Monday, January 21, 2013

EXPOSED: Vatican Conspiracy and Pagan Roots (Answer to Ronald Hutton)

by Golden Dawn Imperator
David Griffin

"Our lives begin to end ...
... the day we become silent about things that matter!" 
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

Triumph of the Moon (1) is a monumental study for which Professor Ronald Hutton deserves accolades regarding the origins of Wicca in Southern England. In this well-researched work, tenured historian Dr. Hutton presents a rather convincing argument that Wicca is a synthetic religion pieced together from bits of Gerald Gardner's personal experiences in India with Goddess worship, anthropological data from Dr. Margaret Murray, Sir James Frazier and Charles G. Leland, and the Golden Dawn, with membership drawn in part from the Naturist (Nudist) movement in England.

Dr. Ronald Hutton
Prof. Hutton clearly states in Triumph that the scope of his study is limited to Wicca in Southern England. My primary objection to Dr. Hutton's methods is the manner in which he, in later chapters of Triumph, makes sweeping and unsubstantiated generalizations about the lack of survival of elements of ancient Paganism in Continental Europe - without providing a single shred of historical data to to back up such pronouncements that completely violate the stated scope of Hutton's otherwise fine study.

That Hutton apparently disproved the origin claims of the antiquity of WICCA in BRITAIN is one thing. That he makes unsubstantiated, sweeping judgements about the rest of the European continent outside his study area is quite another matter.

Another significant problem with Hutton's conclusions, in my opinion, is Hutton's overly anglo-centered world view. Put most simply, Prof. Hutton's writing all too often conflates Wicca in Britain with Witchcraft and Paganism in the rest of the world.

Thirdly, if Hutton truly discounts "oral tradition" as he has repeatedly stated, why does he rely so heavily on it in Chapter 20 of Triumph?

Finally, my most important objection to Triumph is the way that Hutton cites personal anecdote as though it were anthropological data. Hutton may be a respected historian, but he is not an anthropologist and lacks training in the rigors of the ethnographic method. Hutton's attempt at the anthropological method is clearly outside his field of expertise.

Had Hutton not violated the stated scope of "Triumph of the Moon" and had he not tried to play anthropologist by presenting personal anecdote and conjecture as though it were data, Triumph might have completely deserved the fauning praise it has gotten over the years. Sadly, however, as a fatal flaw, Hutton violated several fundamental rules of academia in an otherwise fine study.

I have repeatedly raised these and other objections to Professor Hutton's methods and conclusions on numerous previous occasions (for example, hereherehere, here, here, here, and here). It is noteworthy that Professor Hutton even today fails to properly address objections to his methods and conclusions according to established academic protocols, instead derisively disparaging his critics with remarks like:

"[It is remarkable that] counter-revisionism is represented most prominently by men, who often employ a very testosterone- rich language of swagger and taunt." (2)

Max Dashu
Such remarks are by no means unusual from Dr. Hutton in relating to his critics. Hutton's disparaging behavior toward independent Pagan researchers like, for example, Max Dashu and Don Frew is well known throughout the Pagan community.

Don Frew
Instead of actually addressing objections to his methods and conclusions, Hutton instead has merely made the same sweeping and unsubstantiated pronouncements over and over like a broken record. While such methods are stock and staple of the rough and tumble world of political propaganda, they have no place in legitimate academic discourse.

"If the service is free, you are not the customer.
You are the product!" - Internet meme

For example, Dr. Hutton just published a "free" article in the latest issue of the Pomegranate Pagan journal, entitled "Revisionism and Counter-Revisionism in Pagan History." In this article, Hutton writes:
"No evidence was found in Europe of a self-conscious Pagan religion surviving the formal conversion of a state to Christianity. A large number of meticulously researched  local studies of the early modern witch trials found no solid evidence that its members had been practitioners of such a religion." (3) 
Regarding actual evidence in the early witch trials of survival of elements of Paganism since antiquity, Professor Paolo Portone, president of the CIRE institute of ethno-historical research, has made some relevant points in his article, "Aradia, Myth and Reality of Witchcraft" (4), which I translated into English and you can read here.

This article presents evidence, contrary to Hutton's above statement, regarding how the myth of the "evil witch" was made up by the Inquisition out of whole cloth from the remnants in Italy of the Pagan cult of Diana, the Lady of the Game, or Domina Ludi. Portone's argument is compelling, taken directly from the trials of Sibilla and Pierina before the Inquisitor of Milan, first in 1384 and then again in 1390.

