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Author Topic: A question on the importance of history?  (Read 1570 times)
Zoe Moonchild
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« Topic Start: October 15, 2010, 01:12:08 pm »

I suppose this is going to sound like a very newbie question ... lol ... but I have had very few people to ask questions of and I tend to get mixed answers, so I thought maybe I would pose it here and see what the general conses is.

From a Wicca point of view ... why is history so important?  I ask this because of two things.  One is that there seems to be a general ill feeling towards authors, etc. that do not have their histories accurate.  But, at the same time, it seems that in general most histories have been lost and that Wicca is, to a large extent, being reinvented as people learn for themselves what works.  That brings me to the second point.  In nearly everything I've read or discussion I've had it seems that the underlying idea is to do 'what feels right'.  If the field is open to an individual to do what feels right to them then why is the history of Witchcraft so important?  I do know (or think I do) that some of the branches depend heavily on the histories, legends, etc. but I am asking this in a more general sense. 

After re-reading this I wonder if my question is too vague.  lol  Thanks to any who respond!  I'm very curious to see what answers come up. 

Zoe
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« Reply #1: October 15, 2010, 01:24:28 pm »

From a Wicca point of view ... why is history so important?  I ask this because of two things.  One is that there seems to be a general ill feeling towards authors, etc. that do not have their histories accurate. 

Most people have ill feeling towards liars, as a general rule.  And most of the ones who have their history wrong who aren't actively promulgating known lies (at this stage; there were some people who genuinely believed this stuff in the past) are promulgating stupidity instead.  Consider the "ancient Irish potato goddess", while remembering that potatoes are a New World crop.

Quote
In nearly everything I've read or discussion I've had it seems that the underlying idea is to do 'what feels right'.

Honestly, then I think you've been reading low-quality books.  Structured religious witchcraft such as traditional Wicca (as opposed to neo-Wicca) may have some level of 'what feels right', but that is like knowing that 'what feels right' is playing soccer.  One still has to get in shape, join a team, train, practice, and go to the games.  It doesn't mean bringing in field hockey sticks because one really likes field hockey too and "it feels right"; there are still rules for the game.
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« Reply #2: October 15, 2010, 01:43:03 pm »

From a Wicca point of view ... why is history so important?  I ask this because of two things.  One is that there seems to be a general ill feeling towards authors, etc. that do not have their histories accurate. 

As Darkhawk says, many people have ill feelings toward liars.

Also, if someone is getting the stuff you can double check wrong, what does that say about the stuff you can't double check as easily? (Adjusting, of course, for when a particular book was written: there were things that were common understandings in the 70s, for example, that are extremely outdated and widely disproven today: you can see one example in an article by Jenny Gibbons, a medieval historian, here: http://draeconin.com/database/witchhunt.htm)

Quote
But, at the same time, it seems that in general most histories have been lost and that Wicca is, to a large extent, being reinvented as people learn for themselves what works.  That brings me to the second point.  In nearly everything I've read or discussion I've had it seems that the underlying idea is to do 'what feels right'.  If the field is open to an individual to do what feels right to them then why is the history of Witchcraft so important?  I do know (or think I do) that some of the branches depend heavily on the histories, legends, etc. but I am asking this in a more general sense. 

Also with Darkhawk here, but I want to add:

Many people come across Wicca in some form, and think that it's very flexible and can be anything you want. That's actually *frustrating* to a lot of people - both folks from the more structured traditions that developed the path, and folks who are trying to find specific things. I think it's more useful to talk about religious witchcraft (i.e. the combination of folk magic and religious devotion and interaction), of which there are many many forms. Some of them are Wicca. Some of them are derived from Wicca. But some have other roots and histories.

Take a look at the Pagan Primer and Teen Pagans FAQ (good for all ages!) on this site. I've also been working on a series of pages on my own website that might be helpful. I'm in the process of rearranging again, but I finished the definitional and background pages last night and they're now at: http://gleewood.org/seeking/basics/ . The "How the term Wicca is used" page, in particular, might help you sort out some of the confusion.

Coming back to the history: I don't know about you, but I prefer to learn from other people's mistakes. Knowing the history helps with that. On the other hand, the history isn't what makes my religious path work. The path works, or it doesn't work: history might inform some of those choices and decisions, but other than that, it's not as relevant as what we're doing with it today - or what we do tomorrow, next year, or next decade.

