. Effectively, the story simply states that one person thought some evidence stronger than others and then condemns academia for not being in agreement - without justifying the position taken.

    Reminds me very much of the attitude in the Mayan Prophecies book, where the authors whine a-plenty about not being taken seriously by academia, which isn't surprisingly considering the lack of logic they promote.

    Try not to tell us that someone thinks themselves above the group - show how and why where possible.
     
  9. WiccanWade

    WiccanWade New Member

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    Nope. My problem is concerned with leaps of faulty logic spouted as empyrical truth. But, it becomes far worse when modern Pagans adopt it as unquestionable orthodoxy! ;)

     
  10. WiccanWade

    WiccanWade New Member

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    My nut-shell summary of Hutton would be, in essence, having read all of his books 9and taking his severe short-sightedness in consideration) is that he is a Jack of all trades, and master of none.
     
  11. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    The story doesn't make mention of specifics, and it's something I've seen before - there's a real danger that it argues nothing deeper than one person being unable to accept that other opinions can be valid, justified, and be very much in disagreement to their own.

    As someone who has read a lot of science and history, I can assure you that there are *always* contentions on some of the most well received theories in both fields, but that the mass market consumer gets a very sanitised form set in absolutes.

    There are serious debates about many very key debates in historical and archaeological research, and while there will often be some range of paradigms to overcome, the process of academia requires evidence to be forwarded and accepted among peers to move these on.

    Academic fields can be very good at acknowledging their flaws and limitations. However, can you? :)
     
  12. WiccanWade

    WiccanWade New Member

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    This is not the commonality of ehat I have observed amongst the academic community., Indeed, the Jeri Studibaker example is great evidence of this. :)

    Typoos aside, yes I do! ;)

    Take Care,
    Wade MacMorrighan
     

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