Additional evidence is presented in Prof. Portone's article entitled Magical Ointment and the Night Flight of Witches (Hypothesis on the Presence of Shamanic Rituals in Medieval and Modern Europe), (5) which I translated into English and you can read here. Professor Portone has presented important additional evidence regarding Pagan survival from antiquity from the witch trials in his new book which I am presently translating for him entitled La Strega e il Crocifisso. (6)

Merely because Dr. Hutton and the revisionist historical camp have failed to find "evidence" of Pagan survival in continental Europe, this certainly does not mean that such evidence never existed nor that it does not continue to exist even today. There are several major problems with such narrowly defined "evidence."
  1. The evidence Hutton claims does not exist was supressed and actively destroyed by the Catholic church for many centuries and continues to be so destroyed even today.
  2. The descendants of any surviving Pagan traditions in Europe outside of Britain certainly must have gone deeply underground in order not to be killed. 
  3. Any written evidence of the type admissible to historians could have meant certain death to any surviving Pagans.
  4. This means that the tradition could only have survived orally and hidden in numerous places. 
  5. Such oral evidence comprises anthropological rather than historical data. 
  6. Thus the historical method is not the correct modality with which to interpret the data to begin with.
  7. Historians like Dr. Hutton have been looking for the wrong kind of data in the wrong places. Were I to look for fish in the sand rather than in the sea, I could, using Dr. Hutton's methods, likewise claim that no evidence of fish had been found, and suggest even that fish appear to have become extinct, when in reality I have been looking in the wrong place and using incorrect methods all along.
Thus, Hutton and other historical revisionists may be technically correct, but only if we accept their extraordinarily limited definition of what constitutes "evidence." In fact, I have no doubt that Professor Hutton's claim that "No evidence was found in Europe of a self-conscious Pagan religion surviving the formal conversion of a state to Christianity", certainly DOES represent the wishful thinking of the Vatican, which has done everything possible for centuries to ensure that such "evidence" does not continue to exist. Nonetheless, Hutton's statement above proves nothing more than that the relevant data falls outside the purview of the historical method.

Hutton continues:
"The present fuss over revisionism in Pagan history is not a debate in the normal sense, because the counter-revisionists have not invited supporters of revisionism to a discussion: rather, they have sought instead to persuade other Pagans to stop believing those supporters. It is not clear what they are supposed to believe instead, because no counter-revisionist history has been developed: the implication of the attacks is that the traditional story is somehow correct after all, but it is never explained exactly how." (7)
The above statement is not entirely accurate, unless Hutton is deliberately excluding anthropological data from his "discussion." A new body of anthropological evidence in support of Pagan survival has recently emerged through Italian anthropological informants, Diana and Dianus del Bosco Sacro, presently being vetted by independent anthropological researcher, Leslie McQuade, to be presented for peer review before the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.

A glimpse into this fresh data was recently published by Dianus del Bosco Sacro in the article entitled "The Great Rite, Hermeticism, and the Shamanic-Pagan Tradition of the Sacred Forest of Nemi." (6)

As I translated this article for publication in the latest journal of the Institute of Comparative Magico-Anthropology, I am reproducing the translator's introduction below due to its high relevance to the in refiuting Dr. Hutton's revisionist historical position.

The Great Rite, Hermeticism, and the
Shamanic-Pagan Tradition of the Sacred Forest of Nemi
as revealed by
Dianus del Bosco Sacro
Grand Conservator of the Sacred Forest Tradition
as authorized by
Diana del Bosco Sacro di Nemi e Benevento
38th Arch Priestess of the Sacred Forest Tradition
translated and Introduced by
David Griffin
Guardian of the Mysteries of the Sacred Forest

Translator’s Introduction
Dr. Ronald Hutton's historical tome, "Triumph of the Moon," examined the modern origins of Wicca in the British Isles, demolishing the belief of most Neo-Pagans in any substantial Pagan survival from antiquity. The unexpected reemergence from Italy last year of the previously occulted Shamanic-Pagan tradition of the Sacred Forest of Nemi, therefore understandably generated a certain amount controversy in the Neo-Pagan community.

The present article, written by Dianus del Bosco Sacro, details for the first time how Hermetic alchemists, from a hidden Partenopean initiatic center, secretly preserved essential elements of ancient Paganism from the Inquisition during the dark age of Christianity. During the course of Dianus’ exposition, we shall witness how the sexual mysteries of The Geat Rite comprise an unexpected and omnipresent Ariadne’s thread, demonstrating the  continuity of Pagan elements from the most ancient times until today.