(Reconstructionist religions take a different tack on this, but since you asked about Wicca...)
After re-reading this I wonder if my question is too vague.  lol  Thanks to any who respond!  I'm very curious to see what answers come up. 

Zoe
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« Reply #3: October 15, 2010, 02:40:25 pm »

As Darkhawk says, many people have ill feelings toward liars.

Also, if someone is getting the stuff you can double check wrong, what does that say about the stuff you can't double check as easily? (Adjusting, of course, for when a particular book was written: there were things that were common understandings in the 70s, for example, that are extremely outdated and widely disproven today: you can see one example in an article by Jenny Gibbons, a medieval historian, here: http://draeconin.com/database/witchhunt.htm)

Also with Darkhawk here, but I want to add:

Many people come across Wicca in some form, and think that it's very flexible and can be anything you want. That's actually *frustrating* to a lot of people - both folks from the more structured traditions that developed the path, and folks who are trying to find specific things. I think it's more useful to talk about religious witchcraft (i.e. the combination of folk magic and religious devotion and interaction), of which there are many many forms. Some of them are Wicca. Some of them are derived from Wicca. But some have other roots and histories.

Take a look at the Pagan Primer and Teen Pagans FAQ (good for all ages!) on this site. I've also been working on a series of pages on my own website that might be helpful. I'm in the process of rearranging again, but I finished the definitional and background pages last night and they're now at: http://gleewood.org/seeking/basics/ . The "How the term Wicca is used" page, in particular, might help you sort out some of the confusion.

Coming back to the history: I don't know about you, but I prefer to learn from other people's mistakes. Knowing the history helps with that. On the other hand, the history isn't what makes my religious path work. The path works, or it doesn't work: history might inform some of those choices and decisions, but other than that, it's not as relevant as what we're doing with it today - or what we do tomorrow, next year, or next decade.

(Reconstructionist religions take a different tack on this, but since you asked about Wicca...)
After re-reading this I wonder if my question is too vague.  lol  Thanks to any who respond!  I'm very curious to see what answers come up. 

Zoe


Thanks so much! 

I can't say if some people are lying for lying's sake or just have bad information that they didn't check.  I do agree though that if you're going to put yourself in a teaching position you should be sure of your facts.

You touched on something that has been my experience so far.  That is frustration.  As a beginner I do find it very frustrating when told to 'do what feels right'.  I tend to have specific questions and have so far received what I consider fluff answers.  It is one reason I was excited when finding this site!  I do get the fact that spiritual paths have an abstract, faith part to them ... but it seems that there should be a concrete part too.  Without someone with experience to guide you it is hard to always find the right reading material as well.  Probably the most comprehensive book I've come across so far is Starhawk's 'The Spiral Dance'.  I finally had some of my most persistant questions answers. 

Anyway ... I have been persueing some of the threads here just to see what is said, etc. and I have started on the FAQ article.  I plan on downloading a lot of others that have caught my interest as well.  I'll have a look see at your suggestions too.  All I can say is that I SO appreciate the effort of those that are trying to get correct information out there.  But I was sort of curious about the histories and how important they were to getting a stable walk going.  I see your point of learning from other's mistakes and I would definitely prefer that to making my own when it's unnecessary. 

Thanks again to both of your for taking the time to answer. 
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« Reply #4: October 28, 2010, 11:40:06 pm »



After re-reading this I wonder if my question is too vague.  lol  Thanks to any who respond!  I'm very curious to see what answers come up. 

Zoe

I am curious about this as well so I am curious to read the answers too! :-)
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« Reply #5: October 28, 2010, 11:52:03 pm »


Many people come across Wicca in some form, and think that it's very flexible and can be anything you want. That's actually *frustrating* to a lot of people - both folks from the more structured traditions that developed the path, and folks who are trying to find specific things.

I completely am with you on this!! After four years of reading and studying I have begun to adapt to the "anything you want" philosophy, (sort of) but my husband, who has really tried to understand and be a part of what I believe, is having a difficult time wrapping his brain around this. I haven't the foggiest how to explain it as I am still learning to wrap my mind around it as well.
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