Throughout history, we encounter the same, sublime sexual mysteries again and again, albeit clothed in ever changing symbols: from the rites of Dionysos, Diana, and Janus to sexual mysteries depicted in the frescoes the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii and their impact on Gerald Gardner and the Great Rite of Wicca – from the rich symbolism of Hermetic alchemy to the sexual mysteries encoded in Charles Godfrey Leland’s “Aradia, the Gospel of the Witches.”

According to the lore of the Shamanic-Pagan tradition of the Sacred Forest of Nemi, The Great Rite first arose with the ancient shamanism and sacerdotal lineages of the Great Mother Goddess in Continental Europe. While these primordial sexual mysteries were preserved along Matriarchal lines in Europe, they also spread to Sumeria, Babylon, and Egypt, where over time they evolved into the Royal Art of Alchemy.

Following the conquest of Egypt, the sexual mysteries of alchemy were carried to Rome by Priests of Isis. Arriving along the Partenopean coast in Naples, Cuma, and Pompei, this masculine Priesthood encountered the great Pagan Matriarchs. These Patriarchal- alchemical and Matriarchal-sacerdotal-shamanic lineages immediately recognized their sexual mysteries to be so similar, they could only have arisen from a common source.

Thus began the intimate collaboration between Pagan Matriarchs and Hermetic Masters, which would endure occulted for many Centuries. So it came to pass that, when the Pagan Matriarchs faced eradication at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church, they found sanctuary in the Parthenopean initiatic school of Hermetic Masters.

Most historians and anthropologists, it turns out, have been looking in the wrong places for evidence of Pagan survival since antiquity. For the real evidence lies not amongst folk magic and cunning folk, but masked in the symbols of Hermetic alchemy.
With the article introduced above, an important new track supporting the notion of ancient Pagan survival has emerged, presented by vetted anthropological informants. This is, however, a line of research that will require objective and dispassionate follow up in pursuit of truth, as this new information requires, to properly evaluate the data, a mastery of the secret alchemical "language of the birds," the symbolical language which reveals the deepest secrets of Hermetic alchemy only to the eyes of the initiate.

In conclusion, I must ask:
  1. Are Professor Hutton and the historical raevisionist camp actually interested in historical truth regarding Pagan survival since antiquity - or do some of them have a hidden agenda?
  2. Is it mere coincidence that the positions of Professor Hutton's revisionist camp so perfectly support the long term interests of the Vatican - that no evidence of Pagan survival from antiquity should have survived?
  3. What IS then the actual bias of Dr. Hutton and the other revisionist historians?
I personally think that Pagans lose an extremely precious aspect of their religious faith when they are deprived of the historical roots of their religion in the ancient past, especially since vetted anthropological informants now state that this includes a still surviving INITIATIC Pagan heritage.

If historical roots are unimportant, then why does Catholic Christian doctrine cling so tenaciously to a myth of the historicity of the life of Jesus Christ, despite the absence of any substantial concrete historical evidence?

Indeed, if historical roots are unimportant, then why has the Vatican over the centuries gone to such lengths to destroy all evidence of survival of any remnants of ancient Paganism?

Finally, who stands to benefit most from a popular belief among contemporary Pagans that they have but a newly invented religion without any surviving, substantial historical roots in antiquity?

After all, does a tree deprived of its roots not quickly die?

Are we to allow our Pagan roots in antiquity to become mere dead objects of historical curiosity, hidden away to collect dust in some Vatican museum?

It is important to understand that research is NEVER written without bias. It is not an intentional bias; it is just a fact that our perception of the world damages our ability to examine it from any other perspective. References to this fact are given below.

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods applications. London: Sage.

Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (2008). The craft of research (3rd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Van de Ven, A. H. (2007). Engaged Scholarship: A Guide for Organizational and Social Research: Oxford University Press.

Bedeian, A. G. (2004). Peer review and the social construction of knowledge in the management discipline. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 3(2), 198-216.

  1. Hutton, Ronald, The Triumph of the Moon (Oxford, Oxford University Press 1999).
  2. Hutton, Ronald. “Revisionism and Counter-Revisionism in Pagan History” Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies [Online], 13. 13 Dec 2012, p.251.
  3. ibid., p.227.
  4. Portone, Paolo, (2002). Aradia, mito e realtà della stregoneria in una ballata toscana dell’Ottocento , STORIA, ANTROPOLOGIA E SCIENZE DEL LINGUAGGIO, vol. 3; p. 115-120, ISSN: 0394-7963.
  5. Portone, Paolo, (1993). L’unguento magico e il volo notturno delle streghe. ARS REGIA, vol. 14; p. 15-26.
  6. Portone, Paolo, (2008). La strega e il crocifisso. Radici cristiane o cristianizzate. AICURZIO (MB): Gruppo Editoriale Castel Negrino.
  7. Hutton, ibid, p. 250.
  8. Del Bosco Sacro, Dianus “The Great Rite, Hermeticism, and the Shamanic-Pagan Tradition of the Sacred Forest of Nemi” The Fenris Wolf: The Institute of Comparitive Magico-Anthropology, 5 (Edda Publishing: 2012, pp. 53-76.


  1. "Indeed, if historical roots are unimportant, then why has the Vatican gone to such lengths to destroy all evidence of survival of any remnants of ancient Paganism?"

    Do you have any actual proof that the Church is doing anything of the sort in the modern era? I can believe that it may have been done in the dark ages and Renaissance , but today? I rather doubt that A) The church could get away with it and B) That they would even bother.

    "Is it mere coincidence that the positions of Professor Hutton's revisionist camp so perfectly support the long term interests of the Vatican - that no evidence of Pagan survival from antiquity should have survived?"

    ...Yes? I mean really, do you think this so important that the Church would spare a thought about it? You arguments boarder on crackpot conspiracy theory and your continued implication of the Church in destroying something that in all likelihood never existed is both disturbing and sad.

    1. As a woman, I am particularly offended by the mysogynist remarks Hutton made about anyone who disagrees with his historical revisionist agenda being:

      "represented most prominently by men, who often employ a very testosterone- rich language of swagger and taunt."

      As far as out anonymous friend above, anyone who would like more FACTUAL information about the continuing supression of the feminine, including the supressed history of women, should go to the wonderfully informative website of independent historical researcher, Max Dashu here. Of special interest for this discussion is the section on the : Secret History of the Witches, which you can find here.

    2. Any coward that would make an anonymous comment like the one above deserves little recognition.

      After all, it's not like the Vatican suppressed the Dead Sea Scrolls, covered up pedophilia, or even secretly altered the Bible itself.

      For scholarly evidence of the forgeries, omissions, and censorship surrounding the origins and history of the New Testament, click here.

  2. In case you missed it, there is an interesting article over on the Egregores blog refuting misrepresentations on other blogs in the wake of Huton's new article.

    Don't miss this fascinating contribution to the discussion at:

  3. The evidence of pious fraud is beyond reasonable argument. It is ludicrous to hold that pagan religions did not exist prior to the wholesale attempted erasure by Christianity.

  4. David, I know this brilliant article is slightly out of date, however it may interest you to know that in Hutton more recent polemic, "Witches, Druids, and King Arthur", he confessed that while he was writing "The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles" and "The Triumph of the Moon", he intentionally omitted any demonstrable data that he discovered typing contemporary Paganism back into remote antiquity. What personally bothers me as a Pagan is that, as I have disclosed this to some of my Pagan brothers and sisters they delete my comments, which directly quote Hutton with the proper pagination. Over the years reading Hutton's books I never could get over the gross logical fallacies that he routinely employs when fashioning his arguments, such as "Appeal to Authority" and "Special Pleading", etc.! One thing Hutton does at an alarming rate is when he puts forth his personal opinion as if it is axiomatic fact! In TOTM he said that folklorists no longer believe that folk-lore can, in any sense, preserve paganism. However, while he cites no studies to substantiate his view, if one examines Indo-European folk-lore there are a plethora of examples that one may point to, which Prof. ML West has furnished in his study, "Indo-European Poetry & Myth". Moreover, another axiomatic claim that Hutton routinely makes without bothering to substantiate his position is that the moment when a King converted to Christian, ALL of his subjects meaningfully converted almost immediately afterward. For this to be reasonable, native pagan views would have had to have been very simple, which they were not, as Ramsey MacMullen put forth when researching the Christianization of Rome. They very probably had no idea that the intent of the Christian priest's ceremonies was to effectively convert them. I have, since, believed that Hutton has a hidden agenda. I have to wonder if it was because, according to an interview, Prof. Hutton admitted to having been publicly embarrassed by (he says, "blown away") the late and mendacious historian, Norman Cohn. Recently, and perhaps just as worrisome, an archaeologist and Pagan from Australia, as well as an acolyte of Hutton, gave an interview for the premiere Wild Hunt podcast in which she asserted that we Pagans were essentially ill-equipped to deal with the raw data, and that we had to have it pre-digested by scholars so that we could be properly schooled in the subject. Jason refrained from calling out her obstinacy, because I believed her tone was sorely condescending.

    BTW, I am particularly interested in your translation of Prof. Portone's book, as well as the full translation of Del Bosco Sacro's